MADRID, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- The uneven distribution of TV money means that battle for the BBVA Primera Liga title in Spain is once again likely to be a two horse race between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, but that doesn't mean the other 18 clubs in the league should be ignored.
Barca and Madrid are paid over 50 percent of all of the TV money distributed in la Liga, at least four times more than any other side, leaving other clubs with a mountain to climb if they want to compete.
Even Spain coach Vicente del Bosque lamented the imbalance this Sunday as his side prepared to fly for a pre-season friendly in Ecuador, saying he wished some side could get closer to the big-two.
A side can win a one-off game as Atletico Madrid showed last year in the final of the Copa del Rey, but over a season, the economic punch of the big-two is almost impossible to compete against on a week by week basis.
Atletico did well last season, finishing just nine points behind in third place, but 24 behind Barca, while recent seasons have seen the big two at least 20 points ahead of third.
While Barca and Madrid, especially Madrid, have again spent big this summer, the economic realities mean many sides have lost key players: Atletico Madrid sold key striker Radamel Falcao, while Valencia have lost Roberto Soldado, Nelson Valdez and Tino Costa among others and Real Sociedad, who finished fourth last year saw star midfielder Asier Illaramendi join Real Madrid.
Atletico have signed well, however, and if David Villa can get into his best physical shape after a difficult 18 months with Barca, he could turn out to be the bargain of the summer, while Leo Baptistao showed last season with Rayo Vallecano that he has pace, skill and the ability to score goals.
Meanwhile the experienced Martin Demichelis gives more options to a defense that was the meanest in the league last season, which means Atletico should still be up there challenging for a top four place.
The demands of playing in Europe and the loss of Illarramendi could damage Real Sociedad's league options and it also remains to be seen how young coach Jagoba Arrasate does after the departure of Philippe Montanier.
Valencia look as if they lack firepower, although new coach Miroslav Djukic got Valladolid playing good football last season and they have at least strengthened their central midfield with players such as Oriol Romeu and Javi Fuego.
Betis have kept coach Pepe Mel, but have seen wholesale changes in their squad and apart from the talented Joan Verdu, the jury is still out on whether the new arrivals are as good as players such as Canas and Benat Etxebarria.
Rayo saw their squad dismembered over the summer and it will be hard to replace players such as Leo Baptistao, Piti, Javi Fuego and Chori Dominguez. It could be a difficult season in Vallecas unless things click quickly.
Sevilla have been forced to sell Spain internationals Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo, but appear to have signed wisely with Kevin Gameiro their star arrival. Meanwhile Unai Emery will be happy to have spent a pre-season working with his squad.
Other sides that look stronger are Athletic Club Bilbao and new coach Ernesto Valverde should get the best out of a midfield containing players such as Ander Herrera, Benat, and Ander Iturraspe, while others such as Iker Muniain and Andoni Iriola will hope to recover form after disappointing last time around.
Elsewhere Malaga are another side whose squad has seen widescale changes after Manuel Pellegrini joined Manchester City. Berndt Schuster has the difficult task of molding a new side without players such as Isco, Demichelis, Baptista and Javier Saviola and is more likely to find himself in mid-table than battling for Europe this time around.
Of the recent arrivals, Villarreal should have few problems surviving and have signed wisely, while Almeria could struggle after deciding to not renew coach Javi Gracia and hand control to former B-team boss, 34-year-old, Francisco Javier Rodriguez. Last season's second division champions Elche look to have brought in wise if unspectacular signings and have a good chance of avoiding the drop.
Elsewhere it is hard to say who will struggle: Osasuna have battled to safety in recent seasons and look no stronger this time around. Levante need to overcome the loss of their veteran defense and hope that coach Joaquin Caparros can form a tough to beat side from a new-look squad, while former Levante coach, Juan Ignacio Martinez may find it tough to impose his pragmatic style on a Villarreal team that played more open football under Djukic last time around.
Finally Granada and Espanyol should be safe with Granada signing well, all be it at low cost to bring in former Deportivo striker, Riki and Rayo' s Pito, while coach Javier Aguirre will be the secret weapon as Espanyol look for a season of mid-table tranquility.
All of which proves that while money may be tight, there is life in Spain beyond Barca and Real Madrid.