The La Liga season begins on Friday (Auh 16) with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid all set to be far stronger units after a record-smashing transfer window which saw Spain’s biggest three clubs splurge over 800 million euros (737.5 million pounds) on new players.

Champions Barcelona have been practically in a league of their own in the last two seasons and are favourites to win a third consecutive title after making some smart moves in the summer to replenish their squad of serial winners.

Barca start on Friday away to Athletic Bilbao, where they will flaunt France’s World Cup winning forward Antoine Griezmann and fresh-faced Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong, signed for a combined 195 million euros.

The Catalans, though, will be without talisman and usual top scorer Lionel Messi for their curtain raiser as he recovers from a muscle injury, while the club continue to be linked with a sensational move to re-sign Neymar from Paris St Germain.

Thirty-three times champions Real Madrid, meanwhile, plot an attempted resurgence in the domestic competition away to Celta Vigo on Saturday, after two disastrous campaigns in a row saw them finish 17 and 19 points adrift of Barcelona respectively.

Madrid have spent a staggering 305 million euros in the close season, a third of that going on Belgium forward Eden Hazard, but the mood at the Santiago Bernabeu is far from optimistic after a terrible run of results in pre-season.

Last year’s runners-up Atletico Madrid have also thrown money around this summer after cashing in on the sales of Griezmann, Lucas Hernandez and Rodri and they host Getafe in a euphoric mood after an outstanding pre-season campaign.

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Source: (Reuters)