How will La Liga’s big three fare this season?
That was the question up for debate in the Revista studio on Monday night, with our pundits examining the prospects of last year’s champions Atletico Madrid, as well as heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Graham Hunter was one of those pundits and in the following paragraphs he has his say on the title chasers, explaining why Barcelona will leave nothing to chance under new boss Luis Enrique, why Fernando Hierro has a big role to play at Real and what Atletico are aiming for after their stunning 2013/14 campaign.
Graham also teamed up with Gaizka Mendieta and Guillem Balague to work out what Barca and Real’s best XIs could be this term, and their suggestions are below, too...
GRAHAM SAYS: “Everyone knows the players are being worked harder in training by Luis Enrique, a man the Camp Nou had a love affair with as a player, firstly because he joined from Real Madrid of his own volition but also because of the commitment he showed every day, whether on form, semi-injured or what. He is telling his players to pay attention and that timing is vital, things we used to hear in the first months of the Pep Guardiola reign. Enrique wants his players to do everything right first time around and he has introduced a plan to get them to win, something even great players need. I think Luis Suarez, who is viewed by everyone in Catalonia as a great signing, will help in that respect by bringing intensity and work ethic to every session.”
GRAHAM SAYS: “Is £64million man James Rodriguez ready to play every week, considering he has spent the last couple of seasons in France? One fabulous World Cup doesn’t prove that you are fully made so this is where Fernando Hierro comes in. As an assistant coach, he has to be the one that if Rodriguez isn’t playing says to Florentino Perez: ‘President, please be patient, the coach doesn’t have to justify himself directly to you’. Carlo Ancelotti needs patience to be able to do his job well. There is, meanwhile, still the chance of Radamel Falcao coming in, as he wants to leave Monaco. However, Real is not the place he wants to be as he wants to play a lot to fight back from injury. So the deal doesn’t make sense – but Real Madrid deals don’t always make total sense!”
GRAHAM SAYS: “Atletico have been explicit in saying they want to make the club more and more solid financially and so the priority is to guarantee Champions League football. That’s the basic objective while cup competitions, which they have made a habit of winning, would be something they aspire to, but no-one has talked about retaining the title and that’s sensible because they only won it narrowly last season. Their transfer business has been exceptional – including selling Sergio Asenjo and Adrian for nearly 13million quid – but have they got that same edge without Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois that got them 17 single-goal victories? I hate to say it but I doubt it.”
Who do you think will win La Liga? Which superstars, if any, will Barca and Real leave out? Have your say using the feedback form below...