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La Liga title race is wide open, for a change
12 November 2018, 12:12
La Liga title race is wide open, for a change

Spanish football fans are used to seeing the La Liga title race being between just two clubs by mid-November. In recent years, the top two teams – typically Barcelona and Real Madrid – have found themselves well away from the rest of the La Liga pack by this time of year. However, this season has been turned upside down and heading into the winter period, just four points separate the top six teams.

 

Barcelona’s 4-3 loss on Sunday to mid-table team Real Betis shows the league is far more even than it has been in years. It also shows Barcelona’s dominance on La Liga has waned as Lionel Messi’s influence on the team has grown stronger. Barcelona have secured 24 points from 36 possible, but they have dipped in form a few times now. Their inability to defend has been taken advantage of by teams. Opposing clubs are not afraid of Barcelona anymore and attacking the Catalans is the priority. Barcelona’s defence has allowed the sixth most goals this term with 18. The team’s attack has saved them by scoring a league leading 34 goals.

Sevilla and Deportivo Alves have been the two surprise teams and they make up second and third place, respectively. Sevilla’s Sunday night win over Espanyol denied the latter of moving to the top of the league. First-year manager Pablo Machin has Sevilla playing well and the attack is La Liga’s second-best behind Barcelona. Sevilla have scored 24 goals, while conceding just 14. Alves finished 14th last term and now sit joint-second. The team’s home record has been sterling as they have not lost at the Mendizorrotza Stadium.

Atletico Madrid have been the biggest disappointments this term. Diego Simeone’s team is joint-second, just one point behind Barcelona, but the club’s attack has been hot and cold. Just 16 goals have been scored by Atletico which has prevented them from turning five draws into wins. Atletico have the talent to win La Liga, but they must score more goals. Fatigue from players competing at the World Cup is showing with Simeone’s side. The saving grace has been Atletico’s defence which has conceded a league low eight goals. The bottom line is, Atletico should be running away with La Liga right now.

Espanyol are another surprise team. They have gained 21 points from 36, but Sunday’s loss to Sevilla, in which they gave up two second half goals, could be the catalyst to more losing. Espanyol have scored just 16 goals while conceding 10 and like Alves, will most likely work their way down the table in the next month.

Real Madrid, who sit sixth currently, have shown just how important Cristiano Ronaldo was to the club. Without the Portuguese player, Madrid have secured just 20 points from 36 as they have lost four times already. Madrid have won just twice in six away games. In addition, Julen Lopetegui, who was hired in the summer, was sacked after the club’s poor start and stand-in coach Santiago Solari still has the jury out on him.

Leading sportsbook have Barcelona listed as favourite to win La Liga with Real Madrid, surprisingly, second. Atletico are a great value with major sportsbooks to take the title as third favourite, while the chasing pack have much longer odds according to the bookies.

After 12 matches, La Liga is wide open, which is making the league far more exciting than it has been in years.

Predictions for La Liga

Home team - Away team Forebet
flag_5 Es1
SD Eibar
Valencia CF

15/12/2018 19:45
X
flag_5 Es1
Sevilla FC
Girona FC

16/12/2018 11:00
1
flag_5 Es1
RCD Espanyol
Real Betis

16/12/2018 15:15
X
flag_5 Es1
SD Huesca
Villarreal CF

16/12/2018 17:30
X

Spain La Liga - predictions, tips, statistics
OVERALL TABLE PTS GP W D L GF GA +/-
1. FC Barcelona 31 15 9 4 2 41 19 22
2. Atlético Madrid 31 16 8 7 1 24 12 12
3. Real Madrid 29 16 9 2 5 24 19 5
4. Sevilla FC 28 15 8 4 3 27 16 11
5. Getafe CF 24 16 6 6 4 17 12 5
6. Deportivo Alavés 24 15 7 3 5 18 17 1
7. Levante UD 22 15 6 4 5 27 25 2
8. Real Betis 22 15 6 4 5 16 17 -1
9. Girona FC 21 15 5 6 4 17 17 0
10. RCD Espanyol 21 15 6 3 6 17 20 -3
11. Celta de Vigo 21 16 5 6 5 28 24 4
12. Real Valladolid 20 16 5 5 6 15 18 -3
13. SD Eibar 19 15 5 4 6 19 23 -4
14. Real Sociedad 19 16 5 4 7 18 19 -1
15. Valencia CF 18 15 3 9 3 12 12 0
16. CD Leganes 18 16 4 6 6 15 19 -4
17. Villarreal CF 14 15 3 5 7 15 19 -4
18. Athletic Bilbao 14 15 2 8 5 15 23 -8
19. Rayo Vallecano 10 16 2 4 10 15 31 -16
20. SD Huesca 7 15 1 4 10 12 30 -18

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