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Real Madrid’s 2019-20 La Liga: Big Game Dominance and Sprint to the Finish Line

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Real Madrid V Villarreal CF - La Liga Photo by Oscar J. Barroso / AFP7 / Europa Press Sports via Getty Images

Real Madrid are 2019-20 La Liga champions. Zidane led the team to the domestic title in a stop-start campaign filled with a number of obstacles and unique circumstances. This was a necessary title for the madridismo world as the club has been craving for more relevance on the national scene. The need to assume the crown within the Spanish shores has only grown more fervent in light of Barcelona’s stronghold in the league in the recent era.

GF = Goals For; GA = Goals Against; SoTD = Shot on Target Differential; SD = Shot Difference

One of the key factors to Real Madrid’s triumph was their stellar record in the mini-league. The champions performed the best against the other top four teams collecting an impressive 14 points (out of a possible 18) in those six matches. It wasn’t just the wins that were crucial but the manner in which Ramos and co were able to control games against the heavy hitters truly set the tone.

This is an area where Real Madrid have struggled in the recent era. This is the first season where Los Blancos are demonstrably better, at the very least statistically, than the top four teams. Real Madrid earned 2.33 points per game against the top four in 2019-20 (a full point higher than the mean) compared to an average of 1.21 points per game in the preceding four seasons. The Zidane led ensemble didn’t lose a single match and conceded only one goal (!) in 559 minutes of play (over nine hours) versus the best teams in Spain.

It’s been highlighted to death but Real Madrid’s defense really made the difference. This could be witnessed in the away matches with Hazard and James, perennial attacking focused players, contributing to a clean sheet with disciplined tracking back at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium when it was a fortress earlier in the season. Against Atletico Madrid, Zidane’s tactical adjustment to create a more defined base role for Casemiro enhanced his defensive performance. And finally, the aggressive fluid pressing scheme utilized in the Camp Nou broke down Barcelona’s buildup play.

Casemiro’s efforts in the centre of the park have been a crucial element in Real Madrid getting their hands on a 34th LaLiga title. The Brazilian ace finished the campaign having recovered more balls than any other player in the competition. With 294 recoveries, he got the better of Mikel Merino (289), Estupiñán (275) and Baba (248).

- Real Madrid Official Website

On the flip side, the inverse trend could be seen in Catalonia. Barcelona who have been the reference point in the league accumulated their worst points total against the top four in over ten years. They recorded 1.5 points per game (only +0.25 differential) compared to an average of 2.13 points per game in the last four campaigns. Real Madrid’s upswing combined with their arch rival’s regression (not to say that the two aren’t correlated) combined to give Real the edge. It is worth noting that Real’s record this season is still higher than Barcelona’s 4-year average further emphasizing just how well they did in the mini-league. However, there is no denying that the overall points totals from this season were a distance from the standard set since the explosion in 2009-10.

Points totals across seasons - sorted from Real Madrid highest to lowest.

Real Madrid’s second wind - the outstanding sprint to the finish line

The other major element that will come to define this title and go down in the annals of Real Madrid folklore is the awe-inspiring ten game winning streak to close the season. Zidane has always stressed how important “suffering” has been to the monumental success his time at the club has furnished. This “suffering” symbolizes the grit, hard work and professionalism of the players, coaches and officials. Doing the simple things well, doing them right and doing them with full commitment. Just like a Formula 1 driver shifting into gear as they approach the last stretch of the final lap, Real Madrid took the lead and never looked back.

[In] addition to picking up 31 of the last 33 available points, Real Madrid ended the LaLiga campaign at the summit of several standings. Not only were the Whites the team to amass the highest points tally, they also registered the most wins (26), lost the fewest games (three) and conceded the fewest goals (25), with this latter statistic representing an all-time club record for a 38-game season.

Madrid recorded clean sheets in half of the LaLiga outings (19), which matches the records from the 1986/87 and 1987/88 seasons, whilst Thibaut Courtois landed the Zamora Trophy with a coefficient of 0.59 (20 goals in 34 games).

- Real Madrid Official Website

Real Madrid were simply the best team in Spain leading many statistics and breaking a host of records along the way.