Could an outsider REALLY win LaLiga? A look at the contenders…

PETE JENSON: Barcelona are in crisis and neither Real Madrid nor Atletico look convincing – so could an outsider REALLY win LaLiga this season? Real Sociedad and Sevilla have started well… and DON’T discount Villarreal

  • LaLiga giants Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid all look fragile
  • Could this be the season that an outsider wins LaLiga against all the odds?
  • Sociedad and Sevilla are flying, while Unai Emery’s Villarreal are impressive
  • Elsewhere, the likes of Real Betis and Athletic Bilbao have a real outside chance

Barcelona and Real Madrid both lost at the weekend and Atletico Madrid were beaten by second bottom Alaves the previous week. 

So with the big three in Spain stumbling, could this be the season for LaLiga’s outsiders?

Sportsmail looks at the clubs who haven’t won the title for years and are trying to ‘do a Leicester’ and snatch the crown from the usual suspects.

Frenkie de Jong looks dejected after Barcelona were soundly beaten 2-0 by Atletico Madrid

Real Madrid also lost at the weekend, away at Espanyol, with all the top LaLiga teams faltering

Julen Lopetegui’s side were poor at the weekend too, blowing the chance to go top but it’s a measure of how strongly they are fancied this season that their loss to Granada came as a surprise. 

They kept both central defender Jules Kounde and striker Youssef En-Nesyri in the summer and have added quality with former Wolves forward Rafa Mir and Tottenham’s Erik Lamela two of the stand-out signings. 

The strength in depth is there with two top players for every position. If Lopetegui can get the team playing as well as the quality in the squad suggests, then why can’t they finish on top of the pile? 

They need to believe it, however. It’s been a long time since they won the league. They may never have a better chance.

Last time they won the title: 1946. They have only won it once. They have finished second four times but not since 1957.

Sevilla have cemented their place as a top-four team, but could they go one better this time?


Unai Emery took over at the start of last season with one very clear target – win a trophy. He won the club’s first silverware ever in the first campaign, so what’s the target now? 

At Villarreal they will tell you it’s all about a top-four finish but why not go for the top prize if the giants of Spanish football are struggling. They have recent form for taking on the biggest clubs in Europe and competing. 

In Pau Torres they have Spain’s best young defender and in Gerard Moreno they have last season’s top scoring Spaniard. This season they have drawn too many games and so sit mid-table. 

But former Bournemouth forward Arnaut Danjuma looks like one of the best signings of the summer with four goals already and if they turn the draws into wins anything is possible.

Last time they won the title: They hadn’t even been in top flight before 1998. They have never won the league but they finished 3rd in 2005 and 2nd in 2008.

Ex-Bournemouth star Arnaut Danjuma (left) is flying high in LaLiga after his summer move

Unai Emery is desperate to lift another trophy after sealing Europa League success last season

Real Sociedad

Arguably the best youth system in Spain is bearing fruit and with David Silva’s class added to the mix they are capable of outplaying everyone. 

Players such as Martin Zubimendi (22) and Ander Barrenetxea (19) are playing in advance of their years, and with six goals Mikel Oyarzabal has scored more than any other player in LaLiga bar Karim Benzema. 

A lot will depend on how many games Silva stays fit for – last season they won 70 per cent of their games when he played, and only 12 per cent when he was missing. 

If he stays on the pitch and 19-year-old striker Jon Karrikaburu, currently scoring goals for Xabi Alonso’s B-team, continues his rapid rise then anything is possible.

Last time they won the title: They won it two years running in 1981 and 1982.

Mikel Oyarzabal is one of the stand-out talents in LaLiga, and already has six goals this season

And the outsiders of the outsiders…

Real Betis

Manuel Pellegrini has been built an impressive team with limited resources, getting the best out of one-time Liverpool target Nabil Fekir and former Real Madrid midfielder Sergio Canales. 

It will not be easy with Europa League games to play too, but they have started well.

Last time they won the title: Just once in 1935

Manuel Pellegrini (right), meanwhile, has been putting together a stellar side at Real Betis

Athletic Bilbao

Marcelino was sacked by Valencia despite winning the Spanish Cup, beating Barcelona in the final, and getting the team into the Champions League. 

It’s never easy at Athletic with signings restricted to Basque-only players but in Unai Simon, Inigo Martinez, Iker Muniain and Inaki Williams he has a good spine. The 21-year-old midfieder Oihan Sancet is a huge talent too.

Last time they won the title: The eight-times winners last won it in 1984.

Inaki Williams is an ever-present for outsiders Athletic Bilbao and will be vital to their hopes


They have started brilliantly and are up in fifth. Former Middlesbrough forward Kike Garcia leads the line and they are hard to score against.

Last time they won the title: They have never won the league but finished fourth in 1991 and 2006.

Former Middlesbrough striker Kike Garcia has been flying and Osasuna are hard to break down


Pepe Bordalas has struggled through an injury crisis of late but before that he had the team taking on all-comers. 

Full-back Jose Gaya and midfielder Carlos Soler are two of the best players in LaLiga and if the partnership between Maxi Gomes and Gonzalo Guedes’ thrives then who knows.

Last time they won the title: The six-times winners last won it in 2004 under Rafa Benitez.

Pepe Bordalas has changed Valencia’s style of play this season and they’re reaping the rewards

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