Spanish Football: La Liga 2018/19 Season Preview and Predictions
The 2018-19 Spanish La Liga season kicks off on the weekend of 11th and 12th August and promises to be another thriller showcasing some of the world’s best footballers.
Lionel Messi will be back in action, but Real Madrid will be without Cristiano Ronaldo after his move to Italian giants Juventus.
Barça will begin the campaign as defending Spanish football champions after they sealed last season’s title in style with 90 points. The Catalan giants were only prevented from going unbeaten in the league with a 5-4 defeat to Levante on the penultimate day.
Real Madrid will kick off the campaign as Champions League holders after defeating Liverpool in May. Messi has the edge over Ronaldo in La Liga stats, having won more titles and scored more goals, but the pair represent perhaps the greatest players of the current generation and will resume their eternal struggle for supremacy.
La Liga Title Race
The battle between Barça and Real for the 2018-19 La Liga title promises to be another fierce affair, with Atletico Madrid and Valencia poised to push the league’s ‘big two’ harder than ever. Can Barcelona go one better and clinch the title undefeated, or will Real Madrid be even more motivated to reclaim the crown they last won in 2016-17?
The ‘El Clásico’ games between the two clubs are known throughout the world and the rivalry is one of the true greats in the sporting calendar. The encounters between Real Madrid and Barcelona draw a global audience running into the hundreds of millions. The pair have duelled it out in this Spanish football derby for decades, with neither having emerged on top. Real boast 72 wins with Barça just behind on 70 and the match has played out 34 draws.
Spanish Teams Battle for European Football
La Liga’s top two still look like being too strong for the others in the title race, but a whole host of clubs will battle it out for the european football places in 2018-19. A strong challenge is expected from the likes of Villarreal, Sevilla, Betis, Real Sociedad and Espanyol to push Atlético Madrid and Valencia in the race for the top six spots.
La Liga Relegation Fight
At the other end of the table, 2018-19’s relegation battle threatens to be one of the most exciting for years with around half of the league possessing the potential to be fighting to stay in Spanish football’s top tier come the end of the season. The likes of Leganes, Alaves and Girona may be among the most likely to succumb to the drop.
Malaga, Las Palmas and Deportivo La Coruna were relegated last term and will play in the Segunda Division next season with Rayo Vallecano and Huesca promoted to the top flight. Huesca, a small club from north-eastern Spain, will play in La Liga for the first time in the club's history.
Spanish Football’s Star Players
La Liga isn’t all about Messi either, with plenty of other world-class players set to be on show. Gareth Bale is hot property following his stunning goal in the Champions League final, while Atletico Madrid’s top scorer Antoine Griezmann finished last season with 19 goals and will be hoping for similar success after pledging his future to Atletico.
Luis Suárez was La Liga’s third top scorer last season behind Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and will be looking to add to his impressive tally since moving to the Nou Camp in 2014. At the other end of the pitch, Barcelona stopper Marc André ter Stegen was the league’s best goalkeeper in 2017-18 while ahead of him, Sergi Roberto and Gerard Pique had a stunning season in the Barça defence.
Andres Iniesta had another great season in midfield for Barcelona, but has now moved to Japan, leaving a big hole for Philippe Coutinho to fill, while Toni Kroos proved once again that he’s one of the best central midfielders throughout European football at the heart of the Real Madrid side.
Others to watch for next term include Valencia captain Dani Parejo who provided the heartbeat of the team who finished fourth and Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas, who had a stunning season with 20 goals from the right-hand side of attack. Alongside these players, Bet UK have taken a look at 3 La Liga players to keep an eye on this season.
VAR Comes to La Liga
La Liga will welcome video assistant referee technology from next season onwards. VAR has attracted criticism in some quarters but officials and assistants from the Spanish league have spent the summer being trained in the use of the system.
The move by the Royal Spanish Football Federation brings the Spanish league in line with the German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A in introducing the technology and promises to add a whole new twist of intrigue to La Liga. Spanish stadia will each be equipped with 38 cameras poised to take multi-angle images to assist the ref.
With plenty of La Liga stars gracing the globe’s biggest stage at the FIFA World Cup this summer, anticipation has never been higher to see what 2018-19 has in store for Spanish football’s top flight.
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