LaLiga 2018/19: 5 reasons to get excited about the new season
Spanish football returns tonight when Girona take on Real Valladolid in the curtain raiser of the La Liga season. All 20 teams will play over the next four days and there is plenty of thrilling football action to look forward to over the coming months.
For the second straight summer, the Spanish top flight has lost one of its superstars. Last summer, Neymar shocked the world when departing Barcelona to take up residence in Paris. The world record transfer didn't affect La Blaugrana, however, as they went on to collect their third league title in four years.
This summer, it was Real Madrid's turn to lose a star player. Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Juventus came somewhat out of the blue even though the player had voiced his doubts about remaining at Los Blancos after lifting a third consecutive Champions League title in May.
The departure of the Portuguese superstar leaves a huge void in La Liga and ends one of the greatest player rivalries in sport. However, it also presents an opportunity for new stars to emerge and represents something of a new dawn for Spanish domestic football.
With this season looking as unpredictable as ever, we take a look at five reasons to get excited about the new La Liga campaign.
#5 The Race For Europe
With all probability, the two Madrid teams and Barcelona will fill the top three positions in the league this year. However, Valencia may have something to say about that having finished only four points behind Real Madrid last year and completing some excellent transfers over the summer.
Los Che is hot favourites to take the fourth Champions League qualification spot again this season and will hope to even gatecrash the party at the peak of the table. It would be hugely surprising if the top four didn't feature the same teams as last season, but there are some interesting challengers who could shake things up.
Real Betis and Sevilla both start the season looking very strong. Betis suffered greatly from their poor defense last season and have spent the summer acquiring defensive-minded players to improve on the massive 61 goals conceded last time out.
Similarly, Sevilla had defensive issues throughout the last campaign, conceding 58 times. However, with their new manager, Pablo Machín, and some astute defensive signings, Los Hispalenses will start the season with belief that an assault on the top four is a realistic target.
With fifth and sixth the only positions guaranteed to qualify for the Europe League, it seems likely that these six teams will occupy the European places come May. However, one of Villareal or Real Sociedad may have the ability to intrude on the European qualification party if they can maintain consistency throughout the season.
Next Up, #4 The Romance of Huesca's Rise.