We are but days away from Spanish Football’s 2019 Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Valencia, to be played at the Estadio Benito Villamarin, in Sevilla. The odds on favorites are Lionel Messi’s Barca whose team ended league competition 22 points atop their fourth place opponents on Saturday. The match will conclude domestic play in Spain until late summer one-off games jump starts the next season.
As the 2018-19 Spanish Football season comes to a close with Barcelona La Liga Champions, but once again dumped out of the UEFA Champions League, with Real Madrid in a dreadful rebuilding mode, Atletico Madrid restructuring with key departures breaking up their stellar squad, and with the likes of brave Girona relegated and fortunate Valladolid remaining, we take a quick peak at what seems the potential closing of chapter of continental dominance by Spanish teams.
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid maintained their consistently good play for another (final?) season and were rewarded at their respective levels. Expect the former to dominate next year with more reinforcements than departures expected and the latter to drop a couple of notches. Real Madrid’s upcoming year will be a crap shoot as with their president, Florentino Perez, and coach Zinedine Zidane, firmly entrenched little seems destined to change quickly or smoothly. One can only hope the upcoming squad can weather the storm.
Valencia, Getafe, and Sevilla, were separated by only two points by the 38th match, but they were also over 25 points below the leaders at the end. Espanyol, Athletic, Sociedad, Betis, and Alaves, were the only other teams at or above 50 points this year which means nine teams were in the forty-one to forty-seven point range (in a league with up to 114 points available) while the champions, Barcelona, stood at 87 points. The gap seems nearly insurmountable.
The flair of a Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer a staple of Spanish Football, and even if Ronnie were to return the duo’s years atop the heap seem counted. Will newcomers to the Iberian peninsula–players, coaches, owners–pick up the slack? With the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City, and Liverpool on the rise and Ajax, PSG, and Juventus, maintaining a stranglehold in tier two, beneath Barcelona, Real Madrid (maybe), and Bayern Munich, who will join the ranks of the upstarts and rise to challenge the status quo–any other Spanish clubs?
Finally, the specter of officiating inconsistencies, or shall we say consistent officiating debacles, looms large still and FIFA seems shamefully uninterested in helping to clean up that aspect of our sport. Similarly, with investigations a plenty on the salaries and transfer fees paid in UEFA nations over the past few season, will clubs and owners ultimately be held accountable for any misdeeds?
As one season goes into the history books and the promise of a new day for Spanish Football looms beyond that farthest hill, let’s toast the winners and contestants of this year’s battles and hope what comes toward us from that far horizon adds some more dazzle and transparency to our sport.