surinenglish

A LOOK AT LA LIGA

Thirty-five fun-filled days

Real Madrid's Luka Modric (foreground) and Marcelo in training.
Real Madrid's Luka Modric (foreground) and Marcelo in training. / EFE
  • In some ways, this accelerated end to the season could be one of the best things to happen to this edition of the Primera División. After all, it had been a pretty unremarkable campaign

Television remotes at the ready, iron out those football scarves, professional football is very close to returning - in Spain at least.

La Liga is a few weeks ahead of the Premier League and the decision makers are on a mission to get the competition back up and running by 12 June and completed by the end of July.

It's an ambitious plan which most clubs and officials have bought into with the understandable caveat that health comes first.

Footballers and support staff are going through rigorous testing with the intention of getting the top two divisions back functioning, bringing entertainment to a frustrated public and returning to some kind of normality.

It won't be normal to have a 98,000-seater stadium empty, apart from essential personnel. It won't be normal to cram eleven games into six weeks; it won't be normal for players to nod to each other when a match-winning goal is scored instead of a ten-man pile up.

The decision has been made after weeks of debate. Of the first 2,500 tests, only five proved positive for the coronavirus. The authorities were expecting five times that number. Squads have started to train with players giving each other a respectable distance and sessions will slowly be ramped up.

However, there are some who legitimately think that it may not be a priority to get sport operating but the argument for bringing the game back is multi-faceted.

As an industry, like any industry, it needs to generate finance again. If they cancelled the season, they'd break sponsorship and broadcasting contracts meaning that the millions they depend upon will not be forthcoming and they'll struggle to pay bills and wages.

So, clear the diary (that's not difficult) and prepare for back-to-back football. La Liga president Javier Tebas is promising a top-level game every day for 35 consecutive days.

In some ways, it could be one of the best things to happen to this edition of the Primera División. After all, it had been a pretty unremarkable season. Now they steal a march on their rivals in the European football markets.

As the Premier League struggles to reach a consensus, La Liga will be back up and running and providing the fix to genuine fans of football. Previously, given a choice of television viewing, most would go for the subplots of the English product opposed to the Spanish version. Now could be a pivotal time for La Liga.

Ok, it's pretty much the same story at the peak with Barcelona and Real Madrid contesting the title, but elsewhere it's very competitive. Five clubs - Sevilla, Real Sociedad, Getafe, Atlético Madrid and Valencia - are competing for the other two top four places.

It's a battle for Champions League qualification, assuming the elite European competition returns as it seems to have gone very quiet at UEFA headquarters.

At the bottom, Espanyol looked doomed but did sign the enigmatic Raúl de Tomás who is capable of guiding them out of trouble. Valladolid, Eibar and Celta are just above the drop zone and scrapping to stay with the big boys.

It's all very intriguing and promises to be a fun-filled 35 days of much-needed escapism for us all.