Drab Madrid Derby shows just how far things have fallen

How did La Liga get so bad?

2020/02/04 21:25
By Connor Andrews

At last season’s close Zinadine Zidane, the man who’s yet to be knocked out of the Champions League, winning it three times announced, “for us next year, the league must be our number one priority.”

A seemingly odd statement for a club defined by their European success with six more titles than any other side, but things are looking positive, with Real three points clear at the top of La Liga after a simple, but painful, 1-0 win over city rivals Atlético.

There was a feeling among many that despite an unprecedented three European cups in a row, Madrid were the worst good side ever, a collection of individuals, relying on individual brilliance.

Lacking any form of unique identity or established playing style, more often than not it was left to their greatest ever player, Cristiano Ronaldo, alongside big time moments from the likes of Sergio Ramos, Keylor Navas and Luka Modric.

©Getty / TF-Images

Since Zidane’s departure and return that spanned just nine months, everything is different, but nothing has changed. A Ronaldo-less Real Madrid are currently setting the standard for Spanish sides, taking over the league the same way they did Europe, leaving many underwhelmed. 

This weekend saw the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finalists meet again in the Madrid Derby, and the line-ups sent out left plenty to be desired.

Zidane stuck four central midfielders and Isco behind their new Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, whilst Diego Simeone went for his classic basic 4-4-2, and the results were as expected, with just five shots between the sides, and only one from Atléti, in a 1-0 defeat that leaves them sixth in the table.

This is the first time Simeone has been under pressure as Atlético manager, and although we’re a very long way from fans calling for their hero’s departure, questions are finally being asked of a manager who spent the third most in Europe this season with little to show for it.

Atletico still made a profit with their €243 million spent, but Simeone continues to hamper big money skill players like Thomas Lemar and João Félix, whilst Antoine Griezmann’s departure looks like as big a loss as Ronaldo’s.

Even more shockingly though, Real Madrid and Barcelona sit first and second in the spending charts, yet all three are in their worst ever states since the beginning of the last decade, with the current leaders’ point total the least after 22 games since 2006.

With Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus signalling the end of an era in the biggest match in world sport, El Clásico, the man he’s been setting the standard with, Lionel Messi, is on course for his lowest goal total since 2016, while the players chasing him in the scoring charts hardly bring much excitement.

The real test of how bad things are comes later this month, when Real Madrid meet Manchester City, Atlético Liverpool, and Barcelona Napoli. Spain’s five year run of Champions League final appearances came to an end last summer, and it might be a while before it resumes.

This season has seen December’s Madrid vs Barça clash become the first goalless affair in 17 years, while Saturday’s Madrid Derby was hardly more entertaining than the reverse 0-0 in September.

With Barcelona now at arguably their lowest ebb of the Messi era, Zinadine Zidane is the new standard bearer in Spain, and for fans of a league renowned for beautiful football, that might just be the worst news yet.

©Getty / TF-Images

Comments (0)
Tenha em atenção as Regras de Conduta antes de escrever o seu comentário. Se não as conhece poderá ser uma boa oportunidade para o fazer aqui.
ENo comments made.