Our man in Spain, Phil Kitromilides, takes a look at the market for the winner of the 2014-15 Primera Division and finds Carlo Ancelotti's men to be the clear favoritesThe La Liga season kicks off next weekend and both Real Madrid and Barcelona will be looking to knock defending champions Atletico off their perch.
It says something about the level of Los Rojiblancos' achievement when they are priced at 14/1 (15.00) by Paddy Power to retain their title - yet that price looks about right.
Diego Simeone's side have lost the services of some big names, including Diego Costa and Felipe Luis, who both swapped the Vicente Calderon for Stamford Bridge. Although Mario Mandzukic and Antoine Griezmann have both arrived, it would take another mammoth effort for Simeone's side to retain their title.
It had been 18 years since Atletico had been champions of Spain before last season's surprise triumph and given how the big two have reinforced their squads over the summer it might be another long wait for Atleti to lift the crown.
|La Liga Winner 2014/15
|Odds from Paddy Power
New signings Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez and Keylor Navas will offer further depth and competition for places, which will be needed as Carlo Ancelotti's men battle for six titles this season, the first of which was claimed on Tuesday night in Cardiff as they lifted the Uefa Super Cup with a 2-0 win over fellow Spanish side Sevilla.
Barcelona, meanwhile, can be backed at 6/5 (2.20) and their high-profile signings include Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Thomas Vermaelen.
They also have a new coach at the helm in Luis Enrique, which potentially could mean they take a while to get going. Certainly, the continuity within the Madrid camp will favor them, while the overhaul which has taken place at the Camp Nou may take a while to bear fruit.
Nevertheless, there will be punters who will be tempted by the price for Barca to win the title and if Luis Enrique can find a way of playing Neymar, Suarez and Messi to maximise their respective capabilities, the Catalans will take some stopping.
There is then an enormous jump in the betting showing the disparity of the top three in La Liga, with the side that finished fourth last year, Athletic Bilbao, offered at 125/1 (126.00).
Europa League champions Sevilla and 2004 Liga winners Valencia are both offered at 200/1 (201.00). Elsewhere, runners-up in 2003, Real Sociedad, are available at 225/1 (226.00), while Villarreal, who finished second in 2008, are offered at 250/1 (251.00).
No other team seems worth mentioning as the remaining 12 sides in the Primera Division are all offered at 1000/1 (1001.00).
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