Can anyone break the dominance of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid?

2003/04. That’s the last time a team other than Atletico Madrid, Barcelona or Real Madrid won La Liga.

That’s nearly twenty years of absolute domination and in that time Atletico have picked up just two of those titles with Barcelona winning ten and Madrid five since Valencia were crowned champions in 2004.

Since the formation of La Liga, there have been just eight teams to lift the trophy. Compare this to the Premier League (or the First Division as it was called before 1992) and you will find 24 teams engraved on the honours board as champions of England.

Could 2021/22 be the year we see the dominance broken? Let’s take a look at the potential contenders.

Real Sociedad

After the first nine games of the season, the ever-improving Real Sociedad find themselves top of La Liga with six wins from their opening nine games and just one defeat that came on the opening day of the season.

Last season, La Real picked up their first trophy in 33 years after waiting for over a year to play the Copa del Rey final in which they beat Athletic Bilbao. 

This is not the first time they have topped the table. They also spent some time at the top of the pile last season and all the signs point towards a revitalised team playing with great heart and spirit.

Could this be their year to lift their first La Liga title since 1982? Betway currently has them at 26.00 to finish the season as champions – a bet worth taking at this early stage of the season.

Sevilla

Sevilla have become the Europa League specialists, but could it be time to take their success to the next level? 

Despite enjoying success in a number of domestic and European cup competitions, Sevilla have only won La Liga on one previous occasionin 1945/46. They have won the Copa del Rey five times, the last one in 2010, the Spanish Super Cup once, in 2007, and a record six UEFA Cup/Europa League titles, the last one in 2020.

They are a team used to success but could this be their year to go for La Liga?

After their first eight games of the season they sit in third place, just three points behind La Real with a game in hand, level on points with Madrid and Atletico. They are managed by Julen Lopetegui – a man also used to success – and there is a strong belief that this could be their season to contest the title. They are currently 13.00 with Betway to win La Liga in 2021/22.

Villarreal

Gerard Moreno of Villarreal is out, as confirmed by Unai Emery

After their success in the Europa League final against Manchester United last season, Villarreal head into the 2021/22 season with optimism that they could be crowned champions for the first time.

Their previous best finish is a runners-up spot in 2007/08, and they have a chance to join the elite group of just eight previous winners of La Liga if they can pull off what would undoubtedly be one of the biggest shocks in the history of the competition.

The 2021 Europa League win was Villarreal’s first-ever major trophy and sees them return to the Champions League for the first time since 2016 when they were eliminated in the qualification playoffs. They have not played in the group stage of the competition since 2012 when they lost seven out of their eight games.

If they can manage to balance their Champions League commitments along with their league performances, Villarreal will be optimistic about breaking into the top four this season with an outside chance of winning the league. They are currently 81.00 with Betway to win La Liga in 2021/22.

Early season form

Lionel Messi of PSG

The surprise departure of Lionel Messi from Barcelona in the summer has led to a lot of uncertainty around the club and after a slow start they find themselves in seventh position in the table after the first eight games of the season, just two points behind second-placed Madrid.

Two teams that have started the season extremely well are Osasuna and Rayo Vallecano. Osasuna currently sit fifth on goal difference on the same points as second-placed Madrid, although they have played an additional match.

Rayo are one place behind, also after nine games, although it is highly unlikely either themselves or Osasuna will be competing for the title come the end of the season.

In a 38 game season there’s still a long way to go, but it would be great to see one of the three teams mentioned above going the distance and at least putting pressure on the traditional big three and potentially adding their name to the list of La Liga champions.