Real Madrid have been made the bookmakers’ odds on favourites to win the 2020-21 La Liga title after winning the league for the first time since 2017 last month.
The world footballing giants have not won back-to-back crowns since 2008 under head coach Bernd Schuster, such has been the dominance of Barcelona since.
However, their arch rivals are currently in a mess and needing somewhat of a squad rebuild, which could be made worse should Lionel Messi leave this summer. Reports yesterday claimed that the Argentine superstar has handed in a transfer request at Camp Nou.
Barcelona have been through a few managers over the past couple of seasons, which included dismissing Ernesto Valverde in January despite being top of the league table. After the league restarted they blew their lead to allow Real Madrid to take the title. Ronald Koeman has been appointed as the new manager this summer.
Meanwhile, Zinedine Zidane’s side were much strong defensively this past season, conceding a league low 25 goals. However, they weren’t always so efficient going forward, ending the season with 16 goals less than their Catalan rivals.
The French manager is also blooding a number of young talents – Federico Valverde (22) and Vinicius Junior (20) somewhat regular first teamers last season, whilst Rodrygo (19), Eder Militao (22), Luka Jovic (22) all appeared in 15 or more La Liga matches.
Real Madrid have more exciting youngsters waiting in the wings for their opportunities too – Brahim Diaz (21), Martin Odegaard (21) and goalkeeper Andriy Lunin (21).
Takefusa Kubo, Reinier and Jesus Vallejo have all been sent out on loan ahead of the new campaign.
Meanwhile, Barcelona have been spending again - 29-year-old Martin Braithwaite arrived in February and 30-year-old Miralem Pjanic has joined from Juventus this summer, with Arthur going in the other direction.
Barcelona saw a lot out of 17-year-old Ansu Fati last season whilst Riqui Puig got a lot of playing time in the final weeks too.
Former player Koeman has a lot of work to do and his record has been hit and miss – winning the Eredivisie with both Ajax and PSV Eindhoven, but not so successful at Everton and Benfica. Credit for what he did at Southampton and also took the Netherlands to the UEFA Nations League final last summer.
What happens with Lionel Messi this summer will have a huge impact on the new season of course. His departure would be a monumental blow and would rightfully back the bookmakers’ decision to make Real Madrid the early La Liga favourites.
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