The La Liga season is set to get underway this week, with Real Madrid and Barcelona heavily fancied to contest this year’s title once again.
Only once in the past nine seasons has another team broken the big two’s dominance, with Atletico Madrid’s title success in 2013/14 the sole blip on their record.
Madrid start the campaign as favourites at bookmakers.tv to retain their title, with odds of around Evens a fair reflection of their chances.
Ronaldo’s five game suspension after he was sent off during Madrid’s 3-1 win against Barca in the Spanish Super Cup first leg on Sunday is certainly a blow, but it’s fair to say the Nou Camp side have bigger problems to contend with at the moment.
Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane remains interested in Monaco striker Kylian Mbappe, and with Alvaro Morato joining Chelsea he will be keen to boost his forward options. However, new signings Dani Ceballos and Theo Hernandez look excellent additions, while Jesus Vallejo and Marcos Llorente have returned from successful loan spells to further strengthen Madrid’s squad.
Barcelona can still be backed at 6/5, but the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain seriously weakens their chances.
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez remain and Philippe Coutinho’s possible arrival from Liverpool would be welcomed, but manager Ernesto Valverde has other areas to address and Barca are rightfully second favourites. Forward Ousmane Dembele would be a quality addition from Borussia Dortmund, but Paulinho’s signing from the Chinese Super League is questionable given the midfielder’s struggles at Tottenham Hotspur.
Atletico finished a distant third last season and with a transfer ban to contend with they are widely available with many bookmakers around the 33/1 mark.
Sevilla’s odds of 11/8 to secure a top-four spot look tempting, especially with an influx of new blood to their already decent squad. The 8/1 on offer to top the standings without Madrid or Barca also appeals, especially with Atletico unable to sign new players.
Sevilla boss Eduardo Berizzo has used the cash from the sale of Vitolo to bring back Ever Banega and Jesus Navas to the club, while Simon Kjer, Luis Muriel and Nolito are all solid additions to their ranks.
At the other end of the table, newly-promoted Levante can be backed at 6/4 to make a quick return to Segunda, while fellow new-boys Getafe and Girona are both odds-on for the drop. Levante built last year’s success on a solid defence, but they struggled in La Liga two seasons ago and could easily do so again.
Leganes and Deportivo La Coruna narrowly avoided relegation last season, and odds of around 5/2 to finish in the bottom three could be worth an interest.
The top goalscorer market is dominated by three players, with Messi, Suarez and Ronaldo at the head of affairs.
Neymar’s exit to PSG opens the door for Messi to top the charts for the fifth year in a row, with the Argentine forward likely to beat last season’s 37 goals this time around. He is 11/10 to retain his crown, ahead of Suarez at 9/4 with Ronaldo the 5/2 third favourite.