The 2021-22 La Liga season gets underway the weekend of August 13 as Atletico Madrid look to hold off Barcelona and Real Madrid to defend their title. Barcelona has reportedly locked up Lionel Messi but has some financial issues to deal with, while Real Madrid again have a new coach and have some legends on the way out. Let’s have a look at our Soccer betting update so you can get ready to bet against LaLiga odds.
Spanish LaLiga Betting Preview & Analysis for the Upcoming Season
Barcelona Trying to Keep Messi, Reloading
Superstar Lionel Messi’s historic contract expired at the end of the 2020-21 season, and Barcelona has a new deal in place to keep him until 2026. However, they need to shed salary to be able to bring in Messi’s new five-year deal.
One of the rumored moves is to send attacker Antoine Griezmann back to Atletico Madrid so they can stay in La Liga’s financial fair play regulations. They brought Griezmann in from Atletico in 2019 in a €120 million deal.
After finishing in third place last year, seven points behind the champions, Barcelona has reloaded under manager Ronald Koeman for 2021-22. They brought in strikers Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay from Manchester City and Lyon, respectively, both on free transfers. Barcelona also added Spanish defender Eric Garcia on a free transfer from Manchester City and paid €9 million for Real Betis defender Emerson.
So far, they have sold defender Junior Firpo to Leeds United for €15 million, defender Jean-Clair Todibo to Nice for €8.5 million, and midfielder Carles Alena to Getafe for €5 million.
Champions Standing Pat, For Now
Atletico Madrid won their first La Liga title since 2014 after making big splashes in last year’s transfer window. They added Luis Suarez from Barcelona, Yannick Carrasco from China, and Lucas Torreira from Arsenal. The big signing this summer has been adding Argentine midfielder Rodrigo De Paul from Udinese for €35 million.
So far this summer, they have sent Moussa Dembele back to Lyon after his loan ended and Torreira back to Arsenal. They have seen a host of players who were on loan return, including Alvaro Morata from Juventus and Axel Werner from Atletico San Luis.
They are rumored to be shopping English defender Kieran Trippier, but his release clause may make it hard to find a taker. If Griezmann returns, look for teams to come calling for 26-year-old midfielder Saul.
Real Madrid in Transition
Even though they were La Liga runners-up last season, it was a difficult one for Real Madrid. None of their players were selected for Spain the Euros, a first, while their crosstown rivals won the La Liga title. They also were knocked out of the Champions League early while manager Zinedine Zidane left after the season.
Carlo Ancelotti is the new manager, hoping to win the title that eluded him at Real from 2013-15. The first time around, he captured a Champions League, a Super Cup, and a Copa del Rey but didn’t win La Liga.
Also gone will be center back and captain Sergio Ramos, who called Real Madrid home since 2005. The five-time La Liga champion and four-time Champions League winner has moved on to Paris Saint-Germain after his contract ended.
His defensive partner Raphael Varane has been strongly linked to Manchester United in recent weeks, while midfielder Brahim Diaz has been loaned to AC Milan.
Real Madrid will welcome back transfers Dani Ceballos (Arsenal), David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Martin Odegaard (Arsenal), and Gareth Bale (Tottenham). The challenge for Ancelotti will be getting those players to buy in, especially Bale and Ceballos, who were loaned out after losing their spots in Madrid.
Other New Players
Outside of the top three, other teams have made moves this summer. Real Villarreal, the reigning Europa Cup champions, brought in striker Boulaye Dia from Rems for €12 million. Villarreal also spent €15 million to bring defender Juan Foyth from Tottenham.
Osasuna grabbed attacker Ante Budimir from relegated Mallorca for €8 million while Celta Vigo spent €4 million on midfielder Franco Cervi from Benfica.
Current Free Agents
Technically, Messi leads this list, but all indications are that Barcelona will make the needed moves to fit him under the financial fair play rules.
Pape Diop, who played 33 games last season with now-relegated SD Eibar, is without a contract. The defensive midfielder from Senegal is 36 years old. Japanese winger Takashi Inui is also available after scoring once in 17 games for Eibar last season.
The most intriguing player available is Diego Costa. A temperamental but effective striker, Costa’s contract was terminated by Atletico Madrid on December 29, 2020, and he still hasn’t signed elsewhere. He scored 55 goals in two stints for Atletico and has 146 career goals in a career that includes stops with Chelsea, Celta Vigo, Valladolid, and Rayo Vallecano.