Over the last 11 years only three teams have managed to claim La Liga, and odds makers predict no new club will break through in the upcoming 2015-2016 term.
With Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez spearheading maybe the world’s most potent attack, reigning champion Barcelona stands at 3/4 odds to claim their 24th La Liga crown and repeat for the first time since 2011, according to OddsChecker.com.
Real Madrid aren’t too far behind at 17/10, followed by Atletico at 22/1, but from there a huge drop-off occurs, with Seville and Valencia next up at 66/1.
For more than a decade Barcelona have largely ruled Spain’s top league with seven titles, while Real Madrid’s claimed three, and Atletico wedged in its first La Liga crown in 20 years back in 2013-14. The Catalans edged out Los Blancos by a mere two points last term, but Atletico finished a distant 14 points behind their crosstown rivals in third place.
Barcelona holds steady as the favorite despite its lack of transfer activity this summer. Due to FIFA imposed restrictions, the Catalans and manager Luis Enrique are allowed to sign players but none can play until the second-half of the season.
Messi, who was runner-up in the Ballon d’Or vote to Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo for the second straight year, is poised for another stellar year after netting 43 La Liga goals over 38 appearances last season.
And there’s reason to believe the Argentine and Barcelona could be even stronger. Last summer the Catalans paid a fortune to acquire Suarez from Liverpool, but the Uruguayan talisman was suspended for the first two months of La Liga. He still wound up with 16 goals and 14 assists, but with a full year beside Messi and Neymar and under Enrique’s system, Suarez should be far more comfortable in his second season at Camp Nou.
Barcelona hasn’t enjoyed rousing success in the preseason, particularly in two losses to Chelsea and Manchester United in International Champions Cup play, but both Messi and Brazil’s Neymar played sparingly after serving their international duties.
Though they aren’t under any transfer restrictions, Real’s only significant change was at the helm. Los Blancos welcomed Rafa Benitez as Carlo Ancelotti’s replacement after the squad sputtered toward the end of the campaign and lost control of La Liga despite winning 22-straight across four competitions between September and January.
Los Blancos did part with goalkeeper Iker Casillas, sending him to Porto, and Sami Khedira, on a free transfer to Juventus, but they have an equal amount of depth to Barcelona in the attack. Ronaldo’s joined by Gareth Bale, who dealt with transfer speculation suggesting a switch back to Premier League, as well as Colombian winger James Rodriguez. There is also a good chance that Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea may join Real Madrid.
Ronaldo sat out Real’s last two preseason matchups in the Audi Cup due to a lower back injury, but the decision was viewed more as cautionary to keep the Portuguese fresh for the start of La Liga. French striker Karim Benzema is also in the midst of a thigh injury, and he’s expected to miss some early matches in the domestic campaign.
Manager Diego Simone and Atletico were far more active on the transfer market as they try to topple Spain’s two biggest titans. The Rojiblancos said goodbye to forward Mario Mandzukic as well as midfielder Arda Turan, who joined the Catalans, but also welcomed Colombia forward and scorer Jackson Martinez to Vicente Calderon.
Simone also acquired 21-year-old Belgian winger Yannick Carrasco from Monaco, and added defender Stefan Savic from Fiorentina and brought Filipe Luis back from Chelsea to make up for the loss of Toby Alderweireld to Tottenham.
The full list of odds can be found below.
Odds to Win La Liga
Barcelona 3 /4
Real Madrid 17/10
Atletico Madrid 22/1
Athletic Bilbao 500/1
Celta Vigo 1000/1
Real Sociedad 1000/1
Rayo Vallecano 5000/1
UD Las Palmas 10,000/1