Madrid: Records promise to tumble again in the 2012-13 La Liga season as powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona resume their duel for supremacy, threatening to cast Spain’s other 18 clubs even further adrift.
Jose Mourinho’s Real had to smash league points and goal-scoring tallies to end arch-rivals Barca’s three-year stranglehold on La Liga last May, driven to exceptional heights by their rivalry with one of the greatest club teams of all time.
Barca have a change of face at the helm for the new campaign with the untested Tito Vilanova having big shoes to fill as Pep Guardiola’s replacement, but after four years as assistant he brings a strong thread of continuity with him.
“This duel of titans forces the clubs and the players to become better,” Mourinho, whose side start out at home to Valencia on Sunday, told a Portuguese channel this week.
“The two clubs are fighting for world football hegemony.”
Spanish football is basking in glory after the national team completed an unprecedented treble by winning Euro 2012 in July, having also scooped the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2008.
Real and Barca supplied 11 of the 13 players who featured in Spain’s 4-0 rout of Italy in last month’s final in Kiev and with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi added to the equation, their firepower is increased further.
As with the club rivalry, the goal-scoring duel between Ronaldo and Messi appears to spur them to ever greater heights, and Argentine World Player of the Year amassed 50 league goals last season, to better Ronaldo’s previous record of 40.
Real are closing on Tottenham Hotspur’s Croatian playmaker Luka Modric to strengthen their midfield, otherwise their relatively young squad has remained largely unchanged.
Barca, who host Real Sociedad on Sunday, have added explosive Spain full back Jordi Alba to their ranks, and are seeking another defensive reinforcement before the end of the month. (Reuters)