Barcelona's La Liga hegemony under threat?

Barcelona's La Liga title chances lie with Sergi Roberto. Can he seal the triumph for Barcelona or will he be outplayed by the opposition on the screen?

Sergi Roberto

Barcelona midfielder Sergi Roberto is among the 19 stars who will participate in the FIFA 20 tournament.   -  Getty Images

Barcelona's chances lie in the capable hands of academy graduate Sergi Roberto. The 28-year-old midfielder has the chance to seal the title for Barca, but in unchartered territories, away from the the lush Camp Nou pitch. Roberto won't have the ball at his feet, but will look to seal the title with a controller in his hand.

Barcelona's hegemony - which has seen the Catalan club lift 10 La Liga titles this century - appears to be under threat as an online football contest has given the fellow Spanish top-tier clubs a realistic shot at claiming the trophy.

Roberto, Real Madrid's Marco Asensio and Atletico Madrid's Marcos Llorente, are the top names among the 19 La Liga footballers who have accepted Spanish video game influencer Ibai Llanos' challenge to take part in an online tournament to be contested on FIFA 20 at a time when the he COVID-19 pandemic has brought an abrupt halt sporting action across the globe.

Llanos, a sports commentator, took to his Twitter to suggest that a player from each of the 20 top-tier outfits represent their team in an online competition. His tweet gained a lot of eyeballs and the La Liga and Santander bank joined the #LaLigaSantanderChallenge.

Ibai Llanos witter

Ibai Llanos' tweet went viral and caught the attention of the La Liga stars as well.

 

Now, a football game without commentary is plain boring. But that aspect has also been dealt with as renowned Spanish football commentators Miguel Angel Roman, Manolo Lama and Ruben Martin, have agreed to be a part of the challenge, calling the games from their respective houses.

 

Competition format and schedule

The tournament features a series of ties that will be decided in best-of-one games played over 18 minutes (two nine-minute halves). The competition began on Thursday and will be played over the weekend. 

The last-16 draw in full:

  • CA Osasuna v CD Leganes or R. Valladolid CF
  • Sevilla FC  v Athletic Club
  • Levante UD v D. Alaves or RC Celta
  • Real Sociedad v Atletico Madrid
  • FC Barcelona v RCD Espanyol or SD Eibar
  • Getafe CF v Real Betis
  • Villarreal CF v Valencia CF
  • Granada CF v Real Madrid

 

In a bid to contribute to society in the context of the current health crisis caused by coronavirus, fans watching the games on the video live streaming service Twitch, can make donations and all the funds will be directed to UNICEF's efforts to combat coronavirus.

Here are the 19 players who have signed up:

  • Athletic Club: Gorka Guruzeta
  • FC Barcelona: Sergi Roberto
  • RCD Espanyol: Adrian Embarba
  • Real Madrid: Marco Asensio
  • Atletico Madrid: Marcos Llorente
  • Sevilla CF: Sergio Reguilon
  • Real Betis: Borja Iglesias
  • Real Sociedad: Adnan Januzaj
  • Levante UD: Carlos Clerc
  • Valencia CF: Carlos Soler
  • CA Osasuna: Ruben García
  • D. Alaves: Lucas Perez
  • Villarreal CF: Manu Morlanes
  • RC Celta: Kevin Vazquez
  • R. Valladolid CF: Pedro Porro
  • CD Leganes: Aitor Ruibal
  • Granada CF: Jose Antonio Martinez
  • SD Eibar: Edu Exposito
  • Getafe CF: Jason Remeseiro

  Dugout videos