Spain's La Liga starts this weekend after a hectic summer during which clubs loaded up on international stars signed from foreign teams. The moves confirmed La Liga's status as the best league in the world. Here's a look at moves by the principal contenders:
BARCELONA. The champions spent almost $40 million on new talent. Barca picked up Frenchman Lilian Thuram and Italian Gianluca Zambrotta, two of the best defenders at the 2006 World Cup, from Juventus in the wake of the Italian club's relegation to Serie B. Icelandic forward Eidur Gudjohnsen,
signed from Chelsea, adds depth to the attack.
REAL MADRID. Under
new president Ramon
Calderon, it spent more than $100 million on players. The
acquisitions included Italian World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro from
Juventus and Dutchman Ruud
van Nistelrooy from Manchester United. The key additions
may be a pair of defensive midfielders, Malian Mahamadou Diarra and
acquired from Lyon and Juventus, respectively.
Picked to challenge Barca and Real Madrid, Valencia signed striker Fernando Morientes
from Liverpool, midfielder
Joaquin from Real Betis and defender Asier del Horno from
Chelsea. Spain World Cup striker David Villa returns
from a loan spell at Celta.
ATLETICO MADRID. Signed Argentine
striker Sergio Aguero
for $28 million from
Argentina's Independiente, making him soccer's most expensive
The 2006 UEFA Cup champion signed Schalke's Danish midfielder, Christian Poulsen, German defender Andreas Hinkel from Stuttgart and Monaco's Uruguayan striker, Javier Chevanton.
The surprise 2006 Champions League semifinalist signed veteran
Frenchman Robert Pires
from Arsenal, but he and central defender Gonzalo Rodriguez both
tore cruciate knee ligaments in preseason games.