The new La Liga season is taking place this weekend among lots of intrigues, especially for Real Madrid – as the three consecutive European champions start life without the iconic duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane.
Real is not the only team going through a change period, but with similar ̵
The uncertainty surrounding the three major has increased the tension levels of the new campaign, and the trio's least-heralded club is now most strongly positioned as the season shows up.
And Atletico beat an early season against one of his big rivals with a 4-2 victory over Real in Wednesday's Uefa Super Cup.  What's next to Real without Ronaldo and Zidane?
Monitoring the new era of Real is coach Julen Lopetegui, controversially kicked off Spain two days before the World Cup after agreeing to move to Bernabeu without – according to the Spanish Football Federation – to inform his former employer of his intention.
Lopegegui's first task is to figure out how to transform Real's attacking game without Ronaldo and the most remarkable aspect of the summer has been that the club did not sign a direct compensation. 19659003] There is still time, with the Spanish transfer window open until the end of the month, and it is possible that Real will draw a move for Mauro Icardi from Inter Milan, Rodrigo from Valencia or, although it is currently unlikely to Neymar or Kylian Mbappe from Paris St-Germain. Or even Eden Hazard from Chelsea.
At the moment, however, it seems that Lopetegui is ready to continue with Karim Benzema at the head of his favorite 4-3-3 picture, with Marco Asensio and Gareth Bale taking advantage of Ronan's departure to
An important player for Real this season will surely be Isco, whose personal history with Lopetegui goes back to winning the European under 21 title in 2013. The coach has been a big admirer of midfielder last and this season will finally give Isco the chance to take the lead under the leadership of a boss who trusts him completely.
If a new striker is not signed, the main choice for Lopetegui is to stick with Keylor Navas in goal or replace him with newly signed Thibaut Courtois, although the possibility of job division – one for La Liga, the other for cup competitions – has also become appreciated.
But rather than personal power or gaming systems, the biggest doubt about Real Lopetegui is lack of high-class club management experience, in addition to disappointing Porto.
Predecessor Zidane's only previous leading experience was with Reals B team. But Zidane was a real legend and Lopetegui has no Ronaldo to help him so it's still to see how he'll be doing – especially when many fans and media members seem ready to turn to him after his perceived "desertion" of national team before the World Cup.
What happens, his first season will not be boring.
Can reinforced Atletico benefit from rivals changes?
Real faces a serious challenge from city rivals Atletico, a point underlined by Rojiblanca's extra job victory in Tallinn on Wednesday.
There has been an outstanding summer in the Diego Simeone transfer market, which may now call a stronger group than the page that won the title back in 2014.
Atletico has managed to keep in three main players, with Antoine Griezmann breaking down Barcelona, Diego Godin has rejected Manchester United and outstanding goalkeeper Jan Oblak dismisses interest from a row of knights.
It has never really happened to Atletico who used to losing his biggest talents to stronger rivals and t The fact that Rojiblancos can turn away such great deals suggests that a turning point has been achieved with regard to their status within the elite .
They have also been strengthened, with the addition of defensive midfielder Rodri sees a particularly good deal – the 22-year-old is on the edge of Spain after an outstanding season with Villarreal and is generally considered as a heir to Sergio Busquets in the national team.
Atletico should also be more dangerous after the acquisition of Thomas Lemar and Gelson Martins to give more ammunition to Griezmann and Diego Costa, while Croatian striker Nikola Kalinic has been added for another muscular alternative.
With an enhanced attack, a versatile midfield, a rock-solid defense and Simeon's know-how, it seems that Atletico has everything in place to challenge silverware – especially given the attractive prospect of the Champions League final being staged in their own Wanda Metropolitano stadium.
A change in Barca's approach
The mention of the Champions League final will inevitably be attentive on the reigning league champions Barcelona, focusing more on their efforts than ever to regain European supremacy.
An embarrassing escape to Romans in April, when they wiped out a 4-1 first lead, the third subsequent quarterfinal elimination for Lionel Messi and Co, and for a club with such high expectations were just not good enough – especially with Real enjoying so much success on the continental scene.
Barca's problems in recent seasons have been lacking in group depth, which has meant that key players are selected week after week and blown by the time of the knockout rounds.
Stats prove the point: six Barca players who made at least 30 leagues start last season (Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Messi), while only one Real Player did it ). The conclusion in Nou Camp is that the challenge is more effective in Europe, chief Ernesto Valverde must rotate his starting XI more often.
In order to achieve this goal, Barca has been busy in the transfer market. The midfield has been especially refreshed, partly needed by the departures from Andres Iniesta and Paulinho, and Valverde is expected to regularly use new signatures Malcom, Arthur and Arturo Vidal instead of leaving them on the bench and constantly turning to Rakitic and Busquets.
And if the Catalan club succeeds in its optimistic ambition to fool Paul Pogba away from Manchester United, another dimension will be added to its midfield.
The attack will be run by new captain Messi, his favorite federation Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, but there is also a feeling that Ousmane Dembele is ready to enjoy a breakout season after a injured campaign 2017-18.
Dembeles electrifying talent is not in doubt, but last season he fought within the team framed by Valverde. The new campaign has shown a promise with the young Frenchman who produces an excellent strike to secure the Spanish Super Cup against Sevilla on Sunday.
If there is a sign of things to come, Barca should be hard to beat.
Forget Real and Barca – Betis are the great entertainers
Apart from the title contenders, another team is worth watching this season Real Betis. After a few years, the Sevilla Club appears as a force under the Quique Setien, whose purist principles made his team a pleasure to watch during his first season.
3-5, 5-3, 0-5, 3-2, 4-4, 3-6 … they were just some of the scorelines in Betis games last season, but there was also a lot of substance to go with the entertainment when Setien took his team to a sixth place – their highest since 2005.
The summer reports of the powerhouse's Portuguese midfielder William Carvalho and the dynamic Japanese wing Takashi Inui have given expectations that Betis could reach even higher heights, especially about rising star Loren Moron can continue the progress that saw him brighten the league after being introduced to the team's attack in February.
Over the city, Sevilla faces an exciting campaign under new manager Pablo Machin who falsified his reputation by leading Minnows Girona in top flight with an exciting brand football while Villarr Eal will also hope to mount a top four challenge after reviving his attack with the rewrite of Gerard Moreno from Espanyol.
Keep an eye on Valencia, coming out of a dark season with a busy season under demanding coach Marcelino last time, and will look forward to further progress after several eye-catching summer debuts including a loan replacement for Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi .
With the changes in the top three and the opportunity to improve several teams under them, it all adds to a fascinating season in La Liga – and perhaps the most open and competitive for many years.