A few weeks removed from the Spanish Super Cup final the two clubs that met up to compete for the trophy have had very distinct paths than what could have come to expected after that match.
Barcelona at the top while Real Madrid are strugling with 2 draws from the first four games is not exactly what everyone has been expecting a month ago.
At the time Real Madrid were on a high note after collecting the European and Spanish Super Cup trophies it seemed they were well on their way to dominate the football landscape once again. Barcelona on the other hand were without Neymar and having made two unsatisfying transfers had many people doubting if they would even maintain their elite club status.
However five games into their season Barcelona is leaving everything but doubts on the pitch. They have a perfect five win no loss record with 17 goals for and only 2 in their own net. First year manager Ernesto Valverde seems to have found his path after the Super Cup loss to their bitter rivals. Real on the other hand have a 2 win 2 draw record in their first 4 league matches. All of which were played without striker Cristiano Ronaldo serving a 4 game sentence for being sent off after pushing the referee.
Barcelona has been dominant, but can they remain that way?
Barcelona’s director of football operations Robert Fernandez was quick to praise his signings after the impressive win his club had over Eibar 6-1. He said “If we hadn’t have kept our cool after Neymar, then we would have rushed out into the market and made a mistake. We were happy with the players we had already signed”, he explained.
While it is true and fair to say that Paulinho and Nelson Semedo have had decent games so far for Barcelona most of the club’s troubles disappear when Lionel Messi plays the way he has played in the past couple of games. The argentine has 9 total La Liga goals this season four of them came this monday against Eibar. He has five more goals than his closest competitor for the league’s Pichichi Trophy or top scorer trophy.
Proving once again that when he gets into a rhythm this team can still beat any club in the world. Just take a little look at their 3-0 routing of Juventus in the first leg of Champions League group play. Although Fernandez and many Barcelona supporters already want to qualify this summer as a success for their club it’s just a little bit too early to do so. The only real tough match was against Juventus and they had failed to look impressive in some matches including a 2-1 scare against Getafe just this past Saturday. If you want to know if Barcelona will runaway with La Liga this year we still have to see it’s too early to call.
What’s next for Barcelona so they can keep proving themselves?
Barcelona like we said has had a pretty light schedule in the opening games. Even so they’ve had their share of ups and downs like we’ve mentioned. Of course it’s always easier to fix things on the run as long as you continue to win. These next couple of games could prove whether Fernandez is a prophet or a fraud. In their next La Liga games they will be facing Girona, Las Palmas, Atletico de Madrid, Athletic de Bilbao and Malaga. It will mostly in that last three game stretch where we can start judging Barcelona’s front office decisions as well as first year manager Ernesto Valverde’s true influence on the team and chances moving forward.
Why is Madrid off to a slow start?
Whenever championship winning clubs get off to a slow start there are many people in the media that want to give them a break and let them off easy in their criticism. This could be the case for this Real Madrid squad and maybe rightfully so. After all they won both of the trophies that were up for grabs at the start of the football year, and they are 2 time defending Champions League winners. Then again, it’s Real Madrid a 2-2 draw against Levante does not sit well with anyone around “La Casa Blanca”.
“The complaints from the crowd are sometimes good so you can realize what you are doing wrong.”
Zinedine Zidane downplayed the current situation by welcoming the rants and criticism from the crowd towards his club pointing out that the fans’ complaints are sometimes good for his team, as they help Real to realize what they are doing the wrong way. He also was quick to defend Gareth Bale who was under heavy criticism for his lack of effectiveness in tight spaced matches. Recognizing that Gareth definitely favours playing with space because of his speed, but has the ability to play any type of match. The reality is the team has not yet come together this season, but with Cristiano Ronaldo coming back the hope is that they can do so this week.
Can Real Madrid bounce back into league contention?
Real Madrid has one thing going for them. Contrary to Barcelona’s schedule they have a pretty light 5 game stretch coming up in La Liga. Going up against Betis, Alaves, Getafe, Espanyol, and Eibar. Very similar to Barcelona’s opening stretch. It will be crucial for “los merengues” to not drop any points in the next five games to be able to get back into contention for the league title.
With Cristiano Ronaldo being back that could take a lot of the pressure off players like Gareth Bale or Benzema who have been under criticism for not being able to perform at the level they are accustomed to without number 7 in the line up. Looking at both team’s schedules these next five games could be crucial in knowing how La Liga can play out this year. Although Barcelona have had the better start Madrid could come out on top after these next five games.
As they have Cristiano Ronaldo coming back and basically all they have to do is find their regular form. Barcelona on the other hand have been saved a lot by the blessing of having the best player on the planet in their squad, but despite what people inside the club want to say have not found a consistent form as a team. In the end just like it was said before it is still too early to call, and with Cristiano Ronaldo coming back we can only hope the best is yet to come.