League Preview: Spanish La Liga

Defending champions FC Barcelona will be seeking their 22nd La Liga title and a possible four-peat. Arch rivals Real Madrid will be looking for their 32nd title and not extend their runner-up status to 4 years in a row. Very ironic…no?

Certainly, the focus on the Spanish La Liga is always on the rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, and more can be expected this year. FC Barcelona will still maintain their championship team and have added Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez to their ranks. Lionel Messi scored 31 goals last season with David Villa adding 18 goals, and they will hope to have the same success to win the Spanish La Liga title this year supported by the likes of Dani Alves, Pedro, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. FC Barcelona will also look to defend their UEFA Champions League title.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid have made some significant changes, including the return of Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City after a loan. Big transfers into the club include the signing of Fabio Coentrao from Benfica and Hamit Altintop from Bayern Munich among others. Certainly, La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo will hope to keep the form that brought him 40 goals last season backed up by the likes of Karim Benzema, Kaka, Gonzalo Higuain, Memut Ozil and captain Iker Casillas. The only silverware Real Madrid won last year was the Copa del Rey where they defeated FC Barcelona in the final.

Valencia finished third in La Liga and will also take a trip to the UEFA Champions League. Manager Manuel Llorente has been busy with transfers, recalling the 8 players sent out on loan and also signing in 3 more players to fill the gap of the 10 players released by the club. Valencia top scorer Roberto Soldado will look to improve on last seasons form.

Villareal finished fourth in La Liga and earned a qualifying play-off round in the UEFA Champions League. Top players like Nilmar, Carlos Marchena and Gonzalo Rodriguez will look to keep Villareal among the top, and even possibly win their first La Liga title.

Relegated to the Spanish Segunda Division following their poor performance last season are Deportivo La Coruna, Hercules, and Almeria. Replacing their spots following promotion into La Liga are Betis, Rayo Vallecano, and Granada; who return to La Liga for the first time in 35 years. Teams like fifth place Sevilla, sixth place Athletic Bilbao and seventh place Atletico Madrid will be hoping to improve their record by bringing in new managers as well as making significant changes to their roster. Some of the La Liga top goal scorers to keep an eye on include Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid, Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Alvaro Negredo of Sevilla.

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