After the strike dispute was resolved, La Liga finally kicked off this weekend, albeit a round of fixtures late. So, what did we learn? Well in all honesty not that much we weren’t privy to already. Real and Barca look miles ahead of all before them and the title is certainly going to be a straight fight between the two.
On Sunday evening, the Special One’s side began their campaign at La Romareda, and the result yielded few surprises, with six goals scored, all by Real Madrid, who looked fluid and free flowing – perhaps more than any other Mourinho team has ever looked. Marcello had an excellent game, as did Ronaldo – not much less is expected of him – and both opened their goal scoring tally during the game with the Portuguese forward getting a hat trick.
Much criticized Benzema again put in a good performance up front, and whilst he is never going to be everyone’s cup of tea, he certainly seems like having dislodged Gonzalo Higuain as first choice striker for the foreseeable future. Defensively Real faced few real challenges, but when needed they looked solid, with a vintage Carvalho foul earning him a yellow.
Summer signing Coentrao certainly makes a better left sided midfielder than he does left back, yet will not face any tougher challenge this season than against Pedro in the Super Copa where he was left wanting. Even a full back of Ashley Cole or Marcello’s calibre would have struggled there. Another talking point from the game would have to be the performance of Kaka, who after coming on as a sub looked bright, alert and scored a goal.
The former ‘best player in the world’ has made the point of stating he wants to stay with Los Blancos, and fight for a place, and on the evidence of both pre-season and what he displayed last night, the boy certainly has a great deal to offer the club should he get the chance.
After that result, all eyes fell on the Nou Camp on Monday evening, with defending Champions Barcelona beginning their campaign against Villarreal, putting in a fantastic performance scoring 5, with Fabregas getting another goal and Messi scoring a brace. However, due to Real’s brilliance the previous evening, it was not enough to top the table, with Jose’s side having a better goal difference albeit by a solitary goal, but Madrid fans will take that none the less.
Guardiola’s side looked the same as ever, with their passing and movement another class, yet will face tougher challenges than the yellow submarines at home, and may have issues with the strength and depth in their defence, this summer choosing to buy Sanchez and bring prodigal son Fabregas home instead of reinforcing their centre backs.
Clearly they subscribe to the school of thought that their forwards will always score more than their opponents, yet away from home in Europe it remains to be seen how far this strategy will take them. Last season it took them to the final and won them the trophy, but no club has ever retained the trophy, yet if any team can it is this one.