La Liga heats up as the title race gets really interesting this 2016/2017 season.
For a season that looked as though it would be a procession for Real Madrid at one stage and all the Champions League places settled, it has turned out to be all intrigue and uncertainty in La Liga. Barcelona have gone on a great run of winning games in La Liga and this had really turned up the heat on Real Madrid. It is one thing having games in hand as Real created with their December sojourn to the World Club Championships extending their winter break but it is another to make the absolute most of each and every match.
The changing face at the top of the table
Only a few weeks ago, when Real were top of the league with a couple of games in hand; Ronaldo playing well and Bale on the med, you would have been forgiven for thinking it was all over. But nothing is that straight forward in football. Now it is tight at the top and Barca’s superior goal difference from attacking teams even when ahead makes it look like it will go down to the wire. Sevilla are the only other team mounting a serious challenge for the title as they take up the third place that has been occupied by Diego Simeone’s Atletico for so long. Sevilla have grown in stature from their repeat success, the Europa League and their win last season thrust that them into the Champions League spotlight. Whether they can give the two big teams a challenge that will go all the way to the end of the season remains to be seen but the longer they are there, the more interesting it will get. Barca and Real are two of the biggest clubs in the world but with Jorge Sampaoli as manager and experienced players like Samir Nasri and Vitolo, they won’t lie down easily.
Champions League places up for grabs
Rather than looking forward towards the top three, Atletico Madrid will be looking over their shoulder at the mass of teams circling them and having qualification for the Champions League as their aim. All three of the teams behind them have played Champions League football over the last ten years or so and will want a return –
• Real Sociedad
• Athletic Bilbao
Sevilla is making it’s way up the log this season
It is tight from 4th right down to 7th, with surprise package Eibar a few points adrift in 8th but looking more than secure for another season in the top flight. The experience that Athletico have in fighting at the top of the league for a few seasons now should see them over the line but one slip up could cost them dear and see the manager look for a new challenge, especially now the Arsenal job looks to be vacant this summer.
Osasuna are in deep trouble. They are a long way adrift at the bottom of the league and have only mustered one win in the whole campaign so far. This is dismal form and they could well be joined by Sporting Gijon and Granada who struggle to score goals and have some tough fixture ahead. The fact that these three are so poor in performance probably gets all the other teams off the hook. The league is strong and if you get off to a bad start it can be really difficult to claw this back. These teams have given all above a head start and they will have to go on a special run to be able to make it up.
So, who will win it?
Barcelona have dominated this league for a long time now. They have a front three in Messi, Suarez and Neymar that score goal after goal after goal. This means that their goal difference will continue to grow and Real have to win La Liga by getting more points than their rivals. As is stands Real are one point behind, still with that game in hand. But current form points to some defensive issues and a team that isn’t firing on all cylinders.
The most important league game of the seasons for both clubs is the 23rd April clash at the Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid where the final La Liga El Clasico of the season may just decide the title. Both teams have matches home and away that they could lose aside from this fixture but it will provide a momentum for the rest of the season for whichever team finishes the game at the top of the league. Both teams will want their star players fit and in great form ready for this game. Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale will take on Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar Jr. in a match that will be watched all over the world.
Barcelona’s formidable MSN
Where will you watch the game? Who do you think will win? What bearing will it have on the league? Let us know in the comments below.