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La Liga at the international break

Seven matches played.

Maria José Segovia

So, what can we say about the league so far? (note: I will only concern myself with the “otra 18”, i.e. not Barca or Real Madrid). My take:

The good:

Real Betis are, for the first time in awhile, not only watchable, they are pretty good. They can’t defend terribly well (or at all), but Sergio Leon and Tony Sanabria are an impressive strike force. They will outscore a lot of clubs, for sure.

Speaking of poor defending but scoring like crazy, Real Sociedad are amazing, aren’t they? 17 goals for, 17 against. After 4 wins (one in Europe), they’ve followed up with 4 losses and a draw, but they are interesting to watch, for sure. Carlos Vela will leave in January, which may not matter.

Okay, okay, Jiwonsi, I have to mention Valencia, of course!. I thought Marcelino would be a good coach for them—at least for a year or so—but the surprise has been Simone Zaza, who has five goals for them so far. Not shabby at all, and they already have played (and drawn) against Real Madrid and Atleti, and beaten Real Sociedad away, so they have to be feeling pretty good in third place at the moment. A (possibly surprise) candidate for Champions League, in my book.

The bad:

Eibar, as we saw on Sunday, are looking pretty dreadful. A lot of it is due to injuries, but they have not effectively replaced Florian Lejeune and Luna, last year’s central defenders. A goal difference of -14 after 7 matches is...not good. And Sergi Enrich is struggling to make an impact on offense.

Malaga have been dreadful. That was sort of expected, given their horrible preseason and loss of players like Fornals and Ramiro, but still. Las Palmas’s only win..against Malaga. Girona’s only win....against Malaga. (Eibar defeated them too for one of their two wins). It’s one thing to have one point after seven matches, it’s another to have only one point after playing two or three matches among fellow relegation candidates. Michel is a good coach, and Diego Rolan and Borja Baston were good loan pickups, but goodness, the midfield of this team has just been hollowed out over the last couple of years. Can you imagine if Fornals, Camacho, Samu Castillejo, Isco, and Sergi Darder had stayed? Damnnn, as we say in the South.

In-the-middle:

Let’s start with our own Villarreal. 10 points from 7 games isn’t dreadful, but 3-0 losses to Real Sociedad and 4-0 to Getafe on the road certainly were. The team has been over-reliant on Cedric Bakambu to score goals, but if Calleja can get the midfield of Fornals-Samu-Trigueros all clicking as they did against Eibar, things will be looking much better. And if Sansone/Bacca/Unal can contribute more, things could get really fun.

Atletico Madrid is in this part of the list because in spite of being fourth, in spite of giving up only four goals so far this season, there is a distinct “meh” feeling about this team. Griezmann and Angel Correa have been providing the goals (well, Carrasco, too) but Fernando Torres (now basically a 33 year old substitute living off past dreams), Kevin Gamiero, and Luciano Vietto—no goals and no confidence among them. Yes they are in a new stadium, yes, Diego Simeone is still there, but has time passed them by ?

Athletic Club (Bilbao) make this list as well, as they are winless in their last six matches (four in La Liga). The real concern though has to be another serious injury to Iker Muinain, who provides a lot of their creative play. Without him, and with a number of mid-table-ish teams improved over last season, I’m thinking qualifying for Europe again might be difficult. Then again, as long as Aritz Aduriz can continue to score goals.....

Which teams have impressed (or not impressed) you so far this season?