Our man in Spain, Phil Kitromilides, believes the price of 6/5 for a strong looking Real Madrid side to lift the title offers excellent value to puntersAfter an intriguing if predictable summer in the transfer market, La Liga returns this weekend. Normal service has resumed once more with Real Madrid spending big, Barcelona failing to sign a centre-back and Valencia selling their best player.
Naturally in the outright market there are only two teams one can ever consider backing to win the title, with reigning champions Barca offered at just 8/11 (1.73), with their eternal rivals from the capital Real Madrid can be backed at the infinitely more appealing price of 6/5 (2.20).
While the Catalans have signed their terrifyingly talented Neymar, they have not reinforced where they so desperately needed to, namely in the heart of defence.
Last season they conceded more goals away from home than both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid and while they can always rely on the brilliance of Lionel Messi up front, the Pique and Puyol centre back partnership looks to be wearing thin.
Real Madrid for their part have spent serious money bringing in Asier Illarramendi, Casemiro, Isco and Dani Carvajal and their midfield now looks to be the strongest in the world.
New boss Carlo Ancelotti has got his side playing some attractive stuff in pre-season, during which time Madrid have gone unbeaten, and although they have lost Gonzalo Higuain, his departure looks set to be filled by the talented youngsters Alvaro Morata and Jese Rodriguez.
While both of the big two have new managers, Carlo Ancelotti is infinitely more experienced in Europe than his counterpart Tata Martino and Madrid, it has to be said, are looking strong. The price of 6/5 (2.20) for them to win the title appeals greatly.
Elsewhere in Paddy Power's book, there is a market on winning the title without the top two, ie. who will finish third, and the price of 11/8 (2.38) for Atletico Madrid look generous.
Los Colchoneros have continued their stunning recent tradition of signing top class forwards, replacing the departed Falcao with the top scorer in the history of the Spanish national side David Villa.
A great signing for an Atleti side who have kept their other stars, Villa should help Diego Simeone's team balance the Champions League with domestic duties, and the weakening of Valencia can only serve to make Atleti even bigger favorites for third spot.
For an outside bet, try backing Sevilla to finish in the top four at 9/2 (5.50). It is true that the Andalusians have sold three key players in Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas and Medel, yet they have invested that money wisely and brought in Carlos Bacca, Kevin Gameiro and talented youngster Jairo.
Given Valencia are seemingly in decline and Real Sociedad will potentially have Champions League football to distract them, Sevilla have an outside chance of regaining their place amongst Spain's elite.
|BEST BET||VALUE BET|
|Real Madrid to win the title at 6/5 (2.20) 2pts with Paddy Power||Sevilla to finish in the top four at 9/2 (5.50) 1pt with Paddy Power|
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Phil Kitromilides is a sports journalist and TV presenter in Madrid