Spanish La Liga Outrights, Betting Tips, Predictions & Odds
The new season in La Liga kicks off on Friday 18th August with Real Madrid attempting to defend the crown they won on the final day last term. It marks a new era for Barcelona following the sale of Neymar but even without the Brazilian they are sure to be strong contenders again. There’s plenty to look forward to with the Catalan giants one of eight teams to start the season with a new coach at the helm. There have been other changes over the summer too with three newly promoted teams joining the division including Girona, who are making their top flight debut while Atletico Madrid are gearing up to move into their new stadium.
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Spanish La Liga Outright Winner
Real Madrid ended a long barren run in their domestic league last season by clinching the title. Having backed that up by successfully defending their Champions League crown, there is a real sense that momentum has shifted in their eternal rivalry with Barcelona, who have been the dominant force for most of the past decade.
It’s highly likely to be a two-horse race again this term. Atletico Madrid are moving into a new home and it could take time before it becomes a fortress in the same way that the Vicente Calderon was. They’ve also been relatively quiet in the transfer market and don’t look capable of bridging the gap, while it’d take something fairly miraculous for any of the other sides to get in the mix.
So it should be a classic battle between Real Madrid and Barcelona but the side from the capital look the more likely. The depth of their squad is far superior and it was the main factor in their title win last term. They have some really promising youngsters who can come in without significantly weakening the side and the likes of Marcos Llorente, Dani Ceballos and Theo Hernández could have a similar impact to that of Marco Asensio, who enjoyed a real breakthrough season last term. Barcelona’s back-up players by contrast are yet to truly convince and that will mean Ernesto Valverde won’t be able to rest his key men as often as he’d like.
The transfer of Neymar to PSG has also rocked the Catalans. While some of that £200million is sure to be reinvested, the breaking up of the prolific ‘MSN’ is still a massive blow. Real Madrid by contrast are set to welcome back one member of their great attacking trinity with Gareth Bale fit again. The fact Los Blancos won the title last term even though the Welshman was injured for much of the season speaks volumes about their quality and even though some bookies still have Barcelona as the title favourites, the value looks to be found by backing Real Madrid to win La Liga again.
To Finish in the Top Four
Atletico Madrid should join the ‘big two’ in the top four again but at odds of 1/10 or even shorter, there’s no real point in backing them to do that, especially with a little bit more uncertainty about them this season given their somewhat controversial move to the other side of Madrid.
Sevilla had a fine season last term and are the favourites to round off the top four but there are doubts against their credentials. The departure of coach Jorge Sampaoli is a blow but the bigger issue could be the loss of sporting director Monchi, who has been the mastermind of their success over the past decade with some incredibly good transfer business. It’s been another busy summer with the likes of Vitolo and Vicente Iborra leaving. The captures of Nolito and Ever Banega add real flare but whether they have enough steel left in their side to go and consistently win away is highly doubtful and they could just fall short of the top four this term.
There are likely to be numerous sides in the mix for that coveted 4th spot but the other main contenders Athletic Bilbao, Villarreal and Real Sociedad will all be attempting to juggle Europa League football too which isn’t easy given none have massive squads.
The value bet could be Valencia, who can be backed at odds as long as 15/2 to gatecrash the top four. They are free from any European distractions and following a torrid couple of years, look to have finally got their act in order. They jumped the gun on a number of other clubs by appointing Marcelino as their new coach early on in the summer. Having done a fine job in guiding Villarreal from the Segunda Division to the Champions League in just three years, it’s the smartest appointment Valencia have made in recent years.
Valencia are now starting to look slightly more settled at the back and have some promising young players who are starting to shine including 20 year old midfielder Carlos Soler. Marcelino’s passing style is a good fit for the squad he will have at his disposal and if they can make a bright start, Valencia could be genuine contenders for a top four finish.
Spanish La Liga Relegation Predictions
The Madrid minnows defied the odds to survive last season and they deserve credit for that. However there’s also an element of truth to the theory that they only survived because the bottom three were so poor rather than anything they did. They finished with a tally of just 35 points and with no major transfer activity to date, it’s hard to see them being anything other than strugglers this season. They don’t approach this campaign with the same sort of momentum that helped them to a few promising early season wins last term and there looks to be value in backing them for the drop at 11/8.
You can back Malaga to be relegated at odds as long as 16/1 and that looks like a massive price for several reasons. They were very poor for long periods last season although a decent late season run saw them end with a somewhat respectable mid-table finish. Since then though they’ve sold their top scorer Sandro Ramirez to Everton for a pretty modest fee and two of their best midfielders Pablo Fornals and Ignacio Camacho have also both left. Their most significant addition is that of Borja Bastón on loan from Swansea but if he doesn’t rediscover his goal touch after a poor year in the Premier League, they could be in big trouble.
There aren’t that many other obvious relegation candidates from the sides that were in La Liga last term, which will make life tough for the newly promoted clubs. Levante were utterly dominant in the Second tier last season, taking top spot in week four and never relinquishing it. They showed enough quality to suggest they are capable of beating the drop.
As for Girona and Getafe, they may find life tougher and it’s hard to see both surviving. Girona, appearing in La Liga for the first time, are an ambitious club and they’ve already spent £4million on one player since winning promotion. They also have strong links with fellow Catalans Barcelona and Pep Guardiola at Man City. The English club has already sent four players on loan to Girona this summer and those ties could prove a real help. They’ll also have passionate backing, something Getafe can rarely count upon.
Getafe have recruited many players too but there’s a distinct lack of proven top flight quality in their ranks and backing them to go down at 11/10 could be the smarter move. They did well to bounce back immediately to this level given they sold most of their key players last summer but reestablishing themselves in the top flight with a weakened squad could be a much tougher task.
Spanish La Liga Top Goalscorer Prediction
The top scorer in La Liga is again likely to come down to one of Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez, the top three in the scoring charts last term. One of the trio has won the award in each of the past eight seasons. Four times it has gone to Messi, who won it at a relative canter last season with 37 goals while Suarez got 29 and Ronaldo 25.
Unlike Ronaldo, who will turn 33 this season and is now regularly rested by Zinedine Zidane in league matches, Messi is likely to start every league game when fit, with Barcelona lacking the same kind of strength in depth. That should give Messi plenty of time to outscore his great rival.
Suarez was Barcelona’s central striker for the duration of last term but he still couldn’t outscore his team-mate who moved around playing in both the number 10 role and wide on the right at various times. With Neymar gone, Barcelona could even convert to playing two up front with Messi alongside Suarez, which would ensure he gets even more chances.
Either way, having won the Pichichi in 4 of the last 8 seasons, it’s hard to bet against Messi doing likewise again this term with fewer obvious rivals and you can get odds of 6/5 for him to do just that.