Barcelona vs Real Madrid: The La Liga title race has opened up this season
The La Liga 2018-19 season is already into its sixth Match Day and we have already witnessed both Barcelona and Real Madrid start strongly with four wins out of five matches. But something unexpected happened in the mid-week fixtures on Match Day 6- Barcelona sitting in first place after five games, lost to bottom-placed Leganes away from home, while Real Madrid was humiliated by Pablo Machin's Sevilla in a 3-0 loss.
Let's look at the three reasons why the La Liga title will be the best in recent years and will be up for grabs this season:
#1. Ernesto Valverde's Barcelona is focused on the UEFA Champions League primarily:
Yes, Barcelona did win the La Liga and Copa Del Rey double in the 2017-18 season going through an unbeaten run for 36 games in La Liga. Ernesto Valverde did bring a pragmatic approach to the Barcelona attack last season, following the departure of Neymar. In terms of tactics, Dembele the new recruit last season was injured mostly leading to a 4-4-2 formation with Messi and Suarez up front.
This tactic was effective in ensuring composure for the majority of the season, but the thing which stood out was that Barca was lacking in bench strength. This resulted in the core of the team played in almost all the La Liga matches leaving less time to recover for Champions League matches. Barcelona, as a result, were knocked out of Roma in the quarterfinals.
This season, things have changed with Valverde bringing in the likes of Arthur, Malcom and Arturo Vidal to bolster the squad while Andre Gomes, Aleix Vidal, and Paco Alcacer were let go or loaned. As mentioned by Messi himself in his speech before the start of the season, the club's target was to bring the UCL trophy back to the Camp Nou.
Valverde has already started a system of squad rotation with Munir, Malcom, and youngsters getting more time in the starting XI in the not so important matches of La Liga and hence risking the La Liga title for European glory.
Barcelona and Ernesto Valverde are not without reason to do so as well as they have been placed in a tough UCL group, with matches against Inter Milan and Tottenham. And this season, it looks like Valverde will not take any chance and save his best players for the more important Champions league nights.