Thursday, July 27, 2017

Are Real Madrid the team to beat in La Liga this season?

Real Madrid are unbeaten after 13 matches in all competitions this season, but manager Rafael Benitez believes the 10-time European champions can still hit new heights.

Real Madrid are unbeaten after 13 matches in all competitions this season, but manager Rafael Benitez believes the 10-time European champions can still hit new heights.

Under Benitez, Real have turned into a much more defensively compact side, having concede a league-best four goals in 10 La Liga games in 2015/16. In contrast, title contenders Barcelona have already conceded 12 goals this term.

And the new look Real will take on Paris Saint-Germain at the Santiago Bernabeu in Group A of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

“The team are doing well but I am convinced that they will improve. I want to see the best team when we are competing for titles,” Benitez told a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s UCL match against PSG.

“We’ve got a great margin of improvement. I hope the best is yet to come.”

On Tuesday, Real will be without Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, but Benitez will welcome the return of James Rodriguez after an injury.

Regarding the Colombia international, Benitez added: “He’s on the list, he’s better. That does not mean he starts. He lacks match fitness.”

And although Sergio Ramos is once again available to feature, Pepe and Raphael Varane are expected to start in central defence for the hosts.

Both Real and PSG are on seven points following the 0-0 draw at the Parc des Princes last week. And the winner will be one of the favourites to win Europe’s elite club football competition.

Now let’s take a look at Real’s chances of winning La Liga in 2015/16.

The Bookmakers

First off, the bookmakers are backing Barcelona as the favourites at 11/13 to win Spain’s top-flight this season. Real are second-favourites at 6/5, while Atletico Madrid are backed at 25/1.

Injuries

Despite injuries to Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema, and Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid remain unbeaten across all competitions this term. 

Though an impressive feat, it is far from surprising. And the reasons why are quite simple. Isco, Jese, Mateo Kovacic, and Pepe.

To have each of the aforementioned quartet as your No. 2 option in their respective positions is a luxury that few clubs can afford.

But Los Blancos are one of those clubs and that is just one reason why they vie for the league title year in and year out.

CR7

Another reason, and perhaps the main reason I believe Real will win La Liga this term, is Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portugal captain, 30, has yet to hit top form in 2015/16, but has still managed to bag 13 goals and two assists in 13 competitive matches. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shawn Etemadi


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