It certainly doesn’t feel like Spain’s La Liga has been off our screens for the last two months. That’s largely thanks to the absolute shenanigans of the whole Lionel Messi situation at Barcelona.
Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, and sure, we may as well include Spurs here, all would have breathed a heavy sigh of relief when it was announced that Messi would be staying at Barcelona for at least one more season such were the heavy links with a move to Manchester City. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid fans were absolutely loving the seesaw fiasco of it all, knowing that were Messi to leave it would really just be a league title contested by both Madrid sides.
The Catalan club is now knee deep in an existential crisis and you can be pretty sure the club will be providing plenty more headlines during the season for messing things up off the field.
We’ve seen plenty of examples over the years of players raising their game for the fans when off-field goings on have distracted attention from the playing field, but it tends to happen to teams closer to the bottom of their leagues than the top.
And now, without any fans attending the matches we’re left asking do the Barcelona players have the character to pull together and sort the club out, or will their egos shine through and they’ll pass the blame elsewhere?
Let’s have a look at the three best bets for the 2020/21 La Liga season.
Real Madrid only won one more match than Barcelona last season, but thanks to drawing two more than their fiercest of rivals and losing just three (to Barcelona’s six) matches all season they landed their 34th league title.
With Luis Suarez set to be announced as a Juventus player within the next few days, Barca are losing a player who contributed 24.5 league goals on average for the Catalans since signing in 2014.
Barca’s new manager Ronald Koeman has to find a way to get Messi and Antoine Greizzmann playing well together and shoehorning Ansu Fati into the equation, not to mention Ousmane Dembele who’ll probably get injured thinking about football.
Barcelona are just too much of a mess at the moment to stop Real Madrid. Atletico might put up a good fight, but they just don’t have the squad depth of Real.
We reckon we’re looking at Los Blancos extending their record to 35 La Liga titles.
Elche are favourites here to go down, but the odds aren’t exactly screaming value. Cadiz look like a better bet though. Elche, of course, came up through the play-off system and had finished sixth last season. Cadiz finished second on 69 points, one point behind winners Huesca.
Huesca were relegated to the Segunda Division in the 2018/19 season, while Elche were relegated in 2014/15.
What’s sticking out for us here is that Cadiz were relegated from La Liga in 2005/06 and scored just 50 goals over 42 matches last season, so they’re both goal-shy and a team without experience. The odds on offer for them to go down is well worth a punt.
Since winning La Liga in 2013/14 Atletico Madrid have finished second twice and third four times.
We don’t need to hammer on yet again about Barcelona, but Atletico have a great opportunity to take advantage of the situation and with a strong start, could give their city rivals Real a run for the title.
They’re easily have the third best squad in the league and they should win this bet by the time the league (hopefully) ends next summer.
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