Real Madrid to win the league, Villarreal to crack top four, Paulinho to flop at Barcelona and other La Liga predictions

Sport360 staff 23:10 17/08/2017
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The 2017/18 La Liga season kicks off on Friday as Leganes host Alaves and our team of writers have put their necks on the line and made their predictions for the new campaign.

Champions, relegation, biggest flop and who’ll score more between Ronaldo and Messi are all topics for prophecy.

Check out our writers’ predictions below!

CHAMPIONS

James Piercy – Real Madrid

Given Barca’s struggles and an ageing team, and Atletico’s inability to strengthen, Madrid – who have class from from front to back – should enjoy a relatively comfortable march to the title.

Alex Rea – Real Madrid

Naturally, without Neymar, Barcelona have regressed, while Madrid have progressed thanks to their investment in youth and it’s that freshness, married to an experienced core, which will see them defend the title.

Andy West – Real Madrid

Two world class players for every position, a smoothly functioning playing system and a sensible coach. What’s not to like?

Brendon Netto – Real Madrid

Their squad appears significantly stronger than their rivals and the new system suits their personnel while ensuring their evolution.

Will Cristiano Ronaldo fire Real Madrid to glory again?

Will Cristiano Ronaldo fire Real Madrid to glory again?

RELEGATION

James Piercy – Alaves, Leganes, Getafe

If anything, Alaves peaked too soon and last season’s heroics have seen them stripped of all assets. Leganes escaped last year but haven’t been able to add enough quality while Getafe look goal-shy with a not particularly impressive defence, either.

Alex Rea – Alaves, Las Palmas, Leganes

Girona will survive thanks to the assistance of Man City but Alaves have had their squad and backroom staff decimated and will go down, as will Las Palmas and Leganes.

Andy West – Las Palmas, Deportivo and Leganes

Las Palmas have lost their coach and best players, Deportivo won’t score goals and Leganes lack quality all over the park.

Brendon Netto – Leganes, Girona, Levante

Leganes narrowly avoided the drop last season but haven’t strengthened, while Girona simply don’t have enough quality, and Levante have sold two of their best players in Deyverson and Camarasa.

PLAYER YOU’RE MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING

James Piercy – Ryad Boudebouz (Real Betis)

A great under-the-radar signing by Betis with the Algerian capable of the unorthodox and transforming a game in an instant.

Alex Rea – Marco Asensio (Real Madrid)

A future Ballon d’Or winner. Blessed with the right attitude and supreme skill, it will be a thrill to see him enter the first team on a consistent basis.

Andy West – Pablo Fornals (Villarreal)

Versatile and talented young midfielder who showed great promise at Malaga and can now shine in a better team at Villarreal. Could challenge for Spain’s World Cup squad.

Brendon Netto – Isco (Real Madrid)

He was Real Madrid’s main man during their run-in last season and I am relishing the prospect of him featuring prominently from the start this time around.

Marco Asensio could be on the verge of a breakout season.

WHO’LL FINISH FOURTH?

James Piercy – Villarreal

Carlos Bacca’s arrival is potentially seismic and the Yellow Submarine possess so much creative talent they should be able to out-gun their rivals for the Champions League.

Alex Rea – Atletico Madrid

Are fortunate they’ve been able to hold onto Antoine Griezmann because their inability to add to the squad will see a Sevilla side, who have bought well, close the six-point gap from last term and take third.

Andy West – Villarreal

Sevilla have bundles of talent but are lacking in goalscorers, while Villarreal have strengthened in that area – especially with the addition of Bacca – and are the more complete team of the chasing pack.

Brendon Netto – Sevilla

Have made a few good additions in attack with Muriel, Nolito and Banega. Expect them to maintain their form from last season.

Are Villarreal set to break into the top four?

Are Villarreal set to break into the top four?

WHO’LL SCORE MORE, RONALDO OR MESSI?

James Piercy – Messi

The Argentine will be expected to play every minute of every league game, Ronaldo won’t. Nor will he need to.

Alex Rea – Messi

Messi will assume even greater importance with the divorce of ‘MSN’, while Zinedine Zidane has tactically started to alleviate the goalscoring pressure from Ronaldo.

Andy West – Messi

Madrid’s awesome depth of talent will allow them to give Ronaldo regular breaks, especially when the Champions League properly kicks in, so he’ll play fewer matches.

Brendon Netto – Messi

Ronaldo may bag more crucial goals but expect Messi to end up with more as he’ll play more regularly. He already has a head start with the Portuguese’s ban enforced.

Messi: the consensus pick.

BIGGEST FLOP

James Piercy – Paulinho (Barcelona)

He won’t be bad, he won’t be good… he’ll just be okay, which is not what Barca fans want. The Brazilian has walked into an unfortunate situation at the club and will become the beacon for all frustrations.

Alex Rea – Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad)

Has joined Real Sociedad in a bid to revive his career, but talent alone won’t be enough to prosper and, with a mid-table club, he’ll fail to make any sort of discernible impact.

Andy West – Nelson Samedo (Barcelona)

Signed from Benfica to solve Barca’s right-back problems but the Portuguese has shown little to date to suggest he’s capable of doing so, and may struggle to even get in the team.

Brendon Netto – Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona)

The return of the La Masia product was painted as Barcelona going back to their roots but seems more like a desperate move. Deulofeu has already looked overwhelmed and out of his depth.

Is Paulinho fighting a losing battle?

Is Paulinho fighting a losing battle?

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