Who will win La Liga 2022/23?
La Liga marks its return from a lengthy hiatus at the end of 2022 with its two most notorious outfits well-placed to duel for the league title.
El Clasico rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid currently sit first and second in the table respectively, with Xavi's Blaugrana attempting to return the title to Catalonia for the first time since 2019. Los Blancos, the current holders of both La Liga and the Champions League, are just two points adrift of their fiercest rivals and seemingly well-placed to usurp the current leaders during the second half of the season.
While the likes of Real Sociedad, Athletic Club and Real Betis have each enjoyed promising starts to the campaign, it's hard to envisage any of these outfits competing with the premier duo for the title.
It's poised to be a Clasico shootout down the stretch.
Xavi has done a fine job of rebuilding Barcelona on the field. He took the job with the club in disarray and humiliations have followed the Spaniard in Catalonia, but the former midfielder has indeed shown he can return Barça to the promised land given the requisite resources.
The Spaniard has facilitated a style synonymous with the most imperious Barcelona outfits of yesteryear, but their woes in Europe highlight that La Blaugrana still have some way to go until they're back to where they want to be.
Financial backing means Xavi is now blessed with a hugely talented squad, especially in midfield and forward areas, and Barcelona have enjoyed an excellent start to the domestic campaign. Their only defeat arrived at the Bernabeu in October's Clasico.
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The 2021/22 season was one of the most memorable in Real Madrid's illustrious modern history and it felt like Los Blancos endured a wee bit of a hangover to begin 2022/23. Still, Carlo Ancelotti's side are in a brilliant position in La Liga having lost just one of their opening 14 games.
The club is attempting to move into a prosperous new era spearheaded by some of Europe's finest young talent, and Real's babyfaced stars have slotted seamlessly into Ancelotti's set-up.
Aurélien Tchouaméni has barely missed a beat since joining from AS Monaco in the summer, Federico Valverde is emerging as one of the continent's premier midfielders, while Vinicius Junior's prestige is only growing after a coming-of-age 2021/22 season.
Florentino Perez's savvy squad building is putting Los Blancos in an excellent position to perpetuate their dominance, and they currently boast the perfect manager to manage a group made up of experienced vets and ludicrously gifted youths.
Ancelotti will also be buoyed by Karim Benzema's return from injury in the new year.
While Barcelona currently boast a slender advantage at the top, you'd be silly to bet against Ancelotti's Madrid in the title race.
Xavi's side may possess the structure and security with the ball, but there's something innate within Los Blancos that's impossible to disregard in crunch time.
Real Madrid are the team to back in volatile, high-pressure situations and this title race looks destined to go down to the wire.