Twenty two games into the Spanish La Liga, the competition for the title is turning out to be an exciting three horse race as the three teams come head to head in the coming months. Though Real Madrid threatened to run away with the crown with their unbeatable winning streak in 2014, title holders Atletico Madrid made an emphatic point by thrashing their arch-rivals at Vicente Calderon while Barcelona have managed to step out of the controversies lurking around Camp Nou and have backed their under-pressure manager with a series of strong performances.
So who will triumph in Spain this season? Will Real Madrid manage to get their act together in time to save their campaign? Will Barcelona end their last seasona s trophy drought with a strong statement or will Atletico Madrid once again rise to the occasion to bring an end to the duopoly in the Spanish La Liga? Let’s analyse the different contenders for the Spanish La Liga.
Atletico Madrid are currently on the third spot on the table but Diego Simeone will not be extremely worried as they are within touching distance of league leaders Real Madrid and second placed Barcelona. The a poor cousinsa from Madrid made a statement of intent by humiliating Carlo Ancelottia s men to a 4-0 loss at the Vicente Calderon in a fixture that is sure to revitalize Diego Simonea s men in the run up to the title race.
New signings Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic, along with the return of old boy Fernando Torres seem to have rejuvenated Atletico Madrid. Backed by a strong defence and a sharp attacking line-up, Atletico Madrid are one of the best organised teams in Europe. The fact that they have managed to make an easy show of Real Madrid in their last few encounters goes to show how confident the team is ahead of the gruelling last few months of the campaign.
However Atletico Madrida s greatest weakness lies in their inability to really attack their opposition. Trained to sit tight and defend and then pounce on the opposition on the counter-attack, Diego Simeonea s men struggle when they are trying to over-turn a deficit. Their vulnerability was particularly exposed against Barcelona when the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez tore Atletico Madrid into pieces.
Diego Simeonea s team will be challenged with the return of Champions League football. With the squad stretched to a breaking point, it will be interesting to see if Atletico Madrid can keep up their challenge on both the fronts.
Real Madrid had a good chance of winning the treble last season but missed out on the Spanish La Liga after a string of disappointing performances towards the fag end of the campaign. Their incredible winning streak in 2014 went to show that the team was ready to put the ghosts of the past to bed but a troubled start to 2015 shows that all is not well at Santiago Bernabeu. Another loss to arch-rivals Atletico Madrid is sure to have affected the morale of the squad who have failed to get their act together in a bid to win the La Liga this season.
With Cristiano Ronaldo failing to replicate the performances with which he started this seasona s campaign, Real Madrid have struggled to find their momentum in 2015. Still on the top of the table, Real Madrid have lost only 4 of their 22 fixtures. The absence of injured Luka Modric is particularly hurting Real Madrid which when coupled with the lacklustre presence of James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale, has added to the woes at Santiago Bernabeu. Sergio Ramos and Pepe seem to have lost the composure with which they started the season and Carlo Ancelotti will be desperate to sort out his defensive woes before speaking with his attackers.
Real Madrid have a good shot at winning the Spanish La Liga and they have the experience to manage their domestic duties along with the pressure of playing in the Champions League. However with Modric far from fit and Sami Khedira injured again, it will be interesting to see if Real Madrid can really lead an inspiring charge for silverware in their second season under Carlo Ancelotti.
If there ever was a wisp of crisis at Barcelona, there is nothing now except a feeling of strong of resurgence at the club. With Lionel Messi and Luis Enrique finally emerging from the fallout of the infamous a spata , the Catalans seem to be gunning for glory with their recent performances. They eased past Atletico Madrid in the League fixture as well as the Copa del Rey tie and are just a point adrift of league leaders Real Madrid.
Having narrowly lost out on the Spanish League last year, Luis Enrique will be aware that his job would hang in the balance if he fails to win any silverware in his first season as the manager at Barcelona. The Catalans have been showing all the signs of a late resurgence and their 5-2 win over Athletic was a clear statement of intent. They face arch rivals Real Madrid on 22nd March and then visit Vicente Calderon towards the end of the season in a fixture that is likely to decide the fate of the title like last season.
Lionel Messi is back in form and his partnership with Neymar and Luis Suarez is reaping rich dividends for Barcelona who are well and alive in all the three major competitions. Whether they will manage to hold on to their electrifying charge till the end of the season now remains to be seen.