The race for La Liga could be more intriguing than ever in season 2018/19, as the main protagonists have seen many changes. Here are the teams expected to compete for the Spanish top-flight in the new season:
The Catalan giants are the reigning La Liga champions, having won the title by 13 points last season. Barcelona will undoubtedly be one of the most exciting teams to watch in the Spanish top-flight this season.
The champions have invested heavily at both ends of the pitch. The Catalans have moved to solve their defensive conundrum by bringing in French defender Clement Lenglet from Sevilla.
Highly-rated Brazilians Arthur and Malcom have also both arrived in Catalonia. Arthur is regarded as one of the most exciting young central midfielders in the world game and arrives from Gremio for a fee of around £35.5million.
Malcom turned down a switch to Roma at the last minute to complete the move to the champions. The 21-year-old is an exciting young forward, who will have the fans on the edge of their seats.
The out transfers were interesting as club legend Andres Iniesta headed for Japan, while Brazilian midfielder Paulinho re-joined Guangzhou Evergrande on loan and Gerard Deulofeu completed a permanent move to Watford.
Barcelona’s transfers look like shrewd moves, with promising players coming into an already talented squad. They will certainly be stronger for the new arrivals.
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Los Rojiblancos continue to punch above their weight in La Liga under the fiery Diego Simeone. The team from the capital finished second place in the Spanish top-flight last season, three points ahead of arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Atletico have certainly been busy strengthening their squad this summer. The biggest move was to sign highly-rated French international winger Thomas Lemar from Monaco for a fee of around £52million.
They also managed to sign Portuguese international winger Gelson Martins on a free transfer, and bag midfielder Rodri for a bargain £1.8million from Villarreal. Full-back Jonny also arrived from Celta but was immediately loaned out to Wolves.
The two biggest departures from the club were the iconic figures of Gabi and Fernando Torres who left to play for Al Sadd and Sagan Tosu respectively.
Atletico can never be ruled out of the fight for the Spanish top-flight title. No doubt Simeone’s squad is far better equipped to challenge for La Liga this season. The team have lacked natural wide options, who could deliver on a consistent basis in recent seasons. In Martins and Lemar, they have two very good wide players.
This summer has seen major changes for the European champions both on and off the field. Julen Lopetegui replaced the departed Zinedine Zidane as head coach just days before the World Cup final, where Lopetegui was supposed to be leading the national team. He subsequently lost his job as La Roja boss.
However, the biggest change is club legend Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus in a big money deal. Rather surprisingly, Los Blancos have failed to replace the Portuguese forward, despite links with the likes of Eden Hazard, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. The European champions continue to also be linked with a move for Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who looks set to leave the Blues this summer.
The club from the Spanish capital have brought in some new players, but they are players of potential rather than the finished product. Highly-rated Brazilian duo Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Junior are joined at the club by young goalkeeper Andriy Lunin and Spanish international defender Alvaro Odriozola.
The side from the Spanish capital will always be contenders for the Spanish league title. However, where Los Blancos finish will depend on how quickly new coach Lopetegui can instil his ideas into his players.
La Liga is probably the most difficult to judge out of all the top European leagues. Barcelona have made what seems like exciting moves in the transfer market, as have Atletico Madrid. No doubt, Real Madrid have not finished strengthening their squad ahead of the new campaign either.
At the present time, though, I can see Barcelona retaining their crown, especially if their two new Brazilians settle quickly. However, it will be interesting to see how the new arrivals do at both Madrid clubs.