La Liga is the best league in Europe, they are coming back. Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid still need to fight for this season, FinalGoal will take you to discover…
Two revolutions go head to head
It’s Real vs Barcelona for the La Liga title. Shock, horror. But it’s not a Real or a Barca that you would recognise from the last few seasons.
Ernesto Valverde’s pragmatic approach steamrollered opponents, but it didn’t project the image that Barcelona ultimately wanted, and he was relieved of duties in January.
Mid-season appointment Quique Setien wants to raise the pulse of the Nou Camp, but Barca are taking time to find their feet. The balance of the squad is delicate; Setien’s midfielders are cut from similar cloths and despite huge-money signings, the club lack attackers who truly stretch play, with their manager still testing pegs in holes, while trying to maintain club values. It’s a difficult job for anyone, especially midway through a campaign.
It’s similar in the capital. This is not the Ronaldo-led Madrid side that Zinedine Zidane cultivated; Luka Modric is ageing, Federico Valverde is bone-crunching and Gareth Bale is a hate figure among Los Blancos’ ultras.
Zizou has openly admitted he’s craving another La Liga crown more than a European title.
Barcelona are on 58 points; Real 56, with the latter edging it on head-to-heads this season, which will be used to separate them if the two finish the season joint on points.
Both sides are vulnerable, yet packed with explosive talent. It’s anyone’s guess as to which way the pendulum will swing come matchday 38.
Will Atletico fail to qualify for Europe?
Diego Simeone has almost single-handedly turned the duopoly of Spanish football into a triopoly, instating Atletico Madrid at the top table of European football and even lifting a title along the way. But all good things come to an end… right?
Just as at the Bernabeu and the Nou Camp, Atletico are having a transition season of sorts. Lucas Hernandez, Antoine Griezmann, Rodri and Diego Godin all went in a fire sale that raised an eye-watering €300m; Kieran Trippier, Mario Hermoso, Marcos Llorente and most intriguingly, the €100m+ teenager Joao Felix all stepped into the void. Thomas Partey and Saul Niguez are heavily linked with England, other linchpins are either ageing or back at the club for another spell and the precocious Felix is yet to deliver the same goods that Super Antoine so reliably offered.
You can see why they’re down in 6th. It’s not that Atletico have been bad – two legs against Liverpool proved they still have what it takes under Simeone – but a string of draws and just 31 goals scored all season looks worrying for Los Rojiblancos. Could this season be the beginning of the end for El Cholo and his army?