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Primera División

La Liga 2019-20 Preview: New signings aplenty, big faces return

16:35 BST 16/08/2019
Frenkie de Jong, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann
Spain's top-flight is back, with champions Barcelona starting their title defense, and the chasing pack looking to unseat Lionel Messi's team

La Liga returns on Friday, with Barcelona aiming to defend their title.

Supporters of all sides are dreaming of their possibilities for success over the 2019/20 campaign.

There are new stars for La Liga fans all over the world to enjoy, including Eden Hazard, Joao Felix and Nabil Fekir. All 20 La Liga teams have added to their squads, thanks to the extra financial strength and stability throughout Spanish football.

The summer's most fascinating transfer was Barcelona’s signing of Antoine Griezmann from title rivals Atletico Madrid to partner captain Lionel Messi in attack while the Camp Nou outfit also signed playmaker Frenkie de Jong from Ajax as they hunt a third straight La Liga Santander title.

Second-placed last season, Atletico have had an exciting summer themselves, with their new Portuguese talent Joao Felix already looking like a future superstar. Diego Simeone has also rebuilt his defence, which now includes England international Kieran Trippier at right-back.

19 points off the top last season, Real Madrid have invested heavily during the close season, with Belgium international Hazard arriving as the Bernabeu’s latest star attacker.

Blancos coach Zinedine Zidane has already set regaining the La Liga title as his primary objective for the new campaign.

It has been a busy summer up and down La Liga, as all 20 clubs know that standing still means falling behind.

Valencia have kept their core of last year’s Copa del Rey-winning squad, while also adding bullish centre-forward Maxi Gomez from Celta Vigo.

Former Spain national coach Julen Lopetegui is settling into life on the Sevilla bench, building a new-look team with 12 summer signings. Getafe and Espanyol have added to squads which punched above their weight last season as they also prepare for Europa League action this autumn.

Although only four La Liga clubs have new managers in charge for the new season, change has been happening up and down the division. Real Betis signing France’s 2016 World Cup-winner Fekir looks a real coup, as does Leganes bringing back Denmark international forward Martin Braithwaite. 

Expectations are high at Real Sociedad for their two new Scandinavian starlets Martin Odegaard and Alexander Isak, while elsewhere in the Basque Country, there is real buzz around Athletic Club’s homegrown winger Gaizka Larrazabal and Inaki Williams who has just committed his long-term future to the club after signing a nine-year deal to stay at San Mames until 2028.

A theme of the summer has been players returning to La Liga after time away: former RC Deportivo forward Lucas Perez has joined Alaves; ex-Real Madrid and Valencia defender Raul Albiol has signed for Villarreal, and one-time Barca and Malaga forward Sandro Ramirez will play on loan at Real Valladolid

New boys Osasuna and Granada have brought in experience in 2013/14 La Liga winner with Atletico, Adrian Lopez and former Valencia striker Roberto Soldado respectively, while Mallorca’s veteran midfielder Salva Sevilla deserves another shot at the top level after masterminding back-to-back promotions. 

Others coming ‘home’ are Japan international Takashi Inui, back at Eibar following spells at Real Betis and Deportivo Alaves, and Galician Denis Suarez who has rejoined his hometown side Celta Vigo from Barca.

The reunions continue during Matchday One when Barça coach Ernesto Valverde goes back to his old team Athletic Club in Bilbao, Atletico Madrid face neighbours Getafe in the first Spanish capital derby of the season, and Celta welcome Real Madrid to Balaidos with both teams looking for better fortunes this season.

That’s the magic of opening day football, with hope renewed through La Liga and supporters all over the world predicting success for their team over the next nine months. 

There will be thrills and spills along the way for sure – with joy for some and disappointment for others – but all the dreams are alive ahead of the big kickoff this weekend.

Catch all the action on Supersport 7 starting this Friday, 16 August 2019 at 9pm.