Cesc Fabregas has signed for Barcelona just days before the Spanish football season begins and the midfielder’s £25 million switch to Arsenal has forced the bookmakers to cut Barca’s odds when it comes to retaining their La Liga title.
The best price you will find about an FC Barcelona triumph is 7/10 (Sportingbet – £100 free bets), with many punters likely to include Pep Guardiola’s team in antepost accumulators, especially when you consider the way in which they tore Manchester United apart in last season’s Champions League final.
Lionel Messi is regarded by many as the best player in the world, with David Villa arguably the most dangerous striker on the planet and there really aren’t too many weaknesses in a team that will be strengthened by the arrival of Fabregas.
Even so, Real Madrid will be determined to try and close the gap on their arch-rivals this season, especially after that 5-0 humiliation at the Nou Camp last season which was the heaviest defeat suffered by Jose Mourinho as a football manager. Los Blancos are available at 13/8 (Ladbrokes – £50 free betting) to overhaul Barca at the top of La Liga.
The two sides were involved in their first Clasico match of the season at the weekend, with Real and Barcelona playing out an exciting 2-2 draw in the first leg of their Super Cup final match, suggesting that the former could mount a more serious title challenge.
It is probably safe to assume that only two clubs can possibly win the title, with Valencia available at odds of 66/1 (Ladbrokes) and Los Che’s target will be to make sure that they at least retain third place next season. They could have some stiff opposition in the form of Atletico Madrid, Villarreal, Malaga and Sevilla.
It was Villarreal that banked fourth place last season and will be involved in the Champions League this term as a result. Atletico have been weakened by the departure of Sergio Aguero to Manchester City, although Malaga seem to have lots of money to spend and could be knocking on the door of the top four by the end of the campaign.
Naturally, many bookmakers offer a market without the top two, with Valencia the 3/1 favourites, although Sevilla (9/2), Malaga and Villarreal (5/1) promise to make it an exciting contest.
You can also bet on the three teams that will be relegated from La Liga this season, with Deportivo La Coruna, Hercules and Almeria suffering that fate last season. Granada and Rayo Vallecano have been given odds-on quotes by the bookmakers this time around, with the former having finished fifth last term before winning the play-offs.