La Liga 2020/21 Top Four Prediction, Odds and Picks

La Liga Top Four

  • Real Madrid and Barcelona will almost certainly qualify for the Champions League
  • Atletico Madrid should join them and Sevilla’s 10-point lead last term puts them in pole position for fourth
  • However, Villarreal, Real Sociedad and even Getafe could all mount challenges for that spot

La Liga Top Four Odds

Odds taken 21 September 2020 from BetMGM

To Finish in the Top FourOdds
Real Madrid-10000
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Barcelona-3335
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Atletico Madrid-500
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Sevilla-139
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Villarreal+400
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Real Sociedad+650
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Valencia+2000
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Athletic Club+1100
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Real Betis+900
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Getafe+800
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Celta Vigo+3300
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La Liga Top Four Predictions and Picks

Real Madrid has not finished outside the top four in La Liga since 1999/00. For Barcelona,   2002/03 was the last time they ended a season in fifth or below, and more than 12 years have passed since they finished outside the top two. Neither of the giants is likely to miss out on the Champions League this season, so their top-four chances are not assessed here – take a look at our La Liga title preview for more insight into Madrid and Barcelona in 2020/21 (insert link).

Atletico should also comfortably finish in the top four, leaving one spot up for grabs. Sevilla are favorites, Getafe are outsiders with a chance and Real Sociedad are also in with a shout, but Villarreal looks the best bet at +300. Back them to join Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico in Europe’s premier competition next season.

Pick:

Villarreal at +400

How to Watch La Liga

La Liga Information
What2020/21 La Liga season
WhereSpain
When12 September 2020 – 23 May 2021
How to WatchbeIN Sports

Atletico Madrid’s Consistency Under Simeone Set to Continue

This time 20 years ago, Atletico was preparing for a season in the second division. Relegation in 1999/00 came amid significant financial troubles that even threatened the very future of the club, and it took Madrid’s second side two years before they secured a return to La Liga. Atletico twice finished fourth in the late 2000s but it was not until Diego Simeone, a former player at the Vicente Calderon, returned as head coach in 2011 that the club’s fortunes really began to shift.

Simeone was rightly criticized for his management of the Champions League quarter-final defeat by RB Leipzig last season, and there is certainly an argument to be made that his tendency towards caution has cost Atletico on some of the bigger occasions. Yet there is no doubt the Argentinian has done an unbelievable job with the Colchoneros, reaching two Champions League finals and winning a La Liga title, a Copa del Rey, and two Europa Leagues.

He has also overseen a period of remarkable consistency in Spain’s top tier. Atletico has now finished in the top three of La Liga in each of the last eight seasons, comfortably qualifying for the Champions League every time. There is no reason to believe Atletico will drop out in 2020/21; in fact, they should be even stronger this year having gone through a transitional summer before the start of last season. As the odds suggest, it is highly improbable that Atletico will finish outside the top four.

Sevilla the Favorites but Villarreal and Real Sociedad Offer Better Value

Sevilla rounded off 2019/20 in the best way possible, winning the Europa League with a 3-2 triumph over Inter. That was the club’s record-extending sixth success in the continent’s junior competition, and victory in Germany would have brought them a place in the Champions League had they not already secured one via La Liga. Indeed, Julen Lopetegui’s men ultimately finished 10 points clear of fifth last time out, with a 15-game unbeaten run at the end of the season pulling them away from the chasing pack.

Only Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid conceded fewer goals than Sevilla last season, and a similarly solid defensive record this year could get them over the line. However, there is little value in plumping for Sevilla, so from a betting perspective, it would be better to put your money on Real Sociedad or Villarreal.

The Yellow Submarine is now managed by Unai Emery, who will be hoping to rebuild his reputation after being sacked by Arsenal in 2019/20. He will certainly feel more at ease back in his native Spain, and some impressive transfer business – coupled with the team’s attacking quality – makes them the best option to complete the top four.

Real Sociedad are appealing at odds of +700, but the loss of Martin Odegaard – the talented Norwegian has returned to Real Madrid after his loan spell in San Sebastian – is a major blow. They may also lack the firepower to compete with Sevilla and Villarreal across 38 games, but another top-six finish is well within their grasp.

Getafe Could Be the Best of the Rest, With Valencia Set to Struggle

Valencia is ranked as seventh-favorites for Champions League qualification, but that is sure to do with the size of the club more than anything. Valencia is certainly a big name, but they are in a sorry state at present: owner Peter Lim is hugely unpopular, the club is mired in financial difficulty and several key players have been sold or made available for transfer for less than their market worth. A bottom-half finish is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.

Athletic Club will need major improvement on last season – they finished 11th – if they are to qualify for the Champions League. A lack of goals proved costly in 2019/20 and that will probably be their chief weakness once more. Elsewhere, Real Betis and Celta Vigo simply have too much ground to make up to be considered realistic challengers.

If you are looking for an outside pick, Getafe is the most sensible choice. The continued presence in the dugout of Jose Bordalas, one of La Liga’s brightest coaches, offers continuity, and no opponent relishes the task of facing a tough, well-drilled team like Getafe. They might not be the most attractive on the eye but do not rule them out of the top-four race.

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Greg Lea

Expert on Soccer

Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts.



Email: greg.lea@wsn.com