The winter break has hit the European theatre which means that in the world of soccer, it’s the midpoint for the season.
Unlike that past seasons, the Spanish La Liga has been mostly unpredictable, filled with moments no one expects. Usually, Barcelona and Real Madrid are at the top of the league table ahead of everyone else. For this season, neither has been able to keep up with the pace and keep their consistent performances.
Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, is finding it difficult to have a hold on their fourth spot – one that entitles them to the Champions League. Players like Lucas Perez and Santi Cazorla are enjoying rejuvenated seasons. And the relegation battle is beginning to take shape through 18 league games.
Here are some more things that fans and critics alike have taken notice from the first half of the season:
- Barcelona still has ‘Messidependencia’
One of the most notable criticisms of Barcelona under manager Ernesto Valverde is their continuous, heavy reliance on Lionel Messi to bail them out of sticky situations.
The Argentine superstar has always been the focus of the team’s offence, whether it was Pep Guardiola or Luis Enrique who planned the play. However, it seems more evident now that they are relying continuously on Messi to save them without strengthening their middle and final three.
This was made obvious during their victory against Atletico Madrid. They were having a difficult time solving the problem that was Atletico’s 4-4-2 defensive setup. The players weren’t even able to reach the final three without running into problems of their own. In the end, it was Messi who was able to bail them out thanks to a late game-winner to bring them the victory.
- Real Madrid continue to battle through adversity
Real Madrid’s attempt at a season where they could win it all has been, at best, barred by problems on and off the field. Injuries are just one of the many problems that simply won’t go away. More than 10 players have missed games due to injuries including James Rodriguez and Marcelo. To make things worse for them, signings like Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic are still struggling to pull their weight.
Despite all these problems, Real Madrid is second in the La Liga table, a few points behind defending champions Barcelona. How did they achieve this? Well, for one, the club’s young players are showing signs of life, making the most of their opportunities. Due to the injuries that have plagued the club, they have been playing with the next-man-up mentality, where when a player goes down, whoever’s next in line will take his place. And to the club’s success, their youth talents have answered the call each and every time.