Eleven weeks into the 2019-20 La Liga season and seven teams have topped the table so far. While in Champions League play only three of sixteen potential contenders have advanced to the next round with but two group stage matches to go. It seems it is the underdogs’ year even as the usual suspects try to hold on.
This week in La Liga, despite losing 1-3 away to Levante UD on Saturday, and still smarting from the political unrest in Cataluna, the Cules remained tied at 22 points with Real Madrid and Real Sociedad, but ahead of the two, in that order, on goal differential. Yes, that was perennial underdog Sociedad in a Champions League slot.
At Estadi Ciutat de Valencia, Lionel Messi pulled the visitors ahead 1-0 with a 38th minute penalty. But in a surprising reaction by the underdogs, goals by Jose Campana (61), Borja Mayoral (63), and Nemanja Radoja (68) sealed the comeback result. And this was a match with another major surprise. Referee Alejandro Jose Hernandez Hernandez handed out a single yellow to the home side while Barcelona was awarded six such cards. Could this be a trend turning?
In other Saturday action Espanyol lost 1-2 at home to Valencia, Sevilla were held 1-1 at home by Atletico Madrid, and Real Madrid were held 0-0 at the Bernabeu by underdog Real Betis.
On Sunday, Real Valladolid beat visiting Mallorca 3-0, Villarreal were held to a scoreless draw by visiting Athletic Bilbao, Osasuna clobbered visiting Alaves 4-2, Celta Vigo lost 0-1 at home to Getafe, and hosts Leganes were defeated by Eibar 1-2, while Granada suffered the same score line fate at the feet of visiting Real Sociedad.
The scorers’ table was headed by eight-placed Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno with 8 goals, followed by Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Real Betis’ Loren Moron with seven. Two of the three top scorers are also from perennial underdogs.
Yesterday, in Champions League group play Barcelona were held 0-0 by Slavia Prague, Zenit St. Petersburg lost at home to RB Leipzig, Liverpool defeated visiting KRC Genk 2-1, Napoli were held to a 1-1 draw at home by RB Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund won 3-2 at home over Inter, Lyon took three full points at home over Benfica 3-1, unexpectedly favored hosts Chelsea came back to tie Ajax 4-4 as the underdogs put on a great first half display, and Valencia made home turf count in their 4-1 defeat of visiting Lille.
Today, Bayern Munich advanced to the next round of the Champions League as it won 2-0 at home over Olympiakos. Juventus also advanced as it won away to Lokomotiv Moscow 2-1 on a 93rd minute Douglas Costa golazo, and PSG became the third and last team to be assured a slot by beating Club Brugge 1-0 on Mauro Icardi’s 22nd minute strike.
Real Madrid won 6-0 at home over a sleepwalking Galatasaray, Tottenham won 4-0 away to Crvena Zvezda, Dinamo Zagreb drew 3-3 with Shakhtar Donetsk, lowly Atalanta, fifth-placed in Serie A, held visiting Man City, placed second in the Premiership, 1-1, and Bayern Leverkusen, tenth-placed in the Bundesliga won 2-1 at home over Atletico Madrid, tied for fourth in La Liga.