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Five storylines to watch out for after LaLiga 2022-23 campaign resumes 

Published at :December 23, 2022 at 7:53 PM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : LaLiga)

Hardik Malhotra

Following the seven-week break for the 2022 World Cup, Spanish top flight is back

Spanish top division (LaLiga) resumes on Thursday 29th December and there are plenty of interesting situations to keep an eye on.

The thrilling title race between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona  

We may only be less than halfway through the season but Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are already in the middle of a gruelling and thrilling title race. 

Champions Real Madrid picked up where they left off at the end of the last campaign, winning 10 of their first 11 matches, including beating FC Barcelona in ElClásico. But Barça, who had made a flying start of their own, responded to defeat at the Santiago Bernabéu in the best way possible, winning their next five games to move top of the table by two points. 

FC Barcelona, who have not won the LaLiga Santander title since 2019, have been particularly strong in defence, keeping a staggering 11 clean sheets in their first 14 games while dropping only four points. Star signing Robert Lewandowski has also made a real difference by scoring 13 goals. 

But Los Merengues have shown real strength in depth, with Fede Valverde and Rodrygo stepping up in the absence of Karim Benzema, who has only played half the matches due to injuries. With the Frenchman now back. title race really should go down to the wire.  

The Basque giants aim for Champions League qualification  

Right below the top two, another familiar rivalry is brewing, with Real Sociedad sitting third and local rivals Athletic Club fourth. 

Invigorated by the return of Ernesto Valverde, Athletic Club made their best start to a campaign since the 2013-14 season, back during El Txingurri’s second spell in the San Mamés dugout. Their superb form has been fuelled by the heart-warming story of brothers Iñaki and Nico Williams, who have scored eight goals and provided four assists between them.  

Their Basque neighbours Real Sociedad are having an even better season and went off for the break two points above them. Imanol Alguacil has just renewed his contract until 2025 and his side are renowned for their stylish play, but lately they have also shown remarkable resilience. Their performance this season is even more impressive considering usual talisman Mikel Oyarzabal is still out with a knee injury, while blockbuster summer signing Umar Sadiq also picked up a long-term knee injury in only his second match. 

These two Basque sides dominated Spanish football in the early 1980s, winning two LaLiga Santander titles each, and right now both sides are enjoying one of their best seasons since those heady days. All eyes are already on the weekend of January 14th 2023, when we’ll have the first Basque derby. 

Sevilla FC look to escape the relegation zone 

Sevilla currently sit in the relegation zone

This time last year, Sevilla FC were in the middle of a title race. Twelve months on, they sit in the relegation zone having taken two points in their last five matches. 

Parting ways with Julen Lopetegui and turning to former manager Jorge Sampaoli has not helped them turn a corner just yet and their final match before the break summed up their frustrating campaign, as they saw two players sent off in a 2-1 loss at home to Real Sociedad.  

However, there have been some encouraging signs, such as the emergence of Serbian international Nemanja Gudelj as a scorer of great goals or the rise of academy graduate Carlos Álvarez, who just scored his first goal for the club in the Copa del Rey. With a little more time, there is confidence that Sampaoli will be able to push Sevilla FC back up the table. 

Rayo Vallecano hope Raúl de Tomás can make them even better 

Rayo Vallecano are currently 8th in the LaLiga table

After making a hugely impressive return to LaLiga Santander last year, Rayo Vallecano have gone from strength to strength, rising to eighth in the standings while taking some remarkable scalps. They have earned away draws against FC Barcelona and Atlético de Madrid and pulled off memorable victories over Valencia CF and Sevilla FC and, most spectacularly, coming from behind to beat Real Madrid 3-2 in what was the reigning champions only league defeat so far this campaign.  

Coach Andoni Iraola, who oversaw their return to the top flight in 2021, has done an outstanding job and the key to his team’s success has been their adaptability. They have produced scintillating attacking displays, such as their 5-1 win over Cádiz CF, but are equally happy to put in disciplined and combative performances against the top sides. 

Now, they will have striker Raúl de Tomás available as a new signing from January 1st. Given how well Iraola’s team were already playing before the break, it will be fascinating to see how far this team can go with their new centre-forward. 

Elche CF’s third coach of the season is Pablo Machín  

Elche CF are currently bottom of LaLiga Santander

During the World Cup break, Elche CF announced that Pablo Machín has become the new first-team coach. He takes over at Los Franjiverdes for the rest of the season and is the club’s third coach of the 2022-23 campaign, following the dismissals of Francisco and Jorge Almirón. 

Elche CF are currently bottom of LaLiga Santander with just four points from 14 games, leaving them eight points adrift of safety. Los Franjiverdes have yet to win a league game this season, but did beat CD Guadalajara 3-0 on Machín’s debut in the Copa del Rey. In the second half of the season, they’ll hope to pull off a great escape, starting with the Matchday 15 fixture against Atlético de Madrid.