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2014-15 Spanish La Liga Primera Division Predictions and Betting Preview

2014-15 Spanish La Liga Primera Division Predictions and Betting Preview

Last year’s La Liga season was one of the best in recent memory, as Atletico Madrid crashed giants Real Madrid and Barcelona’s two-horse race to win the title. With the inspirational leadership of manager Diego Simeone, Atletico outlasted both Real and Barca to claim their first league crown in 18 years.

But as the old adage goes, it’s much harder to stay at the top than to get to the top. Real and Barca have already splashed some serious cash on incredibly talented stars during the offseason, a luxury Atletico cannot afford. Will those moves be enough to see the perennial juggernauts back in the top two spots this season, which begins on August 24?

Ex Barcelona stars Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas are set to begin a few weeks earlier for their new clubs in the English Premier League. Check out our comprehensive preview of the EPL season here and read on as we look ahead to another exciting La Liga season.

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Spanish La Liga Betting Preview and Prediction

Favorites – Real Madrid and Barcelona

Real Madrid successfully conquered Europe last season, but they couldn’t quite conquer their own country as neighbors Atletico took the crown to the other half of Madrid. This year, though, Real, who defeated Atletico in the Champions League final, are -115 to reclaim the Spanish throne from their crosstown rivals.

[sc:Soccer240banner ]Real Madrid stocked up on huge World Cup stars this summer with the signings of Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez and World Cup winner Toni Kroos. The talented duo will add to a potentially terrifying lineup which already consists of last year’s La Liga leading scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo (31 league goals), and last year’s marquee signing, Gareth Bale.

The trick for manager Carlo Ancelotti will now be to find the optimal formation to utilize his embarrassment of midfield and attacking riches without completely sacrificing the team’s solidity at the back.

Not to be outdone, Barca also broke the bank with the signing of serial biter Luis Suarez to form a dream South American attack alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar. Suarez joins new recruits Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Ivan Rakitic, Jeremy Mathieu, who will replace the club’s departed stars Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol, Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas.

Former Barca player Luis Enrique steps in as new manager in place of Tata Martino, who was let go after just one season in charge. Much like Ancelotti, Enrique’s main task will be to get the best out of his talented front trio, especially Messi, whose 28 league goals were his fewest since 2008-09. If Messi does return to his best season, Barca are a decent bet at +115 to win the title this season.

High-Value Sleeper – Atletico Madrid

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The odds will be stacked against reigning champs Atletico, who are +1,500 to successfully defend their title. Not only did Real and Barca reinforce their already formidable squads, but Alteti also lost arguably their two best players from last season, striker Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois, to Chelsea. Costa was sold and Courtois, who was on loan from the English club, opted to return to England.

There are also concerns that Atletico’s relatively shallow squad, which manager Diego Simeone has playing a physically demanding style, will start to feel the effects of a long, grueling season that also saw them reach the Champions League final.

Nevertheless, Simeone has re-invested wisely in his squad this summer to offset those concerns. Striker Mario Mandzukic will fill the boots of Costa up front, while the promising 21-year old Jan Oblak will take Courtois’ place between the sticks. And with the added dimension new signing Antoine Griezmann can provide, don’t be too quick to count Atletico out just yet.

Best of the Rest

No one outside of the top three has any realistic shot of winning La Liga, especially since the teams directly below them all sold away arguably their best players to bigger clubs. Athletic Bilbao (fourth) lost midfielder Ander Herrera to Manchester United, Europa League champs Sevilla (fifth) lost Rakitic to Barca, and Real Sociedad (seventh) lost Griezmann to Atletico.

With those teams getting markedly weaker, the door may be open for the likes of former title contenders, Villarreal and Valencia, to rise up the table. Villarreal finished an impressive sixth in their first season back to La Liga, and remain relatively unchanged from last season.

Meanwhile, Valencia, led by Algeria’s World Cup star Sofiane Feghouli, will be aiming to bounce back from their lowest finish (eighth) in six years. At +15,000, bookmakers consider Los Che the most likely non-Madrid/Barca team to win La Liga.

Key matches

October 25-26 – Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

March 21-22 – Barcelona vs. Real Madrid

The two biggest dates on every La Liga calendar are undoubtedly the much-anticipated El Clasico battles between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Aside from the fiery atmosphere and increased intensity of play, these encounters have traditionally gone a long way in determining the eventual destination of the La Liga title.

This season’s first “clasico” date, scheduled for the October 25-26 weekend, has an added level of intrigue as it oh-so-conveniently coincides with the end of Luis Suarez’s four-month ban, which he incurred for his biting incident in the World Cup.

Writer’s Prediction

It’s very hard to look past Real Madrid and their undeniable quality. There may be some growing pains to start, but Carlo Ancelotti has a proven track record of resolving roster issues. The same cannot be said of Luis Enrique, who could have a tough time integrating all three of his talented forwards in the same lineup.

Simeone’s Atletico will be the biggest challengers to their neighbors, but Real (-115) will prove to have too much talent and will win their 33rd La Liga crown.

Get ready for the upcoming 2014/15 Spanish La Liga season by creating a betting account today.

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Brad
Written by Brad

Sports Betting Tips, News, and Analysis