La Liga has been one of the most exciting leagues in Europe this season. In a year where the Premier League has been everything but exciting, the points gap between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the top of the La Liga table is just three points and it is taking shape into one of the most fierce title races in Europe. While the overall level of the league is still pretty good, some teams have disappointed with their showings compared to what they were a season or two before.
Some clubs have performed far below their normal levels this season, and are heavily underachieving in terms of success and style of play. With that in mind, let's take a look at three La Liga teams who are underachieving in the Spanish first division this season.
After finishing fourth in the previous two seasons of La Liga, Valencia have been dreadfully inconsistent this season and now sits eighth in the league table.
While Los Ches heavily underperformed in the initial stages of the season, the team has revived themselves after Marcelino García's sacking, and could now be challenging for a European spot having moved within two points to a top-four spot lately, but the question is - Do they look like a side capable of maintaining a top-four push? Probably not.
Despite their recent revival under Albert Celades, the club still only boasts the 13th best ×G metric in La Liga and this could very well hinder their chances for a European push.Expected goals (xG) measures the quality of a shot based on several variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal, whether it was a headed shot and whether it was defined as a big chance.
#2 FC Barcelona
Barcelona are just three points behind the La Liga leaders Madrid but are they performing at the same levels as their past two seasons suggest ? Short answer- not at all. The Spanish champions recently sacked Ernesto Valverde for his lack of definite style and appointed Quique Setién but their fortunes still haven't changed.
Although Setién did bring a definite style of possession-based football, Barcelona are still struggling to create chances from the midfield and the Blaugrana have been more or less dependent on Lionel Messi, and are turning into somewhat of a one-man team.
To add to it, the team has become very vulnerable defensively. They are already out of the Copa del Rey and have heavily underperformed this season, and all this could potentially hand the title to Real Madrid if they do not improve quickly.
#1 Atlético Madrid
It's unbelievable, how far Atlético have dropped this season. After performing brilliantly for much of the last decade, the club is now facing difficulties this season. After finishing second, only behind Barcelona last season, Atletico now sits fourth in the league, just four points above eighth-placed Valencia.
Despite their miserable form, one would suggest that they are performing fairly well, but the most worrying aspect of their showings is their inability to find the back of the net, although they still boast the third-best ×G in La Liga. Alvaro Morata, João Félix, Diego Costa, and Angel Correa have all underperformed.
The team has only scored 15 goals in their 23 league matches and with a crunch Champions League tie against Liverpool looming, this could turn into one of their worst seasons, especially if they fail to finish in the top four this season.