La Liga suffers from an all too familiar problem. Like in the Bundesliga, Serie A, and Ligue 1, there is now an insurmountable gap between the top teams and the rest of the league. Real Madrid and Barcelona have won 12 of the last 13 seasons, and there’s a good chance they’ll end this year in first and second once again.
But enough has been written about the Spanish giants already, so let’s shine a light on the rest of the league. Atletico Madrid, the 2013-14 La Liga winners, and Sevilla, the five-time Europa champs, deserve their time in the sun. And teams like Athletic Bilbao, Valencia, and Villarreal deserve some recognition as well. Let’s take a moment to preview their 2017-18 prospects.
2017-18 LA LIGA ODDS
After breaching FIFA rules regarding the signing of minors, Atleti were banned from signing players over the summer transfer window. The ruling came at a terrible time for the club. Their former star striker, Diego Costa, who played a pivotal role in their 2013-14 title win, had his bags packed and ready for a homecoming but now the deal is at risk of falling through.
They remain the league favorites beneath Real Madrid and Barcelona, despite starting the season with a disappointing 2-2 draw against the newly promoted Girona FC. Once 2018 hits, they’ll be able to start signing players again. So even if Atleti are off to a slow start, we may see them make up ground later in the season.
Odds to win the La Liga title: 25/1
Odds to qualify for the 2018-19 champions league: 1/4
Sevilla are in a strange situation. Unlike Atletico Madrid, they don’t really have a serious shot at the title. Yet, unlike the rest of the league, they can still put up a fight against Barcelona and Real Madrid. They’re trapped in a state of limbo — not good enough to be regarded as a top-tier side but too good to be lumped in with the rest.
It’s no wonder they hold the record for most Europa League wins. They’re not quite good enough to hang with the top dogs in the Champions League, but they clean up against lesser European competition. We can expect much of the same this season.
Odds to win the La Liga title: 100/1
Odds to qualify for the 2018-19 champions league: 2/3
In the brave new world of big-money and globalization, Athletic Bilbao stands as an enduring vestige of a bygone era. Most clubs have shifted their focus away from recruiting local talent, but Bilbao remains committed to signing players exclusively from the Basque Country.
So while Bilbao lacks the depth and star talent of other La Liga squads, they play with a passion more akin to a national side than a club. There was a time when they were on par with Real Madrid and Barcelona, but that is now well and truly a thing of the past.
Odds to win the La Liga title: 250/1
Odds to qualify for the 2018-19 champions league: 11/2
Like Athletic Bilbao, Valencia have a history of promoting players from their academy. They often struggle to hold onto their stars, though. In 2016, André Gomes and Paco Alcácer left for Barcelona, and Shkodran Mustafi was snapped up by Arsenal.
After finishing 12th last season, Valencia brought in Marcelino García Toral to revive the club. After a pretty uneventful transfer period, it’s going to be tough for Valencia to break the top four.
Odds to win the La Liga title: 350/1
Odds to qualify for the 2018-19 champions league: 6/1
For a club of its size, Villarreal consistently manages to punch above its weight. After finishing fifth last season, they are one of the frontrunners for the Europa League this year. As for their La Liga title hopes, they’re monstrously long. Losing Mateo Musacchio over the summer will be a huge blow to their defense, but Sporting’s Rúben Semedo should be an adequate replacement.
Odds to win the La Liga title: 4000/1
Odds to qualify for the 2018-19 champions league: 7/1