Barcelona are the defending Spanish champions and bookmakers’ odds-on favourites to win the title in 2016-17 at a price of 8/11.
Luis Enrique’s side have made an impressive start to the season with a 5-0 thrashing of Sevilla over two legs in the Spanish Super Cup. They followed that up with a 6-2 hammering of Real Betis in their season opener whilst a 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao at least secured three points at a ground that is not the easiest away game of the season.
The Catalan club spent plenty of money over the summer – Jasper Cillessen replaces Claudio Bravo to compete with Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal. Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Digna are defensive reinforcements, whilst Andre Gomes, Denis Suarez and Cristian Tello are more options in midfield.
Barcelona even brought in the talented Paco Alcacer from Valencia as another option in attack – as if they didn’t already have enough goal threats up there already. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar are almost impossible to keep quiet for 90 minutes.
Real Madrid should not be overlooked although they did leave it late to beat Celta Vigo 2-1 in their second game of the season. Zinedine Zidane has guided his side to 14 straight wins in La Liga now which is worth taking note of. Whether they can get the better of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in head-to-head matches remains to be seen – the 1998 World Cup winner did lose at home to Atleti in late February but won at Camp Nou in April.
Zidane has only been in charge since January and already has a UEFA Champions League winners’ medal as a head coach. The early predictions and odds from the best bookmakers suggest that Real Madrid can give Barcelona a run for their money in the league this season despite making no marquee signings this summer, whilst their rivals brought in a lot of new faces. You can get Madrid at 8/5 to win La Liga.
Atletico Madrid have already shot themselves in the foot with two draws to start their season, the second versus newly-promoted Leganes. Diego Simeone’s side already trail the big two by four points and many would say they’re out of the title race already.
The bookmakers back this up by giving Atleti odds of 24/1 that they finish top of the pile this season. It’s a massive ask after two unimpressive performances.
Luis Suarez has to be most people’s choice to be the top scorer again this season. The energetic Uruguayan seemingly always finds himself among the scorers whilst Real Madrid just aren’t as freescoring as their title rivals.
One cannot rule out Lionel Messi but he’s reverted to more of a right wing role since the arrival of Suarez, and the former-Liverpool man has certainly proven his worth in the middle.
The only other name to throw in the hat is Cristiano Ronaldo but he’s missed the first two games of the season following his injury in the Euro 2016 final. How many games will it take him to get up to full speed? And do Madrid score enough for him to compete with Suarez and Messi?
Neymar hasn’t been frequent enough and does create lots of goals for Suarez. Karim Benzema isn’t even guaranteed a starting place in the Madrid lineup these days.