Real Madrid came into the tie knowing that a point against Espanyol gives them their 35th league title. Despite all the flak that Carlo Ancelotti has gotten for the team’s style of play, the season will be looked at as a resounding success with a league title and a place in the UCL final. One step at a time though.
Los Blancos entered the contest following a 4-3 defeat against Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final classic in Manchester. A game where again, Real Madrid seemed to play with dysfunction yet come out with a decent result. They fancied their chances against their mid-table opposition. The capital club has picked up the most points at home – 37 points from 16 matches. Their run of four straight league victories also strengthened their odds.
Espanyol, currently 13th in Spain’s top flight on 39 points, suffered a 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano in their last league outing. They don’t have much to play for as they know they can’t make it into the European spots, and they can’t get relegated. Three points from their last four games are enough to secure their place in La Liga next season. After winning the Segunda division to climb up, Vicente Moreno has done a great job keeping his side in the top flight.
Real Madrid came with a flurry of attacks, and Mariano Diaz hit the post in the 13th minute. Karim Benzema rested for the second leg of their UCL tie. Espanyol tried to reestablish some control and produce something. Raul de Thomas threatened Thibaut Courtois from range, but it was nothing the Belgian couldn’t handle. Real threatened on the counter, and Mariano headed wide from a lovely ball from Luka Modric. Marcelo was getting involved and his shot was saved by former Madrid man Diego Lopez.
There was nothing he could do about the next effort though. Marcelo and Rodrygo Goes combined brilliantly before the youngster curled beyond the veteran keeper. Real Madrid 1-0 Espanyol. One hand on the title. The 21-year-old doubled his tally when he stole the ball from Manchester City loanee Yangel Herrera before driving and sending the keeper the wrong way. Real Madrid 2-0 Espanyol. Halftime.
Espanyol came out spirited, and a deflected freekick touched the roof of Real Madrid’s net. Marco Asensio then fired wide from distance in the 50th minute before scoring moments later. They won it at the edge of their box, and Eduardo Camavinga carried the ball half the field before slipping Asensio to finish. Real Madrid 3-0 Espanyol. The celebrations were starting. Rafael Nadal, who took the honorary kickoff, was looking pleased. Toni Kroos, Benzema, and Isco came on.
On 62, former Barcelona man Aleix Vidal tested Courtois’ palms, but he parried behind for a corner. Kroos was dispossessed in a dangerous position, but Espanyol could not make the most of Sergi Darder’s cross. Raul de Tomas and Tonny Vilhena were replaced by Wu Lei and Manu Morlanes. Isco scored after Benzema showed quality to set him up, but there was an offside in the buildup, and VAR canceled the goal. Vinicius Jr replaced Rodryo, while Fran Merida replaced Herrera. Sergi Darder produced a smart effort from outside the box, but Courtois pushed it behind.
Moments later, Madrid had four. Vini down the left, who cuts back for Benzema to score his 42nd of the campaign. Real Madrid 4-0 Espanyol. That was Vinicius’ 15th assist of the season. The best duo in world football this season, and it is only right that they sealed the La Liga title.
Carlo Ancelotti, famed for his cup successes, is now the first manager to win the top five (5) European leagues. Marcelo also became the most decorated player in Los Blancos history. Real Madrid wins their 35th La Liga title while opening the gap with Barcelona to nine (9). They have also won two (2) more titles than Barca after retaking the title from their city rivals Atletico Madrid. Hala Madrid. Congratulations on your title win!