LaLiga 2018/19 predictions: Are Barca set for another league title?
The 2018/19 LaLiga season has kicked off and for the first time since 2009, the league will be without Cristiano Ronaldo. However, a busy transfer market, hijacked transfers, controversial managerial appointments, and plenty of youngsters joining big clubs make this season one of the most interesting to watch for quite some time.
Let's look at the teams who are likely to finish in the top 5 positions this season:
Perhaps a surprise inclusion to this list, Real Betis are here largely thanks to their exploits last season. Led by talisman Joaquin, Real Betis surprised everyone as the finished 6th in the league while finishing above Sevilla and just a point behind Villareal. The highlight of their season was the 0-1 victory over Real at the Bernabeu.
The 6th place finish does hide the fact that they conceded the same amount of goals as 20th placed Malaga, and this issue has been addressed this summer with the arrival of Portuguese Euro 2016 winning midfielder William Carvalho for €20 million from Sporting Lisbon. Brazilian centre-back Sidnei also joins the club from relegated Deportivo La Coruña.
As far as bolstering the attack goes, Betis have done a pretty decent job this summer in that department too. Former Real Madrid man Sergio Canales joins on a free transfer from Real Sociedad, while Japnese winger Takashi Inui joins from Eibar on another free transfer.
Betis have lost some key players in midfielder Fabián Ruiz, and goalkeeper Antonia Adan, who join Napoli and Atletico respectively. But the quality of their summer signings should make up for these losses.
A 6th placed finish last season means that Betis will also play in the Europa League this season and that might affect their league campaign but their primary focus would surely be on finishing in the top 6 to guarantee a place in Europe the following season.
Manager Quique Setién has a talented squad at his disposal and if they can sort out their defensive woes from last year, Real Betis might just challenge for a place in the top 4, something that will be their biggest achievement since winning their only league title in 1935.