After a three month interlude, La Liga is back and ready to conclude the 2019/20 season.
With 110 games in just 39 days, everything remains on the table with 11 Match Days to go.
Barcelona and Real Madrid remain separated by just two points in the tightest title race for some time, albeit marred by inconsistency, and that’s not where it ends.
Looking at the table before kick-off, a case can be made for up to 4 sides vying for the two remaining Champions League spots accompanied by a relegation battle set to go down to the wire.
Here we go.
Barça or Los Blancos?
With two points separating both sides, Traders can expect an already tumultuous title race to pose more questions ahead of the restart.
On one hand, Barcelona are boosted by the return of Lionel Messi’s long-term running mate Luis Suarez. Yet, the one major question that looms over the Catalan club is, can Lionel Messi play every 3 days for a month in order to push Quique Setién’s side over the line?
The Argentine has missed two training sessions ahead of the restart but looks set to start against Mallorca in the first week back, news Traders will be grateful to hear.
From a Madrid perspective, a two-point gap looks minuscule with the head to head advantage already held by Zidane’s side.
A blend of experienced winners and dynamic young talent acquired in recent transfer windows should ease any concerns when looking ahead to possible squad rotations or injury replacements amidst the 39-day sprint to finish the season.
One final note regarding Los Blancos must go towards their temporary move to the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano from the Santiago Bernabeu. As building works progress, will a stadium switch albeit to a familiar setting have any toll on the first team? Only time will tell.
A Champions League sprint
The race for the final two Champions League qualification spots could be the most intriguing dynamic upon the return of La Liga.
Whilst it is safe to say Barcelona & Real have stamped out the top two positions, just five points separate Sevilla (3rd) and Valencia (7th)
Sitting one point off the top four are Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side, where one can argue UCL qualification is imperative.
A recent stadium move combined with a heavy outlay in the summer transfer window puts increased pressure on El Cholo to deliver in the final sprint.
Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla side will also be hoping to cement Champions League qualification once the season resumes.
Backed in the transfer window and subsequently quick out the blocks this season, squad depth could be a strength relied upon by Los Nervionenses in the final stretch as they kick off the resumed season against arch-rivals Betis.
Elsewhere, this season’s surprise package Getafe sit 5th and are firmly in the mixer despite a rugged, efficient style of play that many didn’t expect to last the course.
And finally, Real Sociedad currently occupies 4th spot and have become a neutrals favourite with their dynamic youthful side. A potent side going forward with talent littered in all departments, many fans from the outside will be willing on La Real.
Relegation is far from sealed
Rounding off the state of play, we delve into the battle to avoid the drop-down to the Segunda División.
The contest to remain in La Liga is sure to last the distance with no side seemingly adrift and at the point of no return.
Bottom side Espanyol sit six points adrift at the bottom of the standings but will remain optimistic of putting a run together to beat the drop once the season kicks off. This optimism seemingly aided by the winter acquisition of Raúl de Tomás who’s scored four in six outings since.
In a repeat of last season, there could be some late-season heroics from their talisman Iago Aspas to confirm their stay in the top flight.