Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
On June 11, Spain’s La Liga joins the lengthening list of domestic competitions to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis when it re-starts its 2019/20 campaign.
Over three months has passed since a top flight fútbol was kicked in anger in the division’s last fixture between Eibar and Real Sociedad on March 10, and excited Primera División fans everywhere are readying themselves for beautiful game’s return in Spain.
In a potentially enthralling first fixture back, Sevilla host local rivals Real Betis in an El Grand Derbi that should set the trend for a captivating climax to the season.
Ahead of the return of elite level football in Spain, we’ve put together a guide detailing the current state of play in the La Liga.
Check it out below!
Remember – we’ll be covering all the action in detail with betting tips and match previews on our La Liga predictions page.
2019/20 La Liga current standings
La Liga title race
With 15 La Liga titles won between them in the last 16 seasons, Real Madrid and Barcelona’s dominance over the domestic game in Spain has been almost absolute – and the division’s perennial pre-season favourites and traditional foes will battle it out again for silverware in the remainder of the 2019/20 Primeira Division campaign.
Ahead of the resumption of play in La Liga, Barcelona occupy top spot, holding a slim two-point advantage over their rivals from the capital, and the gap of nine points between Real in second and Sevilla in third almost completely rules out an unexpected intruder joining the party between now and the end of the season.
Both of this term’s El Clásico fixtures were contested before the turn of the year, which removes the possibility of a potential do or die head-to-head clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid between now and the end of the summer, though the clubs’ respective overall records this season suggests that we should still expect a few twists and turns before the finishing order at the top of the table is finalised.
Barca have already dropped points in a third of their league fixtures since August, while Real slipped up in over 40% of their La Liga matches to date, in what has been an unusually unpredictable campaign.
Barcelona and Real Madrid’s progress in the Champions League and the strain that deep runs in that continental competition could have on their resources also promises to have a major knock-on effect on their domestic pursuits.
European qualification shake-up
With a meagre five-point spread between 3rd placed Sevilla and Valencia in 7th spot, the race to secure the remaining pair of Champions League qualification spots for next season promises to be just as intense as the battle for the La Liga title itself.
Last season, Atletico Madrid and Valencia filled places three and four in the final standings, though both clubs currently find themselves at the back of the queue for a UCL berth this time around, with Sevilla, Real Sociedad and Getafe ahead of them.
Interestingly, Sociedad are the only team from that quintet of challengers that can approach the remainder of the 2019/20 La Liga season without the distraction of European competition – something that is certain to strengthen their hand.
A spot in next season’s Europa League proper and in the qualification phase of the Champions League’s sister tournament are also on offer for teams who finish in 5th and 6th, though a place in the UEL would offer scant consolation to the clubs chasing bigger things.
June 27 – Getafe vs Real Sociedad
July 14 – Real Sociedad vs Sevilla
July 14 – Getafe vs Atletico Madrid
July 18 – Atletico Madrid vs Real Sociedad
July 18 – Sevilla vs Valencia
The race for survival
Espanyol, Leganes and Mallorca currently reside in La Liga’s bottom three, but with a gap of just six-points between the club in 20th and the safety of 17th, there is ample time for the trio to mount a late survival charge.
With Mallorca in 18th sitting on a points haul of 25 behind Valladolid just four points better off further up in 15th, a number of contenders for the drop in between including Eibar and Celta Vigo will still be looking over their shoulders.
Eibar, who were beaten in four of their last five games before play was suspended, look particularly vulnerable and could yet be caught in an unconquerable downward current.
19th placed Leganes meanwhile, were moving steadily in the opposite direction having lost just three times in 12 La Liga matches before the enforced break.
June 19 – Mallorca vs Leganes
June 30 – Mallorca vs Celta Vigo
July 4 –Espanyol vs Leganes
July 7 – Eibar vs Leganes
July 11 –Eibar vs Espanyol
July 18 – Espanyol vs Celta Vigo
Who will be crowned top scorer?
Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Italy, his great personal rival and Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi has largely had things all his own way in the seasonal battle to win the Pichichi Trophy.
The Argentine superstar won the award for La Liga’s top scorer for the third time on the spin and the six time in his career overall last term when he battered home an incredible 36 goals in 34 appearances.
As we approach the final quarter of the current campaign, Messi tops the charts again with 19 goals in 22 Primeira Division runouts – a total that puts him five clear of his nearest antagonist Karim Benzema.
Amazingly, Messi needs to hit the net just 16 more times to break the all-time record held by Brazilian legend Pele for the most goals scored for an individual club – and the 32-year-old is capable of smashing through that ceiling before the final ball of 2019/20 is kicked.
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