August 22nd, 2010
10:41 PM ET

Madrid may have Mourinho, but Barca will still be best

Jose Mourinho will have to wait for the La Liga title according to CNN's Pedro Pinto.
Jose Mourinho will have to wait for the La Liga title according to CNN's Pedro Pinto.

New season, same old story. In my mind, there is no way Barcelona's dominance of Spanish football will end this year, even if you consider Real Madrid will no doubt improve under the guidance of Portuguese coaching maestro Jose Mourinho.

The two-time defending champions are just too strong and too solid to finish below their old rivals in the league table. And while I'm in the predicting mood, here's my forecast for the other movers and shakers for the forthcoming season in the Primera Division

Champions – Barcelona

Last season, Barca and Real staged a duel of epic proportions. It was a case of "whatever you can do, I can do better." When the dust settled, Pep Guardiola's side had set a new record for points, while Real came close to beating the mark for most goals scored.

This year, both sides will push each other all the way once more, and in my mind, the same team will come out on top. Considering Barcelona picked up one of the best strikers in the world in David Villa to play alongside Leo Messi and Pedro up front, it means they will be virtually unstoppable. Even if Zlatan Ibrahimovic spends his time pouting on the bench more than poaching goals, and even if the fragile Andres Iniesta succumbs once again to injury, this team is just too good to fail. With Xavi running the show in midfield, they will dazzle their opposition in Spain and finish first.

So what about Real Madrid, you ask? Well, they will improve. Especially at the back. Jose Mourinho is known for his safety first approach and Los Blancos will concede less goals than they did last year. However, like the Portuguese coach admitted himself, it will take a while to get the best out of his players. The Special One revealed his team will only be truly special after the second season he is in charge, so they will come up short this year.

An X-Factor that will affect the title race in Spain is how far both teams make it in the European Champions League. Real president Florentino Perez is obsessed with winning the competition again, and Mourinho himself will prioritize Europe's top prize ahead of La Liga considering they haven't won it since 2002. Barcelona could also put Europe first since they have won the last two domestic titles and what they really want is to rack up their Champions League trophies while in possession of the best team in their history.

Over-achievers: Valencia

This is a really tough one to call because there are so many teams that could surprise this year, but I am going with Valencia.

Considering they lost David Villa, David Silva and Nicola Zigic, many could believe Los Che would tumble down the league table in the coming campaign, but I believe they will still manage to qualify for the Champions League.

Why? Well for starters, although they needed to sell some of their top players in an effort to balance the books, Valencia have a great head coach in place. Unai Emery is a diligent student of the game and proved last year that he has a knack for making his team better than the sum of its parts.

Secondly, there is still plenty of talent in this squad. World Cup winner Juan Mata, Argentine midfielder Ever Banega and winger Pablo Hernandez are all exciting young players. Add to the mix veterans like David Albelda and Joaquin, and you have a promising season ahead.

Their close-season signings were also very impressive. Strikers Roberto Soldado and Aritz Aduriz, who between them scored 28 goals for Getafe and Mallorca last season, should get plenty of goals at the Mestalla, and Portugal central defender Ricardo Costa is also a good acquisition.

My verdict is that Valencia will finish fourth, behind Barcelona, Real Madrid and Sevilla.

Under-achievers: Atletico Madrid

Expectations are always so high at the Vicente Calderon, and more often than not, Los Colchoneros don't live up to them. With stars such as Diego Forlan, Sergio Aguero and Simao Sabrosa, this team should finish in the top four. However, from what I hear, the atmosphere in the dressing isn't great and I don't think the players will put their bodies on the line for coach Quique Sanchez Flores.

Last season, Atletico finished in a disappointing ninth place and I don't see them climbing a lot higher in the new campaign. Their recent signings don't impress me too much and consequently they will once again flatter to deceive, with Forlan and El Kun scoring their share of goals.

Top scorer: Leo Messi

This is a tough one to call because both Barcelona and Real will score a LOT of goals this season, and both teams feature several players who could finish on double figures. At the Camp Nou, David Villa's tally could eat into Messi's haul, but the Argentine superstar will once again win El Pichichi title.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who had 26 goals in 29 league games last season, will see his total go down. I believe Mourinho won't want the team to be CR9-dependent and therefore expect Higuain, Kaka, Di Maria and others to pitch in with their fair share of strikes.

An outside contender is Roberto Soldado. He has a great goalscoring record since leaving his hometown club Real Madrid, netting for fun at Osasuna and Getafe. He should get plenty of chances at his new team, Valencia, and could finish the season near the top of the charts.

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soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Camerborn

    Pedro, for once I see you underestimating the capabilities of a side (Real Madrid FC) so strong and strangely more ambitious than their bitter rivals (Barcelona FC). Yes indeed, Mou is a genius of a coach yet he has a very talented, young and ambitious 'bank' of players.
    Real will be a very BIG threat to Barca dis season and it is rather very difficult to say that Barca will finish untop with Messi being the top goal scorrer and all that..... It will for sure be a very competitive and exciting La Liga season for Los Blancos and the Catalans!

    August 23, 2010 at 10:13 am | Reply
  2. Ella

    You're right Pedro, Barca's team is truly exquisite. They epitomize the "beautiful" game. However, I don't think we should discount the genius of the self-proclaimed Special One just yet.

    His track record speaks for itself (although he likes to remind us of it every time he gets the chance!) and last season's treble with Inter Milan was a remarkable feat. This season in the Primera Division poses a new challenge for Mourinho and Real.

    On paper, they look almost as good as Barca. However we all know that having a team full of stars is useless if they can't complement each other (England *cough cough*). It should be a very interesting season ... I reckon Mourinho will defy the odds and pull it off!

    August 23, 2010 at 10:31 am | Reply
  3. alehandro

    Pedro Pinto should make up his mind or stop posting such contradictory drivel. Here's a quote from his previous post on Real Madrid." I am really looking forward to the new instalment of La Liga, with the Real vs Barcelona duel front and center.".......And here's a quote from his current post. "New season, same old story. In my mind, there is no way Barcelona's dominance of Spanish football will end this year."

    So you are not looking forward to a sequel but the same old story, which according to you will have the same old end. Doesn't that make the whole season redundant? I bet the guys who do the marketing for La Liga are loving you. "Come and see the greatest league in the world. This season will be exactly the same as the last with no surprises."..I'm sure that will get the crowds flocking in.

    August 23, 2010 at 11:27 am | Reply
  4. Amanuel Babu

    JOSE is World best Coach!BUT,in Real Madrid he'll lose his everything!

    August 23, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Reply
  5. Hamza

    ..What about Higuain???????? I think he'll be d top scorer this season, with d way he has been improving, he should be absolutely unstoppable.

    August 23, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  6. Bob

    Mourinho was too Ibrahimovic-dependant in Inter, too Drogba-dependant in Chelsea, he will easily be the same with Ronaldo in Madrid. Especially if Ronaldo keeps the goals coming in.
    Unfortunately La Liga is such that the third place team will be a good 30 pts behind one of the top 2 so the winner will be the one who beats up on all the lesser teams better, which is true to an extent for every league but especially in this one.

    August 23, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  7. Roise

    I don't think that Barca is superior even before in Europe. Endless passes, just like Spain boring games, Mou will destroy this year Barca. Only what Mou need is striker like Dzeko or Zlatan.

    August 23, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Reply
  8. AboutEarth

    Barcelona has a huge advantage on Real Madrid from all ends, the team players know each other and have been playing together most of them for a few seasons, they know each others game to perfection, they are inside each others heads, their alignment is fantastic!
    Madrid might achieve that in a couple of seasons, spending tons of money on players doesn't fix it, they need to learn each others game and pre-league there is no enough time to get the team so aligned.
    And for the smarties that say "Spain boring games" – solution, don't watch La Liga or any international competitions where Spain will win again and again and again😉

    August 23, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Reply
  9. A bubakar Shehu Bazuka

    Is pokssible Jose Mourinho can do everything to Barcelona

    August 23, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Reply
  10. Abubakar Shehu Bazuka

    I know that Mourinho is the Best

    August 23, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  11. mensur

    Messi the legend of modern football.i think barcelona will be first in spain,champions league and other.......

    August 23, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  12. Diego Cambronero

    Barca is just... unstoppable. Madrid is a team to make rich players but no to good players. So sad Madrid will remain second. Viva el Barca

    August 23, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  13. Pilipinas

    messi as top scorer? what a joke. with villa on his side, they'l split barca's scoring. i say it's gonna be ronaldo.

    August 23, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  14. Roque

    We hope not, Mourinho will show how to break throw. The tecnics and the knoledge of the coach w'll came up.

    August 23, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Reply
  15. kapil

    The guidance of Portuguese coaching maestro Jose Mourinho. n AD Maris n hinguin with CR9 trio wil definitely change scenario of the club.. n hw abt VillA comin in barcelona makin them different spannish attack with Leo messi as lone striker.. i think ReaL mAdriD wil definitely clinCH tiltle this YEaR..

    August 23, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  16. ndipenoch

    jose mario dos santos felix murhino alias the special one is too good for barcelona. he is the anti messi and knows how to stop barcelona. there is nothing for the catalannas this season. in spain there is real madril to humble bacelona and in europe there is inter milan and chelsea to do what there know how to do best.......... Pep Guardiola is just a lucky guy among guud players

    August 23, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Reply
  17. AboutEarth

    Ronaldo?? Haha he can only bend to paint his toenails.. Ronaldo is unfortunately over, he did nothing for Portugal during the World Cup.. you can expect more of the same during la liga, Ronaldo just making uneducated faces around the pitch.

    August 23, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Reply
  18. tahbo

    jose the king mourhino has given chelsea the first title in 50 years...
    jose has taken no hopers in intermilan to the summit of the champions league...and a big team like real madrid they will take all titles they play...this year....jose mourhino was mentored by sir bobby robson who designed the great chrismas tree formation....this is tai chi...use ones force against them...

    August 23, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  19. Umair Waheed Sheikh, Karachi,Pakistan

    Real Madrid for Treble.
    Mourinho will show the world how ot manage a team of super stars and with a no nonsense approach I punt that they might get the treble.

    August 23, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  20. wisemann

    You are saying that Barca need not come down the team bus to win any title this season.
    Just hope the coach PEP will come down his high horse and sign a player or two before the season starts, Can you imagine a season with only 19 first team players, The youth side has it's limitations as Kanute and co. of Sevilla proved, tooking the team to a 3-1 cleaners just last week, it took a Messi hat-trick to secure the Spainish supercopa.

    August 23, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Reply
  21. salim peker

    Best Barca can only be stopped by Real, if Kaka, Ozil and Ronaldo perform outstanding performance in forward.

    August 23, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  22. Nelson

    First off Ronaldo did not play a full season with Madrid last year making your stats virtually useless. You also fail to mention Higuain one of the top strikers in La Liga last year and the poor coach they had last year as well. His whole strategy was pass the ball to Ronaldo. Now you have Mourinho who took a bunch of worn out Italians a Argentinian unknown and a Real Madrid leftover and exposed Barca's weakness not once but twice. Now with stronger defense and more fluent midfield whats to stop Madrid ? A worn out Barcelona (Spainish National Team) ? You cant keep passing the ball to Messi and expect to win everytime. Especially when he is getting shut down through the genius of Mourinho.

    August 23, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Reply
  23. neilwattz

    Real madrid will still be always a treat to barca, specially will jose and his tactics.. c.ronaldo will always shine.. and for the new players added the fire power of madrid... benzema will shine this season as well as higuain the top scorer of the team... kaka will be at the top form as he cames back to action ozil ang kaka will be the key for play making...

    Real madrid will be a scoring machine this season.. only a drawback for the team is the weak defense.. barca has great defensive payers thats why they are loosing to them this pass seasons... i think they should sign a good defensive player or improve there defences.. if not they will just be second to barca if they fail to score points...

    August 23, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Reply
  24. Rachid

    I think you wrong, even it his first year with the whites he's going to makae the diffirence

    August 23, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Reply
  25. Hamdi Shweikeh

    It is important to take into consideration that mourinho does not have a magical stick RM is new team that is currently under construction and needs at least half a season to mingle barca on the other hand is enjoying stability on the squad and coaching pep made few changes to his side barca will win la liga with at least 9 pionts ahead RM might even finish third you are correct some how pedro

    August 24, 2010 at 12:56 am | Reply
  26. musah fifa

    the special one will be the disgraceful one this season,Barcelona are going to show Jose Mourinho his end, i bet you this,and mark it somewhere,and i know for sure Mourinho is going to be sack by next season, because is going to end up cup less, and i know Real Madrid very well that they will sack him, just as they did to the past coaches, for Madrid all what need is for you to beat Barcelona, and if you fail to do that , then consider your self out,and if you look at the Barcelona's squard of this season is far beter than of last season, so i din't see Madrid wining the La Liga this season , and Mourinho is going by next season.

    August 24, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  27. Damian

    Mourinho will make the difference. Madrid will win in his first season incharge.

    August 24, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Reply
  28. Chris

    Terrible article. Zlatan has saved Barca many times. More then you know thats fo sho. Most of his 21 goals was 1-0 goals for Barca. And he have made a lot of winning assists! Do you remember the first half he played for Barca btw?? ( He was better then Messi )

    August 25, 2010 at 8:26 am | Reply
  29. Red

    From a football fanatics point of view, I can understand the prediction of Pedro on this seasons la Liga ... but we ALL know that Football is completely and UTTERLY unpredictable, with that said ... I believe a team like barca have already achieved their peak by winning everything there is to win 2 years ago ... what we will see this season from barca is a continuous decline like we saw last season (winning only la Liga and losing out in the CL and spanish cup)
    We have seen this over and over again through out the years in Europe and over the world ..... teams that have been playing together for so many years achieve Glory, but after that they lose all momentum and passion ... Ajax ... Milan ... Man U ... Real Madrid ... Juventus .... Bayern ... Liverpool ...etc

    Now is the Time of Barcelona to crumble without understanding "why" like so many before ... and a new Champion will rise.... the only question is who will it be ? My current bet is on Real Madrid without any doubt.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  30. Roise

    Just read Ibra. He said he haven't spoken to Pep Guardiola for six months.

    Barca is joke, Guardiola is joke, Mou will destroy them all this year.

    August 25, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Reply
  31. Makev

    If you don't know anything about football then do not make any comments on here please, this is to all the idiots who say's Barcelona/Spain play boring football.Spain played the world cup perfectly,they came with a plan..kept it tight and scored when they had to, had they play like they always did in tournaments passed, (swashbuckling attacking,scoring lotsa goals) they'd have gone out early like they always did,and you'd have said..oh spain is underachievers blah blah. They played to win it and they did it better then anyone else, thats why they world champs. As for Barca they play the game the way they knows best and i love them for it. I respect mourinho for what he's achieved but his mouth is too big and someone needs to knock him of his pedestal cause he inherits teams or buy's success, he must build his own teams and achieve success ala Alex Furgeson who i don't like but respect more then Jose. I believe and hope Pedro is right in his prediction cause no team deserves this period of success more then Barca,they have the right principles and morals for how a club should be run..by developing your own!

    August 26, 2010 at 7:35 am | Reply
  32. Damian

    Unfortunately with open forums like this there are always ill informed opinions and people who are plainly blinded or too far away from what is really going on. Both Marid and Barca are excellent football teams and their history proves it. Today, Barca are better than Madrid and the Madrid fans will have to get used to it. One day, the pendulum will swing again in Madrid's favor..especially after they realize that you cant buy your way to glory.. Visca Barca!

    August 26, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Reply
  33. Roise

    OK, I was read all Barca's fun comments, still Mou will destroy Barca this year, just he did last year.

    Also Barca won second game against Chealse with help of the referee, so no magic in Catalonia.

    Not to mention that Pep sucks, he have personality problems with his players,

    Barca treat his players like garbage, so sooner or later, Messi will be dumped just like Maradona, Eto, Ibra and Yaya.

    August 26, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  34. Roise

    How can someone be "best", if he didn't won Champions League last year? Inter is best until Real Madrid take this year Champions league.

    August 26, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Reply
  35. Lu :)

    C'mon!!! how can u say that!!! Real is always a threat!!! pffff barcelona the best! im sick of hearing that!!! sick of reading that Messi is the best when he is no one without Iniesta and Xavi!!
    In a way, i like Villa at barcelona cuz he will be the scorer leaving messi behind hopefully!!!
    HALA MADRID!!!

    August 27, 2010 at 1:42 am | Reply
  36. neilwattz

    bcuz there are always at it.. those two will again go head to head all over again... those two giants... specially now.. young scores are fitting it to the team... it's gonna be a points galore...

    August 27, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  37. Aikaterini Pantoula

    Xavi will be proved to be once again the brains and will save Barca!

    August 27, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Reply
  38. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Europa League winners Atletico Madrid have just won the Super Cup defeating Champions League winners Milan's Internazionale by a clear 2-0 verdict.

    Forlan, Aguero and their colleagues kept Julio Cezar, Lucio, Maicon, Walter Samuel and Chivu on their toes in that well contested Super Cup encounter.

    Athletico Madrid looks compact and solid and will pose threats to star studded Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    Interesting article and observations by Senhor Pedro.

    August 29, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Reply
  39. lalsy

    I like Mourinho,but I like MESSI most. HE PLAYS LIKE AN ANGEL

    August 30, 2010 at 10:34 am | Reply
  40. Alvira Rahman

    Just having a club so full of stars isn't enough for Real to win no matter whoever is the coach. Kaka who got the best player of the year award joined Real too but they didn't win and then C.Ronaldo joined who got the best player of the year 2008 award but they still couldn't win.

    September 8, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  41. frank

    There can be no doubt to the fact that barca is among the best teams in this season, not becausse o Leo Messi but because this guys are like the just got out from a PS3. This guys do not play football they make art, and yes Real may have The one but the are not even close to Barca. Moreover , i tottaly agree that Leo will score more goals than C.Ronaldo because this guy is freesh , he is knew and he just no starts to "peak" while, lets face it , C.Ronaldo is not the show anymore...

    September 18, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  42. ammonia

    i think madrid lost the league because of that match they lost against barca, now they have a man who can do harm to barca, and i for one give them the title

    September 30, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  43. Ralph esene

    PP,you spoke my mind.Exactly what I told some guys before the start of the current liga season.
    Jose no doubt is a great coach.His records and achievements speaks for him,but then Barca are just too solid and have a bunch of lads who play as a unit and with great understanding.They are just too solid as a team.Football of course is a team game.And to add,they have a coach in PEP who was once a ball boy at d camp nou,an ex-player and captain of the team.He understands the Barca philosophy,approach and system.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:49 am | Reply

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