After pouring over the past, it’s high time to peer into the future and what 2017 could have in store for some of La Liga’s biggest hitters. And Valencia.
1) Does Zidane have to deliver La Liga to Madrid?
Yes, Zinedine Zidane may have lead Real Madrid to an unbeaten run that stretches back to April 2017. And yes, the rookie French coach may have won the Champions League, European Super Cup and also the FIFA World Club Cup.
And yes, Madrid are currently leading La Liga going into the January restart. But does the former midfield legend have to win La Liga for Madrid for the first time in five years and only the second time in nine seasons?
Happy New Year from our coach Zinedine Zidane!
— Real Madrid C.F. ???? (@realmadriden) January 1, 2017
The players don’t seem to think so, with club captain Sergio Ramos praising the “special connection” Zidane has with the squad. However, the footballers are well down the food chain of priority at Real Madrid, otherwise Carlo Ancelotti would still be there.
Instead, it is the opinion of the fans and the itchy-triggered club president, Florentino Perez, that matters most. And that is why the league title, ahead of the Champions League, is a must for Real Madrid and the future of Zidane this season.
2) Will Leo Messi be Barcelona forever?
There are two very key figures at Barcelona that have very key problems at the Catalan club – their futures. Slightly maverick manager, Luis Enrique, is still deciding whether or not to renew his coaching contract past the expiry date of this summer and sign up for more questions about tax law and his players going to prison.
“It’s something that only Lucho knows, but I hope he continues” https://t.co/10OQOtj716
— SPORT English (@Sport_EN) December 31, 2016
Leo Messi is just 18 months away from walking away from Barcelona for free, with his deal expiring in the summer of 2018. Although it would still be quite the shock if the Argentinean were to leave for a new suitor like Manchester City, the contract negotiations may not be such a pleasant experience.
Barcelona is not exactly flush with funds and now has to deal with Messi’s Argentina team-mate, Carlos Tevez, as the best paid player on the planet, after a move to the Chinese Super League. That may not sit well with Messi’s bargaining bean-counters.
3) Who is Spain’s third great power?
For the past three seasons or so, this would be a fairly quick response – Atletico Madrid. But the Rojiblancos have been alarmingly erratic this season, switching between the incisive up front, water-tight at the back version of old and a fairly scatter-brained affair.
The club will look to less uncertainty about the future of manager, Diego Simeone, in 2017 and more goals from Antoine Griezmann, who has struggled to repeat the form that made the Frenchman a Ballon d’Or contender.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) January 2, 2017
Atletico will also have to battle a new pretender in town – Sevilla. New manager, Jorge Sampaoli, has had a remarkably fast start to his first club gig in Europe and has imprinted his DNA into the team – direct and dynamic. With a five-point gap over Atletico Madrid going into the winter break, Sevilla are going to take some shifting.
4) Will Valencia survive the season?
And there goes another one. A manager that is. Whilst most clubs went into the Christmas break with the aim of consolidating and conspiring in the transfer market, Valencia lurched into yet another crisis with the abrupt resignation of manager, Cesare Prandelli, who had only been in charge at Mestalla for 10 games, picking up just six points from a possible 24 in La Liga, to leave Valencia one place away from the relegation zone.
— Paco Polit English (@pacopolitENG) December 31, 2016
The Italian cited broken promises over funding for transfers whilst Valencia’s bigwigs said Prandelli was just making up excuses for failure. Either way, the club is both bracing itself for a relegation battle and looking for its fourth full-time boss in 12 months. A heck of a mess to start the new year.