A club-by-club recap of how 2018 has been treating the Catalonian and Basque teams in Liga Iberdrola.
Still the team to beat this season, Barcelona have had a near-perfect 2018, dropping just two points in their first five matches of the year.
The year started with a mini-rout at home to Levante, Elise Bussaglia the orchestrator for the Blaugrana, her ninth minute goal the start of a long day for Levante, the French international with a hand in both of Patri Guijarro’s goals before Alexia Putellas made it four. The goals slowed after the break with Lieke Martens adding the fifth and final blow for Las Granotas.
Back at the Joan Gamper the following week, Barca found it far tougher to break down Zaragoza than the last time they met (a brutal 9-0 on the first day of the season) and managed just one goal in each half. Vicky Losada’s opener added to late in the day by Andressa.
In their third match of the year the Catalonians bagged yet another clean sheet on the road, their 3-0 over Albacete routine as Martens, Toni Duggan and Patri all got the better of Elena. Barca’s first match this month brought about just the second time they’ve failed to score in the league this season, an improved Sociedad side too stubborn to give them a route through, a rare blemish on their record.
A trip to Badajoz was in store for their fifth outing of the year, Bárbara Latorre the magician on the road, her brace either side of a Putellas goal enough for the Blaugrana. With 11 matches of the season left, the Catalans sit two points clear of Atleti in second, 27 goals better off.
Far from the most consistent team in Liga Iberdrola this season, Espanyol have had a mixed bag of a year so far with two wins, two losses and a draw. 2018 started out with back-to-back losses for the Periquitos, María José’s goal enough for Tenerife to claim all three points at home before Betis hit them for two in Seville.
Back in Catalunya, Espanyol had more joy at home first downing Sevilla by a goal to nil courtesy of Cristina Baudet’s strike just before the hour, the 26-year-old on target the following week against Huelva in another 1-0 win. Nuria Garrote was the one to open the scores when the Periquitos squared off with Rayo in Madrid, Paula Andújar’s second-half effort enough to see the spoils shared.
Espanyol’s inconsistent season reflected on the table, the Blanquiazules sit ninth, in touching distance of both seventh and thirteenth.
The team just out of touch with the top two, Bilbao have not always shown their best this season, their form continuing well into this year. 2018 started with a local win over fellow northern side, Real Sociedad, Yulema Corres and Maite Oroz’s goals either side of the break enough for the hosts, leaving Etxezarreta’s late gambit a mere consolation.
Erika Vázquez’s eighth goal of the season ensured a home win over league strugglers Santa Teresa before Zuri-gorriak fell to a lone goal from Anita in Huelva. Athletic’s fifth loss of the season fed into their sixth, the visitors seeing little joy at Valencia’s Paterna home, María Díaz’ goal between a Mari Paz brace the only high point of Bilbao’s day. A third and final goal for Las Ches enough to make the difference insurmountable for Bilbao, the team more fired up for their fifth match of the year. Against champions Atleti, Zuri-gorriak found themselves two goals down at the break but second half effort from Nekane and Vázquez got the better of Lola and the hosts took a valuable point off of Las Colchoneras – though it could have been all three had Oroz not missed her penalty.
A team who’ve slowly found their feet this season, Txuri-urdinak stumbled at the start of the year, a 2-1 loss to local rival, Athletic Club swiftly followed up by a loss to Valencia, Mari Paz’ hat trick enough to sink the visitors – although once again they found a late consolation goal. Given a stern test at home to Atleti, Sociedad once more found themselves down at half time for an early strike from Kenti Robles, Nahikari García’s effort not long after the break enough for a point in Lasarte-Oria.
Having just inflicted Las Colchoneras’ second draw of the season, Txuri-Urdinak had the ominous task of holding off Barcelona for 90 minutes in Catalunya, the Basques digging deep to keep the hosts at bay. Picking up a head of steam once more, Sociedad charged head-first into their fifth match of the year, Claudia Zornoza’s brace enough to leave Madrid with no room to turn, Ramajo’s stoppage time goal the gloss on a fine afternoon for the hosts.
Very much on the back foot after such a slow start to the season, Sociedad continue to ail in the bottom half of the table though are making fine progress upwards and have put daylight between themselves and the bottom two.