Real Madrid leap above Barcelona in La Liga table for first time in 27 months

Sooraj Kamath - Writer 13:39 18/08/2019
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The results from the first matchday of the 2019/20 La Liga season were even more important for Real Madrid than initially perceived.

Barcelona slumped to their first opening day defeat in 11 years after a late acrobatic goal from Athletic Bilbao legend Aritz Aduriz caused San Mames to erupt. A day later, Los Blancos cruised to a comfortable 3-1 win over Celta Vigo despite star signing Eden Hazard missing due to injury and Luka Modric being sent off during the game.

Madrid thus finished a La Liga matchday above rivals Barcelona for the first time in 818 days.

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The last time they finished above Barcelona was on the last matchday of the 2016/17 season when they clinched the title. Between the two dates, the Blaugrana have won two league titles, one Copa del Rey and Los Blancos have won the Champions League twice.

Madrid have had three managerial changes during this period, with Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari enduring short and forgettable stints before Zinedine Zidane returned to coach the side. On the other hand, Barcelona have changed their boss just once, with Luis Enrique making way for Ernesto Valverde.

The capital side endured several nightmares in El Clasicos that were played in the same period. Barcelona accumulated 10 out of a possible 12 points in four games and maintained an impressive aggregate of 11-4. Additionally, the Catalans also knocked their rivals out of the Copa del Rey once before succumbing to Valencia in the finals.

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The last time Madrid finished above Barcelona on the opening day was back in the 2007/08 season and they went on to win the title. This result should therefore be a massive morale-booster for Los Blancos, who have fast-tracked their rebuild having spent 300m euros this summer.

On paper, it’s merely three points but psychologically it could go a long way in convincing Madrid that they could break their rivals’ stranglehold on La Liga this season.

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