When the top European leagues are all about professionalism, money and adventure, it is said that the Spanish La Liga is still holding the image of loyalty in football.
After a two-month summer break, fans across the world have started to gear up for another exciting season and the main focus will be on England this time where a bunch of prominent managers have taken the rivalry to new level. And specially after observing a new champion Leicester City last season, it will be quite impossible to guess the exact winner and the composition of the top five in the 2016-17 season.
In contrast, it’s very easy to predict the top three in Spain as it remains same in the last four editions: Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. All of them are depending on the club legends to manage the team rather than having high-profile managers.
Luis Enrique took charge in Barcelona two year ago and already tasted almost all the possible trophies including two La Liga and a Champions League title. He signed some key players like Luis Suárez, Claudio Bravo and Ivan Rakitić and helped few youth products to make their presence in the squad. Barcelona, winner of the last two Liga seasons, are veritable favourites for the hattrick attempt with their current line-up, led by one of the best player of the planet Lionel Messi.
The Argentine’s combination with Neymar and Suarez is a key factor in deciding the Catalan’s target of dominance. So far Barcelona have signed four players, Denis Suarez, Andre Gomes, Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Digne. Suarez and Gomes will add some much needed depth in centre. Umtiti is a good enduring signing at centre back while Digne is a versatile defender.
Zinedine Zidane is the latest edition to La Liga excitement when the France and Real Madrid legend replaced manager Rafa Benítez in the Los Blancos side at the start of this year. The icon not only won his first ever El Classico in Camp Nou but also led a dismal Real Madrid side to their La Decima. It has been almost four years since Real won the league title but a couple of Champions League trophy boosted them to maintain their royal status.
Winning Euro 2016 will surely boost Cristiano Ronaldo to end the temporary drought while player like Casemiro, Isco, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez will be ready to show their individual class. This season Real brought back Alvaro Morata but beyond that they have done nothing in the transfer market. Real face an impending transfer ban that will likely cover this January’s window and next summer’s window. The real challenge for Zidane will be to maintain the team bond to get the best out of his outstanding players which was a real concern for them in recent years.
Diego Simeone has delivered a lot of success for Atletico in the past five years despite having high-profile superstars. After winning the Europa League and Copa del Rey in first two seasons, the Argentina legend led Atletico to their first league title in 18 years in the 2013-14 season. In addition, he has managed to get to the final of the Champions League twice but unfortunately, lost on both occasions.
Among the top three, undoubtedly Atletico have the best coach at present and they will heavily rely on Antoine Griezmann, one of the best forwards in La Liga last season, scoring 22 times in 36 appearances and from a variety of positions as well. Simeone is always been very tight and choosy about singings as Nicolás Gaitán from Benfica and Kévin Gameiro from Sevilla are the highlights of the latest entries in Atletico this season.
But all of this will go out of the window when the matches start on Friday night. The on-paper theories will give away to the reality of what is likely to be another awesome season.