Tight LaLiga table more about Real Madrid, Barcelona than VAR

With so little currently separating the sides at the top of LaLiga, the fact that this circumstance has come about just a year after VAR's introduction in Spain has led people to an all too easy conclusion. Owing to the long-held, widespread view that referees are naturally swayed by the prestige of the big clubs - and, when in doubt, award in their favour - the advent of video technology brought about a reaction of: well this'll shake things up. And with just five points between first and 13th after a third of the campaign, you can see why it might be said that such a stance is being vindicated. After all, whoever wins the league this season won't do so with 100 points. If it stays like this, we're looking at more like 80, give or take...

I'm not convinced this tight LaLiga race is about VAR

But is this really down to VAR? I'm not so sure. For starters, I'd say this has more to do with Florentino Pérez's readiness to dispense with Real Madrid's main source of goals, Cristiano Ronaldo, without adequately replacing him. All so that he could save money to cover the Bernabéu with what looks like a giant sardine can. Meanwhile, though Barcelona still have the small matter of Lionel Messi leading their attack, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta are both gone, and without them the Catalans are not the same proposition. Indeed, they're pretty ordinary when Messi isn't playing. And even when he is, things have the potential to go south if his magic isn't enough, or if the team runs out of steam. Look at what happened at Levante.

Flanked by Andrés Iniesta (left) and Xavi, Messi holds the 2010 Ballon d'Or aloft.

So I wouldn't put this closer LaLiga race down to the arrival of VAR and a more equitable distribution of justice, but rather to the end of an atypical set of circumstances: one, Cristiano's ability to plunder 50 goals for Real Madrid season in, season out; and two, the heights hit by a wonderful Barcelona side in which Xavi and Iniesta were a duo of untold influence. Just as he always has with Argentina, Messi feels their absence acutely. Let's not forget that years back, before Cristiano was at Madrid and Barça boasted the trio of Xavi, Messi and Iniesta, the league also tended to be very closely-fought. No, this isn't about VAR; this is about Real Madrid and Barcelona no longer having a 15-point head-start.