Spanish Primera Division 2020/2021 season preview

Real Madrid clinch 34th La Liga title

Real Madrid have clinched its first Spanish league title in three years with one game to spare following the pandemic break. It was Madrid's first league title since Cristiano Ronaldo left to join Juventus two seasons ago, and the first since coach Zinedine Zidane returned from a short break. The French football legend has steered Real to a record 34th Spanish league title, an 11th overall trophy win under his leadership.

After taking over as coach from Rafa Benitez at the start of 2016, Zidane led the club to three straight Champions League titles, two European Super Cups, two Spanish Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups. He quit at the end of the 2017/18 season, but was asked to return less than a year later as the team endured a streak of poor results in the Spanish league and the Champions League. Real Madrid last lifted the league trophy in 2017, a year before Ronaldo departed. Barcelona had won the last two league titles but stuttered after the pandemic break, drawing three times and losing once after the league resumed.

Real Madrid3421331
Atletico M.1033223
Athletic B.85716811
Real Soc.2961296
Celta Vigo-613131717

The overall number of titles since 1929, for each club in Spanish Primera Division and their league standings in the last five seasons.

Barca appoint Ronald Koeman as new coach, Messi to stay at club

Barcelona have appointed former player Ronald Koeman as their new permanent head coach. The Dutchman replaces Quique Setien, who was sacked on Monday after he presided over the club's worst defeat ever in European competition, the 8-2 thrashing by Bayern Munich that knocked them out of the Champions League. Koeman, 57, moves from his role as manager of the Netherlands national team on a two-year contract with Barcelona until 2022. He spent six years at the Camp Nou as a player and scored Barcelona's winning goal in the 1992 European Cup final.

Koeman has arrived at Barcelona in troubled times. Lionel Messi shocked the footballing world this summer after he handed in a transfer request at the Nou Camp. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner believed that he was able to leave on a free transfer while La Liga have released a statement insisting that his €700m release clause is still valid. After Barcelona made it clear that he would have to take them to court in order to challenge that clause in his contract, Messi agreed to stay at Camp Nou for at least another season, against his wishes.

This page is introduction to the 2020/2021 Spanish Primera Division season. Latest news, statistics, results and predictions you can find on our main Euro Football > Spain page.

Javi Gracia appointed as Valencia coach

Valencia have appointed former Watford and Malaga boss Javi Gracia as their new coach on a two-year deal. The 50-year-old becomes Valencia's third full-time manager since the start of the last season, after the sackings of Marcelino in September 2019 and Albert Celades in June. Gracia was dismissed by Watford last September after a poor start to the campaign, just four months after taking the club to only the second FA Cup final in their history, where they lost 6-0 to Manchester City. His list of former teams also includes Russian outfit Rubin Kazan and Spanish sides Malaga, Osasuna and Almeria. Valencia finished ninth in La Liga this season, missing out on qualification for Europe, and were knocked out of the Champions League in the last 16 by Italian side Atalanta.

Villarreal confirm Unai Emery as their new head coach

Villarreal have confirmed the appointment of former Arsenal manager Unai Emery on a three-year deal. Emery has been out of football since his sacking at the Emirates in November 2019 after 18 months in charge of the Gunners. Having coached multiple clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain, Emery built his reputation in La Liga with Almeria and Valencia. From 2009 to 2012, he led Valencia to finish three straight seasons in the third place on the table. After a brief spell at Spartak Moscow, Emery returned to Spain in 2013 to take the reins at Sevilla. With the Andalusian club, he made history, winning three consecutive UEFA Europa League. Villarreal ended the 2019/20 campaign with a fifth-place finish in La Liga, meaning that they will be taking part in the Europa League this season.

Other coaching changes

Betis have appointed former West Ham and Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini as their manager. Pellegrini, who has also managed Real Madrid, Villareal and Malaga in the Spanish top flight, was sacked by West Ham in December. The 66-year-old Chilean's deal with Betis runs until June 2023. Alaves confirmed Pablo Machin as their first team coach for this season. The Spaniard was sacked by Sevilla in 2018/19 season, and left from Espanyol after the club relegated from La Liga at the end of last season. Machin made his name with Girona as he led the club to the top-flight in Spain before guiding them to an impressive 10th place finish in the club's first season in La Liga. Newly promoted La Liga club Elche named Argentina's Jorge Almiron as their new head coach. Almiron, 49, has coached Argentinian sides Lanus, Independiente, San Lorenzo and Godoy Cruz, as well as Atletico Nacional in Colombia. His last job was in Saudi Arabia with Al Shabab, but he has never coached in Europe.

1Real Madrid874526-9-3
3Atletico M.702418-16-4
11A. Bilbao51313-12-13

The Spanish La Liga standings for season 2019/2020.

Real Madrid favorites in La Liga

The new La Liga season begins with Real Madrid and Barcelona, as ever, expected to battle it out for the title with pressure from Atletico Madrid and Sevilla. Real Madrid claimed last season's title with an impressive run of results in the last 11 games of the season and with coach Zidane Zidane's options improved by returning loanees Martin Odegaard and Alvaro Odriozola, he maintains a balanced squad, despite the likely departure of Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez, neither of whom contributed much to their title win.

In contrast to Real Madrid, Barcelona have had a nightmare summer after their 8-2 thrashing to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions league. On a brighter note, Messi said he'd stay, but made it clear he was unhappy with both club President, Jose Maria Bartomeu, and the failure to develop a balanced squad and he could be an awkward dressing room presence for the new coach. However, of the 12 seasons of La Liga football since Pep Guardiola's 2008 revolution at Barcelona, the Blaugrana have won eight of them. Of those four title defeats, three of them went down to the final day.

Real Madrid1.66Celta Vigo501
Atletico Madrid9Granada1001
Athletic Bilbao151Levante1501
Real Sociedad201Cadiz2001
Real Betis251Huesca2501

The preseason odds for the outright winner of the 2020/21 Spanish football league.

Spanish Cup finals in last five years

2020   Real Sociedad - Athletic Bilbao - postponed due to COVID-19
2019   Valencia - Barcelona   2:1
2018   Barcelona - Sevilla   5:0
2017   Barcelona - Alaves   3:1
2016   Barcelona - Sevilla   2:0   (aet)

Key players
(transfer market value in m€)


Goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco (14.5); Defense: Victor Laguardia (7), Ruben Duarte (4.8), Martin Aguirregabiria (4.8), Ximo Navarro (2); Midfield: Rodrigo Battaglia (4.5), Pere Pons (3.2), Borja Sainz (2.5); Forward: Lucas Perez (12), Joselu (6), Deyverson (4).

Athletic Bilbao

Goalkeeper Unai Simon (30); Defense: Inigo Martinez (25.5), Yeray Alvarez (24), Unai Nunez (16), Yuri Berchiche (16); Midfield: Iker Muniain (14), Raul Garcia (6), Dani Garcia (4.8), Peru Nolaskoain (3.6); Forward: Inaki Williams (40), Asier Villalibre (3.2).

Atletico Madrid

Goalkeeper Jan Oblak (80); Defense: Jose Gimenez (56), Renan Lodi (50), Kieran Trippier (28); Midfield: Saul Niguez (72), Koke (48), Thomas (40), Marcos Llorente (40), Angel Correa (32); Forward: Joao Felix (81), Alvaro Morata (36).


Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen (72); Defense: Clement Lenglet (48), Jordi Alba (40), Nelson Semedo (40); Midfield: Frenkie de Jong (72), Philippe Coutinho (56), Ousmane Dembele (56), Ansu Fati (50), Miralem Pjanic (45); Forward: Lionel Messi (112), Antoine Griezmann (96).


Goalkeeper Joel Robles (6); Defense: Emerson (25), Marc Bartra (14), Aissa Mandi (12), Alex Moreno (10); Midfield: Nabil Fekir (32), Sergio Canales (20), William Carvalho (16), Guido Rodriguez (8); Forward: Loren Moron (16), Borja Iglesias (12).


Goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma (1.1); Defense: Isaac Carcelen (2), Juan Cala (1.2), Alfonso Espino (1.2), Fali (1.1); Midfield: Alex Fernandez (4.5), Jens Jonsson (1.5), Salvi Sanchez (1.5), Ivan Alejo (1); Forward: Alvaro Negredo (1.6), Choco Lozano (1).

Celta Vigo

Goalkeeper Ruben Blanco (8); Defense: Nestor Araujo (9), Hugo Mallo (7), Joseph Aidoo (6.5), Lucas Olaza (3.2); Midfield: Fran Beltran (13.5), Brais Mendez (12), Denis Suarez (9.5), Okay Yokuslu (6); Forward: Iago Aspas (16), Santi Mina (14.5).


Goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic (9.5); Defense: Paulo Oliveira (4.8), Jose Angel (4), Rafa Soares (2.4), Alvaro Tejero (2.4); Midfield: Damian Kadzior (3.5), Edu Exposito (3.2), Recio (2.4), Takashi Inui (2.4); Forward: Sergi Enrich (2.4), Kike Garcia (2.4).


Goalkeeper Edgar Badia (0.8); Defense: Dani Calvo (0.7), Gonzalo Verdu (0.4), Josema (0.3); Midfield: Victor Rodriguez (1.2), Fidel (0.7), Ramon Folch (0.6), Pere Milla (0.5), Josan (0.4); Forward: Dani Escriche (0.8), Claudio Medina (0.3).


Goalkeeper David Soria (14.5); Defense: Djene (24), Erick Cabaco (4), Allan Nyom (3.2), Damian Suarez (3.2); Midfield: Mauro Arambarri (20), Nemanja Maksimovic (20), Marc Cucurella (18), Ante Palaversa (3.6); Forward: Enes Unal (8), Jaime Mata (8).


Goalkeeper Rui Silva (10); Defense: Domingos Duarte (8), Jesus Vallejo (6), Carlos Neva (2.5); Midfield: Kenedy (9.5), Yangel Herrera (9), Darwin Machis (6), Antonio Puertas (6), Maxime Gonalons (2.8); Forward: Jorge Molina (1.6), Antonin (1.3).


Goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez (3); Defense: Jorge Pulido (2.5), Pablo Maffeo (2.4), Javi Galan (2), Gaston Silva (1.8); Midfield: Sergio Gomez (2.3), David Ferreiro (1.2), Eugeni Valderrama (1), Juan Carlos (1); Forward: Rafa Mir (5), Shinji Okazaki (1.6).


Goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez (10); Defense: Ruben Vezo (4.8), Jorge Miramon (2.8), Carlos Clerc (2); Midfield: Enis Bardhi (20), Jose Campana (20), Nemanja Radoja (3.2), Gonzalo Melero (3.2), Ruben Rochina (3.2); Forward: Roger Marti (8), Jose Luis Morales (6.5).


Goalkeeper Sergio Herrera (1.2); Defense: Aridane Hernandez (3.2), David Garcia (2.4), Nacho Vidal (2.4), Facundo Roncaglia (1.4); Midfield: Roberto Torres (8), Ruben Garcia (6), Jon Moncayola (2.7), Lucas Torro (2.4); Forward: Chimy Avila (12), Adrian Lopez (1.4).

Real Madrid

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (60); Defense: Raphael Varane (64), Ferland Mendy (40), Daniel Carvajal (40); Midfield: Eden Hazard (80), Casemiro (64), Federico Valverde (54), Toni Kroos (48), Martin Odegaard (45); Forward: Vinicius Junior (45), Karim Benzema (32).

Real Sociedad

Goalkeeper Alex Remiro (12); Defense: Diego Llorente (20), Robin Le Normand (12), Joseba Zaldua (12); Midfield: Mikel Oyarzabal (60), Mikel Merino (35), Igor Zubeldia (24), Portu (16), Asier Illarramendi (14.5); Forward: Willian Jose (24), Alexander Isak (22.5).


Goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik (14.5); Defense: Diego Carlos (50), Jules Kounde (30), Sergio Escudero (4.8); Midfield: Lucas Ocampos (50), Ivan Rakitic (20), Suso (17.5), Oscar Rodriguez (15), Joan Jordan (14.5); Forward: Youssef En-Nesyri (12), Carlos Fernandez (10).


Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen (12); Defense: Jose Gaya (40), Gabriel Paulista (17.5), Mouctar Diakhaby (15), Daniel Wass (11); Midfield: Carlos Soler (40), Geoffrey Kondogbia (22.5), Goncalo Guedes (22.5), Kang-in Lee (13.5); Forward: Maxi Gomez (32), Kevin Gameiro (6.5).


Goalkeeper Jordi Masip (4.8); Defense: Nacho Martinez (4), Javi Sanchez (3), Joaquin Fernandez (2.4), Kiko Olivas (2); Midfield: Ruben Alcaraz (8), Fede San Emeterio (3.2), Toni Villa (3.2), Oscar Plano (3.2); Forward: Shon Weissman (6), Sergi Guardiola (4.8).


Goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo (9.5); Defense: Pau Torres (30), Alfonso Pedraza (9.5), Ruben Pena (6.5); Midfield: Takefusa Kubo (30), Samu Chukwueze (27), Dani Parejo (20), Francis Coquelin (14), Manu Trigueros (12); Forward: Gerard Moreno (30), Paco Alcacer (28).