La Liga returns this weekend – as does the Serie A – and that basically means soccer is fully back on the club level in Europe. This, of course, also means that weekends are back to being so full, sports-wise, that we have a hard time deciding what to watch. AKA, it’s the best time of the year and it'll only get better when the NFL returns.
But La Liga presents an interesting conundrum when it comes to predicting the season to come. On paper, Real Madrid looks to be the favorite, if for no other reason than …well, what Real Madrid did last season, which was nothing short of miraculous. Except, can their magical season even be replicated? Odds are it can’t. But you can never completely write Real Madrid off.
Then there’s perennial competitor Barcelona, who tried to pull off their own miracle in the midst of a horrible financial crisis. They certainly added talent, but the team is still nowhere near the level of the one that captured the world’s attention over a decade ago, or even the one Lionel Messi had to leave because of financial issues. Plus, at this point in time, there are still questions about whether they can even use all their new players.
So, Who Is Winning La Liga?
Despite Real Madrid and Barcelona always getting most of the attention, we can’t forget about Atlético de Madrid, which looks strong coming into the season and just beat Juventus 4-0 in a friendly. Of course, Atlético’s issue has always been follow-through, and though the rojiblancos have indeed competed at a high level since Diego Simeone took over, they still continue to be more promise than follow-through, despite a La Liga title in 2020.
The trio of Atlético de Madrid, Real Madrid, and Barcelona are sure to compete and likely to be near the top of the standings when the season ends. But who else will compete alongside them? And can anyone else truly make a run for the title?
What About the Top Four?
It’s anybody’s guess who else will compete alongside the aforementioned top 3, but some good guesses include a Villareal that shocked many with their good showing in the Champions League last season, a Sevilla who recently added former Real Madrid midfielder Isco and looks solid and both Real Betis and Real Sociedad, two sides who look balanced and could, at the very least, complicate things for those teams expected to be at the top.
Either way, good money is on one of the Real Madrid, Atlético de Madrid or Barcelona trio, and those three are also very good contenders for the Champions League. Of course, with the Word Cup happening in November and December of this year, there might still be external factors that complicate the various leagues, including injuries and just general burnout from players – which could open the door for some surprises.