It has been a strange start to the new La Liga campaign. The big three of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have not hit top form yet in the Spanish top-flight. Over the weekend, the top-three of La Liga contained the names of the likes of Athletic Bilbao and Granada, names not associated with the top of the table in recent history.
Champions have made a terrible start
Barcelona have made the sort of start to their title defence that has led to question marks over the future of head coach Ernesto Valverde. The Catalan giants have won just two of their first five league matches, suffering two defeats in the process.
Some of the team’s displays in La Liga have been nothing short of awful, especially their 2-0 defeat at Granada. It would be majorly surprising if Valverde lasts much longer in his job. Their home game against Villarreal this evening is a must-win for the former Athletic coach. Anything but maximum points and a convincing display could just spell the end for the Barcelona boss.
Los Blancos also unconvincing, as Atletico slip-up
Real Madrid have made an unbeaten start to the new campaign in La Liga. Yet, their performances have not been that convincing. A 3-0 loss at PSG in their opening group game has increased speculation that coach Zinedine Zidane is heading for the exit. It would not be the strangest sacking that Los Blancos have ever made.
The team from the Spanish capital are top almost by the default because Barcelona, and more recently Atletico Madrid have not performed. Zidane’s team host Osasuna on Wednesday night and could even stretch their lead at the top of the table.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico started the campaign in good form, looking like they meant business in the title race. However, a surprise 2-0 defeat at Real Sociedad and a goalless draw last time leave Atleti sixth-place in the table.
The new players looked to have settled in okay this season after a sea of changes in the squad. However, the cracks have shown in their recent matches, against teams that Atletico would normally expect to defeat.
Simeone’s side faces a trip to Real Mallorca on Wednesday night in the midweek round of fixtures. It is a game they will expect to win, but so was the game in San Sebastien and their home match against Celta last time out.
Barcelona still the favourites for the title
Strangely, despite their poor start to the new campaign, reigning champions Barcelona are still the favourites to win La Liga at odds of 5/6, with the usual suspects of Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at second and third favourites respectively to claim the crown.
The return to fitness of star striking duo Luis Suarez and newly crowned FIFA men’s player of the year Lionel Messi will obviously help the champions’ chances of returning to form.
Whether the Catalan giants will return to form once the pair are fully match fit and firing is unclear. They have had poor periods of recent campaigns and still came back to win La Liga. They are only four points behind Real Madrid, who as we have established are not pulling up any trees this season.
It will be interesting to see if Barcelona’s form improves or even if Real Madrid can produce better performances and streak away. However, from my point of view, it just feels like Real Madrid are top without having been brilliant. Who knows maybe Zidane can bring the Spanish title back to the capital and avoid the chop after all.
Can Real Madrid maintain their lead at the top of La Liga?
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