• Wednesday, Jul 08, 2020
  • Last Update : 09:08 pm

The return of La Liga: What's at stake?

  • Published at 07:15 pm May 31st, 2020
La liga

Real Madrid and Barcelona have been unable to pull away from each other at the top of the table while Atletico Madrid are involved in what looks like a four-way fight for Champions League qualification

La Liga resumes on June 11 after a three-month absence due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Real Madrid and Barcelona have been unable to pull away from each other at the top of the table while Atletico Madrid are involved in what looks like a four-way fight for Champions League qualification.

Turbulent title race

When Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on March 1, it seemed they had halted a dip in form and seized control of the title race.

But a week later, they handed the initiative back as Barca regained first place by beating Real Sociedad and Madrid lost away at Real Betis.

A three-month break means a fresh start but Barcelona's two-point lead reflects badly on their challengers, given Barca's own problems off the pitch, including the switch to Quique Setien as coach in January.

Both sides' imperfections mean there will be more slip-ups to come but if this Barca make it five league titles in six years, Madrid will only have themselves to blame.

Unfamiliar homes

Real Madrid have been given permission by La Liga to play their remaining home games at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium at their training ground to allow planned construction work to go ahead at the Santiago Bernabeu this summer.

With games being held behind closed doors there would have been little advantage to playing at their usual home and the players might even be better off avoiding an empty 81,000-seater stadium that they are used to being almost full.

Unexpected returns

Neither Eden Hazard nor Luis Suarez expected to play much, or perhaps any, part in the run-in after Hazard underwent surgery on a broken foot in March and Suarez had an operation on his right knee in January.

The break has allowed both players to recover and the question now is whether either can find peak form and fitness in time to make an impact in the remaining 11 games.

Suarez's return could be particularly helpful for Barcelona but Setien has said the Uruguayan, who has often taken time to regain sharpness, is not yet ready.

Real Madrid's Hazard, plagued by injuries in recent months, has had a nightmare first year in Spain but has an unexpected chance to turn things around.

Fight for Atletico

Atletico Madrid's momentous win over Liverpool in the Champions League offered Diego Simeone some relief after what has been a disappointing season in La Liga.

His team sit sixth in the table, having long fallen out of the reckoning for the title and facing a fight even to make the top four.

Ahead of them between fifth and third are Getafe, Real Sociedad and Sevilla, and with only two points between the four, Atletico could still scrape in.

But the resilient Getafe and free-flowing Real will both be eager to finish off brilliant campaigns while Sevilla appeared to be hitting their stride before games were suspended.

Atletico cannot afford to be complacent.

Pressure at the bottom

At the other end of the table, Espanyol look doomed, sitting in last place, six points adrift of safety. Leganes, who still have to play away at Barcelona before hosting Real Madrid on the final day, are only three points better off.

One point then separates Mallorca, Celta Vigo and Eibar, whose players have expressed concerns about the safety of football returning too quickly. Real Valladolid in 15th have a four-point cushion over the bottom three but two wins in their last 10 games suggests they could easily be pulled in too.

The economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic means the stakes are even higher for these clubs, as they battle to avoid the considerable financial blow of relegation. For all of them, the pressure is on.

52
51
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail