The 2018 FIFA World Cup has produced captivating drama throughout the summer thus far, and there will certainly be plenty more to come. Club football will be returning soon, and Barcelona have every reason to feel confident ahead of the 2018-19 La Liga campaign.
Manager Ernesto Valverde led the Blaugrana to an impressive league and cup double this past season, and will be looking to continue that trend. While the Catalans were disappointed with their Champions League stumbles, the pieces are in place to once again find glory in the Spanish first division.
Real Madrid have captured three consecutive European titles, but in the process lost their grip on the domestic league. They will definitely push Barcelona in terms of competition. However, we are at a critical point for the El Clásico rivals, and the Cules are poised for success.
Antoine Griezmann may not be joining the side, but their attack still contains tremendous quality and true star power.
We look at five key reasons why Barcelona will retain their La Liga title, and why supporters should be expecting a thrilling season at the Camp Nou.
The start of a new era in the capital
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane stepped aside, after leading the squad to an unprecedented European trophy haul. Former Spain boss Julen Lopetegui takes over, although there was an extremely bizarre set of circumstances surrounding his announcement.
After agreeing to a deal effective after the World Cup, Spain instead sacked Lopetegui just before the tournament began. This made for a challenging transition, and the 51-year-old coach may need time to settle in his new surroundings.
A talented tactician who will no doubt find some level of success at the Santiago Bernabéu, earning silverware in his first season will not be easy for Lopetegui.
Barcelona’s front-line can absolutely overwhelm the opposition, and that will undoubtedly be seen again in 2018-19. With Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, Valverde has several different ways to organise his players.
The club are truly able to make up for any defensive mistakes with these individuals, and reinforcements may still be added this summer. Expect Ivan Rakitić to continue as the link between the midfield and the attack.
Changes for Los Blancos
It should of course be noted that Real Madrid can counter Barcelona when it comes to talent, but some aspects may be changing. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are rumoured to be potentially leaving, and that could completely change the dynamic of the line-up.
Players such as Luka Modrić and Sergio Ramos are getting older as well, with depth becoming a concern for Los Merengues.
After their double last season, many fans viewed it as a bit hollow compared to yet another European title for Real Madrid. While the Champions League will be a priority, Barcelona will be focused on retaining their La Liga crown also.
Valverde’s squad will see it as vindication of their abilities, and that will serve as great motivation throughout a long campaign.
Just when you think he may be (somewhat) slowing down, Lionel Messi is able to amaze on the pitch and guide Barcelona to victory. The 31-year-old scored 45 goals across all competitions last term, and I would not bet against another spectacular upcoming run in 2018-19.
Barcelona have goals set for the new season, and Lionel Messi can lead the club to those desired accomplishments.