After 38 matchdays and 11 months, the curtains finally fell on another exciting yet unusually long season of the La Liga.
Real Madrid deservedly lifted a record 34th La Liga title, pipping defending champions Barcelona in the process. Atletico Madrid and Sevilla joined the top two in qualifying for the Champions League next season while the likes of Mallorca, Leganes and Espanyol suffered the heartbreak of relegation.
The La Liga win was particularly special for Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane since it was the club's first major trophy since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018.
On the other hand, Barcelona’s city rivals Espanyol experienced a complete reversal in fortunes – going from qualification to Europa League to relegation in consecutive seasons. La Periquitos will ply their trade in the second division in the 2020-21 campaign after spending 26 consecutive seasons in the La Liga
In this article, we review the 2019-20 La Liga season, comparing teams’ performances and standings from the previous season to find out the most improved and declined teams of the season:
Three most improved and declined teams of the 2019-20 La Liga season:
#1A: Improved – Villarreal
2019-20 La Liga Standing: 5th (60 points)
2018-19 La Liga Standing: 14th (44 points).
The Yellow Submarines led by Santi Cazorla enjoyed a fine La Liga season, culminating in a Europa League qualification for next season. The veteran Spaniard enjoyed a stellar campaign, netting 11 times and assisting another ten in the La Liga.
Cazorla’s vision was evident throughout the campaign, and striker Gerard Moreno benefitted the most from it. The Spanish striker smashed in 18 La Liga goalsto win the Telmo Zarra Trophy for the highest-scoring Spaniard in La Liga this season.
Under the stewardship of Javier Calleja, Villarreal were the season’s biggest improvers, going from 14th last season to fift this campaign. In the process, they recorded 16 more points and 14 more goals from a disappointing 2018-19 La Liga campaign.
Villareal's form after the break was terrific; they won seven of their 11 matches, which propelled them from eighth to fifth to help them qualify for Europe.
With former Arsenal manager Unai Emery taking over from the 2020-21 season and Cazorla departing for Al Sadd in the summer, it will be certainly interesting to see how the Yellow Submarine performs in the La Liga next season.
#1B: Declined – Espanyol
2019-20 La Liga Standing - 20th (25 points)
2018-19 La Liga Standing - 7th (53 points).
While Villarreal were the biggest improvers in the La Liga this season, Espanyol took the opposite spot in the podium as they were the biggest decliners from the 2018-19 season.
From qualifying from Europe last season to finishing rock bottom this campaign, Espanyol dropped a staggering 13 places while scoring a meagre 27 goals – the lowest tally in the 2019-20 La Liga.
La Periquitos struggled to handle the demands of playing in Europe on Thursdays and domestic fixtures in the weekend. The effect was so immense that they were stuck in the relegation zone in 37 out of the 38 matchweeks and remained rock bottom from matchday 16 onwards.
A lot of fan anger seems directed towards the club’s Chinese owner Chen Yansheng as managerial instability and poor transfer strategy played a part in the club’s downfall this season.
The club let go three managers and spent close to €60 million on transfers but most of them failed to settle in and find their rhythm. With a strong fanbase and a decent squad, Espanyol will be hoping for a swift return to the La Liga at the end of the next season.