LaLiga Season Preview 2022/23

LaLiga season preview 2022/23

It’s that time of year again when everyone starts with a clean slate and anything seems possible, for a few weeks at least. Real Madrid are bidding to defend their title, Barcelona are hoping a summer of heavy investment delivers silverware while Atletico Madrid are keen to move on from a forgettable title defence. There are fresh faces around LaLiga as Almeria, Real Valladolid and Girona make their returns following promotion. Read on for our big LaLiga season preview featuring all 20 clubs ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

Fantasy football ratings featured in the club-by-club season previews are via Soraredata and relate to the last 40 matches for each player. If you’re interested in playing Sorare fantasy football, an official partner of LaLiga, check out our Getting Started Guide to find out more or sign up to Sorare here to get a bonus card (after your 5th purchase on the primary market).


LaLiga Season Preview 2022/23 – The Title Race


Robert Lewandowski
Barcelona are hoping new signing Robert Lewandowski can make all the difference this term.
Photo via Светлана Бекетова – soccer.ru, CC BY-SA 3.0

Despite the best efforts of Sevilla who have come mighty close to breaking into the top three in recent years, LaLiga 2021/22 was the 10th straight season where the top three places were filled by Barcelona and the two big Madrid clubs. Truth be told, it would be a big surprise if the “big three” domination didn’t continue again this term with the top of the table expected to have a familiar look to it again, although a much tighter title race seems probable this time around.


Real Madrid

Real Madrid preview
  • Last Season: 1st
  • Coach: Carlo Ancelotti
  • Squad Valuation: €835m
  • Title Odds: 5/4

Fresh from LaLiga and Champions League glory last season, Los Blancos have set the bar very high and the expectation will be that they challenge for every trophy again this term. Repeating last season’s miraculous run in Europe certainly won’t be an easy task but they remain the team to beat in LaLiga heading into the 2022/23 season.

Real Madrid Summer Transfers 2022

Players InAurelien Tchouameni (€80m), Antonio Rudiger (Free)
Players OutBorja Mayoral (€10m), Take Kubo (€6.5m), Miguel Gutierrez (€4m), (Victor Chust (€1m), Gareth Bale (Free), Luka Jovic (Free), Isco (Free), Marcelo (Released)

After the Kylian Mbappé transfer saga finally ended with the Frenchman staying in Paris, many wondered quite how Real Madrid would react to missing out on their long-time target. They spent big on Aurelien Tchouameni who, along with Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde, ensures Madrid will have real strength in depth in central areas this season and it’ll be interesting to see how the evolution into a younger, more dynamic midfield progresses. The arrival of Toni Rudiger on a free transfer also feels like a really smart piece of business while there have been no truly significant departures.

Real Madrid Possible Best XI

Real Madrid XI

Real Madrid’s first choice XI should have a familiar feel to it, initially at least. Antonio Rudiger’s arrival was expected to see David Alaba move across to left-back with Ferland Mendy the likely fall guy, however Carlo Ancelotti has cast doubt on that assumption and has even surprisingly used Rudiger at left-back in pre-season. In midfield, the long-serving Kroos-Casemiro-Modric trident can expect to be put under real pressure this season by their younger counterparts and the likes of Camavinga and Tchouaméni should both have important roles to play, even if it is often off the bench. The right wing slot is likely to continue to be the most contested position.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Karim Benzema (67)

LLE Verdict: So much depends on Benzema’s continued form and fitness. The 34 year old either scored or assisted 49% of Real Madrid’s league goals last season. A serious injury or significant drop-off in form could be the difference between a successful title defence and a 2nd/3rd place finish as there is nobody else that looks capable of filling that void.


Barcelona

Barcelona
  • Last Season: 2nd
  • Coach: Xavi
  • Squad Valuation: €825m
  • Title Odds: 6/4

Barcelona head into their first full season under Xavi Hernandez with a host of fresh recruits. Short-term solutions have been found to their financial difficulties enabling the Catalan giants to spend big and land their key targets, although registration issues once again overshadow the start to the season. Expectation levels are suddenly high again at Camp Nou with a serious title challenge and a much improved European campaign the minimum requirements this term.

Barcelona Summer Transfers 2022

Players InRaphinha (€58m), Jules Kounde (€50m), Robert Lewandowski (€45m), Andreas Christensen (Free), Franck Kessie (Free)
Players OutPhilippe Coutinho (€20m), Riqui Puig (Free), Oscar Mingueza (Free), Dani Alves (Free), Neto (Free), Francisco Trincao (Loan), Clement Lenglet (Loan)

The Catalan giants have raised many eyebrows with their transfer business this summer. They’ve certainly found some novel ways of financing it but what can’t be doubted is the quality of players they have brought in. Jules Kounde and Robert Lewandowski both feel like signings that could play a major part in transforming the fortunes of this side while Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen and Raphinha are all capable of competing for a starting role in a squad that now has real depth, although we are still expecting some departures with the Frenkie de Jong transfer saga still rumbling on.

Barcelona Possible Best XI

Barcelona XI

Assuming they are ultimately able to register their new signings, it will be very interesting to see how Xavi decides to line up this season with competition for places across the pitch. The back four is particularly tough to call with pre-season suggesting Gerard Pique is no longer considered a starter. Jules Kounde looks like he certainly will be which leaves the likes Andreas Christensen, Eric Garcia and Ronald Araujo scrapping for places with the latter potentially shifting across to right-back. Ivorian arrival Franck Kessie will be pushing hard for a starting berth in midfield while the make-up of the front three is also very much up for debate. Robert Lewandowski is set to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the main striker while Raphinha and a hopefully fit again Ansu Fati makes the competition for places fierce on the flanks.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Jordi Alba (65)

LLE Verdict: Barcelona were already much improved in the second half of last season in LaLiga and their summer business suggests they should kick on and really push Real Madrid all the way. If there’s any kind of slip in standards at the Bernabéu, Barça are capable of piping Los Blancos to the title.


Atlético Madrid

Atletico Madrid 2019-20
  • Last Season: 3rd
  • Coach: Diego Simeone
  • Squad Valuation: €675m
  • Title Odds: 13/2

Atletico Madrid will be happy that the 2021/22 season is now a thing of the past and Diego Simeone will be hoping for improvements across the pitch this term. While their transfer business hasn’t been as eye-catching as that of Barcelona, there’s reason to believe that a number of key players are capable of better than they produced last term when Atleti were uncharacteristically poor at the back.

Atlético Madrid Summer Transfers 2022

Players InNahuel Molina (€20m), Samuel Lino (€6.5m), Alex Witsel (Free)
Players OutNehuén Pérez (Free), Luis Suarez (Free), Hector Herrera (Free), Sime Vrsaljko (Free), Vitolo (Loan), Samuel Lino (Loan), Rodrigo Riquelme (Loan), Sergio Camello (Loan)

Luis Suarez is the most significant departure from the Wanda Metropolitano but in truth the Uruguayan’s influence was already declining after a fantastic first season in the Spanish capital. Coming in, Alex Witsel adds another fresh option in midfield while Nahuel Molina looks set to fill the right-back or right wing-back position which was vacated by Kieran Trippier in January. Saul Niguez and Alvaro Morata also return from loans but both have been linked with fresh moves away.

Atlético Madrid Possible Best XI

Atletico Madrid XI

Much remains up in the air for Atleti heading into this season with uncertainties lingering over which system they will play and just who will start the campaign at Getafe. Diego Simeone is not short on options and Alvaro Morata’s impressive pre-season form may just see him jump to the front of a congested queue up top. Elsewhere much will depend on whether it’s a 3-5-2, 4-4-2 or 3-4-2-1. Whatever happens, Atleti need to be better defensively this term and they will be hoping the likes of Jan Oblak and Jose Gimenez can rediscover their best form.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Reinildo (52)

LLE Verdict: Atleti have to be better than last season but there are still doubts about whether they will be able to rediscover those defensive qualities of old. There are also major question-marks in attack and overall there’s enough reason to doubt their ability to compete with the top two. Another 3rd place finish looks likely.


The European Battle


San Mames empty
Ernesto Valverde is back in Bilbao and hoping to push Athletic into European contention.

The last two seasons have seen Sevilla, Real Sociedad, Real Betis and Villarreal occupy 4th-7th places and all four are likely to be in that region of the league again. What may be a slightly weakened Sevilla could spark a real fight for the final Champions League berth this term though. There could always be a surprise challenger but right now, Athletic Club look the only other side in with a realistic chance of battling it out for a place in Europe following an 8th place finish last season.


Sevilla

Sevilla logo
  • Last Season: 4th
  • Coach: Julen Lopetegui
  • Squad Valuation: €258m
  • Top 4 Odds: 7/4

Sevilla’s 2021/22 campaign faded badly to a limp ending as they fell out of title contention and for once failed to go deep in the Europa League. Frustration was growing on the terraces of the Sanchez-Pizjuan by the end but despite speculation about his future, Julen Lopetegui is trusted with overseeing the start of what will be his fourth and potentially most challenging season in Seville.

Sevilla Summer Transfers 2022

Players InMarcao (€12m), Alex Telles (Loan), Isco (Free)
Players OutJules Kounde (€50m), Diego Carlos (€31m), Alejandro Pozo (€3m), Luuk de Jong (€3m), Ludwig Augustinsson (Loan)

Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos have both moved on for big money to leave Sevilla with some funds for fresh arrivals but a massive hole to fill in central defence. Marcao looks likely to take one of those places after his switch from Galatasaray but it’s clear that Sevilla are going to need several new faces over the coming weeks to help regenerate this squad if they are serious about being close to the “big three” again. The loan signing of Alex Telles is a step in the right direction and it’ll be intriguing to see what Isco can produce back under the guidance of his former national team boss Julen Lopetegui.

Sevilla Possible Best XI

Sevilla XI

There are many unknowns when it comes to Sevilla at this stage with an imbalanced squad as the result of their summer departures. They look incredibly light in central defence with at least one new signing expected as Monchi targets a partner for Marcao. By contrast, there are almost too many options at the other end of the pitch with real competition for places following the addition of Isco. A 4-2-3-1 system is also possible and it may be several weeks into the season before we get a real idea of what the new Sevilla is going to look like.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Marcao (60 – at Galatasaray)

LLE Verdict: You have to worry a bit for Sevilla. Kounde and Carlos are going to be almost impossible to replace and they won’t be in a position to reinvest all of those funds. There were problems further up the pitch in the second half of last season too and if they start poorly, the fans could quickly turn on Julen Lopetegui, potentially creating a toxic atmosphere. They will struggle to make the top four and could even slip behind rivals Betis this term unless some really good business is done in the coming weeks.


Real Betis

Real Betis logo
  • Last Season: 5th
  • Coach: Manuel Pellegrini
  • Squad Valuation: €256m
  • Top 4 Odds: 5/1

Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis were one of the success stories of the 2021/22 season, clinching a top six finish in LaLiga whilst also winning the Copa del Rey in their own city. The bar has been set very high but a talented Betis squad will believe they can compete on multiple fronts again this season with Europa League football to look forward to again.

Real Betis Summer Transfers 2022

Players InWillian Jose (€10m), Luiz Henrique (€8m), Luiz Felipe (Free)
Players OutDiego Lainez (Loan), Joel Robles (Free), Cristian Tello (Released)

Betis have managed to hold on to their key players so far with loanee Hector Bellerin the only player from last season who will be truly missed. A fresh move for the Arsenal man is still possible but Manuel Pellegrini will be relatively content with the business that has been done so far. Centre-back Luiz Felipe is a good capture on a free transfer while young winger Luiz Henrique adds a fresh option in the attacking area. Willian Jose converts his loan into a permanent deal and should compete with Borja Iglesias to be the starting striker once more.

Real Betis Possible Best XI

Betis best lineup

Real Betis are one of the more settled sides and are still hoping to seal a return for last season’s loanee Hector Bellerin to fill the right-back role. Luiz Felipe looks a likely starter in central defence after his move from Lazio but youngster Luiz Henrique may have to settle for a fringe role, initially at least. Manuel Pellegrini does tend to rotate heavily though, with even the two goalkeepers regularly switching in and out.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Nabil Fekir (61)

LLE Verdict: Betis should be in top six contention again and providing key men Nabil Fekir and Sergio Canales can stay fit, they could even challenge for 4th and Champions League football. Much may depend on how much of a distraction the cups prove though with a Copa del Rey defence and another Europa League campaign to look forward to.


Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad - La Liga
  • Last Season: 6th
  • Coach: Imanol Alguacil
  • Squad Valuation: €355m
  • Top 4 Odds: 9/2

Despite only scoring 40 goals, fewer than two of the three relegated clubs, Real Sociedad secured a third straight top six finish last term. Again they faded somewhat after a bright start but a strong run of home results in the second half of the season helped seal another crack at the Europa League for Imanol Alguacil’s side which is packed full of homegrown talent.

Real Sociedad Summer Transfers 2022

Players InBrais Mendez (€14m), Mohamed-Ali Cho (€11m), Take Kubo (€6.5m)
Players OutWillian Jose (€10m), Julian Lobete (€1m), Mat Ryan (€500k), Portu (Loan), Joseba Zaldua (Free), Jon Guridi (Free), Nacho Monreal (Released), Adnan Januzaj (Released)

Real Sociedad have spent in excess of €30m this summer although all three new signings will have to fight for a starting role. Brais Mendez is the most likely to feature from the off with the 25 year old arriving from Celta Vigo to help fill the void on the right side left by the departing Portu and Adnan Januzaj. 18 year old Mohamed-Ali Cho should provide cover for Alexander Isak in attack while Take Kubo will be hoping a permanent transfer is just what he needs to revive a promising young career which has stalled somewhat in the past two years.

Real Sociedad Possible Best XI

Real Sociedad team

Little has changed in the defensive half of the pitch so we should see continuity in goal, at the back and in the holding midfield roles. The big question may be whether Aritz Elustondo or Igor Zubeldia can emerge as the partner to Robin Le Normand in central defence. At the other end, key man Mikel Oyarzabal is unlikely to be fully fit and firing until after the World Cup so Imanol will need to find temporary solutions with highly rated youngster Ander Barrenetxea hoping to shine. A switch to two strikers is possible in some games with Carlos Fernandez, hoping to put his injury problems behind him, an option along with Cho.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Mikel Oyarzabal (55)

LLE Verdict: La Real should be in the European picture once more. However despite spending a fair bit of money, they haven’t really signed anybody capable of really raising the standard of this team or pushing them on to that next level, at least not in the short-term. Oyarzabal will also be a big miss in the first chunk of the season so it’s hard to see them getting any closer to the top four.


Villarreal

Villarreal Season Preview 2019-20
  • Last Season: 7th
  • Coach: Unai Emery
  • Squad Valuation: €360m
  • Top 4 Odds: 3/1

Villarreal backed up Europa League glory with a fantastic run to the Champions League Semi-Finals last season but it was another relatively underwhelming league campaign as they finished 7th for the second year in a row. Unai Emery will know his team must deliver more domestically this season with Conference League football not quite such an alluring distraction.

Villarreal Summer Transfers 2022

Players InKiko Femenia (€1m), Jose Luis Morales (Free), Pepe Reina (Free)
Players OutMoi Gomez (€1.8m), Sergio Asenjo (Free), Mario Gaspar (Free), Ruben Pena (Free), Vicente Iborra (Loan), Serge Aurier (Released)

It has been a relatively low key summer so far at the Ceramica with no key players departing and only €1m spent on new arrivals to date. The most significant addition is Jose Luis Morales who joins following relegation at Levante. It’ll be interesting to see what “el comandante” can produce in a stronger team and on the European stage. Pepe Reina is another veteran signing, returning to the club 17 years after his 2005 departure for Liverpool. He should provide competition for the inconsistent Geronimo Rulli in goal.

Villarreal Possible Best XI

Villarreal XI

Villarreal have a squad that can quite easily switch between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 and we will most likely see both formations used this season. Essentially, little has changed from last season with key players such as Pau Torres and Arnaut Danjuma staying despite being linked with moves away. Experienced duo Pepe Reina and Jose Luis Morales add depth in important areas but both may have to settle for a substitute’s role initially at least. There may be fresh arrivals too with Giovani Lo Celso expected to return from Spurs after a reasonably successful loan spell.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Dani Parejo (65)

LLE Verdict: Villarreal have underachieved in LaLiga in finishing 7th in the past two seasons. The Conference League may not be a huge focus for them this term so they’ve no excuses in a domestic setting and they have the quality to potentially snatch that all important 4th place.


Athletic Club

Athletic Bilbao Season Preview 2019-20
  • Last Season: 8th
  • Coach: Ernesto Valverde
  • Squad Valuation: €216m
  • Top 4 Odds: 7/1

Despite little transfer activity it has been a busy summer off the pitch in Bilbao. Marcelino opted to leave his post ahead of a fiercely contested presidential election which also felt pretty close to a vote on who the new coach would be. Jon Uriarte won it and as expected appointed Ernesto Valverde to replace Marcelino, five years on from the end of his successful second spell at San Mames.

Athletic Club Summer Transfers 2022

Players InGorka Guruzeta (Free)
Players OutUnai Nunez (Loan), Jokin Ezkieta (Free), Inigo Vicente (Free), Inigo Cordoba (Free), Unai Lopez (Free)

The only new arrival in Bilbao is Gorka Guruzeta, a striker who netted 13 goals in the second tier for Amorebieta last season. It’s a big ask to expect him to be the main solution to Athletic’s problems in front of goal but he could prove a useful addition and help ease the burden on Iñaki Williams in attack.

Athletic Club Possible Best XI

Athletic best XI

There might not have been a lot of transfer activity but a different coach makes things interesting in terms of selection. A switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation could be on the cards under Ernesto Valverde although many of the themes from last season will remain. Iker Muniain will continue to be the chief playmaker and Athletic will be hoping youngsters such as Oihan Sancet, Nico Williams, Dani Vivian and Unai Vencedor can continue to develop.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Iker Muniain (63)

LLE Verdict: Ernesto Valverde is a good coach and his return is very popular in Bilbao but he will have to contend with many of the same problems as his predecessor. His previous spell coincided with the best years of Aritz Aduriz but there is no 15+ goal striker in this squad and that may once more prove Athletic’s undoing as they bid for European qualification.


Mid-Table & The Relegation Scrap


Girona match action
Top flight football returns to Girona in 2022/23.

That leaves twelve teams who are likely to be scrapping it out to avoid being involved in the relegation scrap. While the likes of Valencia, Celta Vigo and Osasuna may have an outside shot of pushing on and getting closer to the European battle, a mid-table finish is the best most of these clubs can realistically hope for. Just four points separated 12th placed Rayo Vallecano from Granada who were relegated in 18th last season and it’s likely to be really tight again in the bottom half.


Valencia

Valencia 2022
  • Last Season: 9th
  • Coach: Gennaro Gattuso
  • Squad Valuation: €264m
  • Relegation Odds: 10/1

Valencia’s 2021/22 season ended in turmoil with fresh anger at the board and a huge fan boycott of their final home fixture against Celta Vigo. Coach Jose Bordalas left soon afterwards and Gennaro Gattuso is the latest man to take over the poisoned chalice that is the Mestalla hotseat. With the club keen to raise funds and slash the wagebill, it’s unclear how many of his key players will remain in a month’s time.

Valencia Summer Transfers 2022

Players InHugo Duro (€4m), Samuel Lino (Loan), Samu Castillejo (Free)
Players OutGoncalo Guedes (€32.6m), Jasper Cillessen (€900k), Denis Cheryshev (Released)

Despite their money problems, Valencia have managed to do some limited business this summer. They have activated the buy option on Hugo Duro’s loan from Getafe while new Atleti recruit Samuel Lino makes an immediate switch to Mestalla on loan and may prove a useful wide option. Fellow winger Samu Castillejo is also back in LaLiga and back in the Valencian region, four years after leaving Villarreal. There has been one major departure with Goncalo Guedes leaving for a good fee to join Wolves and they’ll be pleased to get Jasper Cillessen, another high earner, off the wage bill with the Dutch keeper joining NEC.

Valencia Possible Best XI

Valencia XI

With a new man at the helm and some transfer activity ahead, it may be a few weeks before we get a clear idea of what system Valencia will adopt. It feels like it may be something between a 4-3-3 and 4-4-1-1 with Carlos Soler potentially operating in an advanced midfield role behind a striker. With Goncalo Guedes leaving and Maxi Gomez expected to follow him out the door, that may leave only Hugo Duro and Marcos Andres battling it out for the right to lead the line. Valencia do have fresh options out wide though and new arrivals Samuel Lino and Samu Castillejo may go straight into the team. Defensively there should be more continuity with the impressive Giorgi Mamardashvili in goal behind a back four that is marshalled by Gabriel Paulista.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Gabriel Paulista (57)

LLE Verdict: Valencia has felt like a broken football club at times in recent years and they head into another season following more notable departures and yet another coaching change. Recent history suggests Gennaro Gattuso might not last too long and while there are still a few players of genuine quality left, there’s little reason to think Valencia will be anything more than mid-table.


Osasuna

Osasuna
  • Last Season: 10th
  • Coach: Jagoba Arrasate
  • Squad Valuation: €115m
  • Relegation Odds: 4/1

10th, 11th, 10th. That’s the last three seasons for Osasuna in LaLiga and while it’s rarely exciting, Jagoba Arrasate has done a wonderful job in cementing this side in the middle section of the table. In truth, the resources don’t really exist for Osasuna to attempt to seriously kick on and challenge the European places so another mid-table finish will be the expectation again this season at El Sadar.

Osasuna Summer Transfers 2022

Players InMoi Gomez (€1.8m), Manu Sanchez (Loan), Aitor Fernandez (Free), Ruben Pena (Free)
Players OutJose Angel (Free), Jonas Ramalho (Free), Oier Sanjurjo (Free), Marc Cardona (Free)

Osasuna’s most interesting summer addition is Moi Gomez who they will be hoping can provide some of the creativity that has been missing in recent years. Ruben Pena also joins from Villarreal while Atletico Madrid left-back Manu Sanchez returns for another loan spell. Aitor Fernandez comes in from relegated Levante and should provide cover for Sergio Herrera in goal. The one big worry for Osasuna right now is the future of David Garcia. The impressive centre-back has been linked with other clubs and with only a €20m release clause, Jagoba Arrasate will be desperate to avoid a scenario where he loses his star defender late in the window.

Osasuna Possible Best XI

Osasuna best XI

Their pre-season outings suggest it may be a 4-2-3-1 formation this season for Osasuna. It’ll be interesting to see just how Arrasate tries to incorporate Moi Gomez into this side with a wide left or advanced central role both options. He’s not necessarily a player who fits the typical Osasuna mold though so if early results aren’t positive, a switch to 4-4-2 is also possible with Ante Budimir and Chimy Avila most likely leading the line in that case. Much may depend on David Garcia’s future though as a €20m cash injection would most likely be reinvested across the pitch, although a new centre-back would be a clear priority.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: David Garcia (54)

LLE Verdict: Osasuna have done brilliantly in recent years to cement themselves in mid-table but there’s not really any reason to believe they will kick on and challenge the European places this season. They don’t have the resources to make that a realistic target but assuming David Garcia stays, they ought to steer well clear of the relegation places again. If he goes, that could have a really destabilising impact on the defence and their prospects for the season may depend on smart late moves in the market.


Celta Vigo

Celta Vigo logo
  • Last Season: 11th
  • Coach: Chacho Coudet
  • Squad Valuation: €113m
  • Relegation Odds: 8/1

Celta are another club with plenty of problems behind the scenes with a very public spat between midfielder Denis Suárez and the club’s president just one of the unwelcome distractions this summer. A significant squad overhaul is taking place which will give coach Chacho Coudet plenty to think about heading into the start of the new campaign. As always, Iago Aspas will no doubt be key.

Celta Vigo Summer Transfers 2022

Players InWilliot Swedberg (€5m), Goncalo Paciencia (€3m), Luca de la Torre (€2m), Agustin Marchesin (€1m), Julen Lobete (€1m), Carles Perez (Loan), Unai Nunez (Loan), Oscar Rodriguez (Loan), Oscar Mingueza (Free)
Players OutBrais Mendez (€14m), Nestor Araujo (€3m), Ruben Blanco (Loan), Orbelín Pineda (Loan), Jose Fonfan (Loan), Julen Lobete (Loan), Nolito (Released), Emre Mor (Free), Okay Yokuslu (Free)

Celta have had a very busy summer with first team regulars from last season Brais Mendez and Matias Dituro both departing. Denis Suarez may yet follow them out the door while Santi Mina is unlikely to play for the club again following his court conviction. That leaves some significant holes to fill and Celta have largely opted to invest in youth in the transfer market. 18 year old Swede Williot Swedberg is their biggest addition while Luca de la Torre and Julen Lobete also arrive with one eye on the future. Their most experienced signing is 34 year old Agustin Marchesin with the Argentine joining from Porto and set to take over from Dituro in goal. Meanwhile Oscar Rodriguez and Unai Nunez are looking to get their careers back on track following loan switches to Balaidos while the same could be said of forward Goncalo Paciencia, a permanent addition from Eintracht Frankfurt.

Celta Vigo Possible Best XI

Celta Vigo 2022/23

Lots to unpack here and Celta will feel almost like a different team this season with the exception of the familiar figure of Iago Aspas up top. Pre-season and the overall shape-up of the squad currently suggests he could lead the line in a 4-1-4-1 formation as opposed to the 4-1-3-2 that Chacho Coudet has previously stayed loyal to. Carles Perez is the latest arrival and the former Barcelona man looks like a likely starter on the right flank with fellow new signings Oscar Rodriguez, Williot Swedberg and Luca de la Torre jostling for places in midfield.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Iago Aspas (59)

LLE Verdict: Celta are one of the biggest unknowns coming into the campaign after so many changes. They’ll be without some important players from last season for a variety of reasons but have done some interesting business with a host of what should be hungry players coming in looking to either revive careers or make a name for themselves on a bigger stage. There could be some teething problems which may make it tough to better last season’s 11th place finish but there should still be enough quality there to avoid getting sucked into a relegation scrap.


Rayo Vallecano

Rayo badge
  • Last Season: 12th
  • Coach: Andoni Iraola
  • Squad Valuation: €58m
  • Relegation Odds: 3/1

Rayo stunned everyone by winning 8 of their opening 9 home games as a newly promoted side last season. That provided the foundations for survival but they only finished 4 points above the drop-zone in the end with no home wins after the turn of the year. Crucially, coach Andoni Iraola has extended his contract and will lead the team again in what could be a difficult second season back in the top flight for Rayo.

Rayo Vallecano Summer Transfers 2022

Players InUnai Lopez (Free), Salvi Sanchez (Free), Diego Lopez (Free), Florian Lejeune (Loan), Sergio Camello (Loan)
Players OutLuca Zidane (Released)

Rayo are clearly trying to target the out of contract and loan markets this summer as they bid to bolster the depth of their squad which was perceived to be a weakness last term. They’ve added plenty of experience with Salvi Sanchez, Florian Lejeune and particularly Diego Lopez who may compete for a starting role in goal at the age of 40 after leaving Espanyol. There have been no significant departures, although of the six players on loan in Vallecas last term, only Unai Lopez has returned.

Rayo Vallecano Possible Best XI

Rayo best XI

Rayo have largely opted for continuity but there could be a couple of changes to their regular starting XI this season. Diego Lopez is hoping to get the nod ahead of Stole Dimitrievski in goal and we should get a strong indicator as to Andoni Iraola’s thinking on the opening weekend when Rayo travel to Camp Nou. Florian Lejeune also looks like he could relegate Esteban Saveljich to the bench. Up front, right now it looks to be a fight between veteran Radamel Falcao and 21 year old Sergio Camello for one place but Rayo may target another addition after Sergi Guardiola returned to Real Valladolid.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Alejandro Catena (51)

LLE Verdict: Rayo massively overachieved in the first half of last season and with limited additions, they could slip into the thick of the relegation battle this year. Andoni Iraola’s side are a good watch, particularly when they’re in front of their small but noisy home following. They are capable of causing problems for stronger teams but they won’t carry the element of surprise this term and their squad still feels light on depth. A relegation fight looks likely and it could be touch and go whether they ultimately stay up.


Elche

Elche logo
  • Last Season: 13th
  • Coach: Francisco
  • Squad Valuation: €60m
  • Relegation Odds: 7/4

For the first time since the 1970’s, Elche are preparing for their third straight top flight season after 17th and 13th place finishes following promotion in 2020. Francisco is the man at the helm and he’ll be hoping to build on the impressive job he did last term although Los Ilicitanos will be among the sides expected to at least be in the relegation picture.

Elche Summer Transfers 2022

Players InEzequiel Ponce (€4m), Roger Marti (€3m), Lautaro Blanco (€1.96m), Carlos Clerc (Free)
Players OutLautaro Blanco (Loan), Pablo Piatti (Free), Guido Carrillo (Released), Antonio Barragan (Released)

Elche’s biggest summer signing is Ezequiel Ponce which is perhaps a minor surprise given he only made 5 league starts during a mixed loan spell at the club in the second half of last season, scoring just once. The addition of Roger Marti from Levante also bolsters their attacking options with the striker boasting a decent track record at this level. The only other new face will be left-back Carlos Clerc who also moves from the Ciutat de Valencia.

Elche Possible Best XI

Elche XI

Francisco likes to have competition for places across the pitch with few players guaranteed a starting role in his best XI. Last season only Johan Mojica (32) and Omar Mascarell (30) made 30+ league starts and we could see something similar this term with no major changes to the squad. We may see a back three at times but 4-4-2 is usually the way they go with Lucas Boye and Roger Marti perhaps the most likely strike duo, although the former is dealing with injury issues. Pere Milla put doubts about his future aside after an impressive campaign to sign a new deal in the summer and could also feature heavily either in attack or in a wide role.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Fidel (50)

LLE Verdict: Elche were solid rather than spectacular last season and consistently hovered above the real relegation scrap. They could slip back slightly from 13th this season but having not suffered any significant departures whilst adding another good option up front in the shape of Roger Marti. They should be able to avoid the drop once more.


Espanyol

Espanyol Season Preview
  • Last Season: 14th
  • Coach: Diego Martinez
  • Squad Valuation: €120m
  • Relegation Odds: 5/1

Espanyol’s first season back in the top flight ended on something of a sour note with a 7 game winless streak and the departure of promotion-winning coach Vicente Moreno. The Catalan club have pulled off what feels like a coup by bringing former Granada boss Diego Martinez in as his replacement but uncertainty remains over the future of star striker Raul De Tomas.

Espanyol Summer Transfers 2022

Players InEdu Expósito (€4.5m) Tonny Vilhena (€2.5m), Joselu (Free), Brian Olivan (Free), Vinicius Souza (Loan), Benjamin Lecomte (Loan)
Players OutÁlvaro Vadillo (Loan), Victor Gomez (Loan), Diego Lopez (Free), David Lopez (Free), Oscar Melendo (Free), Fran Merida (Released), Oier Olazábal (Released), Didac Vila (Released)

Espanyol did some good business early on with deals already in place to sign Joselu and Brian Olivan on free transfers at the end of last season. Vinicius Souza is a highly rated loan signing while Benjamin Lecomte looks set to be their first choice goalkeeper following the departure of Diego Lopez. It’ll be interesting to see how Diego Martinez puts all the pieces together but Espanyol’s pre-season has been overshadowed somewhat by transfer speculation surrounding star striker Raul de Tomas who is reportedly attracting interest from around Europe.

Espanyol Possible Best XI

Espanyol XI

Even the formation that Espanyol play with this season appears to depend on the Raul de Tomas situation so it’s probably in everyone’s best interests that it is resolved sooner rather than later. If he stays, a 4-4-2 system could be the best option but assuming he doesn’t, Diego Martinez may look to go 4-2-3-1 with Sergi Darder key again in a more advanced midfield role. Joselu, fresh from a 14-goal season with relegated Alaves, will surely lead the line but there is competition for places in the wide and central midfield areas. We may yet see fresh departures and arrivals, particularly in wide areas, especially if Espanyol land a big fee for De Tomas. The back four may not change much despite the arrival of a new coach.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Vinicius Souza (55 – at Mechelen)

LLE Verdict: Joselu is a strong addition but De Tomas will still be missed if he leaves so Espanyol’s chances of moving higher up the league may depend on some smart late business and a bit more quality added in the final third. They have done well to attract Diego Martinez to the club though and with a coach of his caliber at the helm, they ought to steer clear of any trouble.


Getafe

Getafe season preview
  • Last Season: 15th
  • Coach: Quique Sanchez Flores
  • Squad Valuation: €132m
  • Relegation Odds: 4/1

Getafe were in serious peril after starting last season with 7 straight defeats but Quique Sanchez Flores came in and did a wonderful job in steering them to safety. Starting from a clean slate, it’ll be interesting to see what the former Valencia and Atleti boss can do with this side, particularly after some significant summer recruitment which has raised expectation levels at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez heading into LaLiga 2022/23.

Getafe Summer Transfers 2022

Players InBorja Mayoral (€10m), Luis Milla (€5m), Domingos Duarte (€750k), Portu (Loan), Jaime Seoane (Free), Fabrizio Angileri (Free)
Players OutMathias Olivera (€11m), Hugo Duro (€4m), Ruben Yanez (Free), Chema (Free), Jonathan Silva (Loan), Erick Cabaco (Loan), Dario Poveda (Loan), Jakub Jankto (Loan)

Borja Mayoral is the joint second most expensive signing in Getafe history following a promising loan spell last season but the addition of Luis Milla is perhaps the most eye-catching arrival as he’s a different kind of midfielder to the ones they currently have. Portu also joins from Real Sociedad to further bolster their options going forward. Getafe’s summer business has largely been funded by the €11m sale of Mathias Olivera to Napoli.

Getafe Possible Best XI

Getafe best XI

Getafe’s squad still feels a bit short on numbers, so some fresh arrivals are expected. Right now, it seems likely that Quique Sanchez Flores will attempt to pack the central areas of the pitch again with a few personnel changes from last year. New signing Domingos Duarte is set to start at the back after Jorge Cuenca returned to Villarreal, although the young centre-back remains a target for the South Madrid club. Mathías Olivera’s place on the left should go to Fabrizio Angileri who has arrived on a free from River Plate. Luis Milla also looks a likely starter in midfield after his move from Granada, although Carles Alena and Jaime Seoane will also be pushing for places in that area of the pitch. Enes Unal should partner Borja Mayoral in attack, although Portu’s arrival suggests we may see Sanchez Flores use wingers at times.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Luis Milla (53 – at Granada)

LLE Verdict: If it wasn’t for their abysmal start, Getafe would have finished much higher than 15th last season. After some good summer business, they look well placed to have a much better season this time around, although mid-table may be their limit unless they can find a way to win more away games.


Mallorca

RCD Mallorca
  • Last Season: 16th
  • Coach: Javier Aguirre
  • Squad Valuation: €61m
  • Relegation Odds: 9/4

Mallorca brought Javier Aguirre in at the back-end of last season to keep them afloat and that’s exactly what the Mexican did, albeit on the final weekend with a few major hiccups along the way. We should see a more settled Mallorca this term with a clearer identity, following a full pre-season with Aguirre. Whether they will have enough quality to avoid another relegation battle is more doubtful though.

Mallorca Summer Transfers 2022

Players InVedat Muriqi (€7.7m), Pablo Maffeo (€3m), Predrag Rajkovic (€2m), Rodrigo Battaglia (Free), Jose Copete (Free)
Players OutJoan Sastre (€500k), Aleksandar Sedlar (Free), Salva Sevilla (Free), Manolo Reina (Free), Aleix Febas (Free), Brian Olivan (Free)

Vedat Muriqi was key to their transition into a more direct side so it’s good news for Mallorca that they’ve managed to complete a permanent deal for the Kosovo international. Rodrigo Battaglia and Pablo Maffeo also convert loans into permanent transfers. Meanwhile the addition of goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic seeks to address a major problem position last term. Veterans Salva Sevilla and Manolo Reina are among the departures but those losses may be felt more in the dressing room than on the pitch.

Mallorca Possible Best XI

Mallorca XI

Pre-season suggests Javier Aguirre is looking to play with three centre-backs and 22 year old Jose Copete, who spent last season at Ponferradina, could be something of a surprise starter. Fresh recruits may yet arrive in that area of the pitch though. Overall, their side will have a familiar feel to it with keeper Predrag Rajkovic the only other new face and he looks a clear starter in goal. Angel looks the most likely partner for Muriqi up front, although again Mallorca could probably do with bringing in another striker to at least compete with the 35 year old.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Predrag Rajkovic (51 – at Reims)

LLE Verdict: Mallorca survived by the skin of their teeth last season. It will be interesting to see how they shape up after a full pre-season under Javier Aguirre but realistically a relegation battle looks likely again with an overall lack of quality still a problem. Much may depend on exactly how the newly promoted sides go. If a couple of them adapt to the jump up to a higher tier well, Mallorca could be in big trouble.


Cádiz

Cadiz logo
  • Last Season: 17th
  • Coach: Sergio
  • Squad Valuation: €57m
  • Relegation Odds: 2/1

Like Mallorca, Cadiz also left it to an away win on matchday 38 to seal survival. Sergio was the mastermind of their escape act and the decision to bring him in to replace long-serving Alvaro Cervera turned out to be an inspired move in January. Cadiz will be hoping to keep that momentum going as they head into the new campaign when survival will be the only serious target again.

Cádiz Summer Transfers 2022

Players InRuben Alcaraz (€1m), Victor Chust (€1m), Awer Mabil (Free), Joseba Zaldua (Free), Fede San Emeterio (Free)
Players OutVarazdat Haroyan (Free), Salvi Sanchez (Free), Jens Jönsson (Free), Carlos Akapo (Free)

The parallels with Mallorca continue to their transfer activity where they’ve prioritised turning loan deals into permanent switches. Ruben Alcaraz, Victor Chust and Fede San Emeterio were all at the club last term and arrive now on a permanent basis. Full-back Joseba Zaldua arrives on a free transfer from Real Sociedad while Awer Mabil is a winger who joins from FC Midtjylland of Denmark.

Cádiz Possible Best XI

Cadiz team

Cadiz appear to be targeting continuity where possible from a successful end to last season. Goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma is an important figure in goal and the defensive options are similar with the exception of Zaldua most likely coming in to take Carlos Akapo’s position with the right-back moving to MLS. They could probably do with a bit more quality in wide areas, particularly after Salvi Sanchez’s switch to Rayo, but Sergio does have some good options in attack with Alvaro Negredo, Choco Lozano and Lucas Perez likely to battle it out for starting roles.

Sorare Fantasy Football Star: Lucas Perez (47)

LLE Verdict: It is likely to be another difficult season for Cadiz. They did brilliantly to fight their way to safety at the end of last term but may struggle to match that intensity throughout a 38-game season. There is a lack of quality and limited depth in a number of areas and this may be the year they go unless some late gems can be found in the transfer market.


Almería

Almeria logo
  • Last Season: 1st (Segunda)
  • Coach: Rubi
  • Squad Valuation: €74m
  • Relegation Odds: 11/4

Almeria have flashed the cash since their high profile Saudi takeover in 2019. It took them longer than owner Turki Al-Sheikh might have envisaged to reach the promised land of the top flight but they do so with a good coach in Rubi and big ambitions to make their mark at this level. A host of youthful summer additions ensures they’ll be an interesting team to watch this season.

Almería Summer Transfers 2022

Players InKaiky (€7m), Marko Milovanovic (€3.5m), Alejandro Pozo (€3m), Gui Guedes (€3m), Srdjan Babic (€1.1m), Houboulang Mendes (Free), Martin Svidersky (Free), Arnau Solà (Free)
Players OutCristian Olivera (Loan), Javi Robles (Loan), Giorgi Makaridze (Free)

Almeria have made eight summer signings including four teenagers as they continue to look to put their faith in youth whilst buying players who could ultimately leave for higher fees. Centre-back Srdjan Babic is the oldest of their new arrivals at just 26 and you do wonder if they perhaps could have done with a bit more experience and a few players who truly know the league. It’s unlikely Almeria’s business is done though. Star striker Umar Sadiq is believed to be on his way out of the club for a figure of nearly €30m which would give the club plenty more room to add fresh additions before the window shuts.

Almería Possible Best XI

Almeria XI

Assuming Umar Sadiq does complete a move away, things could change a lot with Almeria likely to strengthen across the pitch. Many of their new signings so far appear to be players for the future more than the present so initially there could be a fair deal of continuity from the promotion winning team but a new goalkeeper and a new striker are likely to be major priorities. A slow start could also help spark a flurry of new additions so Almeria’s starting XI in a few weeks may be quite different to the one that faces Real Madrid this weekend.

LLE Verdict: The assumption is that Almeria’s extra financial wealth, even when compared to many established top flight sides, should ensure they are okay this season. So far though, their transfer strategy has been a little surprising and it’s hard to see many of their new arrivals making an immediate impact. If they can successfully replace Sadiq and add a bit more quality across the pitch they should be competitive and may have enough to stay up, but right now they don’t have the feel of a team that will exactly take this league by storm.


Real Valladolid

LaLiga predictions 2020/21
  • Last Season: 2nd (Segunda)
  • Coach: Pacheta
  • Squad Valuation: €55m
  • Relegation Odds: 13/8

Real Valladolid have bounced back to the top flight at the first attempt with former Elche and Huesca boss Pacheta overseeing their successful Segunda Division campaign. They will again start as one of the firm favourites for relegation but owner Ronaldo will be hoping some experienced summer additions can help them be competitive at this level.

Real Valladolid Summer Transfers 2022

Players InGonzalo Plata (€3m), Monchu (€1.2m), Ivan Sanchez (€100k), Sergio Asenjo (Free), Sergio Escudero (Free)
Players OutRuben Alcaraz (€1m), Saidy Janko (Loan), Raul Carnero (Loan), Kiko Olivas (Free), Nacho Martinez (Free), Fede San Emeterio (Free), Pablo Hervias (Released)

The arrivals of Sergio Asenjo and Sergio Escudero on free transfers brings plenty of top flight experience to Real Valladolid and they already have quite a lot of that given they only spent one season in the Segunda before winning promotion. Their biggest buy is Gonzalo Plata, a 21 year old winger who impressed on loan at the Jose Zorrilla last term. Pacheta will be hoping he can make the step up to help spearhead their survival push but fresh additions could yet arrive to bolster the squad following a number of departures.

Real Valladolid Possible Best XI

Real Valladolid XI

4-3-3 was the system of choice at the back-end of last season as Real Valladolid finished fast to clinch promotion on the final day. Pacheta may look to start this season with that but caution could prevail if early results aren’t good. Both Asenjo and Escudero look likely starters following summer moves. Monchu may have to bide his time a bit more but could push for a starting role as the season progresses, although fresh additions could increase the level of competition by the time September comes around.

LLE Verdict: Real Valladolid have done some reasonable business but they could probably do with a few more arrivals before the window shuts. They will certainly expect to be in the relegation battle and much may depend on the ability of Shon Weissman to transport the form from his 20-goal Segunda Division season into the top flight. A return of just 6 for the Israeli in LaLiga 2020/21 suggests that may be easier said than done and a lack of goals may see Real Valladolid make a quick return to the second tier.


Girona

Girona logo
  • Last Season: 6th (Segunda)
  • Coach: Michel
  • Squad Valuation: €41m
  • Relegation Odds: 6/4

Girona grabbed the final place in LaLiga 2022/23 by beating Tenerife in the Segunda Division play-offs in June. They’ll be hoping loyal servant Cristhian Stuani can still deliver the goods at this level at the age of 35 and have wasted no time in using their links with Manchester City to make some significant loan signings already this summer which should help them bridge the gap between the second and top tiers.

Girona Summer Transfers 2022

Players InMiguel Gutierrez (€4m), David Lopez (Free), Valentin Castellanos (Loan), Yan Couto (Loan), Rodrigo Riquelme (Loan), Yangel Herrera (Loan)
Players OutVictor Sanchez (Released), David Junca (Released), Alex Gallar (Free), Jairo Izquierdo (Free), Jordi Calavera (Free)

Girona have done some really interesting business that raises the prospect of them competing back in the top flight. Yangel Herrera, Yan Couto and Taty Castellanos arrive from other clubs within the City Football Group but they’ve also plucked a couple of highly rated youngsters from the Madrid clubs. Miguel Gutierrez, who has featured many times for Real Madrid’s first team, feels like a real coup at left-back while Rodrigo Riquelme is another talented youngster who joins on loan from Atletico Madrid.

Girona Possible Best XI

Girona XI

A bit like Almeria, Girona go into the season with doubts over the goalkeeper position. Last season’s number 1 Juan Carlos is the only keeper in the senior squad and a new arrival seems certain. Most of the new signings look like strong contenders for starting roles with Miguel Gutierrez and Yangel Herrera surely signed to play. David Lopez also stands a good chance of featuring if Girona continue with a back three while Rodrigo Riquelme and Valentín Castellanos will also fancy their chances of breaking into this XI from the off.

LLE Verdict: Girona’s squad looked very short on top flight quality only a few weeks ago following a 6th place finish in the Segunda Division and the departure of a few loanees who helped them get up. They look to have done some excellent business though and if talisman Cristhian Stuani can continue to deliver goals at the highest level, they’ve a very good chance of beating the drop.


The 2022/23 LaLiga season preview for each club features the best available odds via oddschecker (as of 2/8/22), as well as market valuations and transfer fees according to transfermarkt. Transfers are accurate as of 10/8/22 but the window will stay open for three more weeks!

Spanish football writer
About Mark Sochon 1611 Articles
Mark is a freelance writer based in Madrid. He has also lived in Seville and Barcelona and has written extensively about Spanish football. His work has been published by the likes of Guardian Sport & World Soccer.

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