Dominic Conway looks at the task Barcelona face trying to win back the La Liga trophy.
Every year Real Madrid will make a big money signing, pushing aside every club that stands in their way for the player they want, this year it was Luka Modrić.
Having been subject of huge interest from Chelsea and Manchester United for the last two years, it was Real who snapped up the Croatian playmaker for a very handsome fee of about £35m, will he be a key ingredient come May for keeping the La Liga title at the Santiago Bernabéu?
A central midfield that already contains the likes of Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Lassana Diarra, Mesut Özil, Ricardo Kaka and the recently departed Nuri Sahin, who has gone on a season loan to English giants Liverpool.
Real will be hoping to defend their La Liga title this year from the mighty Barcelona, Alex Song and Jordi Alba joining the Blaugrana, from Arsenal and Valencia respectively, also a new manager is in charge at the helm, Pep Guardiola is taking a break from the pressures of football management, his assistant manager Tito Villanova has taken full control at the Camp Nou, a smart move by Barça as he was part of the most glorious era in FC Barcelona’s history.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will obviously be crucial once again for their clubs, regarded as the two best players on the planet, always being compared by everybody in the game, 96 league goals were scored between the two players last season, no doubt it will be another fascinating season for these two superstars and their clubs.
José Mourinho has proved time and time again that he is one of the greatest coaches of all time, winning two Champions League titles, one UEFA Cup and seven-league titles in his coaching career so far, not to mention the countless number of domestic cups to add to his CV.
Tito Vilanova on the other hand is in his first year as a head coach, but as an assistant and integral part of Pep Guardiola's success he is by no means inexperienced. He knows inside out about the strengths and weakness of his group of very talented players, he was always the best option to replace Pep Guardiola, as a fellow La Masia graduate Barça is in his DNA.
The 4-3-3 being used, is a surprise to nobody, with small tactical adjustments to the team. The return of David Villa could be crucial and have a big say as to where La Liga will be heading this season, he returned for pre-season after a lengthy lay off, back in December he broke his leg whilst away with Barça at the World Club Cup championship in Japan.
Barcelona introduced two bright young talents last season in Christian Tello and Isaac Cuenca, also Thiago Alcântara had a great first full season with the first team, no doubt making him an important factor this season for Barça.