It should surprise no one that this season’s title challengers in La Liga would come from the Spanish cities of Barcelona and Madrid.
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti and Barcelona boss Luis Enrique spent the summer green-lighting moves for some of the world’s top footballers in an effort to wrestle the La Liga title back from Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side.
Following the arrivals of Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez to the Santiago Bernabeu; and the additions of Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Jeremy Mathieu to the Camp Nou, many football experts had the Spanish title returning to the two-horse race it had been in previous seasons. The main question on fans and pundits’ minds was whether or not Atletico would continue to be the presence they were during 2013-14 Primera Division season.
But during the opening weeks of the La Liga season, Real Madrid surprised many as they stumbled out of the starting blocks.
First, Los Blancos were defeated in the Spanish Supercopa by Atletico Madrid over two legs. Carlo Ancelotti’s side then shook off that loss by opening their La Liga campaign with a win over Cordoba, only to drop their next two league fixtures to Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid.
The setback in Basque Country came after Real had staked themselves to an early 2-0 lead, before ultimately capitulating and allowing Real Sociedad to score four unanswered goals. Then a week later, the ten-time champions of Europe dropped a home decision to their Madrid rivals for the second time in two seasons.
Questions were being asked about the Real’s defending, the health and ‘happiness’ of their star man Cristiano Ronaldo; and the chemistry between the returning players and the club’s newest arrivals.
But since their loss in the Madrid derby, Real have played four matches in all competitions and have poured in 20 goals, while conceding only three times.
The back-four is still the club’s weak point. But Real’s strength in defence has come from their opponent’s fear of Ancelotti’s world class attacking options of Ronaldo, Bale, James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.
Ronaldo has answered any questions of his health and desire to remain with the Spanish giants. The Portuguese forward – who appeared to have run out of steam at the end of last season – has now scored eight goals in the last three matches; and ten in all competitions.
After the club’s slow start, Real Madrid trail league-leading Barcelona by four points. But Ancelotti’s side have already played Atletico Madrid and can look towards their ‘El Clasico’ showdown on October 25th against Luis Enrique’s side. Ancelotti’s men just need to continue their current league form until that point in the season and hope to take maximum points from their bitter rivals at that time.