It is mid-February and so the decisive part of the season is already underway. Obviously, the outcomes from the first half play a role on the real chances for each team to achieve their goals, but what is about to come, with European competitions taking place during the week, will mostly decide the future of the twenty clubs from LaLiga and will certainly influence the recent history of all the entities involved.
Let’s review each one of the battles being held in Spanish football and the teams implicated.
LaLiga title, an unexpected race:
I think that we can all agree that we all expected the title to be battled by current Champions, Atlético de Madrid, and their eternal rival, Real Madrid. Nothing far from reality, Cholo Simeone‘s squad are being one of the disappointments of the season and their deep playing and outcomes crisis has made them to accept that their reality is that they must now just focus on finishing on top four, as the Argentinian coach recently admitted, and this will not be an easy task at all.
This way, Ancelotti’s Real Madrid, the most regular team until now, are the main candidates for the title, but they are not alone on their path towards glory, as Sevilla, a usual outsider of the league, have committed themselves to make it tough for Real Madrid and, as it happened last year, expect to stay alive until the end.
No doubt that they have in their hands the historical opportunity to lift the title 76 years later of their last and only conquer in LaLiga. However, we still have to see if their role in the Europa League, their favorite competition and whose final this year is at their stadium, harms their performing during the weekends.
Europe, the tightest battle:
The race for the Champions League spots had never been before as expensive as this year’s, as the top four tends to be pretty secured. However, in this occasion, the low performing from Atlético de Madrid and FC Barcelona, added to the irruption of Real Betis, make the presence of two of the biggest clubs of the country in the top European competition’s next edition uncertain.
It is true that Barça and Atlético count on a bigger experience on managing several competitions at the same time, but Manuel Pellegrini has installed an effective rotation system that might help them to put up with the pressure in order to achieve a feat that they have not pulled off since the 2005-2006 campaing.
Furthermore, the price increase for finishing on top four makes the Europa League spots to be very tight as well. As a result, teams like Real Sociedad and Villarreal keep their chances alive to not only secure the fifth or sixth spot, but even reach the fourth.
The first seven teams on the table have all European meets during the week, which will definitely play a key role in the worn out of the squads with the accumulation of games. Moreover, the via of the Spanish Cup, which also provides access to Europe for the winner, looks like an alternative path to play all their cards in for others like Athletic Club or Valencia, which might see their chances of traveling through the continent next season if they choose this road.
Relegation to LaLiga Smartbank, more uncertain than what it looks like:
With Levante already far gone on bottom, Elche, Getafe, Granada, Mallorca, Alavés and Cádiz will fight to avoid the other two spots that would send them to the second division. The improvement both in their performing and outcomes from the first two teams makes to believe that they will not suffer too much to secure their stay, but the reality is that they are only two games away from the red zone.
Alavés and Cádiz are the two main candidates to go down. Cádiz have not won a single game at home yet, a basic requirement to opt for avoiding relegation, while Alavés rely excessively on taking the lead in games to fall back, which is mostly based on the accuracy from Joselu, who has scored the 63% of his team’s goals (12 out of the 19 in total until now).
Mallorca still have one pending game to play, which could decrease even more the few options from Cádiz and Alavés. Their future in the elite is totally bounded to whatever Luis García’s squad can take out of that match against Real Sociedad.
On the other hand, Granada, Getafe and Elche have a margin towards the danger area, which makes them to aim to seal the deal without too much suffer if they manage to take advantage of the poor baggage of points from the most involved teams.
We have three exciting months ahead of us where everything is to be decided in LaLiga.
Main image: LaLiga.