Published on January 6th, 2018 | by Paco Polit0
Five things that will definitely happen in LaLiga in 2018
La Liga is underway after a winter break, and here’s five bold predictions for the game in Spain as the new year gets going
5) ‘The Gap’ will keep getting bigger and bigger
‘The Gap’ ™ is referred to the gargantuan differences in budget and results between top teams and the rest. While European Leagues keep getting more balanced (and fun!) thanks to rational TV rights agreements, in Spain the two giants (Barça and Madrid) keep getting privileges while others must accept the leftovers. Only Atlético manages to get closer to those huge figures.
TV rights earnings affect budgets, which in turn have an impact on the Financial Fair Play of any club. This FFP allows wiggle room to bring better players, who usually deliver better results. And the wheel keeps turning and, if officials don’t shake things up (spoiler alert: they won’t), will keep doing so year after year until LaLiga becomes the most predictable league in the world.
The TV rights money that La Liga's first and second division clubs earned last season [la liga, marca] pic.twitter.com/gahBeoxJOZ
— FC Barcelona Fl (@FCBarcelonaFl) January 6, 2018
4) Valencia will finally return to the Champions League
The end of 2017 wasn’t kind to Valencia. After the best first stretch of the competition in 98 years, Marcelino’s skillful line-up began showing signs of wearing down. Getafe were the first to find a way to beat them, and soon Eibar repeated the feat.
Another loss against Villarreal at home deepened the worries of the fans, even if they ultimately felt proud of the way the Bats fought. After getting some of their key players healthy (Guedes, Murillo) and adding sneaky Luciano Vietto to their roster, Valencia is ready to become great again and seize a Champions League spot.
3) Diego Costa will become Atleti’s main man
The beast of a forward came onto the pitch for five minutes in Copa del Rey and boy, did it show. Diego Costa is back in LaLiga and defenders already know they’re in for one hell of a rowdy match when they face Atlético’s powerful attacker.
Costa, after a tough year where he spent the last six months inactive, has lost all that extra body weight and seems sharp and ready. Watching him pester defenders in Spanish stadiums will become an entertaining habit for any football fan.
Finally Griezmann has a partner worthy of his talent: the attacking duo are so menacing that Atlético have become the number one candidate for the Europa League this season. And don’t forget Vitolo adding his talent on the wing. A truly great team under Simeone’s command.
2) Real Madrid will splurge cash in summer… if Cristiano leaves
LaLiga’s ‘Circle of Life’ will kick into action like clockwork. If Barça distances itself from the opposition with a bunch of games remaining, Real will put all their eggs into the Champions League basket. Quite a risky move if we remember that they have a double showdown against Paris Saint-Germain in February.
Should Real get knocked out of their favorite competition, things could turn nasty for Florentino. Currently immersed in a stubborn desire to sign goalkeeper Kepa from Athletic Bilbao (paying €20 million for a player who will be free in June), Cristiano’s contract extension talk has been alarmingly quiet.
Should the Portuguese finally be seduced by another European powerhouse, Real will aim for literally any top player they can get their hands on. And they will spare no expense, a la John Hammond (any ‘Jurassic Park’ fans out there?)
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) January 3, 2018
1) Barça will win the championship
This is a no-brainer, but still relevant nonetheless. The huge nine-point difference between Barça and second place means that Valverde’s men would have to stumble at least three times while Atleti picked up absolutely every single point from here onwards. Not very realistic, right?
Barcelona have shown an impressive resilience and reliability to date, winning spectacularly when they were on a roll and adding valuable wins to their stats even on awful days. Leo Messi has achieved demigod status, scoring easily, assisting frequently and dominating every single game (just re-watch ‘El Clásico’ if you have any doubts). With Ousmane Dembelé healthy and back in action, it’s nigh impossible that they blow the chance of winning the title