Will big spenders Barcelona be able to out punch rivals Real, Atletico Madrid?
Zee Media Bureau/Rajdeep Saha
New Delhi: Barcelona have spent £127m so far this summer and the shopping spree is expected to continue with less than three weeks remaining for the summer transfer window to close. So with a new manager, six signings and Luis Suarez amongst them, will the Catalans go big this season in La Liga? On paper, they go in as the favourites, but Madrid duo are well in for the race for Spanish glory.
Last season saw the duopoly in Spain coming to an end with the working class heroes of Atletico winning the league title. This time it`s again a three way race and there is intense pressure for both Barcelona and Real Madrid as both clubs have spent over £100m in securing key transfers.
With Barca breaking the bank in signing Luis Suarez from Liverpool, which marks a commanding statement, the reinforcements in defence have been bargain buys keeping the overall impact in mind. Both Thomas Vermaelen and Jeremy Mathieu have plenty of experience on their sides and will bolster the Barca defence after the retirement of Carlos Puyol. With Cesc Fabregas heading to Chelsea, Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic boasts of being a complete midfielder who is familiar with Spanish football after earlier having played for Sevilla.
Two new goalkeepers in Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen will see them fighting for the No. 1 spot as the duo will hope to follow the success of Spaniard Victor Valdes. But the transfer of the season is £75m Luis Suarez. The former Liverpool striker helped the Reds gain Champions League football by scoring a whooping 31 goals in the Premier League last season. Suarez missed nine matches due to suspension at the start of last season, and this time too, he faces a much stricter punishment for biting and will miss action until 26th October when he might get to face rivals Real in the El Classico.
Suarez is huge in terms of a world class striker just like PSG`s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and alongside Neymar and Messi, the trio will be the key to their title pursuit. Front three will look to leave Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo trio in the shade.
On the other hand, Real got hold of three major signings with 2014 World Cup winner Toni Kroos and golden boot winner James Rodriguez alongside Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas. All three were brilliant in Brazil and they will hope to emulate the same form at Real too. Carlo Ancelotti`s side is looking to win the UEFA Supercup and FIFA Club world cup to add to their Kings Cup and Champions League victory last term. The Madrid giants will again provide an equal challenge to Barca in claiming the La Liga.
Between Barca and Real, lie Atletico who doesn`t have financial power like their rich rivals but under an inspired Diego Simeone can defend the league title successfully. After the exit of several key players including star forward Diego Costa, Atletico have got Mario Mandzukic and Antoine Griezmann amongst the big names who are match-winners. It will be a tough campaign for Atletico given their lack of depth in the squad but Simeone will hope to get his workers going again and claim their much-deserved heroism of last season once more.
But for now, Barca will hope their mega splash in the market will bear fruit but the Madrid giants may still pip them to be Spain`s No. 1.