Ronaldo, Messi contend for La Liga top scorer
Two of last term’s top five forwards have jumped ship but, with Luis Suarez and Mario Mandzukic added into the mix, expect goals to come thick, fast and from all over in 2014-15.
La Liga is set to kick back into imminent action and giants Real Madrid and Barcelona will be looking to get revenge on Atletico Madrid following their underdog triumph last season.
The men expected to propel them to glory will inevitably be in attack as all three sides have paid significant sums to strengthen their frontlines – but which one will rise to be cream of the crop in 2014-15 based on the current squads ahead of match-day one?
The man to beat is obviously Cristiano Ronaldo, who left Lionel Messi and Diego Costa in his wake last year. His two-goal, match-winning performance in the Uefa Super Cup has already shown his eye for scoring is as strong as ever.
Messi, meanwhile, will be looking to return to triumphant times. The Argentine suffered final-match heartache in the World Cup, Copa del Rey and La Liga in 2014 – he will be hoping for a much better 2015.
Atletico are used to losing their best striker (Sergio Aguero and Radamel Falcao) and the arrival of Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic to replace €40 million departure Costa should swell, not dent, their confidence.
Back at the Santiago Bernabeu, Karim Benzema has always been in Ronaldo’s shadow but the Frenchman will hope to finally outshine the Ballon d’Or holder in 2014-15.
Gareth Bale enjoyed an excellent debut season at Real Madrid, scoring 15 times in La Liga, while Neymar’s opening 12 months were more problematic at Barca thanks to matters out of his hands. Both will be hoping to sink their teeth into greater rewards this term.
Speaking of sinking in teeth, all eyes will be on €88m man Luis Suarez. He is suspended until late October for Barca, but he topped the Premier League tally last campaign despite missing the first five matches.
Elsewhere, watch out for Real Sociedad star Carlos Vela, who finished just outside the top five scorers in 2013-14 with 16 goals. He scored the same amount in La Liga as team-mate Antoine Griezmann – will the latter better that tally now he has joined champions Atletico?
A surprise candidate this year for breaking into at least the top five could be Sevilla striker Kevin Gameiro, who struck 15 goals in his debut season.
La Liga might be stronger than ever but, with no Spain forward likely to shine, is the national team suffering?