The new season is here, that time of the year that football fans all over the world have been waiting for ever since the curtains came down on the previous campaign last May.
The Spanish Primera Division or La Liga to many, returns this weekend, a week earlier than normal and as it has been in the last two seasons, I’ll be here to keep an eye on the best league in the world.
At first, it was months, then weeks but we are now just hours away from the opening match of the 2012-2013 La Liga season and fans around the world are desperate for the new campaign to start.
Real Madrid ended Barcelona’s four-grip on the league title, and with a lot water passing under the bridged between the end of last season and the start of a new one, the big question is, will there be change of power, particularly at the top end of business?
Everybody knows and no one is trying to remind anyone that only two teams can realistically challenge to win the La Liga title, and unfortunately it going to be the same for some time to come until the also-runs-in clubs can do something about it.
Everyone else bar Real Madrid and Barcelona fans would like to see a change from the pair’s dominance like it was at the start of this century when both Valencia and Villarreal gate-crashed the party.
But until we have that change, we’re not going to leave in denial and pretend that anything team apart from the big two can be considered title contenders, at least not in the near future.
Unlike some of the other big leagues in England, Germany, Italy and even France where TV money is relatively evenly shared, in Spain, Real Madrid and Barcelona take the lion’s share, leaving very little for the other 18 top flight clubs.
It’s on this background that we don’t expect another team apart from the big two to push each for the title, but still even the race between only the two (Real and Barca), makes the start of every new season worthy the wait.
Critics will be quick to point out that Real Madrid and Barcelona’s dominance of Spanish club football is tarnishing Spain’s golden generation, but the truth remains, the two clubs are just too rich and too powerful on and off the field for the other clubs to even dream of matching them.
Valencia tried as much as they could but fell off the radar, so did Villarreal, Atletico Madrid is just not big enough to challenge, while Malaga, whose take-over by a member of Qatar’s royal family a year ago, promised a lot and the jury is still on them to deliver.
Going into the new season, some have already ‘handed’ the title to Jose Mourinho, now aka the ‘Only One’, and his Real Madrid simply on the basis that Barca’s new coach Tito Vilanova appears not to have the charisma to improve his players’ fighting power.
True, Tito is not Guardiola and he will find it hard to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, who is the club’s most successful coach, but only a fool can make such a mistake of writing off a man who knows Barcelona and the players like the inside of his palms.
He also knows Real Madrid quite well, lest we forget, so whoever makes their prediction should remember that neither team has lost a player but instead both are fighting hard to add to their already rich squads.