Real expect silverware charge
Suffering Real Madrid fans hope Galactico' coach Jose Mourinho can replicate his success at Inter Milan and wrestle the title from a Barcelona side strengthened by the acquisition of Spain 2010 FIFA World Cup™ star David Villa.
Mourinho has rode in on a wave of media publicity as Real continue to dominate the front pages in pre-season, however, the Portuguese coach has his work cut out against a formidable Barcelona side that are targeting a third successive league crown.
Real spent over €250m last season in an attempt to win some silverware but to no avail and Mourinho has been brought in to break Barcelona's grip on the league and win a tenth European crown. "The word fear is not in my football dictionary and I don't want it to be in the Real Madrid player's dictionary," said Mourinho.
Barcelona have been playing the mesmerising football that Real fans will expect under Mourinho and the astute €40m signing of Villa from Valencia should make them even stronger. "(Jose) Mourinho is one of the best coaches in the world. He is an expert at taking teams to the top, but we are the best team in the world," said Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Barcelona couldn't persuade Arsenal to part with Cesc Fabregas but have quality right through the team with eight of Spain's FIFA World Cup winners (Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Pedro, Villa and Victor Valdes) as well as Lionel Messi and Ibrahimovic.
Mourinho has the world's most expensive player in compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo and has spent over €70m to put his own mark on the team and trophies will be expected immediately. Real begin on Sunday with a tricky trip to Real Mallorca who finished fifth last season and are managed by old boy Michael Laudrup who won the 1995 league title with the club.
Barcelona are also on the road on Sunday at Racing Santander who narrowly avoided relegation last season. Runners-up Real finished a staggering 25 points ahead of Valencia in third last season and a dominant two-horse race is expected again.
Valencia would probably settle for third again this season having sold Spanish FIFA World Cup heroes David Villa and David Silva for a cool €70m. Forward Roberto Soldado has come in from Getafe for €10m and will try to fill the shoes of the departed Villa.
Sevilla scraped into the top four on the final day of last season and have been quiet in the transfer market although they have managed to hold on to Brazilian international forward Luis Fabiano. The club has kept faith with Antonio Alvarez after he secured fourth place on the final day of the season and lifted the Kings Cup although they suffered a huge setback this week by falling to Werder Bremen in the UEFA Champions League play-offs.
Atletico Madrid have invested heavily in the summer in a bid to get back in the top four after finishing a disappointing ninth place finish last season although the campaign went down as a success after winning the UEFA Europa League. Atletico have kept hold of strike duo Sergio "Kun" Aguero and Uruguay's Diego Forlan, voted best player at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as well as making some exciting signings. Classy left back Filipe Luis is the big money recruit for €12m from Deportivo La Coruna and Uruguayan centre-back Diego Godin comes in for Villarreal for €10m to strengthen the defence.
Mallorca saw a Champions League spot snatched away from them by Sevilla on the final day of last season and have had a summer of upheaval. Coach Gregorio Manzano has left along with key players and Mallorca hope new manager Laudrup can keep the club heading in the right direction.
Elsewhere the promoted trio of Hercules, Real Sociedad and Levante hope to get off to good starts as they aim to beat the drop. Hercules are in the top-flight for the first time since 1997 while Levante are back after a two-season absence. Second division champions Real Sociedad are back in the top tier after three seasons away and have the best pedigree of the promoted trio having won league titles in 1981 and 1982.