Real Madrid Running Away With La Liga Title in Spain
It’s hard to suggest that any team with a 3-point lead in professional soccer league is “running away” with a title, but such is the precision and tightness required to win in Spain’s La Liga. Because the league is annually dominated by Real Madrid and Barcelona, any time one of these clubs slip up is often viewed a definite tragedy. And that is exactly what happened last weekend as Barcelona stuttered with a 1-0 loss away to Valladolid. Now Barcelona has slumped to 3rd place in La Liga behind both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.
It seems as though the Gareth Bale transfer is starting to pay dividends. While he was injured for much of the early portion of this season, he has amassed 10 goals and 10 assists in just 19 appearances and is just as deadly as everyone had predicted within the same lineup as Cristiano Ronaldo. Real Madrid is now unbeaten in 29 straight matches (including 17 La Liga fixtures) and simply look unstoppable. How have they fared in other competitions? Well, they just beat the German side Shalke 6-1 in the UEFA Champions and have a date with Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey Final tournament in April. Needless to say, Real Madrid is currently the hottest team in the world and other clubs seemingly have no hope in stopping them.
Meanwhile their top competition, Barcelona, is floundering like a fish out of water. In addition to the recent defeat, they lost 3-1 away to Real Sociedad several weeks ago. Lionel Messi is struggling for form and was recently seen vomiting on the pitch in an international friendly for Argentina. Neymar is beginning to suffer from his first enduring European season and has just 1 goal from 8 matches in the New Year. Coming down to the business end of the season, they need to rectify this situation fast!
If there’s one hope for the title contenders, including the dark horse Atletico Madrid (led by Diego Costa), it comes in the form of Real Madrid’s upcoming schedule. They host Barcelona later this month and then travel to Sevilla. They also must travel to Real Sociedad in April. But certainly the defining match looks poised to be the Barcelona game. Should they sweep away the side or even earn a draw, Real Madrid could become champions, while Barcelona will need to come out swinging and get a win at the Bernabeu in the hopes of getting back into the La Liga race.
But we must also consider the outside chances for Atletico Madrid. While they haven’t won in nearly 20 years, this side is making a serious run at the title and can certainly stand up to their opponents, as evidenced by their recent 2-2 draw with Real Madrid. While I suspect their hopes are slim, I certainly believe that many neutral spectators will be hoping for a surprise title claim.
And while the work of Real Madrid in 2014 has been tremendous, we must take a seat back and recognize that there are still 2 long months of soccer ahead, and that their 3-point lead could possibly be erased by just 1 rough game. Let’s see what lies ahead in one of the most exciting La Liga seasons we have seen!