Real Madrid are not at the top of the LaLiga table coming out of Matchday 11, though they do have a game in hand.
The current league leaders are none other than Real Sociedad, who have frequently been tough opponents for Los Blancos over the last couple of years and seem to be more dangerous than ever this season.
Coming into 2021-2022, most analysts saw two main title contenders in LaLiga, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. The crosstown rivals were the top teams in 2020-2021, fighting for the title until the very last day when Luis Suarez saved Los Rojiblancos amidst a furious Royal White comeback against Villarreal.
This season, Atleti are currently not even the second-best team in Madrid, sitting behind Rayo Vallecano. Now, they remain the favorites in the league and will shoot back up the table, but their draw to Levante is a reminder of how precarious their position is as defending champions.
Aside from those two powerhouse clubs in Spain, Sevilla were tabbed as a darkhorse contender in LaLiga. They have a great squad, a clear identity as a team, and a new star in Erik Lamela. They are also tied on points with Real Madrid, so the Andalusian club is very much in the mix, as many predicted before the season.
But La Real were not quite as popular. Imanol Alguacil’s side, though, are clearly playing the best football in LaLiga. They beat a very good Celta Vigo side at the Balaidos on Thursday night, surviving the challenge in rainy circumstances with a 2-0 win and a clean sheet.
Known for their fluid attacking play and the scoring excellence of Mikel Oyarzabal and Alexander Isak, La Real have added strong defending to their attacking identity. Only Sevilla and Athletic Club have surrendered fewer goals in the league this season, and they have both played one fewer match.
With Mikel Merino and David Silva, La Real also have a stalwart midfield presence to add to their team-oriented defending and individual attacking quality. There is young talent, depth, and veteran know-how in this squad.
Real Madrid will face Real Sociedad on Dec. 5, one week after facing another title contender in Sevilla. LaLiga feels wide open right now, with Real Betis also tied with Los Blancos on 21 points. Madrid defeated Betis this season, but only just.
In Atletico Madrid, La Real, and Sevilla, Los Merengues face three very tough challengers for the crown. Right now, it is Real Sociedad that are making the most noise and getting the job done with the most efficiency each week.
Madridistas may have rejoiced Barcelona’s decline and the gritty 2-1 Clasico triumph, but those celebrations ring hollow. There is a lot of work to be done this season for Real, because a few of the other clubs in this tough league have definitely stepped up.
Add Real Sociedad to the list. They are legit. They can beat anyone on their day and have enviable balance in their squad. Isak and Oyarzabal are capable of moments of pure magic in the attacking end, and Los Blancos undoubtedly have their memories of being torn apart by the Swede.
La Real were an impressive team in 2019-2020 when they made a charge for a Champions League spot, led by Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard. They are an even stronger, more well-rounded team now in 2021-2022. Los Blancos must take them seriously as a threat in LaLiga.