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Betting Preview for the 2021/22 La Liga Season

| August 12, 2021 6:16 am PDT

Things will be different in Spain this year. In all likelihood, it will be Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid fighting it out for the La Liga title – and we will be treated to some excellent pieces of skill from some of the best players in the world.

But something will be missing.

By now, you know that La Liga will kick off the 2021/22 season without Lionel Messi as the star of the show. There is still plenty to look forward to, though, and I will be addressing some of the most interesting stories regarding the Spanish top flight this season.

Let’s take a look at what may affect your betting.

La Liga Without Messi

Let’s get this out of the way right at the start. For the first time in 18 years, there will be no Lionel Messi saving Barcelona.

Due to chronic financial mismanagement of the club over the past few years, it cannot afford to keep him on the books. He has now been unveiled as a Paris Saint-Germain player.

That leaves Barcelona figuring out just what exactly its plan B is. But this is a season that already looked more wide-open thanks to Atletico’s triumph last year. Barcelona will still have a talented squad to see them through – but La Liga will not be quite the same in 2021/22.

What Now for Barcelona?

The financial status of the majority of La Liga clubs is perilous, to say the least. But Barcelona seems to be in a bigger hole than most.

The club had actually agreed to a wage-slashing contract to allow Messi to continue playing at the Camp Nou, but even that was not enough to comply with the regulations.

Barca has still brought in many top players that will not allow the club to fall away from the limelight, though (if that was ever possible). Sergio Aguero, Emerson, Eric Garcia, and Memphis Depay have all been signed on free transfers.

There is likely to be further business before the end of the month but, if Griezemann stays, that is still a pretty formidable squad.

The really disappointing thing for Barcelona fans is that if Messi had been able to stay, the club might have had a real chance of taking back the La Liga title.

Pedri looks like he will be a star of the future and could be the main man in the middle this season. If he can get over the 60+ games he played last season for club and country, he will become even more important to the team now that Messi has departed.

Pedri 2020/21 Statistics
Competition Games Played
La Liga 37
Champions League 7
Copa del Rey 6
Supercopa 2
Euro 2020 6
Olympics 6
World Cup Qualifiers 3
International Friendlies 1
Total 68

I don’t think we have heard the end of the chaos surrounding Barcelona, but, for now, Ronald Koeman remains as head coach.

He will be hoping to concentrate on what is happening on the pitch and hoping that the Blaugrana can cope without its most celebrated player.

A New Look for Real Madrid

Historically, when Barcelona was experiencing problems, it meant that Real Madrid would swoop in to take over as La Liga’s top club. But Los Blancos have also had their fair share of issues since the end of last season.

When the team takes to the pitch on Saturday to face Alaves in the first game of the campaign, it will be doing so with a new head coach and without the two center backs that have been the lynchpins of the side in recent years.

Club legend Sergio Ramos left for PSG in less than pleasant circumstances, and Raphael Varane will be lining up for Manchester United in the EPL this season.

Carlo Ancelotti returns as head coach to the club, but there is still a lot of familiarity about the starting eleven.

Karim Benzema is the main threat up front, and Casemiro will marshal things in the middle. If Eden Hazard can actually remain fit, Real will be a daunting prospect this season.

A lot will depend on what other business is to be concluded before the transfer window shuts. If Kylian Mbappe is convinced to arrive at the Bernabeu, then Real’s odds as the favorite for the title will be drastically shortened.

That eventuality does seem unlikely, but it will also be interesting to see which players that were sent out on loan last season will be given a chance under the new manager.

Real Madrid Returning Loan Players for 2021/22
Player Position Returning From
Jesus Vallejo Defender Granada
Dani Ceballos Midfielder Arsenal
Takefusa Kubo Midfielder Getafe
Martin Odegaard Midfielder Arsenal
Gareth Bale Forward Tottenham Hotspur
Luka Jovic Forward Eintracht Frankfurt

Repeat for Atletico?

It always seems unfair that any preview of the La Liga season always concentrates on the latest farces at Barcelona and Real Madrid. It is even worse when Diego Simeone’s side is going into a campaign as champions.

Atletico won its second title under El Cholo last season, and he would dearly love to repeat that achievement – something that hasn’t been done for 71 years.

The bookmakers don’t think it will happen, though, with most soccer betting sites pricing Atletico at 4.00 to be the outright winner. Real and Barca are 2.37 and 3.25, respectively. But Simeone has enjoyed another good transfer window so far.

Simeone will feel as though the new players will only bolster Atletico’s chances this year.

I think the addition of Rodrigo De Paul from Udinese could be just as important as bringing in Luis Suarez was last season.

The Argentinian was outstanding in Serie A last season – and for his country in the Copa America – and should really light up the Wanda Metropolitano this season.

There will be some worries about who might leave the club, though. Both Saul Niguez and Kieran Trippier have been heavily linked with moves away, but for now, they both remain in Madrid.

Simeone can still rely on Joao Felix, Diego Llorente, and Jan Oblak, though, so it is not out of the question that Atletico could go on to win another league title this season.

Once again, the ‘second team’ in Madrid will be going in slightly under the radar this year – and that should be a worry for both Barca and Real.

Who Will Make the Top Four in La Liga?

La Liga is one of the best soccer leagues in the world, so it will obviously have some of the best clubs competing. But the reality is that one of the big three will win the title once again this season.

La Liga also claims four places in the Champions League group stage, though – and the race for fourth is always just as exciting as the battle for the number one spot.

Sevilla actually made the La Liga title race even more open than usual last season, going into the last few games with a decent shot of coming out on top.

Julen Lopetegui’s side couldn’t quite keep up in the end but still qualified for the Champions League again and will definitely be in with a chance this year. But Sevilla has lost Bryan Gil to the Premier League – with Erik Lamela coming the other way.

They are big boots to fill, and if Jules Kounde departs as well, there will be few holes to fill. Sevilla has some aging players in the midfield, and they may not be able to keep up as well as they have in the past.

If Sevilla doesn’t make the top four for the third season in a row, then it will probably be either Real Sociedad, Villarreal, or Real Betis.

La Real is probably the best choice here for me as it has been able to keep Swedish striker Alexander Isak and Mikel Oyarzabal and comes into this campaign after winning the delayed 2019/20 Copa del Rey final last year.

Real Sociedad was one of the more exciting sides to watch in La Liga last season and should compete again this term.

La Liga Top 4 Finish Odds
  • Real Madrid (1.03)
  • Barcelona (1.08)
  • Atletico Madrid (1.12)
  • Sevilla (2.20)
  • Real Sociedad (3.75)
  • Villarreal (3.75)
  • Real Betis (7.00)

La Liga 2021/22 Season Preview

The Spanish top flight is sometimes unfairly criticized as a title race between two or three clubs, and then the rest of the league being made up of much weaker sides.

Villarreal showed last season that is simply not the case when it beat Manchester United to claim the Europa League title. But even the lower half of the table contains some very good teams that make La Liga an exciting league to watch throughout the season.

The odds for games involving Real, Barcelona, and Atletico can sometimes seem a little one-sided, but there is good value to be found in the rest of the schedule. The best thing to do is to familiarize yourself with some of the clubs outside of the European places.

Then look at them to spring surprises against the big three. The prices for anyone playing the big clubs are usually far more enticing.

Dan Roberts
Dan Roberts

Dan Roberts is an experienced freelance writer specialising in sports and sports betting. He is particularly knowledgeable about world soccer, but also writes about football, basketball and cricket.

As a fan of Nottingham Forest, New York Knicks, Minnesota Vikings and New York Mets, Dan has not had much to celebrate recently.

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