Barcelona's eye-catching summer spending spree has added a new level of intrigue and interest to the forthcoming La Liga season, with the Catalans having built a squad that looks more than capable of regaining the title.
Barca's financial issues have been well documented and deciding to sell off a percentage of their TV rights for the next 25 years has given the Blaugrana a serious injection of cash but has also brought with it real pressure.
The expectations are always sky-high at the Camp Nou, but success has now become a financial pre-requisite rather than an inherent desire and seeing how Barca cope with the challenge from Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid should make for fascinating viewing.
La Liga outright winner latest odds
Barcelona have strengthened their squad all over the pitch with the additions of Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha bring hope and excitement in equal measure to a side who went trophy-less last season for only the second time in 14 years.
And yet, their summer acquisitions are still not enough to make the Catalans pre-season favourites for the title.
Barca are offered at 5/4 (2.25) to be crowned champions of Spain for the 27th time, just behind reigning champions and eternal rivals Real Madrid.
Los Blancos have only retained the league title once in the last 32 years but are offered at 6/5 (2.20) to lift the trophy once more after a modest summer which has seen the side from the capital make few additions to their all-conquering squad from last term.
This of course was supposed to be the summer where Kylian Mbappe finally joined Los Blancos, but the Frenchman's very public rejection of Madrid meant that plans had to be shifted.
Instead of adding to their forward line, the European champions have strengthened defensive bringing in Antonio Rudiger and Aurelien Tchouameni, two players who should certainly improve the side.
There remain question marks however over the team's reliance on Karim Benzema who turns 35 in December, when he is likely to be still contesting the World Cup with France.
Should anything happen to their number nine, Madrid look badly exposed.
Conversely, if he can continue his stunning form from last year then Madrid are fully justified as pre-season favourites.
Only three other sides have won La Liga in the 21st century; 2000 champions Deportivo La Coruna now play in the third-tier while 2004 winners Valencia have been in disarray for a while and are more concerned with a top-10 finish.
That leaves, Atletico Madrid winners in 2014 and 2020 as the only team realistically capable of challenging the duopoly of the nation's biggest two clubs.
Diego Simeone's men are offered at 6/1 (7.00) and they will be hoping to improve vastly on their showing from last term where they put in one of the poorest title defences in recent memory to finish 15 points behind champions Real Madrid.
Los Rojiblancos have been restrained in the transfer market with Belgian international midfielder Axel Witsel their only signing of note, although returning duo Alvaro Morata and Saul Niguez who spent last season on loan will feel they have plenty to prove.
La Liga top four latest odds
The 2021/22 campaign saw both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid flirt with finishing outside the top four, before securing Champions League football comfortably.
This year fourth place looks very much up for grabs as Sevilla seem considerably weaker than they were last year.
Julen Lopetegui has seen his superb centre-back pairing of Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos broken up with both players leaving the club, while up front where they desperately need a consistent goal-scorer there have been hitherto no reinforcements.
The Andalusians remain well-fancied to finish in the top four at 11/8 (2.37) but their summer transfer business inspires little confidence despite the recent signing of Isco from Real Madrid.
La Liga relegation latest odds
The favourites to go down are Girona at 5/4 (2.25) with the Catalans coming up through the second division play-offs.
However, they have made some impressive signings and boast a proven La Liga goalscorer in Cristhian Stuani, meaning there could be some interest in opposing them to go down.
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