• Friday, Dec 03, 2021
  • Last Update : 10:35 pm

Talking points: Football returns to Spain

  • Published at 08:12 pm June 10th, 2020
Messi
Barcelona's Lionel Messi controls the ball during training in Spain as Samuel Umtiti looks on
Football fans around the world, including Bangladesh, are waiting to see their favorite players like Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard, Joao Felix, Jan Oblak, among others, return to action
La Liga, one of the most competitive football leagues around the globe, is returning to action after a three-month layoff due to Covid-19 pandemic. Football fans around the world, including Bangladesh, are waiting to see their favorite players like Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard, Joao Felix, Jan Oblak, among others, return to action. Here are five talking points on the resumption of La Liga:

Real, Barca resume title hunt

The La Liga title hunt this season has been quite a rollercoaster ride for two contenders - Real Madrid and Barcelona. A total of 27 games have been played this season so far before the coronavirus pandemic halted the league. At the moment, Barca are leading the chart with 58 points while Real have 56. The Los Blancos started the season well under Zinedine Zidane and once led the table by a good margin, but poor run of form in the middle stage cost them top spot. Barca also lost some crucial points initially but later recovered and capitalized every time Real stumbled. There are 11 games still to be played and Lionel Messi and Co will face a tough challenge under new coach Quique Setien to hold the lead.    

Hazard needs to shine for Real

One of the major signings of Real this summer was Hazard from Chelsea for a transfer fee of €100m. But the Belgium winger has not performed according to his class and ability. One goal and as many assist from 10 La Liga games certainly proves that Hazard is nowhere near his best form at Real. Being injured early in the season was one of the reasons why Hazard has not flourished yet. And to make it worse, the Belgian fractured his ankle at the end of February. So this three-month break gave Hazard a chance to recover, and now, he seems fit and is all ready to return to action. When Real host Eibar Sunday, all eyes will be on Hazard over whether he is introduced to the playing XI by Zidane, and if that happens, how the highly-rated Belgian performs.

Atleti's chance to redeem season  

Atletico Madrid have become a serious title contender over the past few seasons as Argentince cach Diego Simeone has turned the Madrid outfit into a tough competitor in both the league and European competitions. The La Liga title race was a three-way battle between Barca-Real-Atleti, but this season it seems Atleti have lost the plot. Atleti are now sitting in sixth position in the points table with 45 points in 27 games, 13 behind leader Barca, and the title fight seems to be over for them. Although they only lost four matches out of 27, as many as 12 draws mean they lost too many points in the season and thus it appears their title race has ended already. Their star signing Felix has not been impressive this season as he scored only six goals, with one assist, in 28 appearances across all competition this season. Felix, who is considered as the next big thing after Messi and Ronaldo, needs to find his feet and prove his worth in the remainder of the season.

Spots for European football up for grab

Behind Barca (58 points) and Real (56 points), five or six teams are battling for the remaining four positions in the points table, which would  ensure European football next season. Sevilla at No 3 position with 47 points under Julen Lopetegui are having an impressive season. Real Sociedad and Getafe (both 46) are the surprise packages these season as these two teams have played entertaining football so far and are eyeing top five finish at least. With Atleti (45) in sixth position and Valencia (42) in seventh, four spots in the top six are up for grabs for these competitive teams with 11 games in hand. It will be an interesting contest right till the end.  

Empty stadiums

The coronavirus pandemic has stopped all sorts of sporting activities around the world for months. From top leagues around Europe, only German Bundesliga has resumed two weeks ago but it has been played in empty stadiums. Spain was one of the worst-hit countries of the Covid-19 outbreak and till date, more than 27,000 people have lost their lives. La Liga games will also be played in empty stadiums, ensuring many measures related to health safety. Playing matches in empty stadiums where there will be no cheers, or jeers, will be a strange feeling for all the professional footballers, and everyone watching on TV around the world.
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