El Centrocampista

LA LIGA IS BACK! (ALMOST) – Three reasons to tune in this season

By Richard Thorburn

Although it may be delayed a few weeks due to player strikes currently scheduled for the first two weekends of the season, La Liga is back bigger and better and with more games than ever being televised on British television.

There simply is no excuse for not sitting back with a bottle of Estrella Damm on a Saturday and Sunday night to enjoy the most exciting league in the world.

1. Barcelona v Real Madrid ( Guardiola v Mourinho) – Part Two

The battle continues between Spain's big two.

Last season we were treated to a record five ‘clásicos’ all
of which resulted in controversy and tension of some sort.

After the first leg of the Champions League semi final which Barcelona won 2-0 at the Bernabeu, Jose Mourinho claimed that Barcelona received favourable treatment from referees and claimed the club had yet to win a ‘clean’ Champions League title under Pep Guardiola.

He added: “‘Guardiola is a fantastic coach, but he has won
one Champions League which I would be ashamed to win after the scandal at Stamford Bridge and this year, if he wins it again,it will be after the scandal at the Bernabeau”.

Words which are certainly to fuel the fire of a rivalry that is beyond boiling point.

While the historical element of the rivalry goes on for decades, it has rarely felt this intense.

Expect sending offs, touchline confrontations, frank right views post game, oh and not to mention some wonderful, wonderful football which only these two teams can consistently produce.

This Sunday sees the first battle.

While the Spanish Super Cup is seen in a somewhat derogatory light, it matters not.

Fireworks are expected.

2. What will happen with Malaga?

Now owned by billionaire Sheikh Al Thani, Malaga have flexing their financial strength this summer with the notable additions of Jeremy Toulalan, Nacho Monreal and the 18 million euro capture of Santi Cazorla from Villarreal.

Much like Manchester City when they were taken over by Sheikh Mansour, many an eye will be charting their progress with interest and some fear.

While for a team that at one point last season flirted with relegation, any title bid this year is unrealistic, a good season could well be the foundation for a future force at the top of the game.

Having steered them from the relegation zone to mid table last season, experienced coach Manuel Pellegrini has signed a three year deal and will be striving to ensure that the next step of ‘project Malaga’ is a smooth one.

3. European dreams to Relegation fears

While the monotony of Real Madrid and Barcelona at the top of La Liga will no doubt remain, the rest of the league is fiercely competitive.

Last season just five points separated eigth and 17th place and there will be a whole host of clubs this season dreaming of Europe while always maintaining a close eye on what is behind them.

With third place Valencia undergoing a transformation period which no-one can predict the success of, the battle for the Champions League places could be hotter than ever.

This season is a mouth watering prospect for any self-respecting aficienado of the beautiful game in Spain, and it could prove one of the most exciting for a number of years.

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