This year's title race in Spain is shaping up to be as close as it was last year.
Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are the sides who all have realistic ambitions of winning the league.
Los Blancos have definitely dominated the first half of the season in Spain but haven't been able to create a large gap between themselves and the chasing pack.
Real however have the best squad in La Liga and if Ronaldo keep's scoring at the rate he is, Madrid should win the title easily.
However if Real where to slip up then Atletico and Barca are both ready to pounce. Atletico might have lost some of their top performers from last year's title wining side and are doing very well this season to be still challenging and should their Madrid rivals slip up they will be ready to take full advantage.
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As for Barcelona you can never right off a side that contains Messi, Neymar and Suarez but off the field issues in the boardroom and speculation of Messi's future might overshadow their season.
Battle for fourth
There is an interesting battle shaping up in La Liga for fourth spot. Assuming that Real, Barca and Atletico finish as the top three then their is a big question over who will get Spain's final spot in next seasons Champions League.
Sevilla, Valencia, and Villarreal are all having good seasons and are all looking to get back into the Champions league. They are all currently separated by just four points and will be looking for strong second half of the season performance's.
Valencia are the only one of three not in Europe so like for some sides in the Premier League this may work out to be an advantage for them. Villarreal are in the middle of a 15 game unbeaten run in all competitions and are currently four points of Sevilla who currently occupy fourth spot.
Villarreal however have lost to both Sevilla and Valencia and this could prove crucial at the end of the season as if they are level on points the head to head record is what is used rather than goal difference like in England. Sevilla look well placed to get fourth spot but they have suffered big defeats away to Barca and Atletico which has show that they can easily slip up in the games that matter most.
Battle for Survival
The bottom of La Liga is currently very tight with just five points separating bottom from twelfth. It is currently to close to call on who might go down however you would expect the likes of Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad with their quality to be safe by the end of the season. For the rest it could be a long season of swapping positions on a weekly basis.
None of the side's have the financial resource's to go out in January and by lots of players to keep them up. Come May though I think that Granada, Elche and Cordoba could find themselves dropping into the second division leaving Levante, Almeria, Getafe and Deportivo to fight another day.
Copa Del Rey
Away from the league their is also the issue of the cup to sort out. It is very hard to look past the winners of the quarter final tie between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona going on to win the cup itself especially with Real Madrid already been eliminated.
Athletic Bilbao have very good cup pedigree despite struggling in the league and will fancy their chance's of silverware. Sevilla and Villarreal also would like to go on and win the cup although their priority's may lie elsewhere.
It wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone to see Spanish side's competing for Europe's top prices come May. In the Champions League Real and Atletico both have favourable looking draws and both should easily progress to the quarter finals. It's a different story for Barcelona however who have drawn Manchester City for the second season in a row.
Barca should come through the tie and with reason past disappointments in the competition spurring them on Barca have the squad to win the competition. In the Europa League Spanish side's have been given a mixt draw. Villarreal have got a draw they would expect to win against Red Bull Salzburg but they do not have the squad to win the competition.
Bilbao have a tricky tie against Torino and like Villarreal they have the squad to win the competition. Spain's best hope lies with defending champions Sevilla who have got a verb tough tie against Borussia Monchengladbach. If Sevilla get past their German opponents then they could progress deep into the tournament.
Race for Promotion
Things are tight at the top of the Segunda Division in Spain with five teams separated by five points they currently are Las Palmas, Real Betis, Valladolid, Sporting Gijon and Girona. Sporting and Las Palmas missed out on promotion last season so will be desperate to come up this season. Girona are having an excellent season after finishing 17th last year so it would be quite a turn around for them if they could make it up
I think two of the side's who came down last season Betis and Valladolid are likely to make a return to the top flight. Also keep an eye out for Real Zaragoza who are a point outside the playoff places.
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