With the first half of the season over it is time to analysis the first 19 matchdays of the Liga BBVA campaign. The race for the title between Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid is wide open making for what promises to be a mouth-watering second half of the season. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Real Betis, Rayo Vallecano and Valladolid all need to see an improvement in terms of results if they are to stay up.
Barcelona, the current title holders and the symbolic winter champions, finished the first half of the season tied on 50 points with Atlético, this season's revelation team. Diego Simeone's men are challenging the big two teams of the last few years after recording the best first half of the season in the club's history, since the decision was made to assign three points to a victory.
Real Madrid trails them by three points in third place. The Whites benefitted from last weekend's draw between the blaugranas and the Mattress Makers in the Vicente Calderón and then shortened the gap thanks to a win against RCD Espanyol, which came thanks to a Pepe goal that has reignited the Madrid club's hopes of winning the title.
Athletic Club sits in fourth place with eleven victories, which is equal to the number of wins the team recorded during the first half of the 1982/83 campaign, when the Basques were proclaimed Liga BBVA champions. A lot of Ernesto Valverde's side's good results have come in the new San Mamés, where the team remains undefeated.
However, the Lions are not alone in their search for a place in Europe as a Villlarreal side that has so far recorded its best ever results on the road and Real Sociedad remain hot on the Bilbao outfit's heels. Meanwhile, Sevilla has grown into the Liga BBVA season, and Valencia, with the recently appointed Juan Antonio Pizzi in the dugout, will be looking to improve its results in order to stay in the race for European football next year.
Granada CF, Levante and Getafe are all level on 23 points and make up the league table's comfort zone, as do RCD Espanyol, Málaga and Osasuna, who found their best form during the last few weeks in order to move away from the danger zone and ever closer to safety.
Near the bottom of the table, Celta Vigo, Almería and Elche continue to climb further away from the relegation zone, where Valladolid, Rayo and Betis currently find themselves. All three clubs will be hoping for results to improve during the second half of the season in order to maintain their Liga BBVA status.