La Liga has been fairly consistent over the last couple of decades in terms of who challenges for the title.
Since 2005, Atletico Madrid is the only side to have won the title other than Barcelona or Real Madrid, showing the sheer domination these two giants of the game hold over the league.
But something is different this season and when having an online bet, like at Novibet.co.uk, you’ve undoubtedly noticed some of the eyebrow-raising results in Spain, with at least one likely to have let your accumulator down.
So what’s the biggest surprise in La Liga? Here, we’ll take a look.
After a summer of turmoil at the Catalan club, which saw star playmaker Lionel Messi heavily linked with a move to Manchester City to reunite with Pep Guardiola, Barça sacked manager Quique Setién and appointed club legend Ronald Koeman as his successor.
As a result of the Messi transfer saga and the fallout that followed, Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu stepped down, along with the rest of the board, after a vote of no confidence.
Despite voting in a new president and an entirely new board, it looks as though the hangover from the Bartomeu split still looms over Camp Nou.
With players clearly unhappy, and expressing this in no uncertain terms in the press, the former president’s resignation doesn’t seem to have completely solved the problem.
The thing that manager Ronald Koeman now needs to concern himself with is that the hangover appears to be affecting the players’ performances on the pitch.
Messi on his way out?
One of the biggest things that will be bothering everyone at the club is that it looks incredibly likely that Messi will not finish his professional career at
Barcelona, the club that took him in as a 13 year old into their infamous La Masia academy.
At the end of the transfer saga that took the footballing world by storm in the summer, Messi announced that he would remain at the club “for one more year” to avoid any sort of legal dispute with Barcelona or La Liga, who had also stepped in to inform Messi and his connections that a move in 2020 was not possible.
It looks like the turmoil at the top of the club, and the manager troubles that began under Ernesto Valverde, have finally gotten to the Argentinian and, like his closest competitor Cristiano Ronaldo, he looks to be seeking a challenge abroad.
The most obvious destination for the 33 year old is Manchester City, where he would again link up with former Barcelona manager Guardiola, with whom he had his most successful spell between 2008 and 2012.
Pep has never been shy of letting the media know of his admiration for the Argentine sensation and it would arguably be the biggest transfer in football history if it happens, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves – yet.
Finding the right man for the job
The appointment of Koeman at Barcelona was a huge surprise to many football fans, especially those in the Premier League.
After a couple of decent years at Southampton, for which many attribute to the team that Mauricio Pochettino had built previous to his arrival, Koeman was given the chance to show what he can do as the new manager of Everton in 2016.
After spending £150m on players who mostly flopped and failing to replace top scorer Romelu Lukaku, who had left for Manchester United, the Dutchman was living on borrowed time and was promptly sacked by the Toffees in 2017.
Koeman landed on his feet though and just a few months later was announced as the new Netherlands head coach, taking over from Dick Advocaat.
After guiding his country to second place in the 2019 UEFA Nations League Final and helping them qualify for their first tournament since 2014, he stepped down to take up his current position at his former club.
However, in the last four years, Koeman has not shown much to suggest he is capable of taking on a task as large as re-building the Barcelona squad and, if Lionel Messi does leave next summer, his job will become that much harder.