In last week’s first report of the new season we previewed the 2014-15 Premier League and this week we take a look at the new Spanish season that kicks off this weekend in our La Liga Preview. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link above and can read the transcript of the report (below) where you will also find explanations of key vocabulary (in bold). You can also try our online quiz.
Atlético Madrid surprised many last season by winning their tenth La Liga title and despite the fact that they have lost striker Diego Costa, goalkeeper Courtouis and defender Filipe – they have all gone to Chelsea – they have strengthened their side with some interesting signings. In has come French winger Griezmann from Real Sociedad, Croatian forward Mario Mandžukić from Bayern Munich and they will join the spine of last season’s title-winning team, that’s Koke, Godin, Juanfran, Gabi, Miranda, and of course their inspirational coach Diego Simeone.
Barcelona have a new manager in former player Luis Enrique and he is overseeing a change at the Nou Camp. Barca may be banned from making any signings in the next two transfer windows so there has been quite a lot of movement in this close season as they attempt to win back their title. Defenders Mathieu from Valencia and Vermaelen from Arsenal should help to replace the retired Carles Pujol, but perhaps the stand out signing for the Catalan side is Luis Suárez from Liverpool. He will be forced to miss the first couple of months of the season due to suspension but when he returns he will form part of a formidable attacking force that includes Neymar and Messi.
We tend to forget that Real Madrid were a whisker away from winning an amazing treble last season. Champions League winners for the tenth time they also won the Copa del Rey and finished third in La Liga but this only after a poor end to the campaign. This season they have added World Cup winner Tony Kroos to their midfield, James Rodríguez to their forward line and Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas as back up to Iker Casillas in goal. They still have the much-feared ‘BBC’ front line of Bale, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo and will be yet again one of the favourites to win La Liga.
Now only nine sides have ever won La Liga and it is unlikely that a tenth will it win it this season meaning that many of the clubs are battling it out for the final Champions League spot. Valencia have a new Portuguese manager but few are tipping them to challenge although the same cannot be said about Athletic Club Bilbao who return to the Champions League this season for the first time in 16 years. They have lost midfielder Ander Herrera to Manchester United but the rest of the squad that did so well last year remains and with the new San Mamés stadium now complete they will be among the favourites to finish in fourth place. Perhaps their biggest rivals will be Europa League winners Sevilla though they have lost key players including Ivan Rakitić to Barcelona. Dark horses that could make the top four include Real Sociedad and Villareal but they will probably have to be satisfied with a top 6 finish instead.
Now last year’s relegation battle went down to the wire with Osasuna, Valladolid and Betis all going down to the second division. In their place have come former title winners Deportivo La Coruña, Córdoba, who will be making their first appearance in the top tier for over 40 years and for the first time ever, Basque side Eibar. Eibar and Córdoba will struggle as they do not really have the finances to compete at this level while Elche, Levante and my favourite team Málaga, as well as Madrid side Rayo Vallecano, who may have made too many changes to their team, will also face a relegation battle this season.
It will be hard for Atlético to repeat their exploits from last season, while I think Barcelona may have too many new players to bed in this year so I am going for Real Madrid for the title. As for relegation, I think Eibar, Córdoba and probably Rayo will find themselves in the bottom three come the end of the season.
What are your predictions for the 2014-15 La Liga season? Let us know by posting your predictions below.
the spine: The main group of players of the team.
he is overseeing a change: In charge of changing the team
close season: The off season; when teams do not play but prepare for the season
the stand out signing: The main or most important (eye catching) signing
a whisker away: Very close to doing something (a hair’s breadth)
formidable: To be very strong
Champions League spot: Position (in Spain, as in England, this is for the team finishing in fourth place)
went down to the wire: Right to the end; nothing was decided until the last day of the season
the top tier: The top division; the first division
Basque: An autonomous region in the north of Spain
to repeat their exploits: To win the title again
to bed in: To settle in
La Liga’s Official Site (in English)
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