La Liga: New Kings of Spain

Real Madrid and Barcelona have been the heavyweight soccer teams in Spain for the longest of time and are always the favorites to win La Liga. Madrid went back-to-back in Champions League to put themselves on top of Europe and just finished winning La Liga for a record 33rd time while second to them is Barcelona winning it 24 times.

Before the beginning of the 2017-2018 La Liga season, it looked like the men in Madrid had full on control over rival Barcelona in the summer of 2017 after annihilating them in the Supercopa. Keep in mind, Barcelona had just hired a new manager by the name of Ernesto ValVerde and lost their superstar Neymar. Madrid looked way faster, stronger, and mentally focused than Barcelona, beating them in two games with an aggregate of five to one. After those two games, Madrid was favored to win the following season and all looked downhill for the Blaugranas and their new manager ValVerde.

Barcelona was in talk with the most transfer rumors trying to bring players in and shake things up and to bring extra spice to the team. Barcelona added players like Paulinho, Dembele, Phillippe Coutinho, and Yerry Mina. Madrid made no major changes to their roster and felt that they could bring home another trophy with the squad they had in place.

Fast forward to mid-season, the two rivals met up and it certainly did not turn out the way people expected. Barcelona had been the most dominant team in Europe, but Madrid looked like a hot mess suffering three losses already. They could not afford any more for the rest of the season. Barcelona has been in sync halfway through the season and do not look like they will let up now with a comfortable lead over their Spanish rivals. Lionel Messi’s 14 goals were more goals than all of Real Madrid’s team at 12. In the Christmas Eve matchup, it looked like a typical El Clasico with lots of shoving, talking, and great scoring opportunities. In the second half, Barcelona took over almost every aspect of the game and were able to find the net three times.

Madrid is out of sync with rumors surrounding the club of a new change in management as well as star player Cristiano Ronaldo making an exit soon. They still do have a young, talented squad, but need some minor changes to get them back on track next season to compete with Barcelona. Barcelona’s success has come from new manager Valverde with his system/formation of 4-4-2 or 4-3-3. He has made his midfielders play with more of a defensive approach and making their defensive efforts serve them on the offensive side with counter goal scoring opportunities. Now, Messi is in his sweet spot dishing out to Luis Suarez and new teammate Dembele who is young and quick. Also, adding Coutinho to the midfield will just make it tougher for opponents to contain that much young talent combined with veteran talent from Messi.

Barcelona is on its way to its 25th La Liga title, but they have a chance at another two trophies this summer that include the Copa Del Rey and Champions’ League. Barcelona are already in the Copa Del Rey final and have made it to the knockout stage of the Champions League. We could be witnessing a dynasty in Barcelona with the way management has built a team that could be the kings of Spain for years to come.

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