What Happened in La Liga Arrange After Powerful Clasico What is the speed at which things will change?
On the 1st of February, Atlético Madrid led the table by ten points and seemed to be on their way to their first La Liga title in seven years.
With nine games left, the deficit with Barcelona has shrunk to just one point, and the gap with Real Madrid has shrunk to three points.
What better time for El Clásico to return, with the winner putting themselves in pole place to win the championship?
With that in mind, who is ideally positioned to benefit from an uninterested Atlético, and why?
Who could have predicted this? With Ronald Koeman in charge, Barça had already lost five games and fallen to 13th place after 12 games. But things have changed dramatically thanks to a scheme that is bringing out the best of Lionel Messi, Frenkie de Jong, and a group of talented players who are outperforming their peers. Koeman deserves praise because, despite the fact that he might have quickly been engrossed in the Blaugrana spin cycle of politics and drama, he has calmly gone about his business and strengthened his hand. Messi continues to deliver at an incredible pace, Ousmane Dembélé seems to have regained his form, and Pedri has been a revelation in midfield, providing technical security and flair. But from a defensive standpoint? Since Valentine’s Day, they have only conceded four goals in seven games while scoring 19 goals, with Sergio Busquets and Oscar Mingueza leading the way. What Happened in La Liga Arrange After Powerful Clasico This Barça team, man for man, cannot compete with the best of the past. But Koeman has discovered something much more significant: balance. Individual genius isn’t as essential as this consistency.
Unlike Barcelona, Real Madrid’s presence is not unexpected. They are Still in the running, no matter how average their play seems to be or what injuries they have sustained. It all comes down to two factors: knowledge and consistency. About the fact that Zinedine Zidane scarcely changes his system or methodology, the same statistics continue to produce. Sergio Ramos was crucial before his injuries, Karim Benzema is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets, and how about the midfield? That midfield, oh god. However, other players have stepped up, most notably Ferland Mendy and Vinicius Junior, who have formed a devastating left-wing coalition to reduce the reliance on Benzema. Los Blancos have only lost one top-flight match since 5 December, and you get the impression that when the pressure is on, they are the team that can pull off a 1-0 win over all odds.
So, where do we go from here?
We do not ignore that Atlético Madrid is already in first place, but with just three wins in ten La Liga games and Luis Suárez down, there is reason for worry. And what about the Clásico? With both sides having decided on their schemes, it’s shaping up to be a fascinating matchup. Barça will keep their three-at-the-back formation, which allows Sergio Dest and Jordi Alba to drive forward while allowing Lionel Messi to roam freely in the centre. Real Madrid, on the other hand, would try to crowd central areas and neutralize Messi before springing fast counter-attacks with a strong left-side bias, targeting a potentially vulnerable Mingueza with Dest higher up. It could be a game of tactical chess, with no team wanting to lose, or a game of cat and mouse, with Barça dominating possession and Madrid ready to spring. This games have often disappointed in recent years, and this one may fall short of many fans’ expectations. However, there aren’t many matches with greater stakes in terms of what it entails.