I've won titles before in Portugal, Italy and England, but this has been the most difficult of all.
I think those words from the Mister sum up just how epic, grueling and intense Real Madrid's successful quest to win their 32nd Spanish league crown has truly been. Even though Madrid performed at a consistently brilliant level throughout the campaign, FC Barcelona refused to relinquish their title without a proper battle. Yesterday, however, time finally ran out as los blancos assumed their rightful place as the best team in Spain. If you're stuck in some boring, non-Madrid locale, take a few minutes to join me after the jump for a sampling of some of the more interesting commentary in the wake of yesterday's historic, title-clenching victory in Bilbao.
It's been a great title for us, no-one has given us anything all season, we've fought from start to finish, the players have been fantastic and deserve it.
This quote gives you insight into the "us-against-the-world," bunker mentality that this team has fostered under Mourinho and utilized to stay focused over the past few months, particularly when the lead over Barcelona dwindled leading up to the Clasico--it looked, briefly, like nerves might be an issue. I know some commenters were raising legitimate questions about Mourinho's tactical approach against Bayern (and Barca for that matter), but I think we can all agree that his management this season has been absolutely masterful.
Speaking of Barca, Mourinho said this of his fierce rivals.
They are a club with great tradition that knows we deserved to win this title.
That could be wishful thinking, though, as the normally classy, graceful Pep Guardiola has already made reference to "hidden" (yet strangely undisclosed ) factors that conspired against Barcelona this past year. I guess losing with honor is an easy concept to adhere to when you go through a period where it's really only a hypothetical. This post is about our team, but what happened to these guys? I saw Dani Alves and Thiago do some silly dance while piling it on Rayo last week and an embarrassed, aggravated Carles Puyol had to run over and interrupt them. That scene revealed a lot about Barcelona, I think.
Jose Mourinho vowed the team would keep working hard and implored the Bernabeu faithful to really show this championship side the love that they deserve.
This team deserves even more emotion and affection, and I expect the Bernabeu to give it to them in our match against Mallorca.
I can only imagine the sheer volume of affection and emotion that will be on display during that match.
The coach is also a very important part in this.
The scene of the players celebrating and throwing Mourinho up in the air after the match yesterday was the most exciting, cathartic and emotional image I've seen in football this year. The captain stressed the difficulty of the season and the importance of this title to Madridistas world-wide:
The season has been very long and tough...We dedicate this to all Madrid fans who wanted a league title. We hope to take another little step forward next year. It was difficult to beat a team like Barcelona and we've done it.
Cristiano Ronaldo. As a writer it's hard to admit that you've essentially run out of ways to describe someone's brilliance, but I'm afraid that's where I'm at regarding CR7. Ronaldo's joy is almost palpable when you read his remarks to AS after the match.
It's great. It's my first league here in Spain and I'm very happy. It's mission accomplished and to win the league is great. [The players] are all very happy because it gives you a lot of joy to win the league after 10 months of battling. Winning the league is very difficult.
Notice that he too took a moment in his euphoria to remark on the difficulty of winning the Primera. Mission accomplished, indeed!
On an individual level, it's sad that Cristiano's goal-scoring this season will likely be overshadowed by Messi's record--but his 44 league goals were nothing short of monumental. The gravity of what he has achieved should be recognized by football brass and supporters all over the world.
It's still hard to believe, but Real Madrid have finally done it! What an amazing ride it has been.
Congratulations, CAMPEONES! HALA MADRID!!
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