Thursday , 2 February 2023

Real Madrid and Sevilla locked in LaLiga title battle

Considering the fact both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona are way off the pace, only Sevilla have any realistic possibility of mounting any serious LaLiga challenge, due to Real Madrid maintaining their cushion of points at the top of the table. Both teams remain comfortably ahead of their nearest rivals.

Despite being one of the title favourites heading into the 2021–22 campaign, reigning LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid have struggled, unable to match the form which won them the title last season. The side led by Diego Simeone has looked uncharacteristically fragile at the back, conceding 26 goals in 21 games, whilst also drawing 4 and losing 6 of those encounters.

Meanwhile, life after Lionel Messi has proven tortuous for Barcelona, ultimately costing Dutch head coach Ronald Koeman his job in October, before former midfield maestro Xavi Hernandez was handed the job at the beginning of November. He has fared little better, dropping valuable LaLiga points against the kind of teams they would traditionally be expected to beat.

Southern revival in Andalusia

Given two of the so-called ‘big three’ teams have suffered poor form thus far, with little indication they will suddenly improve their fortunes, this has opened the door for other teams to jostle for position in the top four. This has given LaLiga an unlikely and entirely different perspective during the 2021–22 campaign.

Under the leadership of Manuel Pellegrini last season, Real Betis finished 6th in LaLiga and qualified for the Europa League, securing their highest position since the 2017–18 season. This term the team has continued to improve and push on, comfortably holding on to 3rd spot in the table, putting them well in the frame to earn Champions League football next season.

Currently competing on three fronts, Real Betis will face Zenit St. Petersburg in February, facing the Russian side in the UEFA Europa League Playoffs for a place in the Round of 16. They have also progressed to the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey, having eliminated fierce city rivals Sevilla in the previous round of the competition. Nevertheless, they are not yet consistent enough to mount a serious LaLiga title challenge.

While there is no doubting that Real Betis will be content to secure a top four finish, by comparison, Sevilla are genuinely in the hunt for the title. They continue to pursue Real Madrid at the top of the table, just four points behind the leaders in second place with 22 of 38 LaLiga fixtures played. Incredibly, the last and only time Sevilla won the league title was during the 1945–46 season.

Comparing the best online betting sites for odds, many of the most recommended bookmakers believe that Sevilla can last the pace, with the side managed by Julen Lopetegui capable of pushing Real Madrid all the way. This will certainly make for an exciting conclusion to the 2021–22 season in LaLiga, so don’t forget to make the most of lucrative bonus offers, if you are backing the competitive outright LaLiga title odds.

Sevilla were hugely disappointing in the Champions League earlier in the season, eliminated from the competition after finishing third in their group, although their continental efforts will now continue in the Europa League instead. They will face Dinamo Zagreb in the knockout phase of what has famously become their favourite competition, with an added incentive to progress. The 2022 Europa League final will be hosted at their Sanchez Pizjuan home stadium.

Real Madrid remain confident

Irrespective of the serious challenge Sevilla pose to their ambitions, Real Madrid have been in this position before. While they would undoubtedly prefer to have a bigger cushion of points, the side managed by Carlo Ancelotti has already beaten their nearest LaLiga rival. Real Madrid secured the spoils during a tight 2–1 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, back in November, thanks to a dramatic late winner by Vinicius Junior.

Real Madrid also find their attention divided on three fronts in February, during what will be a crucial month for the club. They face Athletic Club in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey, then turn attention to Paris Saint-Germain, in what should prove to be two mouth-watering fixtures in the Champions League.

But neither of those competitions will distract Los Blancos from their obligations in LaLiga, during a run of games from which they will expect to take maximum points. Decisive encounters in the coming months include ‘El Clasico’ against Barcelona at the end of March, followed by what could be a title decider, when Real Madrid travel away to face Sevilla in mid-April.

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