It’s too early to make hysterical predictions, especially that the season in only six games old, but if early good form and positive results give a comprehensible picture of what Valencia will be about this season, then Barca and Madrid better start getting results.
As usual, a two-horse race was expected between Barcelona and Real Madrid, but Valencia have won five and drawn once in their first six matches.
Barca and Madrid have each won four, Madrid have not lost but drawn twice, while Barca, who lost only once in their title winning season have already lost a game and drew the other.
The champions have not got into their usual stride, which more often than not make them a nightmare to play against by any opposition. At home, they are not looking as intimidating as they’re expected by both their fans and opponents.
To say that Valencia have surprised everyone, including themselves with their impressive unbeaten start to the league season wouldn’t an exaggeration, but it remains to be seen if the 2002 and 2004 champions can maintain a genuine title challenge.
And their title credentials will never be truly put under enormous test than Saturday’s visit to the Camp Nou, home of the defending champions, who seem to be failing to finish off teams at their daunting arena.
Going into the game, Valencia stand three points ahead of their opponents and Unai Emery’s team will take heart from the fact that the champions have won just one of their first three home matches in the league.
Like I said earlier, it is too early to talk about the significance of Valencia being top, but one thing we can agree with (if you’ve followed the Spanish league this season) is that it is not a coincidence they are where we are. They seem to be doing the simple things during games while taking their chances.
When they sold the two Davids, Villa and Silva in July, with Villa joining today’s opponents and Silva signing for Manchester City, Valencia’s expectations were lowered. At least, that seemed to be the general perception.
Villa, who spent nearly eight seasons at Valencia, inspired them to third place finish last season to secure the final automatic Champions League spot but, they ended the league season 28 points behind Barca.
As Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, especially the latter are taking up most of the media attention; Unai Emery is taking advantage to let his players play without too much pressure.
While Villarreal, who are second with 15 points, one behind the leaders, won’t be in action until Money evening when the travel to Hercules, who stunned Barca 2-0 at Camp Nou a couple of weeks back, Mourinho takes his Real team to Malaga on Saturday.
Malaga are currently placed at 10th spot, nonetheless, if there ever was a time when a struggling team needed to step up their game, it is against the big boys and they don’t come any bigger than Real Madrid.
Mourinho is slowly but surely transforming his squad of vastly talented individuals into a team and their emphatic win over Deportivo two weeks ago was a statement of intent by the nine-time European champions.
But ss for now, Valencia can enjoy being top of the table, but whether they have the balls to stay there after this weekend and beyond, will be interesting to keep our eye on La Liga.