Ceteris Paribus, La Liga Round 15

Barcelona’s defeat at the new and already mythical stadium San Mames – where Athletic Bilbao remains undefeated – triggered all sorts of speculations about La Liga.

First, it is now common place to read in mainstream media that Tata Martino is no longer able to pass over the Catalan football legacy to the next generation of fresh players. This obsession for instant success or catastrophic failure leaves no room to see the actual facts which best describe the moderate changes that occur in La Liga. For example, Barcelona has now accumulated 9 injured players and this affects the main backbone of the team. Nonetheless, their distinct football style can still be seen on the football field – regardless of the players. As a result, it is no surprise that a turbulent week followed with negative results. Meanwhile, the team remains at the top of both the Champions League group stage and La Liga.

To back up this argument, just read the comments from the coach of Athletic Bilbao, Ernesto Valverde: “This victory gives us confidence, but we must not adopt an attitude of pride or arrogance.”

So, what really changed in the Spanish football league?

The other two contenders, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid continue to win and are now closer to overcome Barcelona at the general standings. However, this has not yet taken place and cannot be taken for granted when both teams will have a tough Round 16, facing Valencia and visiting Osasuna respectively. Furthermore, even if the two teams from Madrid overtake Barcelona we have to remember that it is still early in La Liga to predict a definite trend.

The title of this article is Ceteris Paribus, a Latin phrase that is commonly used by physicists and economists to explain causal relationships. This time, the scientific experiment is La Liga and the variable under analysis is Barcelona. So, what was the causal effect of Barcelona’s first defeat in the tournament?

(Click the scores to view the highlights!)

Three interesting results from the top to the bottom of La Liga:
Villarreal 1 – Malaga 1
The home team just made it to the first division. They are displaying beautiful collective football. Amidst, a consistent overall performance on the tournament and on the verge of another victory the team from the City of Malaga scored during the last minute of the match. Marcelino Garcia Toral, Villarreal’s coach, literally said after the game that “this point is shit”. Although his team probably deserved to win, it could well be a generous call: stop feeding the mentioned obsession for instant success or catastrophic failure. You’re doing great, just keep steady the course!

Granada 1 – Sevilla 2: the visiting team seem to have found the arguments to pursue better results at La Liga with Rakitic commanding the team as the attacking midfielder. Their coach, Unai Emery, regains support and stated: “It was important to win, although there are a lot of rounds still ahead.”

Real Betis 2 – Rayo Vallecano 2: although this result is not useful for either team, it threw Real Betis deeper into its current crisis. Considering that the performance of the team is not promising at the Europa League and that the last team standing in La Liga, coach Pepe Mel was later dismissed by the owners of the club. This was an almost predictable consequence but one that has no direct influence on the other teams.

After this short analysis of La Liga, I have to conclude that the causal effect of Barcelona losing their first game in the tournament left the other nineteen variables (teams) unaffected or what is the same, Ceteris Paribus.

More results – Round 15
Getafe 1 – Levante 0
Elche 0 – Atletico Madrid 2
Celta 3 – Almeria 1
Real Madrid 4 – Valladolid 0
Espanyol 1 – Real Sociedad 2
Valencia 3 – Osasuna 0
Athletic Bilbao 1 – Barcelona 0

(Click the scores to view the highlights!)

In another language, taking one giant leap from Latin to Rock and Roll, I found out that the facts in La Liga are also explained accurately through the phrase “The Song Remains the Same”. For Led Zeppelin, this was the opening song of their 1973 album “Houses of the Holy” and the title of the live album released later, in 1976. For us, Spanish football league followers, it may well be the immediate reality of La Liga that undergoes slow changes.

Final words that can describe the music in the Spanish football league: the teams can choose to play each game as if it were the last and pursue objectives that allow long term growth or face the intense and overrated journey into instant success or catastrophic failure, like a true Rock and Roll band.

About Nico Argentato

Spanish and English teacher, Sports Psychology student and music enthusiast. An innate passion for movement and rhythm prompted my early development in the sports world; participating in most sports that involve a ball. Now, I am also looking for the words that can best describe that vital energy: the music in football and world sports.
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