“Exit” Benzema and Busquets: The two Spanish giants, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, after closing two of the most beautiful pages in their history, are preparing to go in search of a new crown in La Liga.
What remains of the fiery classics of the last decade? Much more, the most indifferent will answer. Karim Benzema succumbs to Saudi Arabia’s advance. Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, the last representatives of the “great Barca”, are gone. But even after reaching the lowest level two years ago, the institution is still standing.
The return of a great Barca?
Deep in debt and without benchmarks or stars capable of filling the void left by the ideal Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona won their first Spanish championship title since 2019 in May.
They regained their sporting identity under Xavi’s command, sometimes playing it with a short hand (16 out of 28 wins by goal difference). Led by Pedri (20) and Gavi (19), two new phenomena of Spanish football, and Robert Lewandowski still efficient in front of goal, the Catalans remained 10 points ahead of rivals Madrid.
Behind the scenes, the club has regained control of its finances, even if all is not well right now. Barca are still waiting for departures before they can try one or two big moves… and officially register their new contracts with LaLiga: German Ilkay Gundogan, ex-Manchester City cornerstone, Spanish Defender Inigo Martinez and midfielder Oriol Romeu.
Having failed to bring home Lionel Messi, as president Joan Laporta had promised, FC Barcelona have reinvented themselves thanks to these signings. But will they be enough to avoid another Champions League failure? It will surely take more time to start a new cycle of victories in Catalonia.
waiting for real mbappé
Will come, will not come? The Mbappe soap opera has hit summer pause again as PSG, certain the 2018 world champion has reached an agreement with the Madrid club for a free transfer next year, try to oust him in order to recover some allowances .
Pending a decision on the France international, Real continue preparations for the transformation they began following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in 2018. Latest arrival: 20-year-old English talent Jude Bellingham was signed for 103 million euros. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are still there after winning everything. The two thirty-somethings have returned for an additional season, in a nod to handing over youngsters Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchoumeni or Federico Valverde.
The only problem is that Real will start the season without a top international striker, following the surprise departure of Karim Benzema in Saudi Arabia. The 33-year-old Joselu, the league’s third top scorer last year, has been loaned out to Espanyol Barcelona, who have been relegated to the second division, on loan with an option to buy. A good guarantee in La Liga, but one who has never played in the European Cup.
For his last season in Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti is heading for a change in system: without the number 9 but with Bellingham in the center of the game and arrows Vinicius and Rodrigo on the flanks.
Behind the two giants, Atlético remains on a good track, boosted by the return of Antoine Griezmann, the best passer in the championship (16 assists). Kolconeros recruited tactfully, with the arrivals of Turkish defender Caglar Soyuncu or Spanish full-backs César Azpilicueta and Javi Galan.
Always attractive, Mikel Merino’s Real Sociedad will feature in the Champions League for the first time since 2013/14 and will certainly fight to have it both ways.
Sevilla FC, who won their seventh Europa League title, will have to maintain consistency in the league after a poor season (12th). Its rival Betis continues to progress and will play in the group stage of the Europa League.
Just like Villarreal, who have been strengthened by the arrival of Norwegian striker Alexander Sorloth.
However, once again, the title was to be played between Barça and Real, both in complete reconstruction like their respective stadiums after winning cycles.