Rejuvenated Barcelona set to continue their reign in Spain

Barcelona seem to be poised to continue their domestic domination in Spain, now that they have reinforced their richly talented squad with a group of ambitious youngsters.

Barca have won eight out of the last 12 leagues in Spain, with an exquisite, elegant team - though sometimes without the squad depth necessary to compete on three or four fronts at the same time.

That lack of depth was made apparent last April, when an untimely string of injuries showed up the poor qualities of Barca's reserves and led to elimination from the Champions League.

Lionel Messi and company just managed to hold on to their Liga title - finally clinching it on the last day - then completed another league and cup double by beating Sevilla in the cup final.

However, it was clear to everyone that they needed to buy several young squad players who could stand in for the veterans when necessary, and maybe eventually pick up the baton from them in the future.

Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Digne, Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez - all of whom are aged 22 - have already arrived, with Paco Alcacer of Valencia, also 22, reportedly poised to join in addition.

"This squad now has a strong and complete feeling to it, unlike last season," commented Catalan television TV3.

"Now there are two players of high quality for each position."

So strong is the faith of Barca coach Luis Enrique in youth that he seems prepared to let veteran goalkeeper Claudio Bravo leave for Manchester City and put his faith in Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 24, despite the German currently being laid low with a thigh injury.

Other youngsters that Luis Enrique apparently believes in are Sergi Roberto, Rafinha and Munir.

"This squad is tremendously ambitious and wants to continue to improve," Luis Enrique said.

"The new young players will help in this process because they will give us even more enthusiasm and energy, and will challenge the regulars for a place in the team."

In recent years, Barca have ruled the roost domestically while Real Madrid have focused their best energies on the Champions League, and this tendency seems unlikely to change this season.

The Whites have won just one league title since 2009 but do not appear to be better prepared to challenge Barca in La Liga, given their surprising lack of top-line signings.

Real's only newcomer of note is Spain striker Alvaro Morata, back in the capital after two years at Juventus.

"Real Madrid have had a surprisingly quiet summer," commented radioo Marca.

"Their squad does not look clearly better than it did in May and that is rather worrying."

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid have placed their faith in Kevin Gameiro from Sevilla - and in a rugged defence marshalled by veteran Diego Godin.

Coach Diego Simeone was close to quitting after their heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat against Real in the Champions final, but was finally persuaded to continue by club president Enrique Cerezo.

Is any team capable of presenting a challenge to the Big Three?

Probably not, unfortunately.

Villarreal are in chaos as a result of coach Marcelino Garcia being replaced by Fran Escriba, while star striker Roberto Soldado faces a long injury lay-off.

Meanwhile, as per usual, Sevilla and Valencia have been obliged to sell off their best players, due to their spiralling debts.

Last update: Tue, 16/08/2016 - 10:29

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