The first third of La Liga’s season has been a topsy-turvy ride, though you wouldn’t necessarily know if by looking at the top of the table. At the summit, Barcelona have continued their excellence despite the absence of Lionel Messi for large portions of the season. Of course, much of this is due to the play of Luis Suarez and Neymar, with the latter being far and away the best player in the league this season.
The two Madrid teams fill out the rest of the top three, but in a fairly surprising order. This summer Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone indicated that it was the dawn of a new era for the club, one in which the signings of Luciano Vietto, Jackson Martinez and Ferreira Carrasco meant attacking soccer would define the club. Yet, it’s been more of the same for Atletico, only allowed six goals as we approach 2016.
The other Madrid club is a circus, as always. In hindsight ,the David de Gea fax machine faux pas was nothing more than the first domino in a season that would include an implosion in the biggest game of the season, a registration error that would see them kicked out of the King’s Cup, and a striker who’s in the midst of one of the strangest legal cases in years.
As for the rest, story lines abound. Let’s take a look at the La Liga season so far:
Keylor Navas – Lord and Saver
The Costa Rican has silenced doubters (and De Gea supporters) with his stellar play to start the season. Real Madrid held the best defensive record in Europe for much of the early season, something that could have solely been attributed to the performance of their shot stopper.
It was this performance against a high flying Celta Vigo that really put him on Europe’s radar however.
Navas was eventually beaten by a stunning Nolito strike late in the game. It was a goal that gave us one of the quotes of the season so far: “Any lower and Keylor saves that too, the prick.”
On Celta …
Speaking of Nolito, he’s been the star for a surprisingly good Celta Vigo team. They’ve gone off the boil a bit in the past few weeks, losing three of their last six matches, but they were the talk of the league in the campaign’s opening weeks, especially after their electric 4-1 victory over Barcelona.
Nolito has even weaseled his way into Vicente Del Bosque’s Spain squad, no easy task considering the coach’s propensity to stick with the players he knows. At 29, he is right at the peak of his powers, and he’s playing like it.
And when you’re even banging in goals like this …
… that’s when you know things are going your way.
In fact, it’s been the year of the striker around the league…
La Coruna: the prodigal son, Lucas Perez, has burst onto the scene leading the frontline by his lonesome for a resurgent Deportivo La Coruna. With 10 goals in 13 games the 27-year-old has almost single handedly helped the Galician side to an impressive 5th place so far. He’s an extremely likeable player as well, combining the silkiness and guile of a prime David Villa, with the work rate of Chicharito. It’s rare to see such a skilled player work so hard for the team, Perez is the gem of La Coruna.