The campaign is set to be one of the most tightly contested Spanish top-flight seasons in history.
There have been several notable departures from La Liga this season. Captains of both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos respectively have departed. Despite the loss of some of the biggest names in the game, there is an immense pool of talent in the Spanish top flight. The upcoming season could be the season that could serve as the breakthrough for several young talents.
La Liga is often termed as a two-horse race between Real Madrid and Barcelona. However, over the last decade, Atletico Madrid have changed that completely. A strong and secure side under manager Diego Simeone, Atletico has won two titles in the last decade. In fact, with the big guns of La Liga somewhat weakened, the 2021/22 season has the potential to have a staggering season against the odds and bridge the gap.
Here are the top five teams who are favourites to win the title this season.
5. Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad has had a strong start to the La Liga 2021/22 season with nine points from four matches. Managed by Imanol Alguacil, Sociedad will look to triumph this season. A strong start to the season last year helped the La Real’s case wonderfully. However, they struggled towards the second half that almost saw them slip out of the European spots.
It would be outrageous to suggest that Sociedad are in contention for the title this season. However, coming into the campaign, they did very well to hold onto their most prized individuals. Mikel Oyarzabal and Alexander Isak, who signed new contracts, are both talented players who continue to improve each day.
Weakened teams in the La Liga could create a small window for them to cash in. Sociedad have already begun the season strongly and a sustained start this time could see them sneak through.
One of Spain’s best teams over the past decade, Sevilla have won several trophies. In fact, Julen Lopetegui’s side is touted as one of the sides to beat in Europe, albeit for their Europe League record. Sevilla plays one of the most pleasing styles of football and their sensational tiki-taka gives the opponents a run for their money.
Last season, Lopetegui’s men finished just nine points shy of winners Atletico Madrid. As Sevilla continue to reduce the gap between them and the big guns, there is a sense of positivity amongst the camp as they look to compete for silverware yet again.
To Sevilla’s credit, they managed to hold onto some of their immensely talented players for the season despite strong interest from several clubs. In a highly open La Liga title race this season, Sevilla have an opportunity to capitalise upon others’ woes and pull off surprise results.
3. FC Barcelona
For Barcelona and its fans, this transfer window has been a disaster, to say the least. Barcelona’s poor financial situation was not uncommon news. However, the degree of seriousness of the situation led to several undesirable outcomes. The departure of players like Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and several academy prospects have left the squad in a pickle.
Players like Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero have come into the club like a breath of fresh air. However, with an ageing squad, achieving a sustainable season of a high standard does not seem viable. Barcelona’s success this season will be highly dependent on the mettle of the clubs’ youngsters.
Going by Barcelona’s uninspiring start to the season, it does look incredibly likely that it will be a difficult La Liga season for the Catalan giants. It will be the young players like Ansu Fati, Pedri and Oscar Mingueza who will all have to play important roles for the outfit this season.
2. Atletico Madrid
The defending champions of the La Liga title, Atletico Madrid have had a summer transfer window to remember. It is safe to say that Diego Simeone deserves every penny of what is invested. Atletico have strengthened well in the window – addressing several key issues in the team. With such a squad, Simeone has the resources to mount yet another title challenge and win the title back-to-back for the first time since 1950.
While the quality of this squad is unquestionable, it is Simeone’s approach that often leads to them dropping points. We have seen strikers at Atletico Madrid break records for fun individually. However, the current attacking players do tend to be poorly utilised or mismanaged. We saw Atletico’s struggles in the three narrow wins this season.
La Liga’s big two have struggled on the financial front for the past few seasons. Last year, Atletico Madrid took advantage of their struggles and went on to win the league title. This year, they find themselves in a similar situation and are hot favourites to win the league.
1. Real Madrid
The return of Carlo ‘Don’ Ancelotti has been a cause for rejoice for Real Madrid. The Los Blancos went trophyless in the 2020/21 season. This season, however, things look a lot more optimistic under the new manager. After four matches, Madrid are the highest goal scorers in the league by a large margin with 13 goals in four matches.
Under Ancelotti, players like Isco, Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard all have a new lease on life. The upcoming season is about to be a long one and players such as these will all have important roles to play through the season.
After the departure of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, Real Madrid’s defence is a topic of concern for sure. Madrid have already slipped three goals to Levante and two to Celta Vigo. Should the manager be able to get the best out of players like Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale alongside Karim Benzema, Real Madrid could go all the way this season.
Despite their financial struggles, they have signed the highly-rated Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes. The young midfielder has hit the ground running and there is a sense of positivity in the Real Madrid camp.