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Still a twohorse race in Spain between Barcelona and Real Madrid – SportsUntapped.com
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Added August 28th, 2010 by Ian

Still a two-horse race in Spain between Barcelona and Real Madrid
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The Spanish La Liga will kick off its season on Aug. 28th amid much fanfare, but unfortunately it seems it’s going to be a two-horse race as Real Madrid and Barcelona are likely to duel it out for top place again in the Primera Division again.

Barcelona took the crown last year despite Real Madrid trying to buy the title by spending about 250 million euros and adding players such as Cristiano Ronaldo. This season, they’ve still bought a few players, such as German youngster Mesut Oezil, Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho, and Benfica winger Angel Di Maria, but they’ve also hired Jose Mourinho to take over as manager from Manuel Pellegrini.

Mourinho’s had some excellent success as a manager over the years, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can overcome Barcelona, which is the only real thorn in Madrid’s side at the moment. Madrid hasn’t won a league game against their arch rivals since 2008.

Madrid will be without playmaking midfielder Kaka until December or later, and Oezil and Sergio Canales should fill the void and line up next to Ronaldo.  Jose Maria Gutierrez and Raul Gonzalez are no longer with the club, but they can still depend on goalkeeper Iker Casillas to hold the fort.

Barcelona has already won the Spanish Supercup by beating Sevilla with relative ease and the club features eight players from Spain’s World Cup-winning squad as they added David Villa from Valencia for 40-million euros. The team also has Argentina’s best player, Lionel Messi, who scored a hat-trick in the Supercup.

Barcelona is relying on manager Pep Guardiola to replace Rafael Marquez, Dmytro Chygrynskiy, and Yaya Toure with players from the youth academy.  Look for striker Bojan Krkic to get quite a bit of playing time, while fellow striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic could see more of the bench.

The midfield is strong with Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, and Messi leading the way and the season may even come down to the pair of “clasico” games against each other on Nov. 28 in Barcelona and Apr. 17 in Madrid.

When reviewing the rest of the teams in La Liga, it’s hard to imagine any of them hanging around long enough to challenge for the title. Sevilla has striker Luis Fabiano and they did well to come fourth last season, but they were 36 points behind first place.

Valencia finished third last season, but lost three Spanish internationals in the summer including David Villa and David Silva. Juanma Mata will now be depended on to score the goals with Chori Dominguez, Aritz Aduritz, and Roberto Soldado.  Defender Carlos Marchena and midfielder Ruben Baraja have also left.

Atletico Madrid has some hope with Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan along with Sergio Aguero They also added defenders Filipe Luis and Diego Godin and kept midfielder Tiago on loan. Real Sociedad, Hercules, and Levante are the new kids on the block this season after earning promotion.

Sportsbook William Hill has Barcelona listed as favourites to win the league with odds of 4/5, while Real Madrid follows at 11/10. Sevilla is third at 15/1 and Atletico Madrid is fourth at 33/1. Hercules, Almeria, Sporting Gijon, and Levante all come in at the bottom at 1000/1.

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