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La Liga Look Ahead: New Image, New Contenders

Spanish Top Flight Returns Mid-August

The La Liga season just ended, but it’s never too early to start planning your La Liga betting strategy for the next one. Much has changed in a matter of two weeks, including the tournament’s logo and motto, which now is La fuerza de nuestro fútbol (The strength of our football).

Barcelona will be defending the title, and rumor has it that Lionel Messi could return. Meanwhile, Real Madrid lost their best player, and four other teams finally seem ready to fight for the top prize. In other words, it’s going to be a thrilling campaign.

La Liga Look Ahead: New Image, New Contenders
Barcelona's Spanish coach Xavi (L), Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets and teammates celebrate | Lluis gene / afp

Top Dogs

Besides being the defending champion, Barcelona deserves to be the favorite in the La Liga lines to win the 2023-24 title for several reasons. First, they won the title four matches before the end of the season after defeating Espanyol 4-2 on the road. Second, almost the entire team will return. Only Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba won’t.

Third, Xavi Hernandez will be a much more experienced and confident manager. Fourth, Messi could return. The Argentinian wants to come back, but the club needs to make some arrangements first, with rumors stating that Inter Miami will sign him and send him to Barcelona on loan. Finally, Barcelona is the only team that has won back-to-back titles in the last decade.

Besides Messi, Barcelona wants to sign Joshua Kimmich from Bayern Munich and Ilkay Gundogan from Manchester City. If they end up signing both, they’ll own the best midfield in Europe.

As for Real Madrid, Los Blancos lost Karim Benzema to the Saudi Arabian league. They simply can’t match the offer. Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard won’t be back either. According to sources, they’ll try to sign Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham. If that’s the case, I believe they’ll be able to compete.

After all, we can’t forget about Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo, two of the best young talents in the world. There’s also Eder Militao, who is considered one of the best centre-backs, and Thibaut Courtois, considered by many the best goalkeeper. There’s also Carlo Ancelotti, the manager that led them to win a couple of Champions League titles and the La Liga title last season.

Florentino Perez, the team’s president, still wants to sign Kylian Mbappe, but that won’t be possible until 2024. The Frenchman already said that he’ll honor the last year of his contract with PSG.

Good Fight

Once again, I expect a good fight from Atletico Madrid. Los Colchoneros finished third in the last season despite having a very rocky start. Antoine Griezmann is enjoying playing the sport again, scoring 15 goals and having 16 assists. Plus, Diego Simeone has been in charge of the team since 2011. He knows what to do to compete against the two league titans.

I also expect a good fight from Real Sociedad, Villarreal and Real Betis. Real Sociedad finished fourth, which means they’ll play in the UEFA Champions League. If that doesn’t motivate them, nothing will.

Villareal finished fifth, which means they’ll play in the UEFA Europa League. Two seasons ago, they finished seventh. This team has talent to spare, including Gerard Moreno, Yeremi Pino, Samuel Chukwueze and Nicolas Jackson. Don’t forget that two seasons ago, they eliminated Bayern Munich from the UCL.

Finally, we have Real Betis. If you ask me, the club deserved better in the 2022-23 season. They had a great first half but struggled in the second. Even so, Borja Iglesias finished among the league’s top scorers. And don’t forget about Sergio Canales, Juanmi Jimenez and William Jose. Summing up, their attacking unit is uncanny.


Granada and Las Palmas already secured a spot in La Liga after finishing first and second in Division 2. It was a very close race, so much so that Granada finished atop the standings with 75 points, only four more than fifth place.

We’ll have to wait a bit longer to know which team will join them. Levante is favored in the La Liga odds to do so, but first, they must defeat Albacete and the winner between Eibar and Deportivo Alaves in the playoffs.

They’ll replace Valladolid, Espanyol and Elche, the three teams that finished in the La Liga relegation zone.

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