The return of La Liga will resume the fierce title race between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid but who has the upper hand? And who has the easier path? Follow along to get some insights.
La Liga has finally returned. And there is more at stake than just football because with only 11 games remaining, nothing has been decided yet. While we are in the final phase of the season, the title race, European qualifications and the relegation battle are all open and more competitive than ever. The top two teams: FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are separated by a meager two points, not because of their excellence but their inconsistency throughout the season.
The next five teams are within a difference of just five points while, apart from Espanyol rotting in the 20th position, the bottom five teams are fighting within a six-points gap. So, we are about to behold one of the most magnificent finishes to La Liga campaign in the recent while.Standings provided by SofaScore LiveScore
The best part of football is that, despite the plethora of stats and technology, we can’t quantify it to perfection when it comes to prediction. But we can obviously do better than just guessing. So, here in this article, an attempt has been made to compare the paths of the top two teams to the title.
About the Opponents:
Here are the teams Barcelona and Real Madrid will play against:
When we compare the average positions of the teams to be faced, Barcelona (12.82) appears to have the upper hand above Real Madrid (11.82). This holds good even if we double the coefficients for the home teams. Also, Barcelona has to play against three top 10 teams while Real Madrid against five of them.
Luis Suarez, whose season was expected to be over, is now available for the selection. The return of the prolific Barcelona striker will be beneficial for Leo Messi to reduce his workload. But attack still isn’t that big a problem for the Blaugranas when compared to the defense. Clement Lenglet is suspended while Samuel Umtiti cannot be relied upon. So, in an away game, where Barca has dropped points on 11 occasions this season, only Gerard Pique looks to be the first choice defender available to start against Mallorca. Meanwhile, Ousmane Dembele is still out for the season with no date of return.
The crippled and limited squad can cause a significant headache for Quique Setien’s team despite La Liga allowing five substitute players in a game. So, Barcelona cannot let any slipup or a hiccup if they are to win the league this season.
Despite his tactical inflexibility, Zidane is an extremely talented man-manager. And he has been boosted by the return of Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio. Even though Madrid’s defensive record is the best in the league, the attack has been sub-par judging by their standard. Only Karim Benzema stands out, while Gareth Bale and Luka Jovic are severely underperforming. So, the return of Hazard and Asensio is believed to solve a massive problem for Los Blancos.
But as mentioned above, Real Madrid’s fixtures are relatively much tougher so they cannot avoid any slipups either if they are to win their 3rd league title in 12 years.
Impact of the new rules:
The change in the rules of the game is expected to aid Real Madrid more than Barcelona. The primary strategy of Barcelona lies in tiring the opposition through possession-based play and then relentlessly attacking when the opponent players cannot contain them anymore. This will be hard when there are five substitute players coming in every match.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, prioritize set-pieces and counter-attacks. The fresh set of attackers will undoubtedly have more chance of guiding them home.
Irrespective of the strength, flexibility and the depth of the rivals, Leo Messi always stands out. The team having Leo Messi is always the favorites when it comes to the league campaign. Messi’s consistency is unmatched. Last season when Barca were extremely under-performing, it was Messi who made sure they clinch their 26th title.
This season is a bit different though. A lot more competitive with very little space for error but if Luis Suarez partners Messi well, Barcelona will bring home the 27th Liga title.
Visca el Barca!!!