Top 5 Contenders for next season's Champions League Spots from La Liga
Whilst for many, the English Premier League storms to the title of most exciting football division in the world, it is Spain's La Liga which currently sits atop the UEFA Coefficient rankings, a remarkable 26 points ahead of Germany's Bundesliga in second.
The classification system is determined by how well a nation's football clubs perform in European competition and from such evidence, it can be argued that Spain has the strongest contingent of top football clubs at present.
Consequently, it's becoming harder and harder for clubs to squeeze into those precious Champions League spots season-after-season.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are practically assured to finish in the division's top four but third and fourth really are any club's for the taking. With the aforementioned pair exempt from the analysis, here's a look at five other contenders for the Champions League spots in La Liga this term.
#5 - Athletic Bilbao
With their extraordinarily restrictive transfer approach, Athletic Bilbao are never ones for going scattergun in the transfer window, the advantageous flip-side being that they are also reluctant to ever let talent depart.
Consequently, despite the departure of Ernesto Valverde to Barcelona in May, Bilbao still have a steady, organised and focused squad prepared for the new campaign.
José Ángel Ziganda only makes the transition smoother, having managed the club's youth side since 2011 and possessing a knowledge of the exceptional talent he has at his disposal.
The Basque outfit have kick-started the season in typical Bilbao fashion, having won two and drawn one of their opening three games, yet to concede a goal.
Whilst the likes of Aymeric Laporte promote such stability from the back, it is up-top where a large part of Bilbao's success will be determined this term.
The 2015/16 season was the fifth successive campaign in which veteran Aritz Aduriz finished the club's top goalscorer and with the Spaniard due to turn 37-years-old later this term, Ziganda and co. need to find goals from elsewhere, if not for the remainder of this season, for the long term future.
Fortunately, they have potential world class talent in their ranks in Iñaki Williams and Iker Muniain, both of whom, have shown signs of improvement over the last few weeks, following disappointing seasons last time out.
If Ziganda can orchestrate a set-up in which the two have space to run into, then there's a good chance that Bilbao will be perfectly poised at both ends of the field to prepare for an excellent season.