Well, it has happened. Ronaldo is no longer in La Liga. The Portuguese star’s £88 million move from Real Madrid to Italian giants Juventus is the most talked-about transfer in recent memory, partly because it was so unexpected, and also because of what it means for Madrid in La Liga going forward.
Los Blancos finished the 2017-18 season in third position, 17 points behind the champions Barcelona and 3 points behind Atlético in second place, but throughout the campaign never looked in contention for the title (despite winning a third consecutive Champions’ League trophy). These three sides will be joined by fourth placed Valencia in the 2018-19 Champions’ League, while Villareal and Real Betis (in 4th and 5th spots respectively) have qualified for the group stages of the Europa League. Sevilla, who finished in 7th place, will play in the Europa League qualifying stage.
Looking ahead to the 2018-19 season, it is almost unimaginable that there will be much change in the top 6, although there may be some shuffling around of places. The top sides in La Liga Primera dominate the competition to such an extent that in the 21st century only four teams have been crowned champions — Barcelona (9 times), Real Madrid (6), Valencia (2) and Atlético Madrid (1).
The sides departing La Liga Primera to join the second tier La Liga Segunda División are Deportivo La Coruña, Las Palmas and Málaga. Their places at the top table are being taken by the second division champions Rayo Vallecano and runners-up Huesca, with the third promoted side being Valladolid, who went up via the play-offs after finishing the season in 5th place.
All the talk in Spain and across Europe has naturally been about the CR7 transfer, but although they have received less media attention, there has still been movement of other players in and out of Spain. The most significant of these is the move of Brazilian attacking midfielder Malcom from Bordeaux, where he scored 20 goals in 84 appearances, to Barcelona for €41 million. Barça have also picked up the French defender Clement Lenglet from Sevilla for €36 million, and Brazilian midfielder Arthur for a fee of €27.9 million from Gremio.
Real Madrid has begun the process of investing some of their Ronaldo dividend, although it appears their attempts to lure Eden Hazard from Chelsea and Harry Kane from Spurs have been unsuccessful. They are instead currently trying to get Juventus star Daniele Rugani, and are believed to be making a move for Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani. Some of their other attempts to bring in players have been more successful, however, starting with the purchase of defender Alvaro Odriozola from Real Sociedad for €36 million and Ukranian goalkeeper Andriy Lunin for €14 million.
Other significant Spanish transfers include Atlético Madrid’s signing of the French midfielder Thomas Lemar from Monaco for a whopping €58.5 million, while Real Betis have paid Sporting Lisbon €18 million for their Portuguese midfielder William Carvalho.
With Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Real Madrid, and Barcelona’s aggression in the transfer market, it will come as no surprise that Barça is odds-on favourite to win La Liga Primera for the 26th time at a best price of 4-5 with Paddy Power and Betway (although they are as short as 8-11 with many bookmakers). Real Madrid is currently priced at 6-4 with most online sports books, with Atlético as much as 14-1 at SkyBet, although they are much shorter at 9-1 with Paddy Power. No-one else is seriously in the reckoning — the fourth favourites Sevilla are currently priced at between 50-1 to 250-1. If you want to bet on the winner, you probably need have it as part of an acca if you want to get any value.
If you want to look beyond La Liga Primera, the market on promotion from the Segunda División is much tighter. You can get 9-1 on Granada from 188Bet to win the second division, with Gijon and Osasuna at 10-1, followed by Numancia and Oviedo at 11-1.
The three newly-promoted sides are currently the favourites to be related from La Liga Primera and go straight back to Segunda División. Huesca is odds on to go down at 11-13 with Unibet, followed by Valladolid at 15-8 at bet365, while the champions Rayo Vallecano are priced at 9-4 to be relegated with William Hill. If you want some value in this market, Real Betis at 20-1 and Real Sociedad at 25-1 could be bets worth looking at.
Given the dominance of Barça and Madrid, it makes sense when you’re betting on La Liga to look at the markets without these two i.e, you are backing which other team will finish highest in the league. Atlético is the odds-on favourite at 4-7 with bet365, followed by Valencia at 13-2 with 888 Sport, or you can get 11-2 on Sevilla or 14-1 on Villareal with bet365.
This can be good value market to venture into if you think one of the less fancied sides can hit a run of form and sneak into the top 4. Athletic Bilbao at 9-1 with William Hill and Real Betis at 10-1 with bet365 might be worth a punt.