Atletico Madrid Should not be Underestimated in Liga Title Race
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Atletico Madrid Should not be Underestimated in Liga Title Race

The Premier League is underway in England, but in Spain the kick-off to the Liga campaign is not yet upon us.

The league season starts in Spain this weekend, but before then the Spanish Super Cup takes place between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid on Wednesday.

The two Madrid giants, along with defending champions Barcelona, dominate the betting for the Liga title race.

188BET have Ernesto Valverde’s Barca chalked up as favourites at 1.70 to defend their title, with Real second best at 2.45 and Atletico available to back at 9.50. Considering Valencia are fourth in the betting at 101, it’s not a stretch to state that the battle for the title in Spain is a three-way fight.

Atletico are the outsiders of the three, but Diego Simeone’s men look decent value to claim a title they last won in 2014.

Simeone’s side are by far the most settled of the three big guns. The Argentinean coach got his transfer business done pretty early, while star man Antoine Griezmann rejected overtures from Barcelona to commit to a new season at the Wanda Metropolitano.

What also cannot be underestimated is that Atletico will be able to call on the services of Diego Costa for the whole of the season.

The Spain international sat out the first half of last term after effectively going on strike at Chelsea ahead of his move to Atletico in January.

Costa and Griezmann have an excellent understanding of each other’s games and they will be a massive handful for even the best defences in La Liga.

Simeone’s Atletico are famed for their defensive strength, and with centre-back rock Diego Godin committing himself to a new contract everything looks in place for Atleti to make a big push for the title.

They are longer priced in the betting than they should be, and that is down to the huge profile Barca and Real have on the world stage.

But both of the giants of Spanish football could be heading for a period of transition.

Barca will still be strong, and deserve to be favourites, for the simple reason that they have Lionel Messi on their books. But they have lost the great Andres Iniesta and with them being linked with the likes of Paul Pogba in the transfer market, there is a chance that Valverde could have his eye on a tweak in style at Barca. That carries risks, and at odds-on they are worth taking on.

It’s also a big transitional season for Real, who lost manager Zinedine Zidane when he walked away following their third Champions League title in a row, and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.

Real, now coached by Julen Lopetegui, have been somewhat circumspect in the transfer market, with the club keeping faith with Ronaldo’s supporting cast – but it’s tough to replace the world player of the year’s goals. And like Barca, their price is enough to put you off.

Barca and Real have class running through their squads, but Atleti look better prepared for the campaign ahead and their price makes plenty of appeal.

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