real madrid atletico

The top contenders for the Spanish La Liga title

Martina Kostadinova
by Martina Kostadinova

The Spanish top-flight has long been a duopoly of the biggest clubs in the country. Real Madrid and Barcelona have 60 league titles between them and have been the greatest forces dominating the beautiful game in La Liga.

However, the La Liga title race will for once go on without Barcelona this season as the Catalans navigate a transitional year without Lionel Messi and amidst an era-defining financial meltdown.

Both Madrid sides are expected to take charge of the title race this season but football always offers the opportunity of an unfancied side sneaking in a fairytale. Hence, this article considers the top contenders for the Spanish league title.

Overlyzer’s data tools offer the best online sports betting tips and we have based our research on their findings.

Real Madrid

The record Spanish champions are currently eight points ahead of second-placed Sevilla who have a game in hand. After a single league defeat to Espanyol so far this season, Carlo Ancelotti’s side comfortably lead the chasing pack after instilling a complete harmony and good chemistry within the squad.

Encouragingly for Madrid, their current total of 42 points is six more than at this point in either of the last two seasons, and 12 more than in 2018/19. They are on course for 93.8 points at this rate and are set to surpass Atletico Madrid’s title-winning total of 86 last season.

Los Blancos are on a 10-game winning run in all competitions after defeating rivals Atletico Madrid in a decisive game last week. A 35th league title appears inevitable for the league’s top scorers as well as second-best defence, but they must remain cautious despite their advantage.

This is because Ancelotti's side led for 15 consecutive match days in his first spell during the 2014/15 but ultimately surrendered their lead to Barcelona. However, the 2-0 dismantling of rivals and defending champions Atletico last time out is the kind of performance that will fill Madridistas with assurance in a season devoid of serious challengers.

With a 75.35% win percentage reached with Los Merengues, Ancelotti now sits on top of the list of Real Madrid managers in history and the Italian must lift his first Spanish top-flight title to vindicate his return to the Santiago Bernabeu and complete the set of Europe’s top five leagues.

Sevilla

Julen Lopetegui’s men have been on a steady rise in the last two seasons and look the biggest benefactors of Barcelona’s downfall.

Los Nervionenses have only lost to league leaders Real Madrid in the last nine games and are showing an impressive consistency in the league. The La Liga title hopefuls are five points ahead of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid and find themselves as Real Madrid’s nearest challengers, albeit just a point above rivals Real Betis with a game in hand.

Still they dare to dream about a first league crown since 1946, especially if they can get the better of Atlético Madrid this weekend. Sevilla have a very good chance of finishing higher than fourth since 2009, despite the disappointment of relegation to the Europa League knockout stage.

The Andalucians possess the league’s best defence for goals conceded (11) and have strong team ethics. Although none of their star players has consistently banged the goals, Sevilla have relied on the goalscoring talents of Rafa Mir who is flourishing in his debut season with five league goals so far.

That lack of firepower is evident in the fact that Sevilla have scored the least goals in the top four and their hopes may be derailed by a lack of goals across the attacking ranks.

Real Betis

The Green-and-Whites have been admirably consistent so far, losing only four of their 17 games hence their league standing where they sit four points ahead of champions Atletico.

This season’s surprise package are led by Manuel Pellegrini who has steered them to a four-game winning run since losing the Seville

Derby last month. Having defeated Barcelona along the way, Betis are full of confidence and must remain focused on pushing as high up the table as possible. 

Real Betis possess the second-best attack in the league after Real Madrid and are primed for their highest league spot since finishing fourth in 2004/05. They have won the top-flight title only once in their 114-year history and could be on the verge of history given a spectacular Real Madrid collapse.

Fortunately, their 68-year-old manager has lifted four league titles in three of the countries he has managed in, winning La Liga with Betis would be his greatest achievement. 

Juanmi has been providing the star dust for Betis with at least 10 La Liga goals for only the second time in his entire career. Everyone at Estadio Benito Villamarin will fancy their chances of a fairytale triumph.

However, Betis are yet to beat a top four rival this season which is the only reason why they are not higher up the table. A few sensational wins against the big boys will certainly clear some doubts.

Atletico Madrid

Los Rojiblancos secured their first league title in seven years while the traditional top two faltered in an all-round difficult campaign. Yet, they have been unable to build upon that incredible battle.

A wobbly start to the season has undermined the Wanda Metropolitano side who have now lost four times in the league. Atletico Madrid were outclassed in last week’s 2-0 derby defeat to Real Madrid which will pose serious concerns about their title credentials. Nevertheless, this writer knows better than to underestimate Diego Simeone’s men.

Despite their dwindling fortunes at the moment, any exceptional turnaround will depend on the form of 34-year-old Luis Suarez who has seven goals and two assists this season.

After his 21 goals propelled Atleti to an exceptional title win in 2020/21, the Uruguayan’s goal scoring will be once again crucial.

If they can keep Suarez fit and performing then you can never rule out Atletico Madrid’s title chan