LaLiga, like the Serie A, Bundesliga and English Premier League, amongst others, stops for a week to make room for the national teams involved in Nations League. It is therefore the right time, after nine match-weeks, to recap what happened so far and have a look at the Spanish league’s current standings.
The first surprise is immediate: at the first look at the current ranking, there is not either Real Madrid or Barcelona. And, considering the tracking records of those two football giants, it is a big surprise. Real Sociedad, the team from the beautiful San Sebastián, is occupying the first position in La liga. Real Sociedad is not new to be in that position. Simply, they have not been there for several years having won the last championship in the early 80s. Real Sociedad brought home 20 points so far, six wins, two draws and a single defeat, at home against Valencia 1-0. Such a beautiful surprise.
Behind Real Sociedad, we find another pleasant surprise: Villarreal, who never won La Liga in its history. The team coached by Unai Emery is evidently continuing its constant growth and so far it has collected 18 points, getting only one victory less than Real Sociedad and one more draw.
To find the first real “big team” we have to go down to the third place, where Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid is positioned now. Atletico is the only team undefeated in this season. The Colchoneros have so far achieved five wins and two draws (17 points) and have played only seven games, unlike Real Sociedad and Villarreal who played all nine. Atletico also has one less game played than its first two pursuers who are Real Madrid‘s cousins, fourth with five wins one draw and two knockouts (16 points), and Granada, fifth with four wins, two draws and two defeats. This means that, virtually, Atletico could reach the first position in the standings, with the possibility of going to +3 on Real Sociedad in case of victory in both games to recover.
La Liga, for two and a half years now, is orphaned by Cristiano Ronaldo, who has settled in Italy at Juventus, but another Portuguese has arrived to attract the attention of Spanish soccer fans: he is the young João Félix and plays at Atletico Madrid. He is only 21 years old (he turned 21 few days ago), but with the obvious fabric of the champion, this player has actually been talked about for years thanks to the wonders he showed with Benfica. Then the landing in a league as important as the Liga was not easy, but João Félix still put together 34 appearances and 11 goals. This year, however, despite a swinging start to the season, João Félix has already scored almost half of the goals scored in the previous season, but above all he has finally brought out the character he had shown in Portugal: a character of future leader.
It’s no coincidence that in Spain we already look at João Félix as the heir of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, a future Golden Ball trophy winner in short, even if technically he looks much more like another Portuguese beloved in Italy, Rui Costa. The young Lusitanian, in fact, is extremely versatile, he can play both first and second striker, he also adapts to the role of quarterback or left wing and is deadly in dribbling. At Atletico, João Félix is already writing history: he is the youngest ever in a red and white jersey to have scored a goal in the Champions League, the one against Lokomotiv Moscow. And let’s also remember that he is the most expensive player ever for the Colchoneros and the third most expensive player in history after the passage of Neymar from Barcelona to PSG and that of Kylian Mbappé from Monaco to PSG.
But almost everything suggests that João Félix will repay Atletico with interest. For now João Félix is second in the scorers’ ranking with 5 goals, only one of them on penalty, behind Mikel Oyarzabal of Real Sociedad who scored 6, but 4 on penalty, and on a par with Paco Alcácer of Villarreal (also 5 goals, one on penalty) and with his teammate at Atletico Luis Suárez, who scored 5 goals without penalties.
So far one of the big names in Spanish soccer seems to be missing: we are obviously talking about Barcelona. Barcelona in the league table is only eighth, but its position is conditioned by the fact that they played two games less. They have so far achieved three wins, two draws and two defeats, and ahead of them, besides Real Sociedad, Villarreal, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Granada, they also have Cadiz and Betis, although the latter two have already played their nine matches.
Barça, it is true, maybe it is not yet the same as always, maybe it has yet to recover from the 8-2 knockout suffered in the quarterfinals of the last Champions League against Bayern, but above all from the summer shoot-out with Leo Messi. However, from the point of view of results, apart from the internal defeat in the Clásico with Real Madrid 3-1, there was only another misstep with Getafe, but for the rest, besides the 1-1 draw with Sevilla (at home) and Alaves (away), there were convincing victories such as those against Villarreal 4-0, Celta Vigo 3-0 and the last one against Betis 5-2.
In addition, Barcelona seems to have every intention of redeeming itself in the Champions League and has certainly started very well: in Group G, the same as Juventus, it has a full score, with three wins out of three matches played. Barcelona beat Ferencvaros 5-1 in Spain, then Juventus 2-0 in Turin and, back at home, Dinamo Kiev 2-1. Ansu Fati‘s injury – rupture of the left knee meniscus – could complicate Barcelona‘s plans: the 2002 class forward, already scorer of 4 goals this season, will have to stay in the pits for about four months and his absence will surely be felt in a ward that weakened this year with the departure of Luis Suarez.