Two of the LaLiga titans, Barcelona and Real Madrid have found themselves suffering a poor start of 2019/20 season, winning only one out of their opening three fixtures. While LaLiga is barely three rounds in, a five-point deficit behind their rivals Atletico Madrid could turn around and bite them comes season end. But is their poor start a reason for concern or simple “bump in the road”.
The biggest question surrounding 2019/20 LaLiga season is whether can Atletico Madrid capitalise on Real Madrid’s and Barcelona’s poor start, which resulted in each winning only one out of three fixtures?
It’s not even up for discussion whether Barcelona and Real Madrid are two of the strongest teams in LaLiga. The fact that it was either Barcelona or Real Madrid who won LaLiga in all but five out of the last 45 season speaks volumes, and while we eagerly await for a new competitor to emerge and push El Classico for the title, up to date it seems like it’s only Atletico Madrid who have a shot at dethroning the two titans. That being said, even they have been playing catch-up to Barcelona and Real Madrid for the last few years. However, things have changed in 2019/20 season, where it’s both Barcelona and Real Madrid, who will have some catching up to do.
Barcelona have entered the 2019/20 season with same ambitions as any year. To win everything that can be won. Those ambitions, considering how dominant they were the last term is not an out of place expectation, and while there is hardly anyone who doubted in Barcelona before LaLiga kick-off, the Blaugrana failed to impress so far. A disappointing 1:0 defeat against Atl. Bilbao in their first fixture of the season, followed by a 5:2 home win against Betis and yet another painful performance, this time against Osasuna (2:2) meant Barca earned only four points in three LaLiga fixtures. That on its own is a poor result, but if we count in the poor quality of the teams Barcelona faced, yet failed to win more than once, there is a reason for concern going into round four and the remainder of the season. There are arguments to be made, Lionel Messi did not play for Barcelona, but, the Blaugrana should have enough quality to play well against such teams even without their star player. They are not a one-man team, or are they?
Talking about poor performance of a team who “lost” their star player, last season was a poor one for Real Madrid to say the least. Ever since Los Blancos sold their star player, Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, they failed to look as strong as they did in previous years. A disastrous performance in Champions League on top of a miserable third-place finish in LaLiga, where Galacticos earned only 68 points, which was 8 less than Atletico Madrid and 19 behind Barcelona called for changes, and changes came. Real Madrid brought back Zinedine Zidane as their head coach, hoping he is the man to bring back Real Madrid to their former glory. The French football legend took the team into his own hands and started a complete restructure of the squad, which saw Real Madrid spend over €300 million on new arrivals. With new (and improved) team, Real Madrid ventured off into LaLiga, determined they will prove to the world they are still one of the best teams in the world. Their ambitions, however, are most likely put under re-evaluation since Galacticos failed to impress in the opening three fixtures of LaLiga.
Real Madrid started off their 2019/20 LaLiga campaign the same way many expected, with a solid 1:3 win over Celta Vigo. Their enthusiasm, however, soon took a hit, with a disastrous 1:1 draw at home against Valladolid, a team that barely escaped relegation last term. And if that was not enough, Real Madrid also failed to perform up to par in their round three fixture, when they only managed to grab a point from Villarreal (2:2), and even that due to a late 86th-minute goal from Bale. Real Madrid squad and coach are visibly frustrated and it’s easy to see why. Despite boasting with what is arguably one of the best line-ups in the world, Galacticos won only one fixture this season. And while a 1-2-0 record does not look bad on the paper, it’s a disappointing one for Real Madrid, mostly due to the same reason as with Barcelona. They did not face off against any strong opponents yet.
So back to the first question. Can Atletico Madrid take advantage of Real Madrid’s and Barcelona’s poor start? To talk about anything that concerns a title winner so early into the season is foolish to say the least. Still, it’s safe to say there is an immense pressure on both Barcelona and Real Madrid to wake up and start performing up to the expectations. That pressure will build up with every fixture Atletico Madrid wins and each fixture Barca or Real fail to win. On the other side, the same scenario will give Atletico Madrid a huge morale boost, and it’s only a matter of time before the momentum will take over.
At the end of the day, both Barcelona and Real Madrid are not just a random team in the LaLiga. Both have extremely experienced and incredibly gifted players and coaches, and while they did not enjoy a good start of their 2019/20 campaign, they still possess immense quality, so a poor start does not mean it’s the end of the world or the title race for that matter. The season is still young and a lot can (and will) happen in the months to come. Atletico Madrid, while looking extremely strong with a perfect 3-0-0 score they did have their moments of weakness, and should they slip and fall at any point in the future, Real and Barca will surely take full advantage of the situation and reduce the gap in the title race. All in all, there is no reason for concern in both Real Madrid and Barcelona camp just yet. However, that will change if we do not see an improvement in the upcoming rounds of LaLiga.