The 2017/18 La Liga season will be the 87th edition of the Spanish top-flight football division. Just like last season, the official name of the league will be La Liga Santander for sponsorship reasons but it’s popular name is simply “La Liga”.
The La Liga season will commence on the 18th of August with the final round of matches scheduled for the 20th of May in 2018. The domestic European football season must finish early enough in 2018 to allow national teams to prepare their players for the World Cup in Russia.
There will be a total of 20 teams contesting the 2017/18 La Liga season with 17 teams from last season and three new teams that were promoted from the Segunda Division replacing those who were relegated.
The team that finishes at the top will be crowned La Liga champions and qualify for the Champions League group stages next season. The second and third place teams will also qualify for the Champions League group stages with the fourth-place team qualifying for the Champions League playoffs.
The fifth-place team will qualify for the Europa League group stages and the sixth-place team will qualify for the Europa League third qualifying round stage. The bottom three teams will all be relegated to the Segunda Division.
Real Madrid is the team that will start the 2017/18 La Liga campaign as defending champions.
2016-17 La Liga: Real Madrid Highlights
There can be no doubting Real Madrid deserved to win La Liga last season under Zinedine Zidane. Not only did they win their first domestic league title since the 2011/12 season, they also claimed back-to-back Champions League titles becoming the first team to do this in the Champions League era.
In terms of strengthening the squad, Real Madrid has been quiet in the transfer market by their usual standards but still made two good signings. Zidane brought in Theo Hernandez from city rivals Atletico Madrid for €30 million and Dani Ceballos from Real Betis for €10 million, the latter of which is a great piece of business.
They have sold Alvaro Morata and Danilo to Chelsea and Manchester City respectively and allowed James Rodriguez to join Bayern Munich on loan that will most likely result in a permanent move.
There is nothing not to like about this team and with Isco delivering a world class performance in the UEFA Super Cup against Manchester United, the loss of James Rodriguez has already been forgotten. Rumours continue to appear surrounding the potential addition of Kylian Mbappe but even without the young Frenchman, Real Madrid is coming in as the favourite to win the 2017/18 La Liga title at 4/5 with online bookmaker bet365.
However, despite Real Madrid looking strong there is one team that will be determined to get their hands back on the La Liga trophy and that team is Barcelona.
Having dominated La Liga in recent years, it should have been very painful to watch Real Madrid lift the trophy last season for Barca. The Catalan giants will be determined to win back what they believe belongs to them.
Despite suffering what many thought was a poor season in 2016/17, Barcelona finished just 3 points behind Real Madrid in La Liga having lost only 4 of their 38 games. The big problem facing Barcelona ahead of this season is the loss of their Brazilian superstar Neymar.
Having left Camp Nou for Paris Saint-Germain in a world record deal, Barcelona has a huge hole to fill in the team. With the likes of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta getting older, Neymar was set to become their main man over the next few years but now Barcelona have been left scrambling to try and find a replacement.
Plenty of players have been linked to the club including Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele but neither of these players is in the same bracket as Neymar. Ernesto Valverde is in his first season in charge of Barcelona and faces a tough task to overtake Real Madrid at the top of the table.
Barcelona is 1/1 to win La Liga with bet365, which is just slightly behind Real Madrid.
The only other team realistically capable of challenging Real Madrid and Barcelona for the La Liga title is Atletico Madrid. Atletico is the only team outside of the big two to have won La Liga in the past 13 years, doing so in 2013/14.
Unfortunately for Diego Simeone, his team is currently under a transfer ban and this means they have been unable to sign any new players for the start of the season.
They have sold six players including Theo Hernandez to Real Madrid but have only made one addition, Vitolo from Sevilla. The left winger signed for €38 million but due to the transfer ban cannot play for Atletico Madrid until January. There are strong rumours Diego Costa will re-join the club from Chelsea but again, he will not be able to play until the new year.
The good news is they have managed to keep hold of Antoine Griezmann and perhaps most importantly their manager, Diego Simeone.
Atletico Madrid is listed at 28/1 to win the 2017/18 La Liga title despite being the third best team in Spain and this underlines the dominance of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
If there is one team capable of breaking into the top three this season it must be Sevilla. They have added some real talent to their squad this summer with striker Luis Muriel, Inter Milan’s creative midfielder Ever Banega and Manchester City’s forward Nolita all joining the club.
Sevilla has seen several players leave the club during the summer but overall, their squad looks good and stronger than last season when they finished fourth, 6 points off Atletico Madrid. Sevilla is 7/1 with bet365 to win La Liga without Real Madrid and Barcelona, which is an intriguing bet.
Looking at the relegation scrap and the three promoted teams of Getafe, Girona and Levante are going to struggle this season. Perhaps the best equipped to cope with life in the Spanish top-flight is Getafe but Girona, a team that is playing in La Liga for the first time in their history and Levante are 8/11 and 13/8 to be relegated respectively.
Leganes, who just avoided relegation last season must also be considered one of the favourites for the drop. They have failed to strengthen their squad during the summer transfer window and really need a decent striker if they are to stay up. Leganes is 11/8 to be relegated to the Segunda Division.
The last eight La Liga top goal scorers have come from either Real Madrid or Barcelona. Lionel Messi has won it four times including last season, Cristiano Ronaldo three times and Luis Suarez once.
Having failed to win it in the previous two seasons and seemingly happy for Zidane to leave him out of games during the campaign, Ronaldo does not present great value at 7/4. With Neymar leaving Barcelona, the onus will be on both Messi and Suarez to get the goals for Barcelona and the former must be the favourite to finish above his team mate.
Messi is 11/10 to win the Pichichi Trophy for the fifth time in his career with Suarez on offer at 2/1, both with bet365.
However, although Barcelona may have players at the top of the goal scoring charts, it’s Real Madrid that remain the team to beat this season. They have the same starting XI that took them all the way last season plus the addition of some good, young Spanish players. Expect to see Real Madrid at the top of the table come the end of the 2017/18 La Liga campaign.