Big spending Madrid clubs out to deny Barca another title
August 14 2019 10:50 PM
Ousmane Dembele
Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele (left) celebrates a goal with teammate Antoine Griezmann during a United States La Liga-Serie A Cup Tour match against Napoli in Ann Arbor, United States, on Saturday. (USA TODAY Sports)

DPA/Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona begin the 2019-20 La Liga season with the clear objective of winning their third straight title under Ernesto Valverde.
Real Madrid will hope to improve drastically on their performance last season when they finished third, 19 points off the lead, and went through three coaches.
Atletico Madrid were runners-up last season and with new record signing Joao Felix having had a very impressive pre-season at the club, hopes are high that they can push for the title this time.
Atletico lost their star player Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona at the start of the summer when the Catalan club paid the Frenchman’s release clause of 120mn euro (135mn dollars).
“Griezmann is one of the best players in the world,” Barcelona said in a statement marking his arrival.
In pre-season he has established a good understanding with Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele.
Lionel Messi has a right calf problem and will miss the start of the campaign but in his absence new signing Griezmann, along with Suarez and Dembele have thrived and Barcelona won both games against Napoli, 2-1 and 4-0, in their final warm-up matches.
Real’s pre-season was far less impressive. They conceded more goals than they scored and coach Zinedine Zidane was still tinkering with his formation in the final friendly of the summer — a 2-2 draw with Roma.
Zidane has been vocal about wanting Gareth Bale sold and Paul Pogba signed, before the season starts but neither of those requests look like being granted.
Real did pay a huge fee for 28-year-old Eden Hazard with reports in Spain suggesting Chelsea received 100mn euros plus add-ons for the Belgium forward.
He scored one spectacular goal against Salzburg but generally disappointed as Madrid struggled to find form.
Their worst pre-season defeat came at the hands of local rivals Atletico.
Diego Simeone’s side beat them 7-3 in July in New Jersey with Diego Costa scoring four goals and Felix one.
That partnership between the bruising former Chelsea forward and the 19-year-old signing from Benfica has promised much this summer. 
Simeone will have to wait to unleash it, however, because Costa is suspended for the season opener at home to Getafe.
Valencia finished fourth last season and they are expected to be the best of the rest once again, having signed Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gomez to reinforce their attack.
With Girona, Huesca and Rayo Vallecano all relegated last season, La Liga welcomes newly promoted Osasuna, Granada, and Mallorca for the new campaign.
The action kicks off tomorrow when Barcelona travel to play Athletic Bilbao.

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