- Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao kick-off La Liga on August 16
- Barcelona favorites ahead of Real Madrid
- Atletico Madrid the best of the rest
La Liga kicks off on Friday, August 16, 2019, when Barcelona travel to Athletic Bilbao [KO 3:00 pm EST]. As ever, all eyes will be on the Catalans and Real Madrid in what promised to be another two-way fight for the title.
2019/20 La Liga Odds
*Odds taken 08/13/19.
We’ll take a look to see if there is any value to be had beyond the big two, and see if anyone is about to gatecrash the Spanish ‘establishment’.
The Catalan giants have their 27th La Liga in their sights and are looking to make it three in a row. As ever, their summer spending has been record-breaking variety with the really big money being spent on bringing Antione Griezmann to the Nou Camp from Atletico Madrid.
The Frenchman has been in their sights for a couple of seasons and they finally got their man early in the summer when a 117 million euro deal was agreed. Coach Ernesto Valverde is expected to line Griezmann up alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, in what has to be the most dangerous forward line in world football.
They also splashed big money on Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong, with the 73 million euro deal being agreed before the end of last season, and goalkeeper Neto from Valencia.
Everything points to another toe-to-toe scrap with Real Madrid for the big prize.
As ever, Real have matched Barca’s spending and some, with coach Zinedine Zidane parting company with a cool 296 million euros over the last couple of months.
Many will argue this is money that needed to be spent given that Real finished last season in third place and a whopping 19 points behind the champions, Barcelona, and there is no doubt this season’s squad looks stronger as a result.
The big-name to arrive has been Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, in a deal worth 97 million euros, but big money has also been paid to bring Luca Jovic, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy, Rodrygo and Alberto Soro to the club; all with a view to strengthening the starting XI.
If Zidane can quickly incorporate the new faces into his chosen style of playing, Los Blancos could push Barca all the way.
Real’s neighbours did brilliantly to finish second last season, although let’s not forget they did win it as recently as 2013/14. It’s not likely to happen again any time soon, unfortunately, with their spending power dwarfed by the big two.
But they have been able to spend this summer after receiving the fee for Griezmann, and have brought in Portuguese winger Joao Felix from Benfica for 121 million euros, along with Marcos Llorente, Mario Hermoso, Kieran Trippier, Felipe and Renan Lodi.
"THE FUTURE IS NOW, OLD MAN"
-Joao Felix (2019) pic.twitter.com/yZYPoDb9rv
— Darryl van de Beek (@aquemaniac) August 10, 2019
If these new players can settle quickly, then it’s possible they could stick to the coattails of the top two for a big chunk of the season, but what they don’t have is a huge depth of squad for the fallow times when injuries hit hard.
Los Ches are, as MyBookie’s odds show, the best of the rest and we expect them to again be the leaders of the chasing pack.
While they are a big, well-established club, they don’t possess the spending power of the big two – the big three if we include Atleti – but through some smart wheeling and dealing this summer they have been able to bring in nine new players to the total value of 61 million euros.
Jasper Cillessen, keeper from Barcelona, has been their big purchase, and while it’s hard to see them making top three, they look well set for fourth place again.