Surprising start to season: Madrid struggles, Barca thrives

Published 11:19 a.m. ET Sept. 11, 2017

MADRID (AP) — No one saw this one coming.

Real Madrid is the team struggling early in the Spanish league. Barcelona is just cruising along in the lead.

It was supposed to be the other way around considering how both teams entered the season: Barcelona was in turmoil, Madrid was thriving.

Madrid, the defending European and Spanish champion, was considered the early favorite after keeping its top players from a season ago and routing Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup. It had also defeated Manchester United 2-1 in the European Super Cup.

Barcelona was reeling after the surprise departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain and the failure to sign many top players during the offseason. It also had to deal with the absence of Luis Suarez because of an injury.

It all pointed to early success for Madrid and disappointment for…

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