La Liga 2018/2019 Season Preview
Ronaldo-less Real, refreshed Barca and awesome Atleti.
The upcoming La Liga promises to be one of the most exciting at both ends of the table, from new signings to newly promoted sides, it will certainly be one not to miss!
Atletico Madrid made a huge statement of intent beating arch rivals “Los Blancos” in the European Supercup running out 4-2 winners after extra time. A statement result that sent waves around Europe that “Los Rojiblancos” will be one of the most feared sides on the continent.
And now, with a bigger, bolder and more talented squad with the likes of Thomas Lemar, Rodri, Nikola Kalinic and Gelson Martins choosing to up root and travel to the Wanda Metropolitano, it is clear that “Cholo” Simeone is building a group to attack on all fronts. Almost as important as these steller arrivals, would be the retention of superstars Jan Oblak, Diego Godin and Antoine Griezmann – heavily linked to Barcelona. In previous years, such elite players would be tempted to move to the bright lights of Camp Nou, Santiago Bernabeu or Old Trafford. But the fact these players have decided to ignore the temptations shows there is a group or family feel that these players have not only bought into, but are living and breathing on a day to day basis.
Across town, there is a slight apprehension that life after Cristiano Ronaldo might not be as rosy or as smooth a transition as first thought. Totally understandable, considering the massive number of goals the Portuguese superstar managed to bag in his time in the Spanish Capital (311 in 292 games. The rumoured €300 million war chest rotting away, is also another huge factor in the slight discontent with the Bernabeu faithful, with an expected Galactico signing expected to arrive in Ronaldo’s absence, having not yet arrived. What they have done though, is brought in the hugely talented and exciting attacking right back Alvaro Odriozola, Chelsea’s Thibault Courtois and Brazilian wonderkid Vinicius Juniour, all excellent recruits in their own rights, but not THE big Galactico the Madridistas have come to expect under Florentino Perez’ reign, although he has moved away from this recruitment policy in recent years.
Both will be looking to close the massive gap (14 and 17 points respectively) to last season’s double winners, Barcelona, who themselves had a summer of transition. Out went fringe players, Andre Gomes (loan), Yerry Mina (€30.25 million) and Lucas Digne (€20.2 million) all to Goodison Park. Also Paulinho, Douglas, Aleix Vidal and Marlon departed Camp Nou and who could forget “The Don” Andres Iniesta, now plying his trade in Japan with Vissel Kobe. In their place arrived, Malcolm, Clement Lenglet, Arthur and Arturo Vidal and the returning Rafinha and Munir. What seems to be a clear objective this season is the elusive Champions League title, and this came from the horses (or GOATS) mouth, when Lionel Messi stated in bullish and determined fashion: “We have a squad to get excited about this year and the signings we have made make us better than we were. Although last year was good with winning the cup and La Liga, we all hurt after our Champions League elimination. We promise to do everything possible so that beautiful cup will be back in this stadium.”
Should Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona take their eye off the ball, even slightly, there are now a number of teams this season who could run them close, and one could be Valencia. After an impressive 17/18, and finishing fourth and just the three points behind Real Madrid. Their aim will to be establish themselves in that invaluable top four place and even stay in the title race even longer this season. To help achieve this, they have brought in Denis Cheryshev and Daniel Wass to provide the ammunition to the front men that now include Kevin Gameiro and Michy Batshuayi and bolstered the backline with Jeison Murillo, Mouctar Diakhaby and Cristiano Piccini. Its felt that a lot of their goals this season will depend on the re-signing of last season’s break out star Goncalo Guedes. It is believed they are working tirelessly with PSG to come to an arrangement for the Portuguese star to return to Mestalla, but the clock is ticking.
What could add a certain spice to the upcoming mouth-watering campaign will be the promoted teams and the dreaded relegation battle. Up came Huesca, Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano and all three will give a decent account of themselves, proven by Huesca’s impressive 2-1 away at Eibar on the opening day. With not much between the bottom 6 or so sides, the scramble to avoid the drop could be more dramatic that it has been in years.