La Liga: Real Madrid's To Lose
Real Madrid are the deserved champions of Europe. They won the UEFA Champions League in style, beating city rivals, Athletico Madrid 4-1.
They also won the Copa del Rey to complete a very satisfying double.
Now that La Decima is in the bag, attentions shift back to the La Liga where fans would prefer that the League title is wrestle back from the other side of the city.
Make no mistake, though, Athletico will not hand over the title without a fight. Diego Simeone may have allowed Diego Costa, last season’s top scorer, leave the club but he has signed an even better forward in Mario Mandzukic.
Keeping Koke amidst Barca’s interest and bringing in a few re-inforcements have made clear Athletico Madrid’s intentions: they want to repeat last term’s feat.
Still, the league title is Real Madrid’s to lose. And this is why…
1. Real Signed Well
Real Madrid raided Tottenham of Bale last year, expensive though his signature was, but see what it got them: the UEFA Champions League.
They’ve made another big statement of intent this transfer window by snapping up the top scorer at the just concluded World Cup in Brazil, James Rodriguez.
The ex-Monaco boy provided the most assist in the French top division last year. And if he could find a way to work well with Di Maria, Real’s top assist man last term, the trio of Bale, Benzema and Cristiano will get enough ammunition to do the most damage.
Enough to win back the La Liga.
The arrival of Keylor Navas from Levante has also been confirmed. The league’s best goalkeeper last season has joined to shore up Real’s rear guard that shipped in the most goals out of the three title contenders.
2. Champions In Kitty
Real Madrid have not sanction the sale of any of the key men who played major roles in May’s triumph.
Angel Di Maria has been courted by the major European sides. Sami Khedira is at the center of a transfer struggle between London sides Chelsea and Arsenal.
Yet Madrid have managed to hold on to them. Even at that, Illaramendi and Isco are two talented youngsters waiting in the wings and ready to fill the holes left behind should these choose two to leave.
3. Depleted Athletico
A strategy that has been employed in war and football is to weaken your biggest foe.
Jose Mourinho, formerly on the payroll of Real Madrid but now with Chelsea, may have robbed Athletico of their most lethal marksman but Real have nothing to do directly with it.
But with the loss of Diego Costa, David Luiz, Courtois, Arda Turan, David Villa, and Diego, is Athletico truly weakened?
Not one bit. In fact it is logical to reason that Simeone’s team have stepped it up a notch.
They’ve been efficient in the transfer market, bringing in Mandzukic and Griezmann to replace their departed attackers. The potential of these two is beyond doubt, making them more than capable replacements.
Getting the new players to bed in with the team may take some time, though, by which time Real Madrid are already throttling at full speed.
4. Rebuilding Barcelona
Barcelona are deep in a rebuilding process.
New manager. New players. New playing philosophy. It’s a whole new Barcelona out there.
Victor Valdes is gone after years between the goal posts. Carles Puyol’s presence in the dressing room is done. Alexis Sanchez has transferred to Arsenal.
And more players are bound to leave.
But new boss, Luis Enrique’s major task is to find a formula to get the talented trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez playing the brand of attacking football that Barcelona have become synonymous with.
You just have a feeling that they will become unstoppable when they get it right, though, it will take some time. However, they’ve not got too much time. And by the time they do get it right, a more cohesive Real Madrid side would have become untouchable at the top of the La Liga.
5. Di Maria Staying
It really is a big issue.
When Carlo Ancelotti was made Real’s manager at the start of last season, one of the major decisions he had to make was to pick one of Mesuit Ozil and Angel di Maria and let the other go. He obviously made the best decision as Di Maria became a key component of the team that conquered Europe.
It’s decision time once again.
And the transfer birds are circling around the Argentine yet again. But after a summer littered with the rumours of his impending departure, it appears Ancelotti has convinced Di Maria of his importance to the team’s cause.
That could be a defining moment. And just like last term, it simply might be the decision that brings in more trophies.
Only this time, it could be with the La Liga’s winners medal.