As is generally the case in Spanish top-flight football, the ‘Big Three’ are heavily fancied to win the crown, with a battle in the lower reaches promising plenty of excitement.
Here is our La Liga preview for the 2022/23 campaign.
Defending champions Real Madrid head into the new season on the back of a relatively underwhelming transfer window, highlighted by a busted attempt to sign Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe.
Antonio Rudiger and Aurelien Tchouameni are the two marquee summer additions at Santiago Bernabeu, with the club parting with several long-serving first-team members.
Marcelo and Isco Alarcon left upon the expiration of their contracts, while out-of-favour striker Luka Jovic joined Serie A outfit Fiorentina on a season-long loan.
Carlo Ancelotti hopes to lead his side to a second consecutive La Liga title for the first time since 2006/07 and 2007/08, but it could prove daunting.
Also See: Real Madrid 2022/23 Season Preview.
After experiencing a trophyless 2021/22 season, Barcelona have been proactive in the transfer window, completing several monumental signings to close the gap on Los Blancos.
From Andreas Christensen through Franck Kessie and Raphinha to Robert Lewandowski, Xavi Hernandez’s men have landed some of the most valuable properties in the market.
On top of that, they have retained the services of quicksilver forward Ousmane Dembele despite Chelsea’s continuous efforts to take the Frenchman to Stamford Bridge.
If Xavi can put all the pieces together and find a way to help the newcomers fit into his system from the get-go, Barcelona should be the leading candidate to lift the title.
Also See: Barcelona 2022/23 Season Preview.
But watch out for Atletico Madrid. After a dreadful defending La Liga season in 2021/22, Diego Simeone’s side will be keen to break up the Real-Barca duopoly once again.
Last season, Los Colchoneros finished 15 points adrift of Ancelotti’s team, but to be fair, they have done next to nothing to whittle down the gap during the ongoing recruitment campaign.
Though they look too short in the betting, given the substantial gulf in quality between them and the other two title contenders, writing them off before the beginning of the season would be foolish.
Also See: Atletico Madrid 2022/23 Season Preview.
Champions League contenders
With the abovementioned trio likely to occupy the top three spots in next season’s La Liga table, the final Champions League qualification spot will be open for the taking.
Sevilla, who finished fourth last season, will again be the most viable candidate to nail down a coveted fourth-place finish, even though they have been atypically uneventful during the summer.
Following a woeful stint at Madrid, Julen Lopetegui has proved his managerial credentials at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, showing he knows what it takes to remain competitive in the top-four race.
But after losing the likes of Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde to Aston Villa and Barcelona, respectively, Sevilla must bring in at least two high-quality defenders to bolster Lopetegui’s options at the back.
Much of the credit for the Andalusians’ Champions League promotion belonged to the departed centre-back pairing that played a crucial role in helping their side concede a league-low 30 last season.
Encouraged by last season’s impressive run to the Champions League semi-finals, Villarreal could take advantage of Sevilla’s poor recruitment programme to snatch away fourth place next term.
With Arnaut Danjuma and Gerard Moreno spearheading the attack, Unai Emery’s lads boast plenty of firepower to improve on an underwhelming seventh-place finish in 2021/22.
It will take something special to take Sevilla and Villarreal off their perch, but if there is a side to do it, Real Sociedad could be the one.
After an inspiring start to the 2021/22 La Liga campaign, Imanol Alguacil’s team ran out of steam as the season progressed and eventually had to settle for a sixth-place finish.
The arrivals of Brais Mendez, Mohamed-Ali Cho and Takefusa Kubo will add an extra layer of quality to a relatively juvenile Sociedad side, but consistency will be the key.
If they are to interfere in the top-four race, the Basque-based heavyweights can ill-afford to rely on picking up the points only at the famous Anoeta.
Based on Valencia’s ninth-place finish in 2021/22 under Jose Bordalas, you would be right to rule them out of the European race.
However, the appointment of Gennaro Gattuso, coupled with several interesting summer signings, could signify a new beginning at Mestalla and fire them back into contention for the top six places.
Led by former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini, Real Betis narrowly missed out on a top-four finish last season, finishing three points below fellow Andalusian rivals Sevilla.
Even though they have underperformed in the transfer window thus far, Los Verdiblancos cannot be discarded as potential contenders for European qualification.
Cadiz are the favourites to join the Segunda Division after dancing on the edge of relegation for two years.
As arguably one of the weakest squads in La Liga, they were lucky to preserve their top-flight status last season, finishing just one point clear of the drop zone.
But following an unimpressive transfer window, Lady Luck could turn her back on Sergio Gonzalez’s side next term.
Like Cadiz, Getafe stayed in Spain’s elite competition by the skin of their teeth in 2021/22, with only relegated Deportivo Alaves (31) netting fewer goals than them (33).
For years, El Geta’s excessively defensive-minded football managed to keep them safe, but it is only a matter of time before their scoring woes come back to haunt them.
The 2022/23 season could be their last in La Liga unless they do something to strengthen their roster late in the transfer window.
Despite fighting their way back into Spain’s top flight, Girona are hot candidates to bounce straight back into the Segunda Division.
Yet, unlike fellow newcomers Almeria and Valladolid, they have made several eye-catching signings in the summer, including Yangel Herrera and Yan Couto from Manchester City.
Back-to-back MLS top-scorer Taty Castellanos could be the catalyst to improve Girona’s survival hopes, but they will be playing against the odds.
Three players to watch
Some of the world’s best players, including Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Raphinha and Lewandowski, will run the show in La Liga next season, but we will take a look at the three most exciting up-and-comers.
After leaving his mark in Serie A with Udinese, offensive-minded right-back Molina is bracing himself for a new adventure in La Liga with Atletico.
Despite playing for a bottom-half Serie A side, he tallied seven goals and five assists from 35 league appearances in 2021/22, displaying how talismanic he can be in the front third.
Kieran Trippier’s move to Newcastle United in January made Atletico suffer in the second half of last season, and the arrival of Molina could be just what the doctor ordered.
At 24, the Argentine defender is approaching his peak years, and the opportunity to nurture his skills under Simeone could turn him into one of the best full-backs in the world.
Camavinga made just 13 La Liga starts in his maiden La Liga campaign after leaving his boyhood club Rennes to link up with Madrid in the final days of the previous summer transfer window.
The versatile French midfielder had to play second fiddle to the likes of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos last season, yet he rarely ceased to amaze when being called into action.
His energy, tenaciousness and tireless runs in the middle of the park were often a breath of fresh air when Ancelotti introduced him from the bench to tighten things up.
Camavinga’s potential goes far beyond his endless work rate, as he also possesses laser-sharp passing and playmaking skills that could come to light next term.
Frequent injuries, lack of commitment and off-field antics had highlighted Dembele’s early career at Camp Nou, making the world question Barcelona’s decision to pay Borussia Dortmund €145m to sign him in 2017.
But the appointment of Xavi as a new chief of staff in November 2021 has turned the Frenchman’s fortunes around, as he now looks set to fulfil his immense potential.
Though the Blaugrana may not have to rely on the 25-year-old winger to drive the team forward by himself as they did in the second half of last season, Dembele should embrace the starring role next term.
The lightning-quick forward notched up a breathtaking first-half brace against Juventus in pre-season to issue a warning to Barcelona’s opponents as to what they can expect in 2022/23.
La Liga 2022/23 Predictions
- Title: Barcelona
- Champions League: Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Villarreal
- Other European competitions: Sevilla, Real Sociedad, Valencia
- Relegated: Cadiz, Getafe, Girona
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