With only a point from their opening five games, it is fair to say that Sporting Gijon haven’t enjoyed the best of starts to this seasons La Liga campaign and with only two goals scored and nine concede it could be a long season ahead for t Manuel Precaido’s team.
Precaido’s side are currently sitting in the last spot and their troubles are not likely to easy, at least for this weekend as they face the champions Barcelona next on Sunday.
The dominance of Barcelona and Real Madrid of Spanish football means that the ‘less glamorous’ teams get ignored or bypassed by the press with their existence only confirmed when they face one of the two giants.
It is completely understandable for the Spanish as well as other European media organisations to focus on the teams that are competing for honours at the top of the table.
Whereas only two can feasibly battle for La Liga title, for the majority of the rest – first priority is securing their place for next season.
Five games into the season and the table is already starting to take shape, and while it would be idiotic to put a particular team into the relegation trap door just yet, it would be equally foolish not to look at how teams have shaped up thus far.
Sporting, Athletic Bilbao and Racing Santander do occupy the three relegations sports in that particular order but since it is early days, the likes of Granada, Getafe, Real Zaragoza, Rayo Vallecano, Osasuna and Mallorca are not far away, and they could be trapped into the dogfight this weekend.
Sporting finished last season in tenth place but their season will be famously remembered for ending Jose Mourinho’s 9-year (150 games) unbeaten run when, against all odds, they won at the Bernabeu.
Their only point so far this season, came last weekend at home against fellow strugglers, Racing Santander. It was a fairly drab affair; the quality that both teams showed on that night must have left their faithful with a cause for concern.
There was no doubting the effort and commitment from Sporting but it is in games against teams around them that they must win if they’re to avoid the drop.
Sitting one place above them is Athletic Bilbao with fears mounting that their admirable but perhaps somewhat naive stance on only fielding players with a Basque background is finally catching up on them.
Eight time league winners haven’t won a game so far this season but president Fernando Garcia Macau insists that maintaining the clubs tradition and community value is the main target.
Last year Macau announced that “we’d rather go down than change our habits; I know the supporters feel the same.” Athletic are doing well in Europe League and if they could transform that form into their La Liga campaign.
There is little of no doubting the quality that the team does possess – and with the likes of Iker Munian and Fernando Llorente providing the fire power up front they definitely have a chance.
After last seasons 6th place finish though, many were expecting Bilbao to be competing at the other end of the table.
Racing, who currently occupy the final relegation spot, and after three draws from their opening five fixtures, will be hoping that they can transform a point into three in their coming matches.
A credible draw against Real Madrid should provide some comfort that they can compete this season.
Another milestone for Messi
Lionel Messi netted a brace in Barcelona’s 5-0 UEFA Champions League win over BATE Borisov on Wednesday to reach 194 goals for the Catalans, moving into second place as the club’s all-time goal scorers. He equaled a record set by Ladislao Kubala.
Form book show that while the Hungarian striker reached his tally over a 12 year spell at the Nou Camp, Messi racked up his in seven years, having made his debut for the Barca first team back in November 2003 in a friendly against FC Porto.
At only 24-years of age, Messi needs another 42 goals to beat Cesar Rodriguez’s tally of 235 to become the club’s all-time leading goal scorer. Can anyone rule out the possibility of him reaching that mark within the current campaign?
The Argentinean made his La Liga debut for Barca in October 2004 and scored his first competitive goal for the club against Albacete in May 2005.