Despite each having their difficulties the three main contenders for the league title in Spain - Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona - all managed to pick up three points this weekend. Today’s it’s the ‘outsider’s turn, Sevilla, who have risen to fourth with that air of a “horse that comes from behind and is looking to win” as Di Stéfano used to say, man of the racetrack that he was. Sevilla - Athletic finishes up this weekend’s action and will leave all the team’s on 34 games played with four to go ahead of next weekend’s action, which comes with a dose of dynamite: Barça - Atlético on Saturday and Real Madrid - Sevilla on Sunday. Next weekend could be decisive in LaLiga. It will be even if Sevilla don’t win today, but if they do, it could be even more so, because if they grab victory they’ll be serious candidates.
Fans back at LaLiga, or not
For next weekend there were plans to allow a certain, finely calibrated, number of fans back into the grounds. LaLiga is keen, not because the cash raised will help the clubs to any great extent this season, but because it would help lift the spirits, improve the atmosphere at the games and help shift season tickets for next season. But after the expected yes comes an unexpected no. Right now in Spain, there’s bullfighting, tennis, cinema, theatres, even football, in the lower ranks of the game, which are regulated at regional level. The refusal is inexplicable. I have my doubts over whether they should allow fans in, but I have no doubt that top level football is being treated differently.
But whether it’s with fans or not, LaLiga carries on. Yesterday we saw Barça beat Valencia in a game that defines Koeman’s side: strong up front (three goals), soft at the back (two conceded). Of the title contenders, Barcelona score the most goals and with Messi they have a silver bullet to get them out of trouble. Just yesterday he scored two, the second a magnificent free-kick. But they are feeble at the back. Sides find it too easy to score against them. Piqué said, I reckon explaining himself badly, that their rivals get few chances but take them all. That sounds like finger pointing at Ter Stegen, but I don’t think that was what he meant. Rivals score so many because the holes at the back are like the Great St Bernard tunnel. That’s what’s hurting Barcelona.