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Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid 2 - 1 Villarreal (CAMPEONES EDITION)

Real Madrid win their 34th league title

Real Madrid CF v Villarreal CF - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Real Madrid 2 - 1 Villarreal (Benzema x2; Iborra). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, C-Trick’s tactical column, post-game podcast, post-game quotes, and so much more.

30 consecutive points. 10 straight wins. This team was locked in the moment it hit Valdebebas against Eibar on June 14th. This was sheer domination — a run akin to a Champions League journey where the team won at all costs. Maybe that’s the secret: Play one competition at a time and win them all!

Of course, nothing is that simple, and nothing was easy. At times Real Madrid looked like they were playing against a local youth team; at other times, they trudged through the mud, and did just enough to squeak by. One constant remained: One of the greatest defensive seasons in the club’s history. On tonight’s post-game podcast, there is a question about who the MVPs of the team are. There are several, in every line of the team. Take your pick. Multiple players contributed.

By the time this league is said and done, Real Madrid may get to a maximum 89 points — four shy of their 16-17 run. They did it with 40 (ish) less goals scored, and 20 (ish) less goals conceded. That’s been the story of this (obviously bizarre) league excursion. How sustainable it is for future seasons remains to be seen. That will be a huge talking point over the next several months.

Tonight’s win over Villarreal was not overly laboured. Luka Modric put in arguably his best performance of the season. He was everywhere, the way peak Modric covered three positions at once on the right side. He marshalled the team’s press, clogged passing lanes, helped Carvajal defensively, and was a funnel of the team’s offense. He was surgical with passes, and floated out of tight spaces.

Casemiro followed. He and Modric worked well together to take Samu Chukweze (played out of position due to the absences of Carlos Bacca and Paco Alcacer) out of the game. Casemiro’s interventions was masterful, and it was his interception that led to Real Madrid’s opening goal:

Real Madrid were the better team in that first half. Some of their defensive shape behind the team’s initial line was far from perfect, but Villarreal made bad decisions on the ball, and their passing wasn’t crisp enough to exploit any defensive blemishes from Zidane’s men.

Offensively, the team didn’t create much, although did conjure some opportune moments in transition or through the team’s press. Rodrygo and Hazard were fluid and interchangeable. Rodrygo was the more incisive of the two, but neither had much space to work with. (Hazard was fouled often. In the second half, with the team in the lead, he seemed to be more interested in circulating possession rather than dribbling at Villarreal’s full-backs.)

In the second half, Ramos was fouled (allegedly) in the box. I didn’t see the foul, and felt the call was harsh. The ensuing penalty was anti-climatic and.... funny?

Villarreal pulled one back through substitute Vicente Iborra, through a header from a cross. They had several scrambles in the box after which made things nervy. Thibaut Courotis came up (really) big.

You know the rule: MAKE EVERYTHING BLUE.

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