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Three answers and three questions after the final LaLiga match of the season

A long and unique campaign ended with a draw at Leganés.

CD Leganes v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

After returning from the coronavirus pause with 10 straight wins, Real Madrid wrapped up the title with a round to spare. That made their trip to Leganés meaningless for the champions, although it was a huge fixture for their opponents as they fought – unsuccessfully – to stay up. Even without anything on the line for Real Madrid, this was an interesting game with various talking points and we look at some of them here.

Three answers

1. Would Zidane give any of the youth teamers a chance?

The answer to this one is no. And, we even knew the answer before Sunday’s game, as there weren’t even any Castilla players in the squad. Javi Hernández and Miguel Gutiérrez had appeared in recent matchday squads, but not this one. This means that for the first time 2007/08 there hasn’t been a single minute given to a Castilla player during the entire campaign.

2. How would Lucas Vázquez do at right-back this time?

With Dani Carvajal given a well-earned rest, Lucas Vázquez was back in at right-back. He’d previously covered for Carvajal in the match against Alavés and did so once again, but he wasn’t any better. Once again he struggled as he went up against Bryan Gil and Jonathan Silva on Leganés’ left. It’s clear that Lucas Vázquez isn’t a reliable backup right-back option and that this position need to be addressed in the summer.

3. Would Óscar Rodríguez play?

Óscar Rodríguez has been on loan at Leganés from Real Madrid for the past two seasons, but he has been missing form the Pepineros’ last few matches due to a mystery injury. There have been conflicting reports about why exactly he hasn’t been playing, but the 22-year-old did come on for the second half of this game and did all he could to try to save his team in his final match at the Estadio Butarque. In the final minute of stoppage time, he even had the chance to become an all-time Leganés legend, but fired just over the bar. Now, thoughts turn to his future and his next destination. Interestingly, Sergio Ramos’ brother René will play a huge role here, since he is Óscar’s agent.

Three questions

1. How will Real Madrid cope without Ramos for the Manchester City second leg?

Thoughts now turn to the Champions League last 16 second leg against Manchester City and the main problem Real Madrid have as they approach that game, besides the first leg result, is the fact that Sergio Ramos will be suspended. The captain has been the star of the final few weeks of the season, scoring goal after goal and also commanding LaLiga’s best defence, so he’ll be a huge loss and we saw that in the second half against Leganés. Ramos went off at half time, ahead of a second half where Leganés caused Los Blancos all kinds of difficulties in defence. It was similar in the final half hour of the Eibar match just after the restart, when Ramos went off and the opposition started creating chances. Éder Militão can come in vs City and do a job, but Real Madrid lose so much more than a good defender when their leader is on the sidelines.

2. Was it a penalty against Jović?

It didn’t ultimately matter for Real Madrid or the title race, because the championship had been wrapped up days previously, but the potential Luka Jović handball could have changed the outcome of the relegation battle. The ball struck the Serbian’s arm in a fairly unnatural position in the final stages, but referee Guillermo Cuadra Fernández didn’t even get called over to the VAR screen to have a look. Had that penalty been given and scored and had there been no further goals after that then Leganés would have stayed up and Celta Vigo would have gone down instead. This incident has been the main talking point around Spain in the hours after the game. The whole country is wondering: Was it a penalty?

3. Now what for the backup goalkeeping spot?

Alphonse Areola was given a rare outing for this match at Butarque and didn’t do anything to stand out. His loan from PSG expires after the Champions League campaign and now Real Madrid have to start thinking about the backup goalkeeping role for next season. Should they try to bring Areola back to backup Thibaut Courtois again? Is it time for Andriy Lunin to step into the role? Or should Real Madrid bring in a veteran? Perhaps Diego López, whose contract at relegated Espanyol has just expired and who had a decent season on a personal level…

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