Obviously the first name that comes to mind belongs to the white galacticos of Madrid. It would be utterly foolish to not expect a fight from Rafa Benitez’s new charges. Led by the goals of the amazing ‘CR7’, Real Madrid will be aiming to overthrow the Catalonians as Champions of Spain, and win their first Liga trophy in four years. Aiding him will be able partners in Benzema, Bale, James, and Modric… New recruit Kovacic will also be looking to break into the squad (something which will prove harder for him, than climbing his way to the moon). Many do not really have faith in Benitez, and are eagerly waiting to see his back somewhere in December. I do not share those sentiments. He’s an intelligent coach, and might probably surprise us.
I do not envisage Diego Simeone’s feisty warriors being modest and settling for third place in the League. Yes, Arda Turan has left the Vicente Calderon for the magnificent Camp Nou. But this might not prove as costly, as prophesied by most analysts. More importance for Koke and Antione Griezmann, as well as the contibutions of summer recruits Vietto and Jackson Martinez shall give them the needed dynamism to compete with the big boys. You can bet that one of these three – Barca, Madrid, and Atletico – will definitely lift the famous trophy somewhere in 2016 (I can guarantee your money back on any bet).
Sevilla proved that it is ready to compete in the UEFA Super Cup. As if the world wasn’t aware already (I mean they have won the last two editions of the UEFA Europa Cup!), Sevilla shocked the life out of Barca as it threatened to pull off what would have been one of the most famous comebacks in footballing history! Putting on an epic fight to take the score line from 4 – 1 to 4 – 4, before Pedro (who now plies his trade for the bus… Oh sorry, the blues of Chelsea) saved-faced and gave the Blaugrana the win deep in extra-time. Sevilla has also done some good business during the transfer window bringing in Immobile, after a torrid first season in Borussia Dortmund, and Konoplyanka. They would be looking to be the dark houses to the trophy, and will definitely put up a fight. I predict they might finish fourth though.
A definite challenger will be Peter Lim’s newly acquired Valencia side. The Oranges will have a new addition to their dugout in Phil Neville. He will serve as Nuno’s assistant. According to betinf.com, Valencia has spent 77million euros during the transfer market, acquiring the services of wonderkid Bakkali, Negredo, Andre Gomes, Cancelo, and Yoel, among others. Valencia seem to have significantly added to their already impressive roster. All eyes are on Nuno. But I believe, they would have a better season in the UEFA Champions League.
Athletic Bilbao. Now how do I go about this (slowly stroking my beard in deep thought). This club Athletic Bilbao stunned the world by utterly dispatching off Barca in a humiliating first leg encounter for the Catalonians. The match finished 4 – 0, with Barca leaving the park a wounded lion. They proved that Barca could be stop. Whether you choose to give credence to the fact that Barca started a starting 11 that was miles away from the team we saw ripe City to shreds last season, is off little consequence! Bilbao stopped Barca! And they did it emphatically! Their transfer business has not been so glamourous (and that’s not saying much really), but it has been sensible. Bringing in the likes of Boveda on a free transfer. They begin their Liga campaign again against Barca (I know how the Barca fans are feeling right now) on Saturday.
For me these five are the only realistic opponents who can stop Barca in Liga BBVA 2015 – 2016. FC Barcelona has acquired Arda Turan and Alex Vidal. They have the adjective-defying ‘MSN’. And Messi would want the golden boot back. And in January their transfer ban ends (FINALLY!!!). Stopping them will not be so easy…
This season’s edition of La Liga promises to be fun! Who’s man enough to stop Barca?
Honourary mentions: Malaga, Real Sociedad, and Villarreal.