Thursday, 18 April 2013

La Liga Review

La Liga is the one league I feel like i'm having an affair with right now, The Premier League has always been my first love but I always have to surround myself with Spanish action just purely because it's so damn enjoyable. Everyone always labels the league a two horse race but it's the sub-plots that make it exciting and great on the eye.

The top four currently stands at:


Real Madrid:68

Athletico Madrid:65

Real Sociedad:54

Lionel Messi - Another perfect season?

So the question is, has there been anything out of the ordinary from La Liga this season well yes and no. The prevailing theme really has been Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing their classic game of raise the bar. Messi has scored an astronomical 57 goals in 46 games this season that is well over a goal per game, this is why he belongs at the very top of football, when you look at the fact that he has scored 310 goals in 375 games overall you kind of understand the important of the little guy. What Messi offers isn't just sheer skill and technique he has an aura to motivate just by being on the pitch.

For reference you only have to look at PSG in the quarter final of the Champions League after drawing 2-2 at Parc Des Princes Barca were heading out after Javier Pastore had shocked the Camp Nou but the introduction of a half fit Messi meant he could galvanise the troops and of course have a hand in the goal. Mesmeric and inspirational.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano scoring against old boys United
Let's be honest in an assessment here, Cristiano hasn't done anything out of the ordinary this season, his goals to game ratio has always been superb which is why he's up there with Messi, he is the biggest player at Real clearly yet what he has done this season is score crucial goals at defining times and that's how great players are decided. Messi achieved the feat to score against every side in La Liga consecutively but his service is unmatched at Barca. Not taking anything away from L.M. Ronaldo hasn't equalled that feat but he still stands out every game for the Galacticos. If you look at both top teams these two have been driving forces but there's nothing new about that in all realism.

It's no secret that Les Catalans have simply strutted to reclaim their title from rivals Madrid but it's the emergence of other sides and the disappearance of others that really defines the tournament this year. Remember Athletico Bilbao, a side with players like Iker Munian, Fernando Llorente, Susaeta? Well take a look back at last season when this side completely outplayed Manchester United home and away in the Europa League in what looked like a complete change in momentum in the top leagues.

Fernando Llorente driving Bilbao to a 3-2 away win at OT
This was the scene of one of the biggest upsets in general but not among Spain because Bilbao were purely unresistable at that time. They not only did the business at OT but also maintained that momentum and won both legs. Interesting change of events to where we are today? Bilbao currently reside in 14th place and 19 points behind 4th place, this is sheer astounding. Their manager Marcelo Bielsa is under pressure and suddenly it's backs to the wall. It's a strange one this because aside from Javi Martinez to Bayern the same side remains, mystery it is, a worry, it's becoming.

Another disappointing group of teams in the form of Deportivo, Levante and Osasuna, sides who have enjoyed better times and yet especially Deportivo who currently reside outside relegation would be the most disappointed. It's been a tale of either sides on the up or sides simply on the decline, consistency is key. Solidarity is a powerful component in Spain, also retaining your better players is imperative but just like any other league if the bigger clubs come calling then it's Buenos Dias and thanks for coming.

Here are three suprise packages who have done themselves if not their teams any favours:

Malaga's Isco at the heart of their CL run
Radamel Falcao - 30 goals for Athleti
> Malaga have continued to amaze fans around the world for their heroics and if it weren't for suprise package Borussia Dortmund coming from behind in injury time to break Spanish hearts it could have been a completely different story. Isco is the kind of player every time should have. Cool, composed and technically gifted in the engine room of midfield. Malaga's side isn't gifted with superb players but he's one of them and will surely attract attention despite the best efforts of Los Boquerones.

Athletic Madrid have been the closest to closing the gap from the front two and making it more competitive, this is simply down to a great team ethic and the marksmanship of Radamel Falcao. When they brought him in from Porto personally I thought the price tag was overflated at 40 million Euros which made him the most expensive player in Athletico's history.
30 goals return this season enables that some of that fee is being paid back. Interest from United is high, hardly suprising.

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Real Sociedad in my opinion are the suprise package this season. The two indicated above have been unplayable at times this season but looking at the sides Real have emerged out of nowhere. Carlos Vela has chipped in with 13 goals and that's a statement on it's own but it's the form of players like Antoine Griezmann and especially this man Xabi Prieto. Prieto has 7 goals on his own which from his holding midfielder position is astounding when he's the creator. Griezmann has 9 himself it's goals throughout the team which has propelled this side to 4th place and a brilliant season.

Overall La Liga has been a success this season, they could have two representatives in the final of the Champions League, could have been more had a lack of concentration not robbed Malaga. The top two have raised the bar and keep on improving although Real will be disappointing by their points difference in contract to Athletico who will be very happy with their season and have something to build on. Barcelona can be beaten and outfought as AC Milan proved and few occasions in La Liga this season. Also could I make a small mention to Celta Vigo who in their first season in the league are in 20th place 4 points off safety and it could have been much worse if it weren't for the form of
Iago Aspas. A small side who have done extraordinary well to reach La Liga itself, If they don't beat the drop with 7 games to go, I hope they at least make a speedy recovery back.

Iago Aspas - Swansea City Target?
Thanks for reading, Hope you enjoyed and gained an insight.
Daniel John

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