The first week of the La Liga season kicks off Saturday, and yet it feels as if the 2013-14 season has only just ended.
In a surprising turn of events, neither Real Madrid CF or FC Barcelona was awarded the league trophy at the end of it all.
Atlético Madrid was the third horse in the race that won it all by a nose. It was the first time in nearly a decade that a team other than Real or Barcelona rose to claim La Liga's big prize.
The Real Madrid team was able to lick its wounds and recover, eventually defeating their local rival in the Champions League final and earning their long sought tenth CL title.
Barcelona finished absolutely empty-handed.
Looking over how things ended last season, it seems observers are of one of two minds about what we can expect from this weekend going forward.
— Betfair Exchange (@BetfairSports) August 20, 2014
Real and Barcelona Return To Business As Usual
Prior to Atlético Madrid’s recent feat, the last time that a La Liga team other than Real Madrid or Barcelona won the league was during the 2001-02 season.
Valencia CF was not able to repeat that result the next season and it became something of a fact that other La Liga teams couldn't come close to challenging the two sides boasting the best European football players in the world.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 18, 2014
That claim may only have strengthened through recent acquisitions. The brilliant but controversial Luis Suarez is now at FC Barcelona. Meanwhile Real Madrid have brought in World Cup fan favorite James Rodriguez.
Both teams will be out to prove that Atlético’s interruption of their lengthy duel for dominance was little more than a fluke.
The Era Of The “Two Horse Race” Ends
Money well spent on transfers helped Atlético outlast their powerful La Liga rivals. This is a lesson that is not lost on other La Liga sides.
You want to beat the best? You have to BE the best.
FC Barcelona and Real Madrid both are very wealthy clubs. And for the longest time they were engaged in an arms race that left other La Liga sides in the dust.
Atlético Madrid may have found a way to nullify that dominance. It could be that other La Liga teams follow in their footsteps.
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTSUSA) August 20, 2014
Either the Real Madrid-Barcelona dominance is re-established or the league will reveal itself to be increasingly competitive.
Football fans everywhere are anxiously awaiting the weekend in order to find out for themselves which heavily predicted narrative will be the most likely outcome.