In the last ten years Real have had 7 managerial changes but only 5 different men have sat in the Bernabeu hot-seat. Carlo Ancelotti returns, whose only crime last time around was winning Los Galacticos their coveted Decima Champions League title. Coincidentally, the Italian was also in charge when Atletico last started a season as defending champions.
This current Madrid team could best be described as “in transition” with big name losses including their 4 time-champions league winning centre-back pairing of Ramos and Varane, and the ageing legs of Modric and Kroos are unlikely to make as significant a mark as they have done in the past however you should write off Real at your own peril.
Diego Simeone claimed his second title as Atletico manager last season. Atletico’s style is not always pleasing, as displayed in their exit from last year’s Champions League against Chelsea. However, this team is one that bends matches to their will and it can be next to impossible to break through their rear-guard at times as they conceded only 25 goals in 38 matches last season. This season Atletico start the campaign with arguably the most settled squad of any of the title contenders and I fancy them to retain their league title.
Barcelona will go on without the legendary Lionel Messi and they will be desperate to improve on last season’s third-place finish, seven points behind champions Atletico Madrid. It is now two seasons since the Catalan giants last lifted the La Liga trophy, and Koeman still has an incredibly strong squad to work with despite the departure of a certain Argentine.
It is next to impossible to see the Blaugrana slipping any further down the league table than the 3rd place they managed last season. Given the current off-field turmoil, including over €1bn in debt, and a host of first-team regulars with many miles on the clock, it is difficult to see them sustaining a title challenge until next May.
Sevilla are not your typical Spanish side as fifteen of their matches last season ended 1-0. However, Sevilla are a very effective football team and they have managed to achieve back to back 4th place finishes in La Liga and their record last year showed 5 more wins than the previous campaign. In 2019/20, Sevilla missed out on third spot to Atletico Madrid by goal difference alone, which demonstrates this team’s credentials.
Julien Lopetegui appears to be better suited to managing Sevilla than he ever did to Madrid during his disastrous four-month stint in the capital. With a Europa League triumph secured in his first season in charge he has been given time to build on his achievements.
My La Liga Top Four Prediction:
- Atletico Madrid
- Real Madrid