Hay liga! The race for the title is still wide open

Win over rivals reminds us we're in a great position to defend crown

Godín lifts the Spanish trophy earlier this season

Godín lifts the Spanish trophy earlier this season

It’s always funny to read articles at the beginning of the season.

Marca claimed Real Madrid had a shot at winning the glorious ‘sextete’. Six trophies. It seems they had already forgotten that Real Madrid didn’t win the league title last season. Instead of calming down, the press just got worse. “The best Real Madrid ever,” was one of ABC’s headlines in late November.

Why am I talking about this? Because “the best Real Madrid ever” got 48 points from their first 19 league matches. A very respectable amount that is difficult to achieve. But last season, after the same amount of matches played, Atlético de Madrid had 50 points.

Remember, this was the Atleti team that had to deal with “El Atleti caerá” – the assumption that Atleti will fall. It’s curious to see the best Madrid ever surpassed by a team that was doomed to fail.

Match day 22 in the 2013/14 season had Atleti in first place with 57 points. Diego Costa had scored 19 goals and David Villa, his partner up top, had netted 10. This season Atlético is in third place with 50 points. Griezmann has scored 12 goals, the same amount he had this stage last season and Mandzukic has 11.

Last season, the team had scored 56 goals and conceded 14 times at this stage. This season, the defence has conceded six more goals and scored nine less.

This all makes it seem like Atlético are having a bad season compared to last. But I don’t think so.

Yes, the team may have seven fewer points, but the beginning of the season was a period of transition and many beautiful things have already happened this season.

It all started with the Supercopa de España, the trophy that Atleti couldn’t snatch last season, despite not losing either one of the ties. This season was different and Atlético started off the season with a title after beating Real Madrid 2-1 on aggregate. The ‘sextete’ dream was already over just weeks after it had begun. Sorry, Real Madrid. (We’re not really.)

The Champions League started in horrible fashion as Atlético lost their first match, but went on an impressive spree to clinch first place in the group. In a few weeks, Bayer Leverkusen will host Atlético for the round-of-16. So far, the Champions League dream is alive, just as it was last season.

Last season’s Copa del Rey campaign saw Atlético get humiliated by Real Madrid 5-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals. This season, Atlético “only” made it to the quarter-finals after being eliminated by Barcelona; however, the team managed to knock out Real Madrid 4-2 on aggregate. A definite improvement compared to last season.

In fact, Atleti hasn’t lost once to Real Madrid this season. In six matches, Atleti has won four and drawn the other two. A sight that many Colchoneros haven’t witnessed. In fact, I was only four years old the last time Atlético beat Real Madrid in the Calderón in league play. I’m glad the spur of bad results is over and that I can enjoy the wins as an adult.

Yes, it’s true that Atleti have fewer points than last season, but the season isn’t over.

The team is still fighting in the Champions League and they are only four points from first place in the league. Hay liga.

Dear Barcelona and Real Madrid, hay liga.

The race for the league title is back and Atleti is hungry for a repeat. Hay liga!