5️⃣ questions ahead of the new LaLiga season ❓ | OneFootball

5️⃣ questions ahead of the new LaLiga season ❓

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Joel Sanderson-Murray

LaLiga returns this weekend with an array of new talent joining the league and the potential for the closest title race in years.

Here are the five biggest questions we need answers to in 2022/23.

1️⃣ Who can challenge Real Madrid for the title?

Real Madrid had the title wrapped up in February last year in truth, ending up storming to the crown and finishing with a 13-point gap over runners-up Barcelona.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side never looked like giving up top spot once they nipped ahead in the winter but what are the chances of there being a genuine title race in Spain this year?

A lot of noise has been made about Barça’s finances but on the pitch the new arrivals should make them stronger. Jules Koundé, Franck Kessié and Robert Lewandowski all have the ability to pull the Blaugrana closer to their arch rivals, now they just have to find a way to register them.

Then there’s the case of 2020/21 champions Atlético de Madrid, whose title defence was that poor it ended up being a scramble to ensure of their place in the top four.

Diego Simeone looks set to put all his attacking chips on João Félix who showed his incredible quality in patches last season, while the arrival of Nahuel Molina from Udinese should finally replace the huge gap left by Kieran Trippier.

Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla looked capable of going toe-to-toe with Real before the winter break, but they only managed to win five games during the second half of the season and optimism for a title push isn’t there in pre-season following the loss of Koundé and Diego Carlos.

It may be left for Barça to be the ones to raise Ancelotti’s famous eyebrow.

2️⃣ What is going on at Barcelona?

How long have you got?

The decision-makers at Camp Nou have activated three ‘economic levers’ to date, which is selling off guaranteed future income – such as money from TV deals, to go wild in the transfer market this summer.

President Joan Laporta will have to do some calculations to prove to LaLiga that they have met the salary limit set in place by the league, and until they do then there’s the possibility the likes of Lewandowski, Raphinha et all won’t be able to play in the competition.

Then there’s the Frenkie de Jong fiasco. The Dutchman has been linked with a move to the Premier League but the club reportedly still owe him around €15m in unpaid wages which is holding up any potential departure.

This is before you even get to the pitch and consider that we are going into Xavi’s first full season in charge. The club legend had a positive impact when he arrived in November, taking a team lumbering in eighth and guiding them to second.

And forget about the new signings, there are some potential world-class talents already there in the likes of teenage midfielders Pedri and Gavi.

There are a number of questions hanging above Barcelona at the moment, and many need to be answered soon.

It appears to be chaos off the pitch but if all the moving parts fall into place, the revival of one of the world’s biggest club could be about to happen on the pitch.

3️⃣ Karim Benzema v Robert Lewandowski?

Whether it’s productive or even healthy, there seems to be a common trait in modern football of comparing two individual footballers to an almost partisan element.

Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi started it off, while the Premier League will be dominated by the narrative of Erling Haaland v Darwin Núñez this season.

LaLiga will have one of their own this season as the two greatest centre-forwards in the world right now fight it out.

Karim Benzema had the season of his life in 21/22, scoring 27 goals in the league and 15 in the Champions League with the Ballon d’Or in his sights.

Can the 34-year-old continue that sort of form this season? Or will the new boy in Spain outshine him?

The one who arrives from Germany having scored 344 goals in 375 games.

Benzema v Lewandowski, let’s go.

4️⃣  How will the new coaches get on?

There are only three clubs who will be going into the campaign with a new man in the dugout – but two of them will be worth keeping an eye on.

Gennaro Gattuso arrives at Valencia and in some sense creates the perfect match – a fiery personality to match a kerosene pit of a football club.

The Italian performed solid, if not remarkable, jobs at Milan and Napoli before only lasting two weeks at Fiorentina. The hire of the 44-year-old could spark Los Che’s revival just as much as it could all end in flames before the league pauses for the World Cup.

While in Bilbao, Ernesto Valverde returns for a third spell in charge of Athletic Club to waves of optimism.

His first spell ended with Los Leones qualifying for the Champions League. Can the former Barça boss work wonders in the Basque country once again?

5️⃣ How will the new boys cope?

The grain of hope for the newly-promoted teams this season is that all three of the newly-promoted sides stayed up last time out.

Espanyol, Rayo Vallecano and Mallorca all retained their place for another year and will lay the blueprint for Almería, Real Valladolid and Girona to follow.

Champions Almería are back after a seven-year absence and in Umar Sadiq have a player capable of making his mark. The Nigerian forward scored 18 goals and provided 12 assists in the Segunda last season.

Valladolid, majority-owned by Ronaldo Nazario, scored the most goals (71) in the division last season and have added the experienced Sergio Asenjo in goal.

While there’s an element of riding a wave when it comes to Girona, who were in the relegation zone as late as matchday 12 last season but managed to come up via the playoffs.

Will lightning strike twice with all three new sides staying up once again?