Will La Liga regain its acclaim?
Atlético, the old guard of Real, Xavi … the 8 questions we ask ourselves before the resumption of La Liga
Credit: Marko Popovic
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Will the old guard keep Real at the top?
He will have to be very strong to do as well as last season by finishing champion of Spain and Europe. The succession of Real had worked well, like Vinicus Jr., Eder Militão or rookie David Alaba. But its trophies, the White House owed them above all to its old guard, the Casemiro-Kroos-Modric trio in the middle and, of course, Benzema in attack. The merengue club continued to prepare for the future by recruiting Aurélien Tchouaméni in addition to strengthening its defense with Antonio Rüdiger. The executives will however keep the leading role. They are always getting older. We say it every summer. But age may not have finished improving them.
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Is Xavi the man of the renewal of Barça?
Barcelona have already found a smile thanks to him. And that was no small feat. Arrived on the bench of the club which made its legend last November, Xavi knew how to go up a team then 9th in the classification until the second place, synonymous with qualification for the Champions League. The Barcelona coach has given a style to the Blaugrana formation. And he gave himself the means to put Barça back at the top of La Liga. With young Pedri and Gavi, Ousmane Dembélé whom he was able to revive and convince to stay, Jules Koundé, Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski whom he managed to attract, Xavi has the cards in hand to fill Catalan hearts with pride.
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Lewandowski, Benzema… who for the title of Pichichi?
With Leo Messi gone, Benzema was left without a rival. With 27 goals, he had easily topped the scoring charts nine lengths ahead of his first pursuer, Iago Aspas. Without detracting from the merit of the Madrilenian, the race for “Pichichi” was not the most raised. But Lewandowski has arrived. There was no better than the man with 50 goals with Bayern last season to compete with Benzema. With the new Barcelona, an ever more efficient Vinicius Jr. and Alvaro Morata back and already well on his feet at Atlético, among others, the goalscoring classification promises to be more contested this year.
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Atlético, better than a third thief?
Atlético somehow held on to their role as third stronghold in La Liga last season. The formation of Diego Simeone was not far from finishing second by finishing two lengths behind Barça, let alone slipping to fourth place with a small point ahead of Sevilla. His attack was not flamboyant and his defense was much less solid (43 goals conceded). There is room to do better this season. The Colchoneros haven’t recorded any major departures and will be bolstered by the returns of Alvaro Morata and Saul Niguez. With João Félix and a vengeful Antoine Griezmann after the worst season of his career, they could upset Real and Barça.
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Sevilla, Betis, Villarreal… who really dreams of C1?
As often in Spain, the fight for fourth place seems more open than that for the podium. Sevilla FC will try to get it, but the loss of its two best defenders, Jules Koundé and Diego Carlos, could be detrimental to it. Because the competition has increased. Betis in attack with Willian José and Luiz Henrique, and Real Sociedad on the wings with Brais Mendez, Mohamed-Ali Cho and Takefusa Kubo. There are also safe bets. Villarreal, a little penalized in the league last spring by its journey to the last four of the Champions League, and Athletic Bilbao. This promises an exciting and indecisive C1 race.
Valencia, the young peril?
It no longer has its luster at the start of the millennium, but Valencia are coming off a relatively decent season. His 9th place was already an improvement compared to 13th the previous year, validated by his King’s Cup final. But the Che club remains in a very unstable situation after the resignation of president Anil Murthy and the replacement of coach José Bordalas by Gennaro Gattuso, the 10th coach of the VCF since the arrival of owner Peter Lim in 2014. With a technician who discovers the Spanish championship and the youngest workforce in La Liga, with an average age of 24, Valencia is attacking this new opus with more unknowns than certainties.
Gennaro Gattuso is Valencia’s new coach
Credit: Getty Images
Almeria, a promoted party to surprise?
It is not common to see a promoted point in sixth place in the ranking of the most spending clubs in the championship on the transfer window. Even though the economic crisis and new financial regulations in La Liga are making most managers wise in Spain, the Andalusian side of Saudi owner Turki Al-Sheikh have invested in the transfer market. In particular by attracting the Brazilian nugget Kaiky, also coveted by Barça, and by keeping his Nigerian striker. Enough to give substance to the project of the Spanish D2 champion. Of the three promoted, it is certainly the best equipped to aim for maintenance. Even above…
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