Top 4: Real Madrid, FC Barcelona*, Sevilla FC, Atlético Madrid
1. Real Madrid– Zinedine Zidane’s Merengues are undoubtedly the best team in the world right now—imperious in defense, a perfect balance of creative and combative in midfield, and ruthless in attack. Despite the advancing age of their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, unrelenting whispers of doubts regarding Keylor Navas, and Gareth Bale’s own transfer rumours and usual retinue of injuries, Real have levelled up, and unlike Barcelona, have managed to properly supplement their squad with talented young, talented players to ensure continuity of this dominance.
In Marco Asensio, Theo Hernández, Jesús Vallejo, and Dani Ceballos, as well as the slightly older and more experienced Mateo Kovačić, Zidane has at his disposal a quintet of immensely talented players capable of contributing bolstering the unrelenting dominance of the stars of the first team. With Barcelona struggling, Atlético Madrid banned from making new signings, and Sevilla simply not on their level, it’s hard to look beyond Real Madrid for the title this season.
2. Barcelona*– Their second position here is, as the asterisk would suggest, tentative. Flush with cash but desperately in need of new signings with the requisite talent, Barcelona have floundered so far when matched up with Real Madrid over two legs in the Supercopa de España. The mighty, however, have not quite fallen yet.
Alejandro Valverde has at his disposal some of the most talented players in Europe (plus a certain Lionel Messi at the top of his game). With the right signings – Dembélé being one of them – Barcelona ought to comfortably secure second position in the league. It would take quite the season from them and quite the collapse from Real Madrid for Andrés Iniesta to list the La Liga trophy at the end of the season.
Should they fail to adequately and properly strengthen their squad, adjust to Valverde’s new tactics, and somehow get their midfield functioning to at least make a small step in filling the gap of quality to Real Madrid, their tentative second position could very well be in danger. For the sake of Messi, let’s hope for the best, shall we?
3. Sevilla– Despite the departure of director of football extraordinaire, Monchi, to Roma in April, Sevilla have managed to secure a number of solid signings to bolster a squad that finished just six points short of an automatic Champions League group stage spot last season.
With talented acquisitions such as Éver Banega, Luis Muriel, and Sébastien Corchia, plus Atletico Madrid’s inability to register their lone new addition and former Sevilla player, Vitolo, until January, Eduardo Berizzo’s men are primed to have a proper run at the coveted third spot in the La Liga standings, with the competition from Atletico increasing in January.
4. Atlético Madrid– Though they have managed to retain the core of their squad, particularly thanks to a mammoth contract extension until 2026 (yes, seriously) for Saúl Ñíguez, and Antoine Griezmann’s reluctance to depart given Atléti’s inability to replace him due to their transfer ban, it is, at least at the time of writing, difficult to see Diego Simeone’s men beating Sevilla to third place for the automatic Champions League group stage spot.
Additionally, they must acclimatise to their new home stadium, the Wanda Metropolitano, a task which isn’t always easy for football clubs. Nonetheless, Simeone’s warrior spirit (and tactics to match), the quality of the likes of Jan Oblak, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Saúl, and Griezmann ought to be enough quality and mental fortitude for Atlético Madrid to rely on to secure fourth position at the end of the 2017-2018 La Liga season.