After a busy summer in the transfer market, are Barcelona the favourites for the title?
With Luis Suarez set to join the charge in October, Barcelona will be desperate to regain their crown both at home and abroad under new coach Luis Enrique this season.
The Catalan outfit have strengthened significantly this summer, but while Suarez unsurprisingly dominates the headlines, their acquisitions elsewhere make them an even more intriguing side this year.
With Victor Valdes and Carles Puyol departing, there was a real focus on addressing the gaps in defence and in Ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo, Barcelona believe that they found the long-term solutions in between the sticks.
While the German is expected to become the established No.1, Bravo will likely provide stiff competition, and it is refreshing for both the coaching staff and supporters that they have two quality goalkeepers at their disposal.
Meanwhile, both Thomas Vermaelen and Jeremy Mathieu were signed to add depth to central defence, although it is arguably youngster Marc Bartra who will be the most intriguing option.
After a relatively impressive year last season, Bartra will be desperate to establish himself at the heart of the defence on a regular basis this campaign, and he has the talent to do so.
Perhaps the biggest criticism on an individual level last season was his inexperience at key moments in games, but as he continues to develop his game and mature, he will likely be Enrique’s most dependable option moving forward with fellow Spaniard Gerard Pique falling below his usual high standards.
Enrique has already hinted at his preference of playing Javier Mascherano in his more natural defensive midfield role, but the signing of Ivan Rakitic is particularly exciting, with the Croatian starring for Sevilla last season.
Whether or not he is able to adapt to this new level remains to be seen, but his silky passing ability coupled with his comfort on the ball make him an ideal option in midfield, and along with Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Xavi, he will look to make the side tick.
However, as mentioned above, the most exciting aspect of this Barcelona team is undoubtedly the attacking trident following the arrival of Suarez.
There are doubters that question whether or not the Uruguayan, Neymar and Lionel Messi can co-exist in the same team, as there is an argument to suggest that the trio can’t all shine in the simultaneously.
Suarez’s ban perhaps didn’t make things easier in terms of settling and striking up a chemistry, but having now been granted permission to train with the team he will have time during sessions to build up an understanding.
If it works, then this trident could be one of the most prolific and dangerous units in European football next season. However, it will be up to Enrique to find a system that works for all and to keep his stars happy in what is an important year for Barcelona in overcoming their rivals from Madrid.
Barcelona’s Best XI: