La Liga title race in the balance but Madrid seize momentum
MADRID: Real Madrid and Barcelona are neck-and-neck in the closest title race in Europe as La Liga’s top two have enjoyed an almost faultless return since Spanish football resumed two weeks ago.
But Barca’s performances have been less convincing than their results and a draw away at Sevilla has allowed Madrid to clear a two-point deficit and reclaim first place due to a superior head-to-head.
Beneath them, Atletico Madrid have surged into third, their concerns of missing out on Champions League qualification evaporating almost entirely as their top-four rivals have crumbled around them.
The three-month suspension has also had varying effects at the bottom, where Celta Vigo and Eibar have managed to pull away, leaving Real Mallorca, Leganes and Espanyol with a mountain to climb.
Here, AFP Sport draws five conclusions from the first two weeks since La Liga resumed.
Benzema puts Madrid in charge
When Real Madrid restarted, many wondered whether the recovery of Eden Hazard might propel them ahead of Barcelona down the final straight.
But Karim Benzema has been the catalyst for four wins out of four, the Frenchman coming back at his sharp, confident and clinical best.
Benzema’s touch and volley against Valencia may be goal of the season while his link-up with Hazard could finally offer an answer to the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo. Hazard’s fitness is still a worry. The Belgian came off after an hour against Mallorca on Wednesday as Zinedine Zidane appears keen to manage his minutes. - AFP