The winter break is finally over and La Liga returned our television screens this past few weeks. With just four months of the season to go, we’re taking a look at the season so far.
Real Madrid lead the way
What’s interesting about the fact that Real Madrid are currently comfortably top of the table is their start to the season. After losing the Spanish Super Cup to Atletico Madrid, Los Blancos kicked off La Liga with 2 defeats in their first 3 league games – including a 4-2 loss to Real Sociedad and a 2-1 home loss to derby rivals, Atletico Madrid again.
Many questioned manager, Carlo Ancelotti and whether he would be sacked, especially after he shipped off Xabi Alonso and Angel di Maria to Bayern Munich and Manchester United respectively. However, Madrid woke up after their derby day defeat.
Going on a spectacular run of goalscoring form, Ancelotti’s side went on to win 22 games in a row in all competitions – a remarkable run which ended in defeat to Valencia recently. The Italian isn’t worried about the defeat though as Real Madrid sit one point clear of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid with 39 points, having played a game less.
“I don’t think it will affect the team. As I said it has happened after 22 victories. The season is very long and we are well-positioned in La Liga and have a lot of competitions. This won’t affect us because we know all the things we have done well until now.”
Madrid may have started 2014 with a defeat but they can look back to 2014 with fondness, having won four trophies and all but establishing themselves as the best and most in-form team in Europe.
Cracks showing for Barcelona
Barcelona started the season superbly – with clean sheets galore as Claudio Bravo broke records, the Blaugrana went 8 games without conceding, winning 7 of those games in the process.
However, they faced Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on what would be Luis Suarez’s debut. The stage was set, but in the end, Luis Enrique’s side lost 3-1. To make matters worse, Barcelona lost the very next game 1-0 at home to Celta Vigo.
Enrique is yet to find his perfect formation/team – with too much rotation, there is no stability in this Barcelona side even though they have grinded out big wins and routine victories along the way. With Xavi ageing and Rakitic impressing (but not elite enough nonetheless), Barcelona have also been lacking in quality in midfield – an astonishing to say given their success over the years.
With their recent 1-0 loss to Real Sociedad – failing to capitalize on Real Madrid’s defeat to Valencia – and with Atletico Madrid picking up form, one wonders what Lionel Messi and company possibly finishing 3rd will do for Luis Enrique’s career.
Christiano Ronaldo on fire
Cristiano Ronaldo is one who has benefited from a poor showing at the World Cup. With injury problems and Portugal getting knocked out in the group stage, the former Manchester United star had ample time to get rested and replenished for the new season – and what a season he’s having!
With 26 league goals in just 15 games, the Portugal captain is on course to his best ever season tally. Records were broken on the way as Ronaldo scored his 200th La Liga goal, quicker than any other player in just 178 games while he also broke La Liga’s hat-trick record, netting his 23rd for Los Blancos.
If Madrid are to win their 2nd La Liga title in 3 years, Ronaldo’s goals will be a big factor.
Luis Suarez’s struggles
Forget about the bites, forget about the racism issues – whatever baggage Suarez brought with him, one thing which was for sure was that he’d be scoring for fun in La Liga and forming a monstrous trio alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar.
While he has shown flashes of brilliance, he is yet to fully make his mark yet. In 9 league games, Suarez has assisted a credible 5 times but has only scored once. Whether there’s a mental block or if he’s still adapting remains to be seen, but the controversial Uruguayan really needs to be hitting the net more to truly be accepted at the Nou Camp.