Six La Liga strikers looking to shine in the shadows of Messi & CR7

David Cartlidge 19:36 31/07/2015
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  • Some of the forwards looking to make an impression this season.

    As another La Liga season emerges on the horizon, it’s time to look at those who will be banging in the goals in the shadows of perennial chart-toppers Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Those two superstars will likely dominate proceedings as they have done in recent years, but who will be leading the chasing pack?

    Here, Sport360 looks at the supporting cast.

    Karim Benzema
    After a summer of being continuously linked to Arsenal, Benzema will be out to prove just how vital he is to Real Madrid. Not that the regular watcher of Los Blancos will need any more evidence, that is.

    Benzema’s work, facilitating the goalscoring exploits of the likes of Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, is somehow still underrated. There will be no better way for Benzema to prove his value for the shortsighted than to claim a haul of goals this season.

    The Frenchman is as sharp as ever in and around the penalty area, and rather than create space for Cristiano & co. he will be out to target it himself. It all depends of Rafael Benitez, however, and how the Spanish coach will use ‘King Karim’.

    Luis Suarez
    With a mentally and physically draining Copa America behind him, Messi might well see his role reduced this season. Reduced in the sense that Suarez – now well and truly adapted to La Liga – may be expected to find himself in more advanced positions than he did in his debut season at Barcelona.

    The Uruguayan worked hard to fit in last year, and once he had done so it was a sight to behold as Barcelona completed the treble. It was a season of selfless work, running for others, and becoming part of a group rather than the lead man he was at Liverpool.

    Suarez will return fresher and meaner than ever, a terrifying thought for defences already dodging bullets dished out by El Pistolero.

    Going back to the subject of Copa America’s, few had a more eventful tournament than Neymar. The manner of his exit from the competition was the subject of much controversy and with a transfer court case still hanging around his neck, Neymar is reaching a pivotal moment of his career.

    How the Brazilian responds to events over the summer will be fascinating, and a huge test of character.

    Neymar had a good season with Barça but such is his reputation and ability the demands only grow. Becoming more lethal in front of goal, and hitting 30 goals in La Liga, will be a realistic target.

    The new boy
    Jackson Martinez
    The long line of great strikers at Atletico Madrid has potentially added another name to it. 

    Jackson Martinez’s move to the club was an immediate response to Mario Mandzukic’s sale. The Croatian never really grew into his surroundings at the Calderon, and it will be Jackson who is expected to replicate the past success fellow countryman Falcao, and the likes of Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero.

    Jackson will look to show his prowess in the box, using both physical ability and technical acumen. In the air he will be a feature for Atleti, who like to overload the box with crosses, while outside of it the Colombian must work hard to contribute to the wider picture.

    The outsiders
    Antoine Griezmann
    Only two players scored more goals than the Frenchman last season and the players in question? Ronaldo and Messi, of course. Not bad for a player that who seemingly struggled at his new club, given the intense training methods put in place by Diego Simeone.

    Griezmann embraced the challenge, though, and became the attacking leader of his team. When Atleti struggled, Griezmann stood up and was counted. A total 22 goals in the league was the best haul of his career so far, and next season you can guarantee Simeone will expect even more.

    With the arrivals of Jackson and Luciano Vietto you’d forgive Griezmann for scoring less, but you can expect the ambitious attacker to not give up without a fight.

    Luciano Vietto
    A return of 18 goals in all competitions in his debut season at Villarreal was simply too much for the big clubs to ignore. Many watched on with intrigue, but Atletico acted on their interest.

    Simeone is in the midst of creating his own terrible trio, and Vietto along with Griezmann and Jackson will be expected to fire from the off. Vietto’s breakneck speed will be vital on the counter and he will likely start from a wide role, cutting inside to influence the game.

    Vietto is often likened to Aguero and if he can replicate the latter’s form then the sky is the limit.

    The even bigger outsiders.
    Jonathas has sealed a move to Real Sociedad where he will surely get better service than he did with Elche.

    Once again Aritz Aduriz will likely take on the burden of being Athletic Bilbao’s main man, so expect him to deliver once again despite now being well into his thirties.