We are at the halfway stage of the Spanish football season. There have been many twists and turns along the way in the race for La Liga.
La Liga in Profile
La Liga Recap
At the start of the campaign, the shocks came thick and fast with both current champions Real Madrid and Barcelona floundering with surprise defeats and patchy form. The early pace setters were Real Sociedad thanks to their in-form attackers Mikel Oyarzabal and David Silva.
The Champions Elect
However, the current title picture sees a dominant force leading the way – Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid. His band of brothers, led by an inspired Luis Suárez and a formidable Jan Oblak, lead the way with a comfortable gap to the duopoly that is Barcelona and Real Madrid. The form of other key protagonists such as João Féliz, Marcos Llorente and Kieran Trippier have been the anchors in Simeone’s successful ship as they aim to set sail to La Liga glory. This would be seven years after their last La Liga triumph in May 2014.
Los Colchoneros have been consistent performers from early on due to their imperious defensive record – the best in the Spanish league. Another key factor to their success story has been their Uruguay hitman. Currently, he is the top scorer in the league with 14 goals in 16 appearences. Remarkably, he has scored a goal every 85 minutes. What was Barcelona’s loss is definitely Atletico’s gain. Ronald Koeman will definitely be ruing their decision to let Suárez go and ultimately strengthen a title rival.
With the business end of the season on the horizon, it is Atlético’s title to lose with their combative and spirited performances fitting of a champion team. Certainly, Simeone’s blend of a well drilled, organised and composed side shows no signs of imploding. Rightly, they are the firm favourites to lift the La Liga crown in May. Especially as the El Clásico rivals continue to play in fits and starts, producing inconsistent performances and failing to mount any assertive pressure onto Atlético.
Champions League Competition for Places
The final spot for the Champions League will be fiercely contested by Sevilla and Villarreal – both vying for a place at Europe’s top table next season. Therefore it will be a fascinating finale given one could argue a case for both teams finishing fourth. This is due to the similar qualities their squads possess.
For Spanish football lovers, there is much to savour over the decisive months of the La Liga season.
La Liga Title Race: Key Fixtures
The race for La Liga enters its home stretch with the month of February seeing Barcelona travel to Seville to face Real Betis Balompié, It is a fixture which always promises goals and entertainment. At the end of the month sees three tasty tussles on the same weekend. Real Madrid host Real Sociedad, Sevilla at home to Barcelona and Atlético Madrid travel to Villarreal. Therefore matchday 25 will go someway to identifying the champion.
As March arrives, with it comes two huge derby days. Firstly, a Madrid derby with Atlético at home to Real. Meanwhile the week after, it is El Gran Derby as Sevilla and Real Betis Balompié lock horns in Spain’s most colourful and flamboyant fixture. The month of April welcomes El Clásico, as Real Madrid host Barcelona. Finally, May will provide a Barcelona verses Atlético Madrid end of season spring sizzler.
Real Betis Balompié v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Real Sociedad
Sevilla v Barcelona
Villarreal v Atlético Madrid
Atlético Madrid v Real Madrid
Real Betis Balompié v Sevilla
Real Madrid v Barcelona
Barcelona v Atlético Madrid