La Liga themes through twenty-seven weeks and gone?
The 2019-2020 La Liga season has had plenty of themes and drama even before the Coronavirus reared its ugly head to bring it to an early close. And for argument’s sake, let’s assume mid-summer is the earliest we could safely resume play so this summary will bring us up to that potential date.
The season started with a bang as Athletic Bilbao opened play with a 1-0 victory over Barcelona. The minnows would have several highlights this season including this one for bookworms.
Sevilla then showed its mettle as coach Julen Lopetegui’s side won its first two matches without conceding a goal. By week three, though Atletico Madrid had shown that it could win all their matches and score goals when needed.
Then it was Real Sociedad and their talismanic Martin Odegaard who both beat Atletico and took a high perch on the table. But Bilbao was not done and they took their turn at the top of the table. Before Granada stole the limelight as the recently promoted side took to leapfrogging into second place.
Another La Liga theme this season was the who-will-beat-Real Madrid-this-week sweepstakes. Mallorca took their turn in the ninth round when they were sitting in 15th place. Granada then grabbed the reigns taking advantage of the postponed Clasico, to sit atop the La Liga table for a week.
The postponement of the Clasico was due to the civil unrest around the Catalan region because of the imprisonment of several members of the separatist movement who had attempted to gain independence from the national government for their autonomous region. In dueling protests, pro separation and pro-unity groups took to the streets and rioting ensued.
Into the eleventh week, it was obvious this was a special season as seven teams had taken a turn atop the table. But by the twelfth week, the Big Three had finally asserted themselves and Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid led the competition in that order.
But it wouldn’t be a La Liga season without Lionel Messi making his mark and as he won his record sixth Ballon d’Or the diminutive Argentine scored a hat-trick in Barca’s 5-2 home win over Mallorca.
Another La Liga theme this year was Getafe’s ascension. At the 23rd round, little Getafe was in third place. Their playing was so inspired the mainstream media began to notice.
Not to be outdone by their northern brethren down the coast in Bilbao, Celta Vigo had an interesting run at the top, playing entertaining and effective soccer, including a 2-2 draw at the Bernabeu, before diving deeply to end up in 15th place by the 27th week.
The pendulum swung back to Messi again, when he scored four goals in Barca’s 5-0 home destruction of Eibar on a weekend when Karim Benzema muffed four incredible scoring chances in Real Madrid’s 0-1 loss away to Levante.
But a Spanish domestic competition without a Real Madrid imprint is yet to be, so the merengues defeated Barcelona 2-0 at the Bernabeu with two very fortunate goals albeit off a workmanlike performance that deserved the win.
As the season ground to a halt, Real Betis took a turn at defeating Real Madrid (2-1 at the Benito Villamarin) to put a cherry on top of a lingering La Liga seasonal theme and hand Barcelona the two-point lead…before the virus took over.