LA LIGA REVIEW: Half-way points to Real
With half of the soccer season played, the question on everyone's lips is: who is going to stop Real Madrid?15 January 2008
MADRID - With half of the soccer season played, the question on everyone's lips is: who is going to stop Real Madrid? After facing all foes once, real threats to the capital's best team and league's undisputed leader are precious few. With the majority of the teams involved in an insignificant mid-pack scuffle, only a handful of distant Liga title contenders have been weeded out to scramble in Real's wake.
Real's 47 points in 19 rounds equate to the best first half since its 1968-69 season, when now-coach Bernd Schuster saw the other side of the field - it's been 40 years since the white train has steamrolled through the first half of a season with such ease.
Real's historic rival, Barça, is its biggest threat in the title race. The side has maintained a sturdy winning pace, but after it was felled by Real in the pre-Christmas "classic," it has not been able to gain on its seven-point deficit.
Next on the list is Real's ugly cousin, Atlético de Madrid. After Sunday night's win over Valencia, the capital's second side is maintaining Champions League pace, closing the season's first half in third place. Its 37 mid-way points represent Atlético's best start since its historic "doblete" season, where the red and white stripes went on to win both Liga and King's Cup trophies. Unfortunately for Atlético fans, the side's best season in 12 only brings it to within 10 points of its cross-town rival.
Also in the title hunt is Barcelona's second side, Espanyol, in fourth. Until its Sunday loss, Espanyol had not dropped a game in its last 14. Frustratingly for them all, another impressive record by one of Spain's large city teams has become another impressive record eclipsed by Real's menacing mid-league shadow.
[Copyright EL PAÍS / KELLY RAMUNDO 2008]
Subject: Spanish news