Barça and Real Madrid, neck and neck at the halfway stage
The first half of the season reached its conclusion with Barça as ‘winter champions’ – on goal difference (28-26 but level on 40 points with Real Madrid). By doubling that figure, we can assume that it will take 80 points to win the league this year. It begs the question: whatever happened to the days when you needed 100 points to win LaLiga? Those days have gone, partly due to the general improvement of the rest of the teams, thanks to a more equal share of revenue from television broadcasting rights. It’s also a consequence of the top two losing power - Barça haven’t been the same since losing Xavi and Iniesta, and shifting away from their passing game and the same can be said about Real Madrid whose goals have plummeted since Cristiano left.
Goals getting hard to come by in LaLiga
And talking of goals, the difference between Barça and Madrid is also telling – Barça have scored 49 and conceded 23 while Madrid have scored 36 and let in 12. Barça have no problem finding the net but are conceding more. The team has lost order, they don’t control games like they used to, Busquets is having a tough time and they are vulnerable to counter attacks. Madrid are a little more solid at the back, with Casemiro providing cover in front of Sergio Ramos who is still immense and Courtois now settled after a jittery start; but up front, Benzema is more or less on his own. Bale has abstained while Hazard, for one reason or another, has only scored one goal. That said, Madrid can find some consolation just by looking at the flight of their neighbours Atleti, who are doing even worse.
LaLiga loses it fizz
Atlético are third, their natural position, with just 22 goals in 19 games. Diego Costa was struggling to find the target even before he fell injured, Morata drifts offside too often and we are still waiting to see the best of João Félix. The team is where it is in the table for the intensity of their game and also for Oblak’s heroics. Goals are also hard to come by for Lopetegui’s Sevilla who are fourth – like Atleti, due to their intense style of play. Those four clubs are the best of the bunch in LaLiga and occupy the Champions League positions, but all of them, as we can see, could be doing much better. Whichever way you look at it, there is a definite lack of spark at this stage of the competition. Let’s hope things get back into the swing of it in the second half of the campaign.
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