In our La Liga bitcoin betting guide we take a look at the top three teams and their chances of lifting the trophy. Last year, Barcelona won the title by 14 points and 17 ahead of rivals Real Madrid, whose fourth Champions League victory in five years gave Zinedine Zidane a chance to jump ship on a high. Real cannot afford to underperform again.
La Liga welcomes two debutants in 2018/19. The first is SD Huesca, a small club only founded in 1960 that achieved promotion to the top flight for the first time in its history last season. Having finished second despite winning just 75 points from 42 Segunda Division matches, there is every chance Huesca, with a meagre 7,500 capacity stadium, will finish rock bottom. The second newcomer is VAR, debuting in Spain after its mild success at the World Cup in Russia. Many coaches in Spain have already spoken out again its adoption.
Atletico Madrid have improved dramatically over the summer thanks to the arrival of Thomas Lemar, while both Real Madrid and Barcelona have some glaring flaws. Will this be Atletico's year?
Here is a rundown of Spain’s three title contenders:
Real Madrid (2.75)
Undoubtedly the biggest narrative point in La Liga is Real’s performances after collecting just 76 points last campaign – their worst showing in 11 years. It is no wonder Zidane decided to call it a day. Julen Lopetegui cannot afford a stuttering start, although Getafe (h), Girona (a), Leganes (h) is just about the easiest beginning possible.
Then again, Real are in the midst of a tectonic shift in identity. Cristiano Ronaldo’s shock £90 million move to Juventus has triggered an existential crisis in Madrid as the talisman for nine years – the man in whose image the club has been sculpted – leaves a black hole in the dressing room. The entire culture of the club, not least their performances on the pitch, will change dramatically: some players will creep out of the shadows and others will fall away as Real re-learn how to play football without funnelling everything through the machine-like centre-forward. We're likely to see a lot of shifting odds as bettors work out the effect of his departure on Real Madrid's chances.
Lopetegui’s appointment is well-timed, then, considering the former Spain coach plays attractive possession football as opposed to the individualistic approach favoured by his predecessor. The likes of Isco and Marco Asensio should thrive under Lopetegui; his high-pressing football marks a significant departure from the Zidane era.
Can Real Madrid find their identity?
Florentino Perez remains on the hunt for a new galactico. It is interesting to note that his primary targets are all playmakers – Eden Hazard being the most likely – despite Ronaldo having become a traditional number nine some time ago. Real need to replace the Portugal star’s goals, not assists.
Vinicius Junior, an 18-year-old Brazilian signed for a mind-boggling €45 million, arrived this summer, but under intense scrutiny the inexperienced teenager will take some time to adapt. "He is one of the great hopes of Brazilian football and world football, but who is already a reality,” Perez said of a boy with only 37 senior appearances to his name. No pressure.
Ernesto Valverde wasn’t a particularly popular choice when appointed 12 months ago and indeed the jury is still out despite Barcelona going almost an entire season unbeaten. A 5-4 defeat to Levante on the penultimate day of the campaign prevented Valverde from achieving the most unflattering success in history. Barca were nowhere near good enough to enter the history books.
Their points tally of 93 is testament to La Liga’s poor quality last season, not any particular success on Valverde’s part. Real should be stronger this season under Lopetegui, even without Ronaldo, and so it is troubling from a Catalan perspective that Barcelona continue to stockpile attackers rather than solve deeper structural issues. Malcom has joined for £36 million from Bordeaux, throwing Ousmane Dembele’s future into doubt, and while young midfielder Arthur is a smart acquisition he won’t step straight into the first team.
Barcelona's signings show their intent.
Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets (still at the club but ageing fast) both need replacing if Valverde is to retain the title. If he moves Philippe Coutinho into a deeper midfield role, as Jurgen Klopp did at Liverpool, then perhaps Barca will have enough quality to repeat the feat of 2017/18. However, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi are into their thirties while Paulinho, who started 21 league games last season, has gone back to China. The signs are ominous.
Bet on La Liga with bitcoin
It couldn't be easier to bet on La Liga with bitcoin at Cloudbet. If you're not sure how to get started, we've got you covered. There are three simple steps to placing your bet and we cover them all in our blog:
Otherwise read on for more La Liga analysis.
Atletico Madrid (12.5)
Ever since their incredible La Liga triumph in 2014 Atletico Madrid have been worth a small wager. Based on the transitional issues at Real Madrid and the underwhelming summer window for Barcelona, things could be set up for Atleti to upset the odds again. With Real Madrid and Barcelona in transition, there's never been a better time for Diego Simeone's side.
Last season Atletico were unbeaten across the first 16 matches and only fell out of the title race at the beginning of March; they were a mere five points behind Barcelona with one defeat from 26 matches, suggesting all they need is an extra creative output in the Spring to drag them up to Barcelona’s level.
There's never been a better time for Atletico Madrid.
That’s exactly what they’ve got in Thomas Lemar, a club-record £67 million signing from AS Monaco that serves as a statement of intent from the board. It looks as though Atletico have finally shaken off their tag of being a selling club, a fact compounded by Antoine Griezmann’s decision to sign a new contract. This is a team to be feared.
Simeone’s aggressive, defence-first counter-attacking system is perfectly suited to Lemar’s style of football, and the same can be said for Gelson Martins, picked up on a free transfer from Sporting. The 23-year-old has the potential to be a huge star in La Liga.
The title race will probably be decided by which of Real and Barcelona signs better players before the start of the season, because right now neither look as strong as they should be. Barca’s stability gives them the slight edge over their rivals, although as of late July it is Atletico who look the most sturdy, organised, and exciting of the three. Now settled in their new stadium, Atletico Madrid might just pull off the unthinkable.
Winner: Real Madrid (2.35)
Winner w/o Real and Barca: Atletico (1.50)
Top Basque club: Real Sociedad (2.25)