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La Liga First Half Review

La Liga Fixtures

While the Premier League plugs away with its traditional festive fixture schedule, even in the midst of an Omicron surge across the country, the teams in La Liga are taking a well-deserved rest.

It’s been an action packed start to the season for La Liga with Barcelona still finding their feet under new boss Xavi and two surprising teams occupying those Champions League places.

LA LIGA

Top four: Real Madrid, Sevilla, Real Betis, Rayo Vallecano

It’s a new era in Spain’s top flight without Lionel Messi, and fans have certainly been served up a few surprises with some unlikely challengers for the top four spots.

It’s Rayo Vallecano who have produced arguably the biggest shock, with coach Andoni Iraola lifting the Spanish minnows into fourth place, above both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.

Real Betis, meanwhile, were knocking on the door of the top four last season and now look serious about gatecrashing it – they are third on 33 points, but still five off the current second placed side Sevilla.

LaLiga fans are so used to seeing Barcelona challenging with Real for the league crown, but it is the six-time Europa League winners – coached by Julen Lopetegui – who are pushing them closest. Sevilla have lost just twice, with 11 victories, but remain eight points off the pace, albeit it with a game in hand.

Madrid look like the clear favourites to take home the trophy under new boss Carlo Ancelotti, whose side have lost just once, with 14 wins and scoring a league high of 41 goals.

But for their usual rivals Barca, it looks like they face a battle simply to get into the top four.

They are currently seventh on 28 points, with seven wins, seven draws and four defeats. It is not the form of title contenders, though they are still just two points off fourth-placed Rayo, so will be confident they can still qualify for the Champions League next season.

Just above them are Real Socieded on 29 and reigning champions Atletico Madrid in 5th – also on 29 – following an up and down season under Diego Simeone.

Incredibly, only six points separates Athletic Bilbao in tenth and Rayo Vallecano in fourth.

The relegation picture isn’t too surprising – with Alaves, Cadiz and Levante currently occupying the bottom three spots.