LaLiga Season Preview 2023/24

Spanish football preview

LaLiga 2023/24 kicks off on Friday August 11th. Barcelona are the defending championerrs while Real Madrid and potentially Atletico Madrid are hoping to wrestle the title off them. Granada, Las Palmas and Alaves are the new boys and will be anticipating a struggle in a league that was extremely tight in the bottom half last term. Read on for our full 2023/24 LaLiga season preview featuring all the summer transfer activity, possible line ups and club-by-club predictions.

Title odds and market values (via transfermarkt) are accurate as of Monday 31st July 2023. Transfers feature deals completed up to Wednesday 2nd August 2023. Fantasy football stars are via Sorare’s advanced scoring matrix. They run both paid and free-to-play weekly LaLiga competitions. Sign up here to pick your first LaLiga draft.

LaLiga season preview

LaLiga Season Preview – Club by Club Guide


Alavés

Alaves logo
  • Last Season: 4th (Segunda Division – promoted via play-offs)
  • Coach: Luis Garcia
  • Squad Valuation: €29m
  • Title Odds: 2500/1

Alaves are back in the Primera after just one season in the second tier. They secured promotion in the most dramatic of fashion with loanee Asier Villalibre holding his nerve to score a decisive 129th minute penalty in the 2nd Leg of the Play-Off Final against Levante. The Basque side are among the favourites for the drop but will be hoping to establish themselves as a top flight club again under the guidance of former Mallorca boss Luis Garcia Plaza.

Alavés Summer Transfers 2023

Players InAntonio Blanco (€4m), Ander Guevara (€1.8m), Nikola Maras (€1.5m), Giuliano Simeone (Loan), Rafa Marin (Loan)
Players OutFlorian Lejeune (€2.5m), Taichi Hara (Loan), Víctor Laguardia (Retired), Jason (Free), Toni Moya (Free)

Spain U21 international Antonio Blanco heads Alaves’ summer recruitment with the Real Madrid youngster converting his loan in Vitoria into a permanent deal. Centre-back Nikola Maras does likewise while Ander Guevara moves across the Basque Country from Real Sociedad. They’ve also sealed a loan deal for Diego Simeone’s son Giuliano after the 20 year forward scored 9 times for Real Zaragoza in last season’s Segunda Division.

Alavés Possible Line Up: Sivera – Duarte, Abqar, Sedlar, Marin – Blanco, Guevara – Rioja, Guridi, Simeone – De la Fuente (4-2-3-1)

Alaves could set up in a 4-2-3-1 system or potentially in a 4-4-2. They are fairly settled defensively with the main doubt at right back where new signing Rafa Marin is pushing for a start. Blanco and Guevara look the most likely candidates to anchor the midfield while winger Luis Rioja is often their biggest attacking threat. They do look very light up front though with striker Miguel de la Fuente netting just 4 times in the second tier last term. Bringing in a new striker with a track record for scoring goals in the top flight is likely to be a priority before the transfer window shuts.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Luis Rioja

Verdict: Unless they can make some really good things happen in the market, Alaves will struggle badly for goals and their return to the top flight may only be a short one.


Almería

Almeria logo
  • Last Season: 17th
  • Coach: Vicente Moreno
  • Squad Valuation: €85m
  • Title Odds: 2000/1

Almeria returned to the top flight last season and managed to secure survival on a jittery final weekend with an 87th minute penalty from Adri Embarba earning the Andalusians a 3-3 draw at Espanyol which kept them afloat. Rubi stepped down after the game meaning a new chapter will start this season with former Mallorca and Espanyol boss Vicente Moreno at the helm.

Almería Summer Transfers 2023

Players InLuis Suarez (€8m), Edgar Gonzalez (€4.5m)
Players OutEl Bilal Toure (€28m), Nikola Maras (€1.5m), Cesar de la Hoz (Free), Ivan Martos (Free), Francisco Portillo (Released), Arnau Sola (Loan)

Many expected Saudi-owned Almeria to be massive spenders when they won promotion to the top flight last year, but partly due to LaLiga’s budget restrictions, they’ve been considerably more cautious in their transfer activity. There have been just two new additions so far this summer including that of forward Luis Suarez who was at the club last term on loan. They have recently received a really good fee from Atalanta for young striker El Bilal Toure though which should allow them to make fresh additions.

Almería Possible Line Up: Fernando – Centelles, Babic, Edgar, Pozo – Robertone, Samu Costa, Melero – Embarba, Luis Suarez, Ramazani (4-3-3)

Almeria’s two summer signings both look like clear starters with Luis Suarez likely to lead the line while Edgar Gonzalez feels like a really good addition from Real Betis. He should slot into what was a leaky defence last season, although a defensive midfield role is also possible for the 26 year old. There are some good options in wide areas with 21 year old Lazaro also a contender for a starting role after impressing towards the end of last season.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Lucas Robertone

Verdict: Almeria’s €28m El Bilal Toure windfall should allow them to plug the remaining gaps in their squad and further bolster the defence which ought to be enough to keep them up.


Athletic Club

Athletic Bilbao Season Preview 2019-20
  • Last Season: 8th
  • Coach: Ernesto Valverde
  • Squad Valuation: €216m
  • Title Odds: 150/1

Ernesto Valverde’s third spell in Bilbao as Athletic boss started brightly with some bright early season displays and big wins. However familiar flaws plagued the remainder of their campaign as the Basque giants were pipped by local rivals Osasuna to both a Copa del Rey Final trip and a place in Europe via the league.

Athletic Club Summer Transfers 2023

Players InIñigo Ruiz de Galarreta (Free), Javier Marton (Free)
Players OutIñigo Martinez (Free), Oier Zarraga (Free), Mikel Balenziaga (Free), Ander Capa (Released)

The most notable movements this summer in Bilbao have seen experienced centre-back Iñigo Martinez depart to join Barcelona on a free transfer. Meanwhile Iñigo Ruiz de Galarreta returns to the club from Mallorca where he has impressed in a midfield role in recent years. Perhaps just as significantly, Athletic look set to hold onto exciting young winger Nico Williams despite Premier League interest in the 21 year old.

Athletic Club Possible Line Up: Simon – Yuri, Vivian, Yeray, De Marcos – Vesga, Ruiz de Galarreta – Muniain, Sancet, Nico Williams – Iñaki Williams (4-2-3-1)

With limited transfer activity and any further moves as always limited by Athletic’s recruitment policy of only buying players that were developed in the Basque Country, there should be a familiar feel to Ernesto Valverde’s starting line up. Dani Vivian and Yeray should now be the established central defensive pairing with Aitor Paredes filling in when necessary. Iñigo Ruiz de Galarreta stands a good chance of landing a starting role while Ernesto Valverde surely needs to find a way of getting all of his best players on the pitch. Iker Muniain was surprisingly overlooked throughout much of last season and will be eager to regain a starting role.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Yuri

Verdict: The absence of a convincing striker remains Athletic’s biggest flaw but if Valverde can find a way to get Muniain and Oihan Sancet in the same side, and if Nico Williams continues to develop, there could be minor improvements in Bilbao this term and they may just sneak the Conference League place.


Atlético Madrid

Atletico Madrid 2019-20
  • Last Season: 3rd
  • Coach: Diego Simeone
  • Squad Valuation: €533m
  • Title Odds: 12/1

2022/23 was a season of two halves for Atleti. They were very poor before the World Cup, exiting the Champions League at the first hurdle and quickly falling out of title contention in LaLiga. There was even serious talk of Diego Simeone’s reign ending this summer but Atleti improved significantly after the turn of the year with Antoine Griezmann inspired and that should help Los Rojiblancos approach this campaign in confident mood.

Atlético Madrid Summer Transfers 2023

Players InAntoine Griezmann (€20m), Javi Galan (€5m), Cesar Azpilicueta (Free), Caglar Soyuncu (Free)
Players OutMatheus Cunha (€50m), Renan Lodi (€13m), Geoffrey Kondogbia (€8m), Manu Sanchez (Free), Matt Doherty (Free), Javi Serrano (Loan), Giuliano Simeone (Loan)

It seems like an eternity ago that Griezmann was turning out for Barcelona, but his transfer back to Atleti finally goes through this summer. Otherwise, Atleti have tried to use limited funds to bolster their defence with Javi Galan, Cesar Azpilicueta and Caglar Soyuncu giving Diego Simeone more options in that area of the pitch. Significant funds have already been raised with Matheus Cunha’s Wolves loan becoming a pricey €50m permanent transfer and Atleti would love to receive another significant sum to bring Joao Felix’s complicated time at the club to an end.

Atlético Madrid Possible Line Up: Oblak – Reinildo, Gimenez, Azpilicueta – Carrasco, De Paul, Koke, Llorente, Molina – Morata, Griezmann (3-5-2)

Atleti’s start to the season will be hampered by injuries to Jose Maria Gimenez and Reinildo who are unlikely to see game-time until September at the earliest. However both will fancy they can force their way into the eleven when fully fit with new signing Cesar Azpilicueta potentially completing the back three. The rest of the side should have a familiar feel unless there are fresh departures with Alvaro Morata once more being linked with a summer move.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Antoine Griezmann

Verdict: A smooth start will be key as Atleti aim to build on the momentum from the second half of last season, but they should be in for a better campaign and could push Barcelona and Real Madrid very close this time around.


Barcelona

Barcelona
  • Last Season: 1st
  • Coach: Xavi
  • Squad Valuation: €854m
  • Title Odds: 7/5

Barceona won LaLiga 2022/23 at a relative canter with defensive excellence, an inspired goalkeeper and consistency key factors in their triumph. This season will most likely be trickier, not least because they’ll be playing away from Camp Nou for the entire campaign with the Estadi Olimpic their temporary home.

Barcelona Summer Transfers 2023

Players InOriol Romeu (€3.4m), Iñigo Martinez (Free), Ilkay Gündogan (Free)
Players OutAntoine Griezmann (€20m), Nico Gonzalez (€8m), Trincão (€7m), Arnau Tenas (Free), Sergio Busquets (Free), Jordi Alba (Free), Samuel Umtiti (Free), Alex Collado (Free), Pablo Torre (Loan)

This summer marks the end of an era in Barcelona with long-serving Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba departing after Gerard Pique retired midway through last season. Aside from the coach, this now feels like a real break from the dominant Barca sides of the late 2000’s and first half of the 2010’s. Manchester City’s Ilkay Gündogan is the standout summer addition while Oriol Romeu and Iñigo Martinez are useful budget signings in a summer when funds are still tight.

Barcelona Possible Line Up: Ter Stegen – Balde, Christensen, Araujo, Kounde – Gündogan, De Jong, Pedri – Gavi, Lewandowski, Raphinha (4-3-3)

In terms of personnel, Gündogan in for Busquets is the most likely change to last season’s title winning side, but they are different types of midfielders so Xavi will need to tweak some things to make it work. An alternative option would be to utilise Oriol Romeu who joins from Girona and is a more orthodox holding midfielder. With Ousmane Dembele being strongly linked with PSG, we could still see one attacking addition to bolster things in the final third.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Frenkie de Jong

Verdict: Playing away from Camp Nou could hamper Barça while concerns about their strength in depth remain, particularly if they go deeper in Europe. The title may elude them this year.


Cádiz

Cadiz logo
  • Last Season: 14th
  • Coach: Sergio
  • Squad Valuation: €57m
  • Title Odds: 2000/1

Cadiz are gearing up for a fourth straight top flight campaign, after securing survival on the final weekend in each of the last two seasons. With limited funds and a relatively limited squad, they’ve defied the odds by remaining in the Primera for so long and will unquestionably start this season as one of the relegation candidates once more.

Cádiz Summer Transfers 2023

Players InGonzalo Escalante (€2.5m), Sergi Guardiola (€1m), Lucas Pires (Loan), Darwin Machis (Loan), Javi Hernandez (Loan), Jorge Mere (Loan)
Players OutTheo Bongonda (€7m), Pacha Espino (Free), Choco Lozano (Free), Santiago Arzamendia (Loan)

Cadiz have been hit by some significant departures so far this summer. Theo Bongonda, who was often their main attacking weapon last term, has left to join Spartak Moscow for €7m. Pacha Espino, another first team regular, has also moved on to play for Rayo Vallecano. Coming in, Sergi Guardiola and Gonzalo Escalante have converted loans into permanent deals while the squad has been supplemented by four more loan signings.

Cádiz Possible Line Up: Ledesma – Javi Hernandez, Fali, Luis Hernandez, Iza – Machis, Alcaraz, Escalante, Sobrino – Guardiola, Ramos (4-4-2)

It’s unlikely that Cadiz’s summer business is done so their starting eleven could look quite different come September but as it stands, new arrivals Darwin Machis and Javi Hernandez look like strong candidates for starting roles. The fear for Cadiz fans may be fresh departures with highly rated goalkeeper Conan Ledesma also being linked with a move away. Up front, they do have options with Roger Marti, Alvaro Negredo, Sergi Guardiola and Chris Ramos competing for two spots.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Gonzalo Escalante

Verdict: Cadiz have already lost two important players and there’s a risk they may lose a third with Ledesma attracting interest. Sergio has done an excellent job but he may struggle to save them this season.


Celta Vigo

Celta Vigo logo
  • Last Season: 13th
  • Coach: Rafael Benitez
  • Squad Valuation: €145m
  • Title Odds: 500/1

Celta Vigo ended last season in 13th place, but make no mistake, they were in serious peril heading into the final day of the season when victory over champions Barcelona sealed safety. They’ve made a bold summer move by dispensing with the services of Carlos Carvalhal and appointing Rafa Benitez as their new boss. It’s something of a coup for the Galicians with Benitez back in LaLiga for the first time since leaving Real Madrid in 2016.

Celta Vigo Summer Transfers 2023

Players InCarles Perez (€5.2m), Carlos Dotor (€3m), Jonathan Bamba (Free), Manu Sanchez (Free)
Players OutOrbelín Pineda (€6.5m), Javi Galan (€5m), Gabriel Fernandez (€3.2m), Ruben Blanco (€1.5m), Denis Suarez (Free), Hugo Mallo (Released), Augusto Solari (Loan)

Celta Vigo have done some interesting business with winger Jonathan Bamba perhaps the standout addition on a free transfer from Lille. Carles Perez converts his loan into a permanent deal while Real Madrid youngster Carlos Dotor arrives with a reputation for goals from midfield, admittedly in Spain’s third tier. Many of the players departing were not at the club last season in any case but the loss of Javi Galan to Atletico Madrid was a blow in a deal that saw fellow left back Manu Sanchez move in the opposite direction.

Celta Vigo Possible Line Up: Villar – Sanchez, Nuñez, Aidoo, Mingueza – Bamba, Veiga, Beltran, Perez – Strand Larsen, Aspas (4-4-2)

As it stands, Celta’s talented young midfielder Gabri Veiga remains in Vigo. However any movement on that front resulting in the departure of the 21 year old whose release clause is a reported €40m could spark a flurry of late transfer activity. Improvements in goal, at right-back and in midfield would most likely be sought should Veiga go and a big sum of money arrive.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Unai Nuñez

Verdict: Celta have flirted with danger all too often in recent years but with Rafa Benitez at the helm, they look capable of having an improved season. With a few more smart additions, a top half finish should be a realistic goal.


Getafe

Getafe season preview
  • Last Season: 15th
  • Coach: Jose Bordalas
  • Squad Valuation: €119m
  • Title Odds: 1250/1

Getafe’s 2022/23 season was an underwhelming affair and resulted in the sacking of Quique Sanchez Flores in April. After some negotiations, Pepe Bordalas returned on a short-term deal to guide the club to safety with a hard-fought goalless draw in Valladolid on the final weekend. The club have convinced Bordalas to stay on with the 59 year old signing a two year deal.

Getafe Summer Transfers 2023

Players InOmar Alderete (€4m), Portu (€3.5m), Gaston Alvarez (Undisclosed Fee), Choco Lozano (Free), Jose Angel Carmona (Loan), Daniel Fuzato (Loan)
Players OutJakub Jankto (Undisclosed Fee), Munir (Free), Diego Conde (Free), Erick Cabaco (Released), Kiko Casilla (Released), Dario Poveda (Loan)

Getafe have signed three of last season’s loanees on permanent deals with Gaston Alvarez, Omar Alderete and Portu completing transfers to the Coliseum Alfonso Perez. In terms of new faces, Choco Lozano adds a fresh attacking option after moving from Cadiz while defender Jose Angel Carmona arrives on loan from Sevilla.

Getafe Possible Line Up: Soria – Angileri, Alderete, Mitrovic, Damian Suarez – Maksimovic, Djene, Arambarri – Mata, Latasa, Portu (4-3-3)

At least the first half of Getafe’s season will see them have to find goals without their star forward Enes Ünal who is recovering from an ACL injury. With Bordalas favouring a targetman to lead his attack, youngster Juanmi Latasa should get a run of games. Getafe are likely to have a slightly different feel second time around under Bordalas with long serving centre-back Djene potentially used as a defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3 system, but it’s still likely to be quite a direct, physical approach.

Sorare Fantasy Star: David Soria

Verdict: Unal’s injury absence leaves a major void in attack and it’s hard to see where Getafe’s goals will come from which could see them involved in another relegation battle.


Girona

Girona logo
  • Last Season: 10th
  • Coach: Michel
  • Squad Valuation: €109m
  • Title Odds: 1250/1

Girona were not only one of last season’s biggest surprise packages, but also one of the best teams to watch with positive football under Michel and they were involved in an array of high-scoring matches. The Catalans ultimately narrowly missed out on European qualification on their return to the top flight which sets the bar pretty high heading into this campaign.

Girona Summer Transfers 2023

Players InYangel Herrera (€5m), Ivan Martin (€2m), Paulo Gazzaniga (Free), Daley Blind (Free), Savio (Loan), Pablo Torre (Loan)
Players OutOriol Romeu (€3.4m), Ramon Terrats (€2.5m)

Girona’s signing of Dutch international Daley Blind on a free transfer ranks among the strangest summer transfers. He’ll add experience to a relatively youthful squad and Michel’s side succeeded last season largely thanks to key contributions from a host of loanees. While Yangel Herrera, Ivan Martin and Paulo Gazzaniga have since converted loans into permanent transfers, Taty Castellanos and Rodrigo Riquelme have not returned. They’ll be hoping new young loan signings Savio and Pablo Torre can make a similar impact this term.

Girona Possible Line Up: Gazzaniga – Miguel Gutierrez, David Lopez, Bueno, Arnau Martinez – Herrera, Blind, Aleix Garcia – Torre, Stuani, Tsygankov (4-3-3)

Girona may seek to bring in defensive additions and almost certainly a forward before the transfer window shuts. As it stands, veteran Cristhian Stuani is their only senior striker but the Catalans look strong in midfield with Blind potentially playing the anchor role allowing Aleix Garcia, who signed a new deal this summer, a chance to be the team’s main creative force once more.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Aleix Garcia

Verdict: Girona should be good fun again but unless they can find a suitable replacement for Castellanos and perhaps a bit more defensive solidity, they’ll struggle to replicate last season’s top half finish.


Granada

La Liga badges - Granada
  • Last Season: 1st (Segunda Division)
  • Coach: Paco Lopez
  • Squad Valuation: €49m
  • Title Odds: 2000/1

Granada return to the top flight after just one year away, coming up as Segunda División champions. They went unbeaten at home, but suffered 11 away defeats which would have been enough to derail their automatic promotion bid in most seasons. It’s also a return to LaLiga for former Levante boss Paco Lopez who took over at Los Carmenes last November.

Granada Summer Transfers 2023

Players InShon Weissman (€3.5m), Famara Diedhiou (€0.5m), Gerard Gumbau (Free), Jesus Vallejo (Loan)
Players OutAdrian Butzke (€0.3m), Quini (Free), Pepe Sanchez (Free), Ruben Rochina (Released), Jorge Molina (Retired)

Granada’s summer spend so far has consisted of paying obligatory fees for players that in truth made little impact on loan at the club last season. Shon Weissman scored only one league goal for Granada having also netted just once for Real Valladolid in the top flight before a January loan switch. Famara Diedhiou was even less effective but the Andalusian club have done some decent business by adding midfielder Gerard Gumbau on a free transfer while Real Madrid defender Jesus Vallejo returns for yet another loan spell at Los Carmenes.

Granada Possible Line Up: Ferreira – Neva, Miquel, Rubio, Ricard – Puertas, Sergio Ruiz, Gumbau, Melendo – Uzuni, Callejon (4-4-2)

Granada are another club who probably need fresh additions if they want to do anything but fight near the bottom. Under Paco Lopez they should be quite positive in their approach but much may depend on whether strike duo Myrto Uzuni and Jose Callejon can be anywhere near as threatening in the top flight as they were in the 2022/23 second tier where Uzuni was the top scorer and Callejon the assist leader.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Gerard Gumbau

Verdict: Granada are most likely gearing up for a relegation battle. They’ve perhaps a bit more than fellow new boys Alaves, but they may need one or two other clubs to really drop off if they are to stay in this league.


Las Palmas

Las Palmas Logo
  • Last Season: 2nd (Segunda Division)
  • Coach: Garcia Pimienta
  • Squad Valuation: €32m
  • Title Odds: 2500/1

Top flight football returns to the Canary Islands for the first time in five years after Las Palmas won promotion on the final weekend of last season’s Segunda Division. Under the guidance of former Barcelona B team boss Garcia Pimienta, Las Palmas have made great strides forwards over the past eighteen months with a possession-based style of football yielding results and making Gran Canaria a tough place for visiting teams to go.

Las Palmas Summer Transfers 2023

Players InSandro Ramirez (€1m), Aaron Escandell (€400k), Daley Sinkgraven (Free), Munir (Free), Javi Muñoz (Free), Cristian Herrera (Free), Julian Araujo (Loan)
Players OutWilfrid Kaptoum (Free), Florin Andone (Free), Sidnei (Free), Oscar Clemente (Free), Alex Dominguez (Free), Enrique Clemente (Loan)

With a combination of loan deals expiring and fringe players being released, Las Palmas were quickly able to trim their squad down and create space for new arrivals. They’ve secured a permanent transfer for Sandro Ramirez who featured prominently last term on loan in Gran Canaria. Otherwise it’s new faces with Munir perhaps the standout addition from Getafe on a free transfer. They’ve also added right back Julian Araujo on loan from Barcelona which should see the 21 year old Mexican international feature in LaLiga for the first time.

Las Palmas Possible Line Up: Valles – Sinkgraven, Coco, Alex Suarez, Araujo – Kirian Rodriguez, Loiodice, Viera – Moleiro, Sandro, Munir (4-3-3)

Initially, Las Palmas may well keep faith with the players that won them promotion but the likes of Daley Sinkgraven, Julian Araujo and Munir could all force their way into the starting eleven as the season progresses. Despite being in a higher tier, Garcia Pimienta is unlikely to abandon his principles and Las Palmas will most likely still seek to dictate the tempo and control the ball, with Jonathan Viera the player most capable of unlocking opposing defences.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Jonathan Viera

Verdict: Much the same as Granada, Las Palmas can anticipate a struggle but a longer top flight absence should help create a real buzz around their home games in Gran Canaria. They have a clear idea of what they want to do and the brilliance of Jonathan Viera may just be enough to keep them afloat.


Mallorca

  • Last Season: 9th
  • Coach: Javier Aguirre
  • Squad Valuation: €74m
  • Title Odds: 1500/1

For so long a yo-yo club, Mallorca fans were treated to a rare season of stability that didn’t involve either a relegation battle or promotion push last term. They boasted the best defensive record outside of the European qualifiers and Javier Aguirre will be hoping that continues this season as the Balearic Islanders aim to build on an impressive 9th place finish.

Mallorca Summer Transfers 2023

Players InSiebe Van der Heyden (€2.7m), Manu Morlanes (€2.5m), Omar Mascarell (€600k), Toni Lato (Free)
Players OutKang-in Lee (€22m), Iñigo Ruiz de Galarreta (Free), Jordi Mboula (Free), Angel Rodriguez (Free), Matija Nastasic (Free), Leo Roman (Loan)

Mallorca are rebuilding after a couple of notable departures with first team regulars Kang-in Lee and Iñigo Ruiz de Galarreta leaving. Kang-in was their main source of creativity last season with 6 goals and 6 assists for the Korean international but Mallorca will feel as though they’ve done good business by recouping €22m for his services from PSG. They’ve not rushed into reinvesting all of that money but Belgian defender Siebe Van der Heyden and Elche’s Omar Mascarell have arrived for fees while Manu Morlanes converts his loan into a permanent switch.

Mallorca Possible Line Up: Rajkovic – Copete, Raillo, Valjent – Lato, Morlanes, Mascarell, Maffeo – Amath, Dani Rodriguez – Muriqi (3-4-2-1)

Javier Aguirre’s side should set up with a back three again that new signing Siebe Van der Heyden will be hoping to force his way into. At the time of writing, they appear to be on the brink of signing Canadian striker Cyle Larin who impressed at Real Valladolid last term. Larin’s arrival could potentially spark a switch to a 3-5-2 system with the 28 year old the partner for Vedat Muriqi who netted an impressive 15 goals last season.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Vedat Muriqi

Verdict: Mallorca should be strong defensively again which ought to ensure they steer clear of trouble, but they could do with adding a bit more creativity if they want to threaten the top half.


Osasuna

Osasuna season preview
  • Last Season: 7th
  • Coach: Jagoba Arrasate
  • Squad Valuation: €136m
  • Title Odds: 1000/1

2023 has been a rollercoaster ride for everyone connected with Osasuna. A run to the Copa del Rey Final was followed by European qualification courtesy of an excellent 7th place finish in LaLiga. However UEFA initially barred them from entering the Conference League due to a historical match fixing case, although that decision has since been reversed meaning Osasuna will return to the European stage this season.

Osasuna Summer Transfers 2023

Players InAlejandro Catena (Free), Jose Arnaiz (Free), Johan Mojica (Loan)
Players OutAridane Hernandez (Free), Diego Moreno (Loan), Iker Benito (Loan)

It hasn’t been a particularly busy summer in Pamplona in terms of transfers, although uncertainty over their European involvement may have contributed to that. Centre-back Alejandro Catena is their most notable addition on a free transfer from Rayo Vallecano and he’ll take the place in the squad of Aridane Hernandez who has moved in the other direction. Leganes’ forward Jose Arnaiz also arrives on a free transfer and could prove a useful addition while left back Johan Mojica arrives for the season following the end of Manu Sanchez’s loan deal.

Osasuna Possible Line Up: Aitor Fernandez – Mojica, David Garcia, Catena, Peña – Torro, Moncayola – Moi Gomez, Oroz, Chimy – Budimir (4-2-3-1)

Even without the added workload of European football, Jagoba Arrasate was a coach that loved to rotate his troops and keep players fresh. Even the goalkeepers chopped and changed and we can expect to see plenty more of that this season if Osasuna go deep in Europe. As ever, David Garcia will be key when it comes to marshalling the defence while Chimy Avila will be their main source of spark in the final third, particularly after the conclusion of Abde Ez’s impressive loan spell.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Aitor Fernandez

Verdict: Osasuna’s ability to progress in the Copa del Rey last season whilst maintaining solid league form bodes well as they prepare for a European adventure. The squad looks to have enough depth to ensure things don’t completely fall apart in LaLiga following Thursday night Conference League football and a mid-table finish is likely.


Rayo Vallecano

Rayo badge
  • Last Season: 11th
  • Coach: Francisco
  • Squad Valuation: €72m
  • Title Odds: 1500/1

It has been a summer of change in Vallecas, but one that everyone connected with Rayo knew was coming. Andoni Iraola departs after a hugely successful three years at the club and some key players have followed him out the door. The new boss, with big boots to fill, is Francisco who was sacked by Elche following a late 2-1 defeat against Iraola’s Rayo last October.

Rayo Vallecano Summer Transfers 2023

Players InFlorian Lejeune (€2.5m), Pacha Espino (Free), Aridane Hernandez (Free)
Players OutFran Garcia (€5m), Alejandro Catena (Free), Santi Comesaña (Free), Mario Hernandez (Free), Diego Lopez (Released), Esteban Saveljich (Released), Mario Suarez (Released)

Three key players have departed the Madrid club with Fran Garcia, Alejandro Catena and Santi Comesaña all first team regulars last season. With only €5m recouped in transfer fees, there hasn’t been a huge kitty to attack the market with. For their many flaws off the pitch, Rayo have tended to recruit well though and they look to have done some solid business with Pacha Espino and Aridane Hernandez arriving on free transfers while key centre-back Florian Lejeune converts his loan into a permanent deal.

Rayo Vallecano Possible Line Up: Dimitrievski – Espino, Aridane, Lejeune, Balliu – Valentin, Unai Lopez – Alvaro Garcia, Trejo, Isi – De Tomas (4-2-3-1)

Francisco would be wise to not totally tear up the Iraola playbook with the Basque coach enjoying real success with these players by adopting a high intensity approach and a 4-2-3-1 system. The likes of Alvaro Garcia and Isi Palazon remain at the club and should ensure Rayo get good service to striker Raul de Tomas who is capable of bouncing back strongly after a disjointed 2022/23 campaign which saw him ineligible to play before January.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Isi Palazon

Verdict: Following the departure of Iraola and some key players, Rayo could certainly slip back towards the relegation scrap but one man who ought to be better this season is R.D.T. and his goals may well keep them in the league.


Real Betis

Real Betis season preview
  • Last Season: 6th
  • Coach: Manuel Pellegrini
  • Squad Valuation: €233m
  • Title Odds: 200/1

Real Betis are heading into their fourth season under Manuel Pellegrini’s guidance and the Chilean has certainly raised expectation levels in the green and white half of Seville. Betis have not finished lower than 6th under Pellegrini having managed just one top six finish in twelve top flight campaigns prior to his appointment. A place in Europe will again be the objective this season.

Real Betis Summer Transfers 2023

Players InIsco (Free), Marc Bartra (Free), Hector Bellerin (Free), Ayoze Perez (Free), Alex Collado (Free), Marc Roca (Loan), Chadi Riad (Loan)
Players OutSergio Canales (€10m), Diego Lainez (€6m), Edgar Gonzalez (€4.5m), Loren Moron (Free), Dani Martin (Free), Victor Ruiz (Released), Joaquin (Retired), Alex Collado (Loan)

The ability of Real Betis to really kick on and try to push for a top four finish has been hampered over the past few years by a precarious financial situation which has forced them to consider any reasonable offers for some of their best players. This summer has been no exception with Sergio Canales moving to Mexican side Monterrey for €10m. Almeria-bound Edgar Gonzalez is also a slightly surprising departure but Betis look to have used the free transfer market well to bring the likes of Marc Bartra and Hector Bellerin back to the club after spells away.

Real Betis Possible Line Up: Rui Silva – Miranda, Bartra, Luiz Felipe, Bellerin – Guido Rodriguez, Carvalho – Ayoze Perez, Fekir, Rodri – Iglesias (4-2-3-1)

Manuel Pellegrini is another coach who likes to rotate his players and the squad has decent depth to it, particularly in attacking areas. Key man Nabil Fekir is still fighting back to fitness but youngsters Rodri Sanchez and Luiz Henrique, as well as summer signing Isco, are all capable of creating and scoring goals from attacking midfield or wide areas. Borja Iglesias should lead the line once more but may face competition from young striker Raul Garcia who netted 19 times in the Segunda Division for Mirandes last season.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Guido Rodriguez

Verdict: Losing a player of Sergio Canales’ quality is clearly a blow, but Betis still have a strong midfield and should improve once they get Fekir back up to full fitness. They should be around where they’ve been for the last three seasons – 5th or 6th.


Real Madrid

Real Madrid preview
  • Last Season: 2nd
  • Coach: Carlo Ancelotti
  • Squad Valuation: €980m
  • Title Odds: Evens

Real Madrid head into the third season of Carlo Ancelotti’s second spell hungry for silverware having missed out on the two big prizes last term. It’s a squad at something of a crossroads with the next generation growing in importance following the sudden departure of Karim Benzema at the end of last season and some youthful summer additions.

Real Madrid Summer Transfers 2023

Players InJude Bellingham (€103m), Arda Güler (€20m), Fran Garcia (€5m), Joselu (Loan)
Players OutAntonio Blanco (€4m), Karim Benzema (Free), Marco Asensio (Free), Eden Hazard (Released), Mariano Diaz (Released), Jesus Vallejo (Loan)

Jude Bellingham’s €103m transfer from Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid is by far the biggest deal to have been completed this summer in Spain. The English international is the latest and arguably most exciting piece in Real Madrid’s plans for a youthful new midfield. 18 year old Arda Güler is also a fresh option in the centre of the park but may have to bide his time before getting meaningful minutes. Meanwhile Fran Garcia and Joselu return to the club after impressing elsewhere in LaLiga last season.

Real Madrid Possible Line Up: Courtois – Mendy, Alaba, Militao, Carvajal – Camavinga, Kroos, Valverde – Bellingham – Vini Jr, Rodrygo (4-3-1-2)

The departure of Benzema looks set to spark a formation shift this season for Los Blancos. Stacked full of central midfield options, it’s likely Ancelotti will go with four central midfielders with Bellingham operating in front of the other three and offering support to a likely strike pairing of Vini Junior and Rodrygo. The addition of Joselu does also offer the option of a more orthodox 4-3-3 while any move for Kylian Mbappe would leave Ancelotti with a pleasant new dilemma of trying to fit both the Frenchman and Vini into the same team.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Vini Junior

Verdict: With or without Mbappe, Real Madrid should be strong title contenders and while the shift in system and absence of Benzema may take some time to adjust to, Los Blancos look worthy of their status as title favourites with their range of midfield options perhaps giving them the edge on their rivals.


Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad - La Liga
  • Last Season: 4th
  • Coach: Imanol Alguacil
  • Squad Valuation: €361m
  • Title Odds: 50/1

Real Sociedad are back in the Champions League for the first time in a decade after an impressive 4th place finish last term. Imanol Alguacil continues to do a fine job in Donostia with a blend of homegrown players and smart signings establishing La Real as the strongest team in Spain outside of the “big three” in LaLiga 2022/23.

Real Sociedad Summer Transfers 2023

Players InHamari Traore (Free), Andre Silva (Loan)
Players OutPortu (€3.5m), Ander Guevara (€1.8m), Modibo Sagnan (€1m), Andoni Zubiaurre (Free), Roberto Lopez (Loan), Asier Illarramendi (Released), David Silva (Retired)

La Real are not a club to spend for the sake of spending as they showed last summer when they held onto most of the funds received from the club record sale of Alexander Isak to Newcastle. Champions League qualification hasn’t sparked any serious spending either but they’ve added a couple of players so far. Right back Hamari Traore arrives on a free transfer while striker Andre Silva fills the void left by last season’s loanee Alexander Sorloth. We can also still expect at least one midfield addition to come in after legendary midfielder David Silva was sadly forced to retire following a pre-season ACL injury.

Real Sociedad Possible Line Up: Remiro – Aihen, Le Normand, Zubeldia, Traore – Merino, Zubimendi, Brais Mendez – Oyarzabal, Sadiq, Kubo (4-3-3)

The starting eleven should have a fairly familiar feel this season although Hamari Traore will be pushing to be the first choice right back. The midfield is the only area that currently lacks depth and fresh signings could alter the outlook slightly. Mikel Oyarzabal and Take Kubo stand out as the most viable wide options while the fit again Umar Sadiq should compete with Andre Silva to be the main striker.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Alex Remiro

Verdict: While David Silva will be missed, Real Sociedad are strong in most areas of the pitch and after a full pre-season we should see more from the likes of Oyarzabal and Sadiq following their injury problems last term. La Real may still be the best of the rest.


Sevilla

Sevilla logo
  • Last Season: 12th
  • Coach: Jose Luis Mendilibar
  • Squad Valuation: €206m
  • Title Odds: 50/1

The 2022/23 season delivered painful lows and fabulously unexpected highs for Sevilla as Jose Luis Mendilibar’s arrival in March sparked a dramatic transformation in the club’s fortunes. Relegation candidates for much of a miserable season, the former Eibar boss not only kept Sevilla in the league with relative ease in the end, but spearheaded a remarkable seventh Europa League triumph. Mendilibar has since agreed to stay on as Sevilla coach for the 2023/24 season.

Sevilla Summer Transfers 2023

Players InLoic Bade (€12m), Adria Pedrosa (Free)
Players OutKarim Rekik (€2m), Jose Angel Carmona (Loan)

With Monchi departing the club to join Aston Villa, we’ve not seen a huge amount of transfer activity so far at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan with new Sporting Director Víctor Orta now overseeing their summer business. Their main signing is Loic Bade who was so impressive in defence last term following a January loan from Rennes. Adria Pedrosa is the other new arrival with the left back joining on a free transfer from Espanyol having barely featured last season due to injury.

Sevilla Possible Line Up: Dmitrovic – Acuña, Gudelj, Bade, Navas – Rakitic, Fernando – Lamela, Oliver, Ocampos – En Nesyri (4-2-3-1)

Little has changed from the team that shone in the final months of last term. Bono was the Europa League winning goalkeeper but could depart in the coming weeks with Marko Dmitrovic the preferred choice of Mendilibar in LaLiga. There is a wealth of experience right through the team with Ivan Rakitic and Fernando still likely to have important midfield roles while Youssef En-Nesyri is again likely to be the main striker.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Ivan Rakitic

Verdict: Sevilla should never have been as bad as they were for the majority of last season and should finish a lot higher than 12th this term with European qualification a realistic goal. However this still feels like a relatively old team with certain limitations and Mendilibar may struggle to reproduce the same magic over a full campaign.


Valencia

Valencia 2022
  • Last Season: 16th
  • Coach: Ruben Baraja
  • Squad Valuation: €168m
  • Title Odds: 1000/1

It’s another season at Mestalla and it’s another year of Peter Lim’s ownership which remains as unpopular as ever. Ruben Baraja did a decent job of guiding the team to safety last term with a host of young players making key contributions in the run-in, but recent history would suggest the chances of him seeing out his present deal which runs until 2025 are slim.

Valencia Summer Transfers 2023

Players InCenk Özkacar (€5m), Pepelu (€5m)
Players OutJorge Saenz (€400k), Edinson Cavani (Free), Toni Lato (Free), Iago Herrerin (Free)

Valencia have spent €10m on new signings this summer with Cenk Özkacar’s loan becoming a permanent transfer from Lyon while Pepelu makes a somewhat controversial switch from city rivals Levante. The midfielder is a big prospect and impressed in the Segunda Division last season but fans of cash-strapped Levante won’t be thrilled given the 24 year old signed a new 10 year contract at the club only last summer.

Valencia Possible Line Up: Mamardashvili – Gaya, Diakhaby, Gabriel Paulista, Correia – Almeida, Pepelu, Guerra – Castillejo, Duro, Diego Lopez (4-3-3)

As things stand, highly rated goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili remains a Valencia player but links to the likes of Bayern Munich and Chelsea persist and any sale could spark a late flurry of arrivals. Currently, Ruben Baraja’s squad looks short on depth in midfield and very light in attack following the departure of Edinson Cavani and the end of loan spells for Samuel Lino and Justin Kluivert. Faith may well be placed in youngsters like Javi Guerra and Diego Lopez who helped get Los Che out of trouble last season, but some more experienced additions are also badly needed.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Gaya

Verdict: As it stands, this Valencia squad looks like it would struggle badly for goals with some key holes that need filling with a lack of wingers particularly striking. Assuming some reliable additions are made, Valencia should steer clear of relegation but it could be a real struggle again.


Villarreal

Villarreal Badge
  • Last Season: 5th
  • Coach: Quique Setien
  • Squad Valuation: €210m
  • Title Odds: 100/1

After a taste of European success and a first ever trophy under Unai Emery, Villarreal appointed Quique Setien last October and initially it was a real baptism of fire for the former Barcelona and Betis boss who made a very poor start. Things improved after the World Cup though and the Yellow Submarine rose to a creditable 5th place finish, having been 7th when Setien took charge. Another Europa League campaign is the reward, but it’ll be a much changed team that takes to the field this season.

Villarreal Summer Transfers 2023

Players InAlexander Sorloth (€10m), Ramon Terrats (€2.5m), Ben Brereton Diaz (Free), Denis Suarez (Free), Ilias Akhomach (Free), Santi Comesaña (Free), Matteo Gabbia (Loan)
Players OutNicolas Jackson (€37m), Pau Torres (€33m), Samu Chukwueze (€20m), Boulaye Dia (€12m), Manu Morlanes (€2.5m), Ivan Martin (€2m), Arnaut Danjuma (Loan), Johan Mojica (Loan)

It has been a summer of sales at the Estadio Ceramica with more than €100m generated. Key men Pau Torres and Samu Chukwueze depart while the biggest fee received was for Chelsea-bound Nicolas Jackson who enjoyed a fine goalscoring run towards the end of last season, but was far from a regular starter prior to that. A number of players have also arrived with Alexander Sorloth, Ben Brereton Diaz and Ilias Akhomach new attacking options. Santi Comesaña joins from Rayo Vallecano on a free transfer while fellow midfielder Denis Suarez returns to the club he left in 2016.

Villarreal Possible Line Up: Reina – Pedraza, Cuenca, Mandi, Foyth – Baena, Parejo, Terrats – Yeremi, Sorloth, Gerard Moreno (4-3-3)

There should still be some significant funds for Villarreal to strengthen their eleven with a new goalkeeper still likely to be a target given Pepe Reina turns 41 later this month. Raul Albiol’s injury woes and the departure of Pau Torres should offer a first team opportunity to 23 year old Jorge Cuenca in central defence. Young midfielders Alex Baena and Ramon Terrats will be hoping to establish themselves as regular starters this season but there’s plenty of competition now in midfield where Dani Parejo should still be key. Chukwueze’s departure and Sorloth’s arrival could see Gerard Moreno move out to the right flank unless Ben Brereton Diaz finds life in the Spanish top flight to his liking.

Sorare Fantasy Star: Dani Parejo

Verdict: Villarreal have certainly improved their bank balance this summer and while they’ve made some astute signings, overall they do look notably weaker, at least in terms of the starting XI. There is still time to improve what feels like it could be a leaky defence but they may need to buy well if they want to qualify for Europe again.


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About Mark Sochon 2075 Articles
Mark is a freelance writer based in Madrid. He has been writing about Spanish football since 2014 and regularly attends and covers matches across Spain. His work has also been published by various newspapers and websites including These Football Times, World Soccer and Guardian Sport. Available for freelance work: marksochon (at) hotmail.co.uk

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