LaLiga season predictions: Barca can strike back at Real

Aidan Perkins
Xavi has been hard at work strengthening his Barcelona side in this transfer window
Xavi has been hard at work strengthening his Barcelona side in this transfer window

After Real Madrid eased to a record-extending 35th title success in Spain last season, rivals Barcelona will be hoping to respond in the upcoming LaLiga campaign.

Real eventually finished 13 points clear of Barca in 2021-22, with Atletico Madrid a further two points back in third and it is highly likely it will be one of those three who will finish top again this time around.

Not since Valencia triumphed way back in 2004 has anyone else other than Real, Barca or Atletico won the Spanish title with Atleti only coming out on top twice, in 2014 and 2021, to disrupt the dominance of the top two.

Real dominant last season

Last season was another stellar campaign for Real as they were not only the best team in Spain but they also secured yet another Champions League crown.

Despite the club failing to land long-term target Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain, Carlo Ancelotti has plenty of top talent at his disposal.

Real remain littered with world-class stars from reliable goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, centre-back David Alaba and experienced midfielders Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.

Karim Benzema, who scored 44 goals in 46 competitive games last term, and Vinicius Junior form a devastating frontline and Ancelotti has the added options of summer signings Antonio Rudiger and Aurelien Tchouameni to select from.

Lewandowski arrival boosts Barca

Robert Lewandowski will be spearheading Barcelona's attack this season
Robert Lewandowski will be spearheading Barcelona's attack this season

However, Barca might just be slightly stronger this season. The Catalan giants have brought in one of Europe's most lethal marksmen in Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich and have further added to their ranks with the signings of Andreas Christensen from Chelsea, Franck Kessie from AC Milan and Raphinha from Leeds.

Coach Xavi knew he needed a proven goalscorer to try and narrow the gap on Real, who scored 12 more goals than his side last season.

Poland international Lewandowski, who has amassed 509 career club goals from 676 appearances, should not have any problems adapting to life in Spain and he could be the catalyst for a title charge for Barca.

To further their claims, Ousmane Dembele looks finally ready to fulfil his vast potential, 19-year-old Pedri is one of the most technically-gifted young midfielders around, and Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could both yet settle down and play vital roles despite being heavily linked with moves away this summer.

Atletico behind big two

Luis Suarez is no longer at Atletico Madrid following his summer exit
Luis Suarez is no longer at Atletico Madrid following his summer exit

Atletico will likely have to settle for third place again under Diego Simeone. Los Colchoneros have lost striker Luis Suarez, who scored 11 league goals last season, and defender Sime Vrsaljko, who was a regular at the back, and have so far had an underwhelming summer in the transfer market.

Midfielder Axel Witsel, who has joined on a free from Borussia Dortmund, and right-back Nahuel Molina, who has come in from Udinese, are modest additions to a squad that has plenty of star names, like Angel Correa, Koke and Yannick Carrasco, but will need more from forwards Antoine Griezmann and Joao Felix, who both underperformed last term.

Sevilla, who ended up a point behind Atleti in fourth last season, should again be good enough to finish in the Champions League places despite losing important defenders Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde this summer.

They could be pushed hard by the likes of last season's Champions League semi-finalists Villarreal and Real Sociedad, who have been busy on the transfer front signing highly-rated trio Brais Mendez, Mohamed-Ali Cho and Takefusa Kubo.

Cadiz vulnerable in relegation scrap

At the bottom, Cadiz, Mallorca and Getafe will be vulnerable again after all three only finished a point clear of the relegation zone in 2021-22, while newly-promoted Almeria, Real Valladolid and Girona are expected to be in the scrap to stay up.

Cadiz's big problem last season was a lack of goals with only Getafe and relegated Alaves managing fewer than their total of 35. The lack of a significant summer signing to strengthen their attack so far means their spell in the Spanish top flight could be in real jeopardy once again.

Of the three promoted teams, Girona look the best-placed to survive after bringing in Yangel Herrera and Yan Couto from Manchester City on loan and also recruiting last season's Major League Soccer top-scorer Taty Castellanos in a similar deal from New York City.

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