The 2020/21 LaLiga Santander season has reached the halfway stage, with the completion of Matchday 19 meaning that most clubs having now played 19 of their 38 fixtures.
Even with the campaign only half-complete, so much drama has already been produced and so many stories have already been told. Here is a look back over the best moments from the first 19 rounds of action, from the standout players to the most incredible goals.
The best teams
Given that Atletico Madrid lead the way in the table, they have to be considered as one of the best teams so far this campaign. They’ve actually only played 17 of their first 19 matches, yet they already have 44 points.
If they were to keep up this pace then they’d finish the year with an incredible 98 points. Having adopted a new back-three system, they’re flying high.
Looking a little further down the table, Cadiz also stand out as one of the top units so far this season. They’ve been the best of the newly-promoted sides and currently sit ninth, thanks in part to memorable victories over Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Sevilla are having a quietly impressive campaign too and haven’t yet played all 19 of their fixtures from the first half of the season, while there are promising signs at Villarreal under Unai Emery.
Granada, meanwhile, are currently in seventh. That’s where they finished last season and it is credit to the work of Diego Martínez and his coaching staff that they’ve been able to remain competitive domestically at the same time as competing in Europe.
The best players
Luis Suarez has been one of the stars of the season so far, firing in the goals for his new club Atletico Madrid. His 11 goals put him joint-top of the Pichichi charts alongside his friend and former Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi.
Youssef En-Nesyri is another forward who is having a brilliant season. The Sevilla man has really kicked on this year, scoring nine LaLiga Santander goals already. That matches his previous best for an entire season, so it’s fair to say that the Moroccan is in the form of his life.
Spaniards Gerard Moreno and Iago Aspas are also having good seasons for Villarreal and Celta Vigo, respectively. They’re both near the top of the scoring charts too, but it’s more than just goals that they bring to their teams. They contribute to their sides’ overall play and that’s never more evident that when they’ve been out injured.
They say you don’t always know what you have until it’s gone and these two teams’ rare moments of struggle have come without their star strikers.
Looking at other positions, Luka Modric is having one of his best ever seasons in the Real Madrid midfield. Even though he is now 35 years of age, the Croatian is just as impactful as he was when he won the Ballon d’Or in 2018.
Mikel Merino and Dani Parejo have also stood out for Real Sociedad and for Villarreal as some of the league’s best midfielders, while Kieran Trippier has played brilliantly for Atletico de Madrid from his brand new right-wingback position.
Then, as has been the case for the past several years, the goalkeeping in LaLiga Santander has been excellent. Box office stars like Jan Oblak, Thibaut Courtois and Marc-Andre ter Stegen have been as decisive as always, while the likes of Bono, Marko Dmitrovic – who scored against Atletico just this week – and Rui Silva have been brilliant too.
The best youngsters
Several young players have broken through this season and have really impressed. One of them is Ronald Araujo at Barcelona. The 21-year-old Uruguyan centre-back has had a lot of responsibility placed on his young shoulders due to the long-term injury suffered by Gerard Pique, but he has responded so well and is proving himself to be one of the top defenders in the league.
Another of Barça youngsters making a name for himself this season is Pedri. Signed from Las Palmas in the summer, the 18-year-old has been dribbling and passing his way through LaLiga Santander’s best defences, quickly winning the respect of Messi.
There have also been several young wingers to emerge over the first 19 rounds of this season, such as Valencia’s 18-year-old Yunus Musah, Real Sociedad’s 19-year-old Ander Barrenetxea or Eibar’s 19-year-old Bryan Gil. Able to get past defenders, these players are proving so useful for their teams.
Unai Vencedor, meanwhile, has earned a place as a regular starter in Athletic Bilbao’s central midfield. The Basque club’s Lezama Academy has produced several great midfielders over the years and it seems the 20-year-old is the latest one.
The best goals
Even with some matches still to be played from these first 19 matchdays, there have already been 451 goals scored in Spain’s top division and some of them have been truly outstanding.
There have been classic thwacks from distance, such as Antoine Griezmann’s volley against Osasuna, Kike Garcia’s top-corner curler against Real Madrid, Eden Hazard’s fizzing effort against Huesca, Facundo Roncaglia’s blast against Celta or Damian Suarez’s nutmeg and hit against the Galicians too.
There have also been some subtler but just as beautiful goals, like Marcos Llorente’s finish from an impossible angle against Real Betis, Pedri and Messi’s combination away at Athletic Club or Shinji Okazaki’s first ever LaLiga Santander goal when he coolly chipped into an empty net against Granada.
On Matchday 19, there was even a goal that went viral worldwide as Eibar goalkeeper Dmitrovic took a penalty for the Basque side and converted it against Jan Oblak.
Watch LaLiga Santander live this weekend on your local broadcasters.