Has La Liga Lost its Sparkle?

La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid have struggled at the beginning of the 2021-22 season and has seen shortening odds for the Spanish clubs to reclaim the title from Atletico Madrid as a result.

Real Madrid had an overhaul over the summer with household names, including Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and manager Zinedine Zidane, leaving the club. Barcelona have also fallen on hard times due to a deep financial crisis, which has affected their on-field performances this season.
In recent years, two of La Liga's superstars have also departed as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have both moved on to new challenges. The loss of two of football's best-ever players has impacted both Madrid and Barca, but their moves have also affected La Liga as a whole.

Real Madrid and Barcelona in turmoil

Since Ronaldo left Madrid for Juventus in 2018, the club have been unable to add to their impressive trophy cabinet, and the only major win for Los Blancos in the past three seasons was a La Liga title in 2020. In comparison, before the Portuguese superstar departed the Bernabeu, Madrid won three straight Champions League titles between 2015 and 2018 and La Liga in 2016-17.

While Madrid have started well domestically under Carlo Ancelotti, as they are joint top, their Champions League form has been disastrous following a 2-1 away loss against Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol.

Barcelona have seen more domestic success than Madrid in recent years as they have won La Liga twice in the last four seasons and lifted the Copa del Rey in five of the last seven campaigns. However, the Catalan club have struggled in the Champions League in the past decade, with one final appearance in 2015, when they last won Europe's elite competition.

Following the departure of Lione Messi this summer, Barca's poor run in the Champions League has continued. Ronald Koeman's side have lost their two European matches against Bayern Munich and Benfica. Things do not fare much better for Barca domestically either as they have lost one and drawn three of their opening La Liga matches, and they sit in ninth place.

The respective form of these two Spanish giants is highlighted by the loss of Ronaldo and Messi, respectively. The quality and world-class magic they once displayed is sorely lacking as the reputation of Madrid and Barcelona as world beaters is diminishing, which is reflected in the odds when punters looking at the football betting tips find they are no longer the overwhelming favorites going into the fixtures.

Financial and viewership impacts for La Liga

Losing the two best players of a generation will have a knock-on effect. While Madrid and Barcelona have global audiences, there will be less intrigue in La Liga now Messi and Ronaldo have moved on.

Last season, La Liga reported a €3.7 billion revenue, the second-highest of any football league worldwide. However, now Messi has left, this is expected to lessen for the 2021/22 season.

As a result, La Liga has responded by attracting global audiences after striking a broadcast deal with the U.S based broadcaster ESPN to draw more American viewers.

This is a noticeable change from the Ronaldo and Messi years, where La Liga had two of the most entertaining players in history to showcase to an international football fanbase.

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