Bale & Co. Looking Like The Real Deal
It’s a three-horse race at the top of La Liga, but Real Madrid looks increasingly stronger in the bid to win the La Liga title. Can Bale & Co. hold off the challenge of two bitter rivals or will a newcomer ruin everyone’s party?
February 10th, 2014
There are no ‘Little Ponies’ in the La Liga title race at the moment, with three of Spain’s top teams locked on level points at the top. Plucky Atletico Madrid, led by talisman Diego Costa, have kept up with the big boys Real Madrid and Barcelona this season, amassing 57 points to sit at the top of the tree with their title rivals.
A large proportion of Atletico’s impressive season can be put down to the scoring form of Costa and ex-Barca star David Villa, along with the sensational talent of midfielder Koke, who was a January transfer target for Manchester United. But with several key players injured, including Courtois, Villa and Koke, they look a shadow of the team who have dominated in the league for the first time since 1996. Arguably they are too one-dimensional, with Diego Costa now simply being marked out of games, and without David Villa to create space the main man is struggling. They lost 2-0 to Almeria at the weekend; their second loss of the season.
In stark contrast, city rivals Real Madrid have been in blistering form, going 23 games unbeaten – a run that stretches back to October. And Bale, who scored one and assisted Karim Benzema for another, believes that enjoyment is the main reason Real are experiencing a fine run of form. Despite an El Clasico loss earlier in the season, Real have looked a more adaptable team with a wealth of attacking options, but who are also defensively solid. It’s not often you can leave the Spanish national ‘keeper on the bench and get away with it! The 4-2 win at the weekend was without a certain birthday boy Balon d’Or winner, who was missing through suspension. Interestingly, Real Madrid’s win wasn’t the only present he received, as the mischievous Zlatan Ibrahimovich also sent Ronaldo a gift.
And what about Messi & Co. over at Barcelona I hear you ask? Well, after struggling to a Leo-inspired win against Sevilla at the weekend, in which Messi scored his first two goals since returning to the side, it would seem that not even Xavi and Iniesta are quite capable of holding the team together without the three time Ballon d’Or winner. They struggled in the first 20 minutes against Sevilla, and could have been 2-0 down. Barcelona’s first goal was offside, and then came the Messi show. If they continue to struggle to keep the Argentine fit, they could see that struggle replicated on the field.
So, Madridistas should be in high spirits. Even when Bale and Ronaldo aren’t firing on all cylinders, they have Jese who has scored four goals in as many starts, and Luka Modric is finally starting to show the kind of form that caused Madrid to fork out £33 million on him. With Atletico hitting top gear already and Barca stuttering, I believe the La Liga crown is Real Madrid’s to lose.