Thursday, December 18, 2008

La Liga race already over?

The Liga race is over.
That’s not to say that there won’t be more twists and turns, and that my debate isn’t worth reading until the new season (heaven forbid!), and that they could be run close. But Barcelona are going to win the Primera Division.
It’s hardly a massive revelation, although it is difficult for me to say, given that I tipped Real Madrid to win the Liga (and Bernd Schuster to win Coach of the Year award!). But Barcelona are just doing it right, and there is no sign of their stopping.
Pep Guardiola’s mixture of youth and experience has undone so many of the frailties of last season, and his squad are clearly responding to his style. Barcelona are going out and scoring chances that last season they would have blazed wide. And what is more, there is the absence of a real challenger.
Real Madrid may be saying that they can still win the Liga, but they will not, and perhaps nobody knows it more than them.Sure, the faithful will point to Michel Salgado’s statement of defiance last week, but let us remember who was issuing similar utterances the last two seasons: Barcelona.
Last summer is a good case in point. “We can do it!” – that was the manifesto. Joan Laporta shouted it from the rooftops and loyal newspapers pressed it into service as a headline.In the end it was, just like a headline, all sound and no action. Barcelona could not do it for any number of reasons: injuries, a lame duck manager, an inferior squad, and above all a crippling sense of self-doubt.
These have all, at differing times this season, plagued Real Madrid, and although Bernd Schuster has been forced out in favor of Juande Ramos this change will not be enough to fully reverse the trend. The injury situation remains too grave; the lack of confidence that bred errors earlier in the season has already blazed its tragic trail; and after holding out for 83 minutes and still losing at the weekend, all talk of an “improved performance” must be countered by the fact that, well, Madrid still lost.
But why the focus on Real Madrid? Keen observers might just notice that there are four other teams between the blancos and the summit – surely they deserve a mention too.They do, and to my mind one in particular does above all others. That is Sevilla. The Andalucians may have just managed a one goal win over Villarreal at the weekend, but they were well worth it, and the confidence that oozed from their play shows that they are not going to be taken lightly in the business end of the season.

1 comment:

  1. Barcelona is the best team right now in europe maybe world.Hopefully they can win the champion league this time around

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