La Liga Shaping Up To Be A Dog Fight
La Liga kicks off August 16th as current champions Barcelona visit Athletic Bilbao in the historic San Mames. The following day, Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid also travel to Balaidos to face Celta Vigo among other fixtures.
Although most years in the Spanish top flight involve stiff competition, La Liga 2019-2020 is shaping up to be one of the most fiercely contested in the league’s history. Mostly due to the signings made in the off season.
At the moment, Spain’s biggest three clubs are undergoing major squad changes. Despite already boasting some of the best lineups in Europe, more familiar names have joined all three. Here is a closer look at each club’s activity.
Atletico de Madrid
Los Colchoneros are in full rebuilding mode. Head coach Diego Simeone and team said goodbye to several club legends over the summer. Namely Diego Godin, Juanfran, Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann.
Nevertheless, more than suitable replacement’s have been found. Most notably is young Portuguese star Joao Felix for whom they broke the bank at $146 million. A hefty price for such a young player.
Elsewhere, experienced center back Felipe arrived from Porto and will line up behind defensive midfielder Marcos Llorente. Another prize signing from neighbors and rivals Real Madrid at only $30 million.
Additional squad members include French winger Thomas Lemar, Saul Niguez, Koke and La Liga’s best goalkeeper for the past four seasons Jan Oblak. It’s obvious that the 2018-2019 runners up are anything but weaker.
Ernesto Valverde’s squad are also shaping up to be devastating in front of goal. Interestingly, the Catalan club consider the previous season to be a failure despite lifting the trophy and they are eager to improve.
As a result, Antoine Griezmann’s addition to a front line already including Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Coutinho has made the Blaugrana Europe’s most feared attack. Not to mention one fully capable of defending it’s league title.
Furthermore, young Frenkie de Jong who signed for Barcelona in January will add life to a slowing midfield. After the Spanish giant’s Champion League exit at the hands of Liverpool, they look ready to keep up with any side in Europe.
In case you thought they were done, the 26-time champions of Spain are also in talks to bring back Brazilian star Neymar Jr. However, the forward has issues to sort out with his employers at PSG before such a move can be made.
Real Madrid CF
To put it mildly, the white side of Madrid is desperate to win La Liga. As a matter of fact, Los Blancos have only been champions of Spain twice in the past eight years. They last lifted the trophy three years ago under Zidane.
Nevertheless, it hasn’t all been failure. Many will argue they were too busy dominating Europe, winning the Champions League 3 years in a row. But that is ancient history in the mind of president Florentino Perez and fans.
Perez has spent roughly $300 million to bring Eden Hazard, Ferland Mendy, Luka Jovic, Eder Militao and Rodrygo Goes. Meanwhile, the club is heavily rumored to be pursuing the likes of Paul Pogba and Christian Eriksen.
After a nightmare season where the whites never seemed able to find goals, they now have a surplus of options in attack. Furthermore, everyone at the club seems to be focused on conquering Spain in the coming year.
For fans of the Spanish top flight, things have never been more exciting. Not only are the big three replenished with some of the best players on the planet, all three boast great squad depth; ready to challenge for multiple silverware.
However, football is never what one expects. After all, it is just as possible that Sevilla, Valencia, Getafe, Real Betis, Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao insert themselves in the race unexpectedly.
August cannot come any quicker. Keep up with TSJ 101 Soccer as we cover La Liga 2019-2020.
Written by Chris Cartwright
Photo credit to LaLigaEN via Twitter