Spain’s top-flight league is no longer dominated by two teams. In recent seasons, Real Madrid’s cross-town rivals, Atlético Madrid, have broken up the league’s two-team dominance.
With the sudden departure of Lionel Messi, La Liga’s all-time top goalscorer, this season’s title race is expected to be more unpredictable than ever before.
Even though Barcelona and Real Madrid’s squad depth is still unmatchable, they don’t have the dominance that they once used to boast.
Teams like Sevilla, who were part of last season’s thrilling title race, are also expected to be major players in this season’s title race.
If the league is as close as we expect it to be, the title may be decided on the final day of the season, just like the 2020/21 season.
So, who’s going to rule Spain in the post-Messi era? We’re going to go through some of the league’s title favorites, so read on for our La Liga 2021/22 betting preview.
The team that finishes top of the league wins the La Liga trophy. Since La Liga uses a points-based system, the team with the most points after 38 match weeks is the one that wins the league.
If two or more teams have the same number of points, certain tiebreakers are used to separate those teams.
Head-to-head points are the default tiebreaker that is used when two or more teams have the same number of points.
So, for example, if Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Real Madrid finish the season with the same number of points, then the team that won the most points in their head-to-head encounters will be placed above the others.
If the teams are still tied after that, these other tiebreakers will be used:
For the first time since the 2003–04 season, Lionel Messi, the league’s all-time top goalscorer, won’t take part in the league. This means that Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are this season’s favorites for the La Liga title.
However, Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona shouldn’t be written off since they have a good squad that can still compete with many European giants.
Atlético Madrid – Diego Simeone guided Los Colchoneros to the title last season, which is Atleti’s second league title in the last eight seasons. Without Messi and Ronaldo to stop them this season, the odds of a title defense are in Atleti’s favor.
They still have the services of Luis Suarez, who was their top goalscorer last season. Antoine Griezman is also back at the club where he honed his world-class talents.
Other signings that the Madrid-based club has made include Rodrigo de Paul from Udinese and Brazilian Matheus Cunha from Hertha Berlin.
Safe to say, Simeone has all he needs to lead Atletico to back-to-back titles.
Real Madrid – Los Blancos were part of an exhilarating title race last season. They went toe to toe with Atletico Madrid till the final day of the season and unfortunately lost the league by just two points.
This season, Carlo Ancelloti, who helped Real Madrid win their 10th European Cup in the 2013/14 season, is back at the helm.
Karim Benzema has been in world-class form in the past few seasons, and the likes of Vinícius Júnior have also upped their game. Plus, they can still count on Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale for occasional bursts of inspiration.
Real Madrid also signed teenage sensation Eduardo Camavinga, who looks set to partner with Federico Valverde.
If the duo can form their own midfield partnership, then they may be the ideal successors to the Modric-Kroos partnership.
Barcelona – Everything seemed to be going well for Barcelona in the early parts of 2021. They managed to find a favorable president to succeed Josep Maria Bartomeu, won the Copa Del Rey, got back in the title race, and made a once unhappy Messi feel at home. Fast forward to the start of this season, and things look different.
Barca was unable to sign Messi because of La Liga’s financial rules, and their early results have hinted that life in the post-Messi era is going to be harder than they initially thought.
However, on the plus side, they have still managed to bolster their squad with a few decent signings. Memphis Depay joined from Lyon, and they also secured the services of Sergio Aguero and Luuk de Jong.
Plus, Ansu Fati—who took Messi’s no. 10 shirt—is finally ready to silence his doubters this season. Fati was in a long-term injury that prevented him from taking part in the majority of 2020/21 La Liga season but should be an integral part of the squad this season.
Sevilla – Sevilla hasn’t won a league title since the mid-1900s. They aren’t as financially stacked as some of the league’s top teams, which makes their title quest even harder.
However, they have proved to be good enough in the past few seasons. They were part of last season’s exhilarating title race and ended up finishing fourth.
They have also won a lot of trophies in recent years, such as the Europa League and the Copa Del Rey, and have truly earned the right to be included in the league’s top four. If the title race is as open as many expect it to be, then you should definitely keep an eye on Sevilla this season.
Villarreal – The Yellow Submarine beat the odds last season when they defeated Manchester United in the Europa League final. As a result of their Europa League triumph, they gained entry into this season’s Champions League and access to a lot of resources.
The major signings that Villarreal has made include Arnaut Danjuma from AFC Bournemouth, Juan Foyth from Tottenham Hotspur, and Boulaye Dia from Stade Reims.
Valencia – Valencia was once the closest threat to Real Madrid and Barcelona, but the team hasn’t challenged for the title in years. The last time that they won the title was in the 2003/04 season.
They finished in 13th place last season, and José Bordalás, their new head coach, will be looking to improve on that finish, though they still have to deal with economic struggles this season.
Real Sociedad – David Silva, the former Manchester City attacker, joined Real Sociedad in 2020 and helped them finish fifth in La Liga. They also won the Copa Del Rey, which was Sociedad’s first major trophy since their 1986/87 cup triumph.
Though they didn’t make any major signings, Los Txuri-Urdin still has a good enough squad and can unnerve the league’s big boys on any given day.
Athletic Bilbao – Los Leones lost two cup finals in 2021 and will be eager to redeem themselves this season. They finished tenth last season and will want to improve on that. The last time that they won the league was in 1984, so they have a lot to do if they really want to challenge Spain’s top honor.
Real Betis – After struggling in the 2019/20 season, Real Betis turned over a new leaf and became last season’s surprise package.
They finished sixth last season and equaled their best-ever finish in the past ten years. Los Verdiblancos will be eager to build on their impressive performances with another stellar run in the league this season.
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