It may seem a little early to say it, but with less than a quarter of the 2020/21 La Liga season completed, Real Madrid are already in pole position to win back-to-back league titles.
Last week’s El Clasico went the way of Los Blancos and that dealt a heavy blow to Barcelona’s hopes, and with the Catalans seemingly in some turmoil the latest round of league results has seriously strengthened Real’s position.
Hazard is the Real deal
Here at SBOTOP we’ve installed Los Blancos as clear favourites to retain their title, with the latest La Liga 2020 betting odds at around 2.00 for Zinedine Zidane’s team to triumph again. And the return to fitness of Eden Hazard will, without doubt, make Real Madrid stronger.
The Belgian attacking midfielder has been beset by injuries since his big money signing last summer. The £130m deal to bring him from Chelsea to the Santiago Bernabeu was the big news of the close season and his cameo appearances helped Real Madrid in the title run-in. If he can stay fit throughout this campaign then Hazard could clearly inspire Los Blancos to another title.
He scored his first goal in 392 days as Real eased to a 4-1 victory over Huesca on Saturday. His brilliant turn and strike flew into the visitors’ net to give Real the lead, before Karim Benzema, with two goals, a Federico Valverde completed the rout.
Hazard made his first appearance since July in Los Blancos’ 2-2 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach last week, and his return signals exciting times at the Bernabeu.
Koeman under pressure already
While optimism increases in Madrid, the turmoil at pre-season title favourites Barcelona continues. Eight points behind Real Madrid, albeit with a game in hand, is not where the board expected to be when they appointed Ronald Koeman in the summer. And the resignation of president Josep Maria Bartomeu last week only served to amplify the chaos in Catalonia.
Barcelona’s Champions League triumph over Juventus, last week, seemed to suggest that Koeman’s team can take on the world’s best and beat them, but the La Liga 2020 results suggest otherwise. On Saturday the Blaugrana failed to overcome ten man Alaves, drawing 1-1 after goalkeeper Neto made a howler, allowing a back-pass from Gerard Pique to roll through his legs and into the path of a delighted Luis Rioja who prodded the ball into the empty net.
Alaves midfielder Jota was sent off on the hour and then Barca laid siege to the Alaves goal, but Antoine Griezmann’s strike was the only breach and the single point leaves the Catalans in the bottom half of the table.
The Blaugrana look like a different side in the Champions League, taking a firm grip on Group G, but Koeman’s days will be numbered if he can’t arrest his team’s erratic league form.
Felix has star quality
When Benfica starlet Joao Felix scored 15 goals in 26 games for the Portuguese champions in 2019, Atletico Madrid were persuaded to shell out a club record 126m Euros for the 19 year old.
That was a huge weight on the young man’s shoulders and, at times, last season it looked too heavy as he struggled with form and injury. But now, at the ripe old age of 20, Felix is displaying the electrifying skills and goal-scoring talent Los Rojiblancos were hoping for. He scored two goals as Atleti beat Osasuna 3-1 to move into the top four.
Felix could have had a hat-trick, but his second half penalty cannoned back off the post, but that didn’t deter the striker who smashed his second into the top corner to round off a blistering counter attack.
This was the second brace for the young Portuguese star within a week, after he scored a late double when Los Rojiblancos beat Red Bull Salzburg in a Champions League clash on Tuesday night.
No sign of Sociedad fading
Real Sociedad began the weekend top of the league and were displaced by Real Madrid when Los Blancos’ saw off Huesca. But a convincing 1-4 victory away to Celta Vigo returned the Basque team to the summit. The excellent David Silva set them on their way and a goal from Mikel Oyarzabal and then a second half brace from Willian Jose rounded off an impressive performance.
Next week Sociedad host Granada looking to build on a run of four consecutive league wins, all by three goal margins.
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