Spain’s La Liga 2022-2023 season was a rollercoaster ride filled with intense matches, unexpected upsets, and exhilarating performances from some of the best teams in European football. As the race for the title heated up, the battle for European qualification and the fight against relegation also provided their fair share of drama. In this post, we take a closer look at the highlights of this year’s La Liga season.
The La Liga Title Race
Nobody would have predicted that title race in La Liga this year was going to be so one-sided. Everyone expected the three usual suspects to lead the pack: FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atlético Madrid. The first of these three, FC Barcelona, showcased their consistency and strength in the league throughout the season, despite coming woefully short in European competitions.
Barcelona, under the guidance of their former star midfielder and World Cup Winner, Xavi Hernández, demonstrated a captivating attacking style of play in a key rebuilding year for them, as they emerge into the post-Messi era. In the end, they won their first title since 2019, and did so by the middle of May, giving some much-needed rest to their international players. Another notable mention is that it was club and Spain legend’s Sergio Busquets last season with Barça. Finally, it is impossible to not mention the anecdote that Barcelona won the title in Barcelona, albeit in the stadium of their bitter local rivals, Espanyol, who happened to be relegation-doomed. Needless to say, Espanyol fans did not appreciate the effusive FC Barcelona celebrations in the middle of their field, and subsequently welcomed them to leave the field.
Meanwhile, eternal rivals Real Madrid, led by their experienced manager Carlo Ancelotti, came up disappointingly short as contenders, ceding the championship with several matchdays to go, seemingly more focused on their favorite trophy, the Champions League, which they also did not win. Ultimately, the merengues came up empty in Karim Benzema’s last season with the club. Next season will surely be filled with greater expectations, now that youngsters such as Tchouameni, Camavinga, Rodrygo, Valverde, and the dynamic Vinicius have cut their teeth.
At the same time, Real’s crosstown rivals, Atlético Madrid, the defending champions, showcased their resilience and determination to retain the title early on, but could not compete with the depth of their rivals. This has led some to wonder whether Simeone’s reign is nearing its end.
Apart from the title race, the battle for European qualification was also intense. Sevilla, Villarreal, and Real Sociedad fought tooth and nail to secure a place in the prestigious UEFA Champions League. The first of these, Sevilla, managed to stave off a relegation threat as late as February, rebounded, and ended up winning the Europa League, again. These teams displayed their tactical brilliance and showcased their ability to compete against the best in Europe. Meanwhile, Real Betis, Athletic Bilbao, and Valencia appeared as contenders for the UEFA Europa League spots, which would ensure their presence in European competitions next season.
However, things did not go exactly as planned, with Sevilla dropping out of contention early and Villarreal unable to home in on a top-4 finish. Valencia, meanwhile, became unlikely relegation strugglers and were happy enough to ensure their permanence on the last day of the season. Meanwhile, Real Sociedad ended up with the coveted fourth Champions League spot. In the end, Villarreal and Real Betis comfortably took the Europa League spots in fifth and sixth place, respectively, with Osasuna beating Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao to the Conference League place.
The fight to avoid relegation is always a nerve-wracking affair, and this season was no different. As usual, minnows such as Elche, Girona, Mallorca, and Almería seemed destined to be out of the race. However, surprises were to come as several unexpected teams found themselves embroiled in the battle to remain in La Liga. Prominent clubs like Celta Vigo, Valencia, Sevilla, and Espanyol struggled to secure crucial victories to stay afloat. The last matchday was fiercely contested as each team fought tooth and nail, knowing that relegation could have devastating consequences for the future of the club. This season, as many as six teams were in the danger zone on the last day of the season, with Valladolid being the last one to join Elche and Espanyol on the way out.
The La Liga season provided a platform for emerging talents to shine. This time around, some of the standout young players included Gabri Veiga (Celta de Vigo), who had an outstanding season and is coveted by many European teams; Niko Williams, who featured for Athletic Club Bilbao and the Spanish national team; and Yeremi Pino of Villareal, who mesmerized the fans with his skill and potential. These rising stars showcased their flair, technique, and ability to perform under pressure, becoming key contributors to their respective teams.
The La Liga 2022-2023 season was a spectacle of Spanish football at its finest. The battle for the title, European qualification, and relegation showcased the drama, passion, and skill that make La Liga one of the most exciting football leagues in the world. With emerging stars making their mark alongside established veterans, the season was a testament to the talent and competitiveness of Spanish football. As fans eagerly await the next La Liga season, they can reflect on the thrilling moments and memorable matches that made this year’s campaign truly unforgettable.