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There’s Plenty to Play for When La Liga Restarts

Europe’s big leagues have thrown up some fascinating races this season, and none more than La Liga, where the title and the European places are up for grabs and the dreaded drop-zone has six clubs deeply worried.

The postponement of Euro 2020 until 2021 is designed to allow the big leagues in Europe to finish their domestic seasons. Liverpool, in particular, are desperate to resume when it’s safe to do so, 25 points clear and with the Premier League title in their grasp.

The serial European league winners, FC Bayern in the Bundesliga and Juventus in Serie A, still have a lot of work to do; I Bianconeri is especially under threat from a rampant Lazio.

Meanwhile, at the top of the Spanish league, , and the competition was suspended after Los Blancos players went into quarantine because of coronavirus. Initially just two rounds of fixtures in the top four leagues were put on hold, but now we don’t expect football in Europe until May at the earliest.

La Liga boss Javier Tebas is hopeful, saying: “In mid-May we should be back on with all European competitions. Of course, it depends on how the pandemic evolves…it could be even before then.” If he’s right the big leagues could be completed by the end of June, here’s hoping.

 

The Story so far

Despite a slow start the Blaugrana have been the team to catch for most of the La Liga season, though Real Madrid have periodically appeared at the top. And Zinedine Zidane’s side struck a useful blow just before the break with a 2-0 win in El Clasico. But Los Blancos followed that up with a defeat to Real Betis, while Barca beat top-four chasing Real Sociedad to regain the initiative.

The delay in play could be useful for Setien, as it gives his injured striker Luis Suarez time to reach a fitness level needed to contribute in the run-in. Despite him undergoing knee surgery in January, only team-mate Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema (14) have scored more than Suarez’ 11 goals, and he has played just over half the Frenchman’s game time, 1278 minutes to Benzema’s 2220.

Suarez was on target to make the last four games, and that means he might well be fit and firing at the resumption, and I suspect he will ease Barca’s path to the title. Certainly, when the domestic leagues resume, the La Liga 2020 news here at SBOTOP will show the Blaugrana as the favourites to win a third successive title, with Real Madrid, Atletico and Sevilla picking up the other Champions League slots.

Atletico Madrid is off the pace in La Liga
Atletico Madrid players celebrate after dumping holders Liverpool out of the Champions League

The race for the final two places in the top four was nicely heating up before the virus outbreak halted proceedings. Two points separate Sevilla in third from Atletico in sixth place, while Valencia aren’t entirely out of the running, three points further back. Atleti and Sevilla played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano a couple of weeks ago to keep the race for the top four wide open.

Real Sociedad currently sit in fourth, but fifth-placed Getafe have been the season’s surprise package, and have been making the headlines in the La Liga 2020 news rather more than their supporters expected.

Not everyone is a fan though.

Barca midfielder Frenkie de Jong criticised Getafe’s style of play when they beat his former club Ajax in the Europa League. Head coach Jose Bordelas hit back at the 22-year-old, saying: “When we played Barca their goalkeeper made 69 passes, but I do not want my goalkeeper to make 69 passes. What we want to do is create goal chances.”

I guess, in his retort to the Dutch player, Bordelas actually meant, ‘you can keep your Total Football!’

At the wrong end of the table, the drop zone is currently occupied by Espanyol, Leganes and Deportivo Mallorca, with Celta Vigo, Eibar and Real Valladolid also in real danger.

Alaves, in 14th place and seven points clear should have enough to stay clear of trouble.

 

European competition

Spanish sides are also in the thick of the two European competitions. Atletico Madrid stunned Liverpool in their round of 16 Champions League tie and are decent candicates for finalists, while Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid have an uphill challenge away to Manchester City after losing at the Bernabeu.

Barcelona have a second leg home tie with Napoli having drawn 1-1 at the San Paulo.

Valencia have already crashed out 8-4 to Serie A side Atalanta, while in the Europa League Getafe faces Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan and Sevilla are up against Roma.

 

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