The suspense in La Liga’s title race died a long time ago, but it is now official: Real Madrid is Spain’s new king.
Real Madrid has won La Liga for a record 35th time, clinching the title with four games to spare following Saturday’s 4–0 win over Espanyol at the Bernabéu. With last season’s champion Atlético Madrid stumbling more frequently than usual and fighting for a top-four finish, and Barcelona still reeling from the financial crisis that cost the club, Lionel Messi, to PSG, Real has risen to the top.
The title is the club’s second in three seasons, and it ensures that the trophy will remain in the Spanish capital following a two-year run for Barcelona from 2018 to 2019. It was made possible in large part by the forward play of Karim Benzema. The 34-year-old Frenchman has aged admirably, leading La Liga with 25 goals (he’ll end Messi’s five-year streak of domestic scoring titles) and scoring 41 goals in 41 games this season across all competitions.
His Champions League exploits have been especially impressive, with 14 goals—six of which came on consecutive hat tricks against PSG and Chelsea—leading the competition. Real Madrid still has a chance to add to its record haul of European silverware (13 titles), but it must overcome a 4–3 aggregate deficit to Manchester City in Madrid on Wednesday following their wild semifinal first leg in England this week.
But Real Madrid’s rise under Carlo Ancelotti has been about more than Benzema. Vinicius Junior’s breakout season has greatly aided the attack, with the dynamic 21-year-old Brazilian ranking second on the club in league play with 14 goals. With this title, Ancelotti has broken new ground. It is his first La Liga title in his second stint with Madrid, and it gives him victories as a manager in all of Europe’s “top five” leagues, having previously won the Premier League (Chelsea), Serie A (AC Milan), Ligue 1 (PSG), and Bundesliga (Bayern Munich). No other manager in history has accomplished such a feat.