Football betting regulars will not be surprised to hear that Barcelona are the strong favourites in the new La Liga title odds announced by bwin.
The Catalans swept all before them last term, comfortably seeing off the challenge of Real Madrid to win the Spanish top flight for the third consecutive year.
Although they lost to Los Blancos in the Copa del Rey final, they crowned their campaign by lifting the Champions League at Wembley with an imperious win over Manchester United.
Lionel Messi and company have been given La Liga title odds of 13/20 by bwin for the 2011-12 season and, worryingly for their rivals, are likely to add to their squad over the summer.
They are desperate to bring Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas back to the Nou Camp, while Udinese flier Alexis Sanchez and Villarreal striker Giuseppe Rossi are also thought to be on boss Pep Guardiola’s wish-list.
Although question marks remain over their ability to finance all three deals – particularly in the case of Fabregas – it seems that a team already being described as the best ever could be even stronger by the time the transfer window slams shut on September 1st.
Real Madrid are again expected to be their nearest challengers, with Jose Mourinho’s men receiving La Liga title odds of 5/4 from bwin, who will again be their shirt sponsors next season.
The general consensus in Spain is that Real have a deeper squad than Barcelona, but fell short last year because their first team was not as strong.
While there is surely no shame in that, it seems that Mourinho will again be backed by Florentino Perez to bring a new raft of Galacticos to the club, with Kaka and Karim Benzema reportedly among those who could be moved on.
It should be noted that critics of the Primera Division claim it has become a two-horse race and suffered as a spectacle as a result – and this argument is perhaps supported by bwin’s La Liga title odds.
Third-favourites Valencia are given little chance of crashing the party as they are rated as 25/1 long shots to win their first title since 2004, with Atletico Madrid available at 40/1 and Villarreal priced at 50/1.
However, a league boasting talents such as Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cristiano Ronaldo – not to mention Messi, who may well go down as the greatest player of all time – can hardly be regarded as boring for neutrals.
Throw in the fact that toppling Barcelona is surely Mourinho’s greatest challenge in his managerial career so far and it is fair to say that the new La Liga campaign should be an enthralling ride.