Exciting 2022-23 La Liga Season Almost Underway
No team came close to challenging Real Madrid for the La Liga title in the 2021-22 season. Karim Benzema and Los Blancos won the league by 13 points and added a Champions League crown to boot. With Barcelona’s aggressive Summer transfer window, the Catalan club will hope to make El Clasico a fierce rivalry once again. Perhaps there’s a dark horse waiting in the wings in 2022-23, like Atletico Madrid’s title win in 2020-21. We’ll cover that and other key betting topics in this La Liga season preview.
Real Madrid and Barcelona Lead the Pack
Last season was one to forget for Barcelona fans. The team got off to a horrific start under Ronald Koeman after the club failed to re-sign Lionel Messi and was in financial trouble. Barça was out of the La Liga title race by December and got knocked out of the UCL group stage for the first time since 2000.
When Koeman was fired and Barça legend Xavi took over, things turned around and they finished in second. In the offseason, Barcelona managed to pull off one of the best transfer windows in recent memory.
Joan Laporta brought in Serie A-winning midfielder Franck Kessie and former Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen on free transfers. Then, he snatched three players right from under Chelsea’s noses. Barça brought in one of the world’s best strikers, Robert Lewandowski. They also completed deals for winger Raphinha and highly regarded center-back Jules Kounde.
With those moves in the bag, Barcelona’s odds have moved from +140 to +135 to win the La Liga title. Our La Liga season preview identifies them as the most intriguing team to watch this season. Still, they have their work cut out for them to challenge Real Madrid.
Real and the Golden Boot Race
We’ve almost run out of superlatives to give Karim Benzema and Real Madrid for their 2021-22 season. Los Blancos came away with Champions League, La Liga and Supercopa de España trophies in style. Benzema was the golden boot winner in La Liga and the UCL and is expected to win the Ballon D’Or.
The 34-year-old Benzema is actually a slight underdog to win the golden boot in 2022-23. That’s a sign of the threat Barcelona poses with Robert Lewandowski up front. Lewandowski broke all kinds of records with Bayern Munich and scored 35 Bundesliga goals last season. He’s a +225 favorite to pip Benzema to the Golden Boot. Benzema scored 27 goals in La Liga last season and is currently showing +250 odds to win another golden boot.
Despite Barcelona’s approach, Real Madrid has decided if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. They brought in just midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni and center back Antonio Rudiger in the offseason. Los Blancos are priced at +110 odds to win back-to-back trophies and Carlo Ancelotti’s men are more than capable of doing it. With their biggest rival significantly strengthened it should be a little more complicated than last year, though. El Clasico matchups between Real and Barcelona will be some of the key Spain La Liga fixtures and odds to bet on this season.
Top Four Contenders
Perhaps it’s a little unfair not to group Atletico Madrid with Barcelona and Real Madrid. After all, Diego Simeone’s Atletico is the only non-Barça and Real team to win La Liga in the last 18 years. They’re also just one year removed from their latest win, so +550 odds might look appealing. The oddsmakers also like their chances to make the top four, at -300.
Atletico finished third last season, just two points behind Barcelona. With the signings of right-back Nahuel Molina and center mid-Axel Witsel, they’ve had an understated offseason. Where they struggle to matchup their rivals is in offensive firepower. They’ll rely heavily on Joao Felix and Antoine Griezmann in 2021-22 after Luis Suarez’s departure.
Sevilla had the best defense in the league last season but that could change this season. Former starting center backs Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos completed moves to Barcelona and Aston Villa, respectively.
Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla sits at +1600 La Liga odds after staying in the title race for a while in 2021-22. They’re also the team most likely to snag the fourth Champions League place, at +125 top four odds. One of the better Spain La Liga betting tips last season was taking Sevilla as a pick’em at home. They lost just one match at the Estadio Ramon Pizjuan in 2021-22.
Villarreal and Real Sociedad are the only other two teams in the league with shorter than +10000 odds to win the title. Unai Emery’s Villarreal has often overachieved in cup competitions but league success has been hard to come by. They’re priced at +4000 to win La Liga and +275 to make the top four.
Real Sociedad ran out of steam in the second half of 2021-22 and key attacker Mikel Oyarzabal is recovering from a long-term injury. Sociedad shows odds of +5000 to win the league and +400 odds to make the top four.
Reigning Copa del Rey winners Real Betis have a squad that is very similar to last year’s. They were in the top-four race almost from start to finish in 2021-22 and have +450 odds to sneak into the UCL this season.
Athletic Bilbao and Valencia are priced at +600 and +900 to make the top four respectively, however, they were too inconsistent last season to be consistent picks.
Wide Open Relegation Battle
We’ll admit in this La Liga season preview that it’s very difficult to predict which teams will go down. Newcomers Girona and Valladolid are the most likely though, at +125 and +135, respectively, however, plenty of teams are at risk of facing the drop. Eight more clubs have an implied 20 percent or greater chance to get relegated.Follow us on Twitter