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Barca holding ace-hand in Spain

Barca holding ace-hand in Spain

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Barcelona cruised to the Spanish title last season and will start as strong favourites again going into 2018/19 campaign. The Catalans have arguably strengthened this summer while their arch-rivals Real Madrid have been weakened.

Barcelona to win La Liga @ 20/27

The reigning Spanish champions will sit comfortably on many betting slips and pre-season accumulators as Ernesto Valverde’s men look firm favourites to retain La Liga and, perhaps, could be a bit shorter in the betting.

Andres Iniesta has left the Camp Nou but his departure may see January signing Philippe Coutinho growing in stature at the club, which can only be a good thing.

A summer pursuit of Antoine Griezmann did not yield the result Barcelona wanted, with the French ace electing to stick with Atletico Madrid. Instead Brazilian forward Malcom has come in from Bordeaux to help out Luis Suarez in the goal-getting stakes.

At this stage Barcelona look potentially stronger than last season, with the always reliable Lionel Messi sure to make his contribution. Beaten only once last season in the league, they’ll be hard to stop.

Real Madrid to win La Liga @ 13/10

The departures were plentiful at the Bernabeu despite landing a third straight Champions League crown in Kiev. Coach Zinedine Zidane departed and it isn’t hard to surmise the Frenchman made a clever call.

European glory papered over the cracks that saw Real failing to win 16 times in 38 La Liga games last term. Cristiano Ronaldo also decided this summer was the right time to call it quits on his supreme stint in the Spanish capital and replacing the Portuguese – even at his age – is not going to be easy.

Gareth Bale will fancy the role but will new boss Julen Lopetegui fancy the Welshman? Either way, it is questionable if Bale can fill the Ronaldo void.

Real Madrid could be in for a period of transition, something their new boss won’t get long to initiate. They are a shaky bet at current odds to win the title.

Atletico Madrid to win La Liga @ 12/1

Diego Simeone’s side split the big two last season, 14 points down on Barcelona and three clear of their city rivals, and they might be a decent bet to do it again.

As always with a Simeone side, they were resolute defensively and conceded only 22 goals in total, a shade over 0.5 goals per game. The problem is scoring, Atletico lack the brutish firepower of Barca and Real, being outscored last season by six teams in total and that may hinder their title hopes.

Retaining Griezmann is a massive bonus for Simeone and they belong in the bracket with their illustrious rivals for sure. They’ve got solid claims of once again being the meat in the sandwich.

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Enda McElhinney Our racing expert, Enda studies cards in both England and Ireland on a daily basis and knows all the details you need to know when trying to select a winner. He is also a regular football writer and has strong knowledge of the Scottish game, with golf another specialised sport on his CV.