Traditionally, when the average football fan thinks of La Liga, without a doubt
But contrary to the popular belief of those who favour the Premier League or Serie A, there are a host of talented teams who race alongside the two larger horses and the gulf between the two superpowers and the rest of the pack is not as great as those uneducated in the flourishes of Liga football would have you believe.
Since the days of Juande Ramos, Sevilla have broken into La Liga’s elite, consistently recording commendable results on the domestic front as well as in European competition. This year the Andalucians are enjoying great success in the Champions League and have already secured passage to the knockout stage of the competition, much to the chagrin of envious Real Betis fans whose team are languishing in the Segunda Division after being relegated last season.
Deportivo La Coruna are beginning to regain the form that saw them earn the nickname Super Depor during the mid-nineties, Mallorca are securing good results with refreshing consistency, Athletic Bilbao are looking stronger and stronger as the weeks progress, and after throwing away the first two and a half months of their season, Atletico Madrid are finally realising that they have world-class talent on their team.
But another team that looks well on the path to achieving real success and making the Liga race more than just
Bats Out Of Hell
Over the past two years, few teams have been subjected to the sort of drama that
Nonetheless, strife in the dressing room coupled with a dismal 5-1 defeat to Athletic Bilbao would seal the fate of the Dutchman and
Miracle worker Emery working his magic
Unfortunately, even best manager on the planet would have been helpless in preventing the much bigger problems that
The ability to secure credit became scarce, which meant that
Despite the tumult, Emery was still somehow able to keep his side motivated, so much so that
In the end, the Mestalla outfit only were made to part with Spanish international Raul Albiol, prised away to step into the Real Madrid central defence. Choosing a plan that involved investing in the team rather than selling off the fan-favourites,
With an attack that features three regular Spanish internationals (including La Roja’s second all-time leading scorer), David Villa, David Silva, and Juan Mata comprise an offence that is among the best in La Liga. The fast improving right-winger Pablo Hernandez completes the attack and with the young Spaniard also beginning to break into the national side,
Three of Los Che's four horsemen
As if those Spanish internationals were not enough, Carlos Marchena continues to captain the squad while former internationals David Albelda and Joaquin provide savvy veteran leadership as well. Miguel, Manuel Fernandes, Ever Banega, and the young Michel are just a few of the other notable talents that round out the team.
With such a star-studded squad and having surmounted (at least for now) their financial fiasco,
And after Sevilla stumbled at home again over the weekend while Valencia beat Athletic Bilbao in San Mames, Los Che are now up to third spot in the standings, just three points behind Real Madrid as this weekend’s tantalising face-off against Los Blancos approaches.
It seems as if Unai Emery’s quality as coach is now in full bloom and after coming out of one of the most hellish situations a professional sports club can find themselves in,
Having claimed top spot in their Europa League group, Los Che are now showing all the signs of reclaiming their place as one of Spain’s best teams; should they continue on the same track, it will not just be Barcelona and Real Madrid who need to watch out, but the rest of Europe as well. The bats are back in business.
Cyrus C. Malek, Goal.com