The signs are already strong in LaLiga that we are in for a classic campaign, but fans are not happy about plans to take a game Stateside
Spanish football is back in full force and an incredibly exciting season lies ahead. Matchday 1 had its fair share of winners and losers, but we’re going to avoid score discussion and, instead, focus on which five things got fans salivating for more in weeks to come.
1 – Fans aren’t keen on playing in the US
One of the most controversial topics in this season’s early days came back at full force to bite LaLiga officials in their lower backs. Fans have been pretty vocal in social media regarding their opinions about LaLiga’s plans of exporting one game this season abroad and playing it in a US city, in order to promote and nurture the growth of the competition. Let’s just say that aficionados… were not pleased.
LaLiga’s boss Javier Tebas has never been the most popular guy amongst the crowds, but chants and protests were particularly loud this weekend in most of the ten grounds were games were held. The idea itself of playing abroad might not be bad, but taking a decision without consulting regular blokes who do in fact pay their hard earned cash to attend games with their season pass wasn’t the smartest of moves.
Players in La Liga are said to be "outraged" at plans to play a game in the USA and the players' union haven't ruled out strike action over the matter.
Full story: https://t.co/dwwXkLLvRc pic.twitter.com/JEjxN4z8dI
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) August 22, 2018
2 – Huesca won’t be cannon fodder this season
One of the most impressive showcases of the weekend was performed by little Huesca, in what become an historic evening for the Aragon side as they seized their first win in a LaLiga game ever in their official debut as a top flight team. The team looked pretty good both defensively and when going on the offense, scoring twice and holding tightly to the three points in the game’s final rush.
I have to admit, I had some serious doubts when it was made official that former goalkeeper Leo Franco would take over the team after their brilliant 17-18 season in Segunda with Rubi in charge. I’m happy to report that the team showed quite a lot of the personality traits that made them great last year, with the addition of lethal accuracy provided by Álex Gallar.
3 – André Silva breaks a record
André Silva will not remember fondly his 17-18 season at AC Milan. He will, however, smile when he looks back at his debut game with Sevilla one year later, where he managed to score a merciless hat-trick and manhandle a very poor Rayo Vallecano in their home turf.
Ninety minutes were more than enough for Silva to show that he’s capable of being extremely dangerous and efficient under the right conditions. That’s the time it took him to score all three goals, breaking his last season’s record (yes, he ‘only’ scored twice last year with Milan) and becoming one of the players to watch for Sevilla fans from now on.
4 – Messi still runs the show
If there were any doubs about Leo Messi’s motivation after his disappointing World Cup performance and the departure of his arch-frenemy Cristiano Ronaldo to Italy, he took matters into his own hands and meticulously destroyed Alavés with his umpteenth masterclass in his career.
Messi has managed to turn memorable individual performances into some sort of expected ritual, so we should point out that he scored the 6,000th goal for Barça in LaLiga… almost ten years after scoring also nº 5,000. The little guy seems to have plenty of fuel left in the tank.
5 – The gap between teams is narrowing
Take Valencia CF v Atleti, for example. In what became hands down the most rousing and exciting fixture of the weekend, both teams clashed on Monday inside a packed Mestalla to show just how balanced LaLiga is expected to be this year. Atlético trounced Real five days earlier in the Supercup, but they weren’t able to overpower Valencia in their home turf.
The shrinking of huge tier differences between teams is what will ultimately make LaLiga a much richer (in all senses) competition. And, with a few exceptions here and there, we are in for a hell of a leveled season in Spain in all fronts: the championship race, the battle for Europe and the fight to avoid relegation.