The strong early favourites to retain their La Liga title after their fantastic performance in La Liga last season. Their record unbeaten run of 41 games is an impressive feat that will be tough to match, but with a full season of Phillipe Coutinho this will surely improve their chances. It has been a good summer for Barcelona, acquiring Brazilian youngsters Malcolm and Arthur for a rumoured combined fee of around 72 million euros. Arturo Vidal has also been added to replace surprise package Paulinho, adding well-needed experience after losing the legendary Andreas Iniesta to Japan. Clement Lenglet was the final signing for Barca from La Liga rivals Sevilla for 38 million euros late in the window, adding depth to the current centre-back options of Umtiti and Pique.
La Liga winner odds – 4/5
The other La Liga giants Real Madrid have come off of a disappointing La Liga campaign in which they finished 3rd and 17 points behind champions Barcelona. Madrid struggled at the beginning of last campaign as Ronaldo was not available until mid-October, so entering their first full season without the talismanic Portuguese means Madrid will have to adapt quickly. Pre-season form suggests that Real can adapt, with Bale expected to step up and young Brazilian Vinicius Junior one to look out for the future. The other major change at the Bernabeu is Real Madrid great Zidane being replaced with former Spain boss Julen Lopetegui, a move which cost him his national team job. A season of transition on consolidation for Real Madrid this year, but if their freshening up clicks sooner rather then later then they can still be considered for the title.
La Liga winner odds – 7/4
Completing the trinity is the outsiders Atletico Madrid, ready to start the season in their new stadium the Wanda Metropolitano. Always up and around the title scene, the combined powers of Barcelona and neighbours Real Madrid usually prove to be too strong and the markets suggest that this will be the case again. World cup winner Antoine Griezmann decision to stay is arguably the most positive news for Atletico in the offseason and fellow countryman Thomas Lemar signing will boost an already strong selection of attacking options for Simeone. Young attacking midfielder Rodri signing from Villareal is another positive, both these signings replacing club legends Gabi and Fernando Torres. A late move for stalwart Diego Godin by Manchester United keeps Atletico’s tight defence together, which surely must be a relief for boss Simeone. Atletico, however, may struggle with goals with an over-reliance on Diego Costa which justifies their perennial label of being third-favourites for the title.
La Liga winner odds – 10/1
Sevilla are looking to improve upon a disappointing season where they finished 7th, behind main rivals Real Betis but there is renewed optimism around the club after recently hiring Pablo Machin from surprise package Girona. Usually in with a good shout of finishing in the top 4 and known for their strong performances in the Europa League, finishing behind Villareal, Valencia and the aforementioned rivals Real Betis would have been bitterly disappointing for the fans. This has been addressed by signing the talented Aleix Vidal from Barcelona and will be looking to improve the squad before the end of the transfer window. AC Milan’s Portuguese striker Andre Silva has been tipped to sign, and he like Sevilla will be looking to bounce back after a personal season of struggle.
La Liga winner odds – 200/1
Preparing for their first foray into Champions League since the 2015/16 season, Valencia rolled back the years to finish 4th in La Liga and expectations are again high. Marcelino in his second season has set an ambitious target of conceding just 30 goals after conceding just 38 last year. Only Atletico and Barcelona conceded less than the La Liga staple, showing the feat in which they achieved. Valencia celebrated their success with some shrewd signings, Daniel Wass signing who had the fifth highest assists in La Liga last season and Mishy Batshuayi on loan from Chelsea after impressing in his temporary spell at Dortmund. Geoffrey Kondogbia was the main man in the middle for them and keeping him for at least another season will only strengthen them. However, with such a small squad and another competition in which they are competing in this season depth could prove to be their undoing.
La Liga winner odds – 450/1
– Jack McGachie