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Published on May 22nd, 2017 | by Paco Polit

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Real Madrid’s five-year wait for La Liga is finally over

Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo sealed the deal on the title whilst the race for Europe went down to the final seconds on the last day of La Liga

Real Madrid clinched the La Liga title some five seasons later, in a match where they only needed to secure a single point to seal the deal, but preferred beating Málaga properly with another show of chilling effectiveness and an habitual pinch of laziness to make the mix more interesting (0-2).

As has become a habit this year, Madrid proved to be La Liga’s most formidable heavy-hitter with a Cristiano Ronaldo goal in the second minute (a beautiful assist by Isco, by the way) and went to sleep after that. Yes, Malaga’s defense was as dodgy as they come, but Michel’s side tried nonetheless to tickle its opponent into some sort of unease. Keylor Navas, however, was not in a festive mood: the flying keeper denied both Sandro Ramírez and Keko Gontán, effectively maintaining Real’s advantage at half-time.

After some rest, Zinedine Zidane’s side went full-charge to secure the championship, and once again that moment of luck that has propelled them so far this season came in handy to help Karim Benzemá to be placed at the exact spot, at the exact time: the Frenchman finished a rebound inside the box with ease to close the game and make it official. Real Madrid seized the championship trophy five years later… and their success may be doubled if they knock-out Juventus in the Champions League final.

Congratulations!

Barça’s hollow victory as Luis Enrique says goodbye

With one more game to go (Copa del Rey final versus Deportivo Alavés on May 27th), Luis Enrique said goodbye to the Camp Nou crowd with a final win that was ultimately moot in terms of clinching the La Liga trophy. Real Madrid succeeded in winning its game, so Barça’s comeback against Eibar (4-2) was as pointless as they come.

However, it is true that Barça showed against the Armero side some of the spirit they lacked in other games this season, those that cost them the championship against Deportivo, or Málaga, or Celta. This time, Leo Messi and Luis Suarez (with a little extra referee help) managed to bounce back after Takashi Inui’s double on their home turf.

Barça’s demise this season both in Europe and in La Liga requires huge transformations next season. With Ernesto Valverde already in the waiting room (his signing should be official after the Copa del Rey final), Barça must once again re-energise itself and find a new spin on their possession, attractive football style, given that Real Madrid’s sheer (and brutal) effectiveness in their attack have made them the top side in Spain this year.

Fortunately, Barça has Leo Messi tightly secured: with the little magic man on their team, football matters may change in their favour in a heartbeat next season

Athletic Bilbao left out of Europe after last minute stunner

The fight was heated till the end and, when the dust settled, Athletic Club was the one kicked out from the select group of teams that will compete in Europe.

Villarreal came in fifth after trouncing Valencia away from El Madrigal (1-3), with a huge performance by Roberto Soldado and assisted by the sheer incompetence of the Valencianista defense. The local team left Mestalla this season booed by their crowd and hoping that incoming coach Marcelino García Toral will improve things this summer.

In similar fashion, Real Sociedad earned a single point in their tough away game in Vigo (2-2) against a very motivated Celta, which said goodbye with a draw to Eduardo ‘Toto’ Berizzo’s stint as their manager.

Juanmi Jiménez was the hero on the Txuri Urdin side, with a heavenly header in injury time that sent his team skyrocketing into the European spots, after Athletic Club’s loss in Madrid. A well-deserved prize for one of the teams that has better performed in 2017.

On the other hand, Athletic Club came crashing down in their final game against Atlético de Madrid. A match with huge symbolism, as it was also the last official Rojiblanco game taking place in the Vicente Calderón stadium, which will be replaced by La Pechina next season as Atleti’s new home.

Fernando Torres became the Basque bogeyman with a quick double in the opening minutes that left Athletic Club stunned and hapless. Ernesto Valverde’s men used pride as their fuel to tighten the game with twenty minutes to go (Iñaki Williams, 2-1). However, Atleti wasn’t ready to give up on a last win at their home for a half-a-century, and Ángel Correa scored the third, sending Athletic down to seventh spot.

Now Athletic Club’s only hope of playing in Europe next season relies on Barça winning the Copa del Rey final: if Alavés is the one who triumphs, the Mendizorroza team will be the one to take a ride around the continent next season.

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About the Author

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Paco Polit is a Valencia-based journalist with over ten years experience reporting La Liga, covering both Valencia CF and Levante's news, signings, ups and downs. Madrid and Barcelona are huge, indeed, but the Spanish La Liga is much, much more: regarded as the top football competition in the world, he enjoys explaining why to every reader from abroad.



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