La Liga Preview

This weekend is the start of the Spanish La Liga.  The season started with the European Super Cup between Real Madrid and Sevilla and the Spanish Super Cup between Sevilla and Barcelona.  Real Madrid won the UEFA Super Cup thanks to a very late goal from Sergio Ramos.  Ramos scored in the third minute of added time to send the game into extra time.  In extra time, Dani Carvajal scored the winner.  The Spanish Super Cup finished up this week.  The second leg was yesterday as Barcelona finished off the two legged affair with a 3-0 win to complement their 2-0 win in the first leg.

Title Contenders

The title will come down to three teams this season and those three are the usual suspects.  Barcelona are the defending champions and they look set to be the favorites.  They are the bookies favorite at 8/11.  Barcelona has brought in four players this season to add depth to their squad.  They are all 22 years old with an eye on the future.  The second favorites are the defending European Champions, Real Madrid at 6/4.  They have brought back Alvaro Morata, but other than that they have pretty much the same team that won the Champions League.  Finally, we have Atletico Madrid at 10/1.  Atleti will look to win their second title in three years and maintain their great run in La Liga.  They have a very good and deep squad.  They brought in Kevin Gameiro, Nico Gaitan, and Sime Vrsaljko.  They also brought back Fernando Torres.  This squad should be poised to challenge the other two.  It will be a very good race this season, especially as these three teams keep getting better and better.  Sevilla, Valencia, Villarreal, and Athletic Bilbao look set to battle it out for the final Champions League spot.

The Three Promoted Teams

The winners of last season Segunda Division was Deportivo Alaves.  Alaves achieved promotion after a 10 year absence from La Liga.  Alaves is one of the now four teams in the top flight from the Basque Country.  The second place team from the Segunda Division to achieve promotion was CD Leganes.  This is the first ever promotion for Leganes.  They are located in the outskirts of Madrid.  Their stadium is the second smallest in La Liga, holding just 8,138.  Only Eibar has a smaller capacity.  The final team to get promoted was Osasuna.  Despite finishing 6th in the league table, they were able to earn promotion by defeating Gimnastic and the Girona in the promotion play-offs.  Osasuna is located in Pamplona, home of the running of the bulls.

Managerial Changes

This summer, we have seen 7 managerial changes.  This biggest of them are the changes in Sevilla and Villarreal.  Sevilla are coming off of winning their third consecutive Europa League title and this led to Unai Emery getting the job at Paris Saint-Germain.  He was replaced with Jorge Sampaoli, the former manager of Chile.  Villarreal sacked their manager Marcelino and replaced him with former Getafe manager Fran Escriba.  Two other big names have come back to Spain as Juande Ramos replaced Javi Gracia at Malaga and Quique Sanchez Flores is now the manager of Espanyol.  Deportivo La Coruna replaced Victor Sanchez with Gaizka Garitano and Granada hired Paco Jemez.  Alaves also have a new manager despite earning promotion, as Mauricio Pellegrino replaces Jose Bordalas.

5 Big Incoming Transfers

Nico Gaitan – Benfica to Atletico Madrid (€32m)

Alvaro Morata – Juventus to Real Madrid (€30m)

Andre Gomes – Valencia to Barcelona (€35m)

Nani – Fenerbahce to Valencia (€8.5m)

Lucas Digne – PSG to Barcelona (€16.5m)

5 Big Outgoing Transfers

Dani Alves – Barcelona to Juventus (Free)

Jese – Real Madrid to PSG (€25m)

Eric Bailly – Villarreal to Manchester United (€38m)

Grzegorz Krychowiak – Sevilla to PSG (€33.6m)

Luciano Vietto – Atletico Madrid to Sevilla (Loan €3m)

Predictions

Champion

My Pick – Barcelona

Brad’s Pick  – Real Madrid

Champions League Places

My Picks – Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Sevilla

Brad’s Picks – Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla

Relegation Places

My Picks – Las Palmas, Alaves, Leganes

Brad’s Picks – Eibar, Leganes, Deportivo La Coruna

Top Scorer

My Picks – Luis Suarez, Barcelona

Brad’s Picks – Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid

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