No sooner is the festive period over and done with than the staff from La Liga’s teams will all report back for duty.

Unlike their Premier League counterparts, who still insist on the traditional Boxing Day fixtures despite the fact that they’ve taken every other vestige of tradition away, in Spain the players – and coaching staff – at least enjoy a week’s rest.

But once that’s over, it’s full steam ahead once more. And for Messrs. Valverde, Solari and Simeone, the next few months could prove very interesting indeed.

Will Valverde Still Be Here Next Season?

It’s no secret that Ernesto Valverde’s contract with Barcelona is up at the end of the current season, but there is, and always has been, a one-year extension on the table.

The issue for the club is that the coach, to this point at least, has shown no obvious willingness to want to sign it.

Whilst Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board remain convinced that the Basque is the right man for the job, they have nevertheless issued him with an ultimatum. If he doesn’t commit to a further year by February, then the board will start to look elsewhere for another incumbent.

The latter scenario being the case, it could have a negative effect on the first team at a crucial stage of the campaign, and with the Champions League re-starting at just that time, Lionel Messi and Co. certainly won’t want any other distractions as they go in search of silverware.

Silverware Needed For Santiago

Santiago Solari, meanwhile, faces pressure of an altogether different kind.

Having won the Club World Cup, that will have earned him some credit in the corridors of power at the Santiago Bernabeu, but there does seem to be a feeling that the appointment could only be temporary.

There’s been no suggestion from the club Solari is anything other than their first team coach for the long-term, however, it’s well known that there were serious misgivings about him amongst the board after the performances against Eibar and CSKA Moscow, both 3-0 defeats.

Clearly, if the Argentinian can keep Los Blancos ticking along nicely in all competitions, the likelihood of the club going all out for Mauricio Pochettino in the summer is remote.

But the presence of his countryman does loom large. He is continuing to enhance his reputation at Tottenham and if there’s no more silverware on the table at Real Madrid come May, regrettably, Solari could be shunted back to coaching the youngsters at Castilla.

Can Simeone Hold Things Together?

Diego Simeone seems well placed to have a great second half of the season at Atletico Madrid.

His team are once again performing wonders in the league and remain Barcelona’s closest challengers.

A heavy defeat at Borussia Dortmund notwithstanding, the Rojiblancos have been their old cantankerous selves. Single goal wins have become commonplace with no other defeats on their record since September 1.

All of that has been achieved with a lengthy injury list and a front line that has underperformed at times in 2018/19.The big question mark over Atleti is whether they’ve enough about them, and the requisite strength in depth, to make a sustained challenge over the entire campaign.

Lucas Hernandez looks like he’s off to Bayern Munich, and Antoine Griezmann’s astronomical salary is also causing problems behind the scenes, so it will be interesting to see if Simeone can keep everything together on and off the pitch long enough before it all starts to unravel.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

Join the discussion