Champions! Real Madrid clinch LaLiga title


Real Madrid won the LaLiga title on Saturday after a 4-0 win over Espanyol gave them an insurmountable lead over Barcelona at the top of the table with four games still to play.

Rodrygo’s first half double set the champions elect on their way to the title at the Bernabeu before Marco Asensio made it 3-0 soon after the break. Karim Benzema grabbed a fourth after coming on as a substitute amid jubilant scenes at the Bernabeu.

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The league title is Madrid’s second trophy of the 2021-22 season after winning the Spanish Supercopa in January. They will look to keep hopes of more silverware alive on Wednesday in their Champions League semifinal second leg with Manchester City, trailing 4-3.

Manager Carlo Ancelotti — who returned to the club last summer for his second spell in charge — becomes the first coach to win the title in Europe’s “top five” leagues: Italy’s Serie A, England’s Premier League, France’s Ligue 1, Germany’s Bundesliga and now Spain’s LaLiga.

Madrid have now won LaLiga a total of 35 times, the most of any Spanish club, ahead of Barcelona with 26. Four of those titles have come since 2010, in 2012, 2017, 2020 and now 2022, a period in which the club has also won four Champions League titles.

Ancelotti was appointed last June — after predecessor Zinedine Zidane resigned — and tasked with deposing last year’s champions and local rivals Atletico Madrid.

The squad was strengthened by the signings of defender David Alaba on a free transfer from Bayern Munich and midfielder Eduardo Camavinga in a deadline-day deal with Rennes, while there were two significant departures, Raphael Varane joining Manchester United, and captain Sergio Ramos moving to Paris Saint-Germain.

The team started the season strongly, propelled by the performances of strike duo Karim Benzema — who has gone on to score 42 goals in all competitions, 26 of them in LaLiga — and Vinicius Junior. As rivals Atletico and Barca struggled to find consistency, Madrid built up an imposing lead, and have topped the table since November.

They have rarely looked like being caught since, and have lost just three times in LaLiga: beaten at Espanyol in October and Getafe in January, as well as a 4-0 home defeat to Barcelona in March.

When they have come under pressure, Thibaut Courtois has starred in goal, keeping 14 clean sheets and conceding 29 goals, the second-lowest tally in the division behind Sevilla.

Madrid have managed to balance domestic duties with a Champions League run which has seen them eliminate PSG and Chelsea in the round of 16 and quarterfinals, respectively. They will host City on Wednesday looking to book their fifth Champions League final place in the last decade.

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