OP-ED: The Spanish League: A Tale of Two
Of course it is too early to say it. But the start of the Spanish League left us speechless.
While Cristiano Ronaldo was still recovering from the knee injury sustained during the Eurocup championship game and Neymar was scoring the final penalty kick that gave Brazil its first soccer gold medal in the history of the Olympic Games, their respective teammates destroyed two opponents that seemed dangerous before the contests. Barcelona scored half dozen goals against a Betis team managed by Uruguay’s Gustavo Poyet, who coached in England until last season. Real Madrid’s win at San Sebastain against Real Sociedad was too easy, considering this field has been very tough for Real in recent years.
Joining efforts, Barça and Real scored nine goals and allowed two. With only one week into Spain’s 2016-2017 season, the two powerhouses are already at the top of the standings. While Neymar was arguing with Brazilian fans about the support given during the Olympic tournament, the other two Barcelona forwards had an amazing day at the office. Luis Suarez took over from last season’s success, scoring three times, while Leo Messi displayed another masterpiece, including two goals. In San Sebastian, Gareth Bale assumed the leading role on Cristiano’s absence. The Flying Welsh headed the first score in the game’s first minute and also put the ice on the cake at the very end. In the meantime young star Marco Asensio scored a beautiful goal that put the score 2-0 in the first half. Asensio’s rise has led Real Madrid’s executives to put the On Sale sign on Colombian star midfielder James Rodríguez.
Of course there are still 37 weeks remaining in the league, but Real and Barcelona looked far superior than their challengers for this season’s title. All of them struggled in Week 1.
Atlético Madrid, which finished second in the Champions League in two of the last three years and won the Spanish League in the 2013-2014 season, finally got a lead against Alavés a team that played in Division II last year, to only see how the game was equalized in added time. Villarreal, fourth in last season’s tournament, draw at Granada (1-1), while Valencia lost at home against Las Palmas (4-2) and Athletic Bilbao was beaten on its trip to Gijón (2-1).
Amongst top challengers only Sevilla won, defeating Español, 6-4, in a thrilling scoring festival. But we can’t forget than in a recent 10-day span, Sevilla lost the European and Spanish Super Cups against Real and Barça respectively.
For the good of La Liga, we hope some Spanish teams can challenge Barcelona and Real Madrid this season. Anyhow, guided by what we witnessed in Week 1 it seems emotion and drama will come from another tight race between these two powerhouses for Spanish soccer supremacy. Perhaps also for Europe’s supremacy, but that is another tale.