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Football column

Diagnosis of European Mega-Clubs’ Start to the Season (La Liga Edition)

It’s been about two months since the start of the 2021-2022 season in European soccer. In this series of articles, we will be scoring how the mega clubs in Europe have started. We will be analyzing their performances since the start of the season in detail, as well as predicting their future prospects.

In this third installment of our series, we take a look at the La Liga. In past years, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid have led the race for the championship, but what kind of battle is being waged this year? Here’s a look at how each team has fared since the start of the season.

La Liga mega-club scoring chart

In this edition, we’ll be grading a total of five teams: the top three of Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid, plus mid-table Sevilla, and Real Sociedad, who are at the top of the standings (as of the end of the 9th round).

As of November 4, 2021

League Ranking Score
Real Sociedad 1st 100 points
Real Madrid 2nd 95 points
Sevilla 3th 90 points
Atletico Madrid 4th 80 points
Barcelona 9th 40 points

Let’s move on to the detailed analysis of each club and the reasons for their scores.

Real Sociedad

レアル・ソシエダ
  • Ranking: 1st (7 wins, 4 draws, 1 loss)
  • Score: 100 points
  • Goals scored: 17 goals, 10 goals conceded

I gave a perfect score to Real Sociedad, the current surprise leaders in La Liga.

Real Sociedad lost to Barcelona 2-4 at the start of the season, but since then, they’ve gone unbeaten with seven wins and four draws. Real Sociedad started the season with a 2-4 loss to Barcelona, but since then they have gone unbeaten with seven wins and four draws, including a draw against the mighty Atletico Madrid.

Last season, they finished in 5th place, not a weak club by any means, but it is a surprise to see them leading the league standings after 12 games, ahead of the top three clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid.

Leading the charge is ace Mikel Ojalzabal, who has played six of his eight matches so far. He has scored six goals in eight appearances so far. Eight goals in 648 minutes of playing time is a pace of scoring a goal every 108 minutes, which is almost a goal a game. Despite being a wing player, this pace is nothing short of menacing.

They also have the advantage of playing against the best teams in the league, such as Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Sevilla, and if they don’t fall short against the lower-ranked teams, they may be able to qualify for the Champions League or even win it.

Real Madrid

レアル・マドリー
  • Ranking: 2nd (7 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss)
  • Score: 95 points
  • Goals scored: 26, goals conceded: 12

The team with the second highest score is Real Madrid.

Even though they are currently in second place, they have one less game to play than Real Sociedad, who is in first place, so it’s safe to say that they are almost on par with the leaders.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side has been on a roll since the start of the season, and despite losing to Espanyol in the eighth round, they have been almost unbeatable against lower-ranked opponents, winning the El Clasico against Barcelona.

The 26 goals they have scored so far are by far the most in the league. Vinicius Junior has been particularly impressive, with seven league goals in 11 games, already a career high. Karim Benzema has also continued his good form, scoring 9 goals, and the attackers are leading the team.

They’re still trailing Real Sociedad at the top of the table due to the number of draws, but if they continue to play like they have been, it won’t be long before they regain the top spot.

Sevilla

セビージャ
  • Ranking: 3rd (7 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss)
  • Score: 90 points
  • Goals scored: 19, goals conceded: 7

Sevilla, who finished in fourth place last season, is still going strong this season.

They have 24 points, the same as Real Madrid and one point ahead of Real Sociedad. They also have one less game to play than Real Sociedad, which puts them in a good position to challenge for the top spot in the standings, depending on how they do.

One thing that has kept Sevilla in good form is their solid defense.

They have conceded a whopping 7 goals so far, and have kept 6 clean sheets in 11 games, the fewest goals conceded in the league.

The center back pairing of Diego Carlos and Jules Kunde has been ironclad, but the scary part is that Kunde is rumored to be on the verge of signing a new contract this summer. Some of the biggest clubs in Europe are reaching out to him, including Chelsea, who came very close to signing him this summer.

If Kunde moves to a big club this winter, they will have to look for a new center back. If Kunde moves to a bigger club this winter, they will have to look for a new center back, which will crack their ironclad defensive line.

Whether Sevilla can hold on to their position may depend on the transfer market this winter.

Atletico Madrid

アトレティコ・マドリー
  • Ranking: 4th (6 wins, 4 draws, 1 loss)
  • Score: 80 points
  • Goals scored: 18 goals, 10 goals conceded

Atletico Madrid, last season’s winners, are in fourth place so far.

However, they are only three points behind the leaders, so they are still in a good position to win the championship.

The only thing that is disturbing is the number of goals scored. They have scored 18 goals so far, which is good enough for fourth in the league, but they have conceded 10 goals and have only kept four clean sheets. At first glance, that doesn’t sound so bad, but last season, they conceded only 25 goals, and after 11 games, they had conceded only four.

Do you see this change as a shift to a more aggressive approach or a hole in the defense? The right answer can only be given at the end of the season, but it is clear that the team is showing a change compared to the past.

What’s encouraging is that their attackers, Luis Suarez, Angel Correa and Antoine Griezmann, are still going strong. Even if they concede a few goals, they can still win the championship again if their attackers struggle.

Barcelona

バルセロナ
  • Ranking: 9th (4 wins, 4 draws, 3 losses)
  • Score: 40 points
  • Goals scored: 16 goals, 12 goals conceded

The team with the lowest score compared to the top four teams is Barcelona.

They won their opening match 4-2 against Real Sociedad, who is currently leading the table, but after that, they lost their form and ended up in 9th place with 4 wins, 4 minutes and 3 losses. Especially in October, they lost a lot of games, 1, 1, 3.

Financial problems forced the release of the team’s ace and historic star, Lionel Messi, which had a tumultuous effect on the results on the pitch.

Manager Ronald Koeman was fired for his poor performance and Sergio Aguero, who moved from Manchester City this season, was forced to leave the club due to heart problems.

If they continue to sit in the middle of the table, their chances of winning the league championship, let alone qualifying for the Champions League, will be slim to none.

However, there is a silver lining as Memphis Depay, who moved to the club this season, continues to perform well and Anse Fathi, who took over Messi’s No. 10 spot, is back after a long layoff. Will they be able to take advantage of the few positives and get back to the top? Or will they continue to fall in the middle of the pack? All eyes will be on Barcelona from now on.

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