La Liga: Four things we learned this season in Spain

Spread the love

La Liga: Four things we learned this season in Spain

Madrid (Spain): The La Liga season ended this weekend in Spain, with Real Madrid Champions and Almeria, Cadiz and Granada all relegated. With the title in the bag and nothing to play for, Carlo Ancelotti used the game to rotate his side to try and have his players in the best shape for next Saturday’s match against Borussia Dortmund.

Here are some conclusions we can draw from the past nine and a half months of football in Spain:

1 Money counts

Real Madrid are clear title winner, finishing a long way ahead of FC Barcelona, Girona, and Atletico Madrid in the title race. Carlo Ancelotti’s side has spent well in recent years and the 100 million euros they paid for Jude Bellingham last summer is looking like a reasonable price after his displays this campaign.

However, Madrid have a huge advantage over the rest of La Liga in terms of spending caps, with the 727 million euros they can spend on players dwarfing the 303 million allowed to Atletico Madrid and the 204 million Barca can spend. They can spend 20 times more than mid-table Alaves.

Those limits mean Barca have to sell before they can spend this summer, and it will be hard for them to improve much, while the arrival of Kylian Mbappe and Endrick at Real Madrid means they could be stronger than ever as economically, nobody can get close.

2. Barca have been chaotic

Although Barca’s economic limits clearly don’t help, it’s also true that the damage has been self-inflicted, with the club struggling with debts over around 1,000 euros, which limited their movements in the transfer markets to free transfers, Inigo Martinez and Ilkay Gundogan, or low-cost options such as Oriol Romeu. Gundogan has been excellent, while Oriol struggled for form on his return to the Camp Nou and Martinez’s displays were interrupted by a series of muscle injuries.

Injuries to Frenkie de Jong and Pedri also hampered Barcelona, who have to be grateful for the displays of teenagers Lamine Yamal and Pau Cubarsi, who have been the bright points of the season.

It’s also obvious that Xavi Hernandez didn’t have the confidence of president, Joan Laporta and sporting director Deco. That probably led to Xavi saying he would step down after a home defeat to Villarreal and although he changed his mind a month ago, with the club holding a press conference to celebrate, he’s now been sacked.

That complete lack of consistent thinking shows why Barca are currently second best.

3. A good year in the Basque region

It’s been a good season for teams in the Basque region in the north of Spain, with Athletic Bilbao winning the Copa del Rey and finishing fifth in La Liga with a team made up almost entirely of players who have progressed from their youth system. Coach Ernesto Valverde has helped players such as Aitor Paredes, Benat Prados, Nico Williams, and Gorka Guruzeta improve, while the arrival of Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta gave them a lynchpin in midfield.

Real Sociedad paid the price for an impressive Champions League campaign at the turn of the year, with a dip in form, but they rallied in the final weeks to finish sixth and assure European football for a fifth consecutive year, thanks to some mean defending.

Newly promoted Alaves had an excellent return to La Liga and ended the season in mid-table, while Osasuna overcame the disappointment of an early exit from the Conference League to again punch above their weight in the middle of the classification thanks to their organization under Jagoba Arrasate and the goals of Ante Budimir.

4. Disaster in the south

While it was a great season for teams in the Basque country, it was a disaster for teams in the region of Andalusia, with only Betis competing at any serious level. Almeria, Granada, and Cadiz were relegated, with neither side ever looking like avoiding the drop after some disastrous recruitment and while Cadiz at least battled hard in their matches, first Sergio Gonzalez and then Mauricio Pellegrini were left to deal with a limited squad that had struggled in recent seasons and looked even weaker at the start of this one.

Sevilla also flirted with danger for much of the campaign after their bizarre decision to sack Jose Luis Mendilibar after he led them to last season’s Europa League title. Economic problems and a boardroom conflict set the tone for a year of struggle, and it says a lot that after saving them from relegation, Quique Sanchez Flores announced he won’t continue as coach next season.

 


Spread the love

Leave a Reply