The 2021/22 LaLiga Santander trophy is in Real Madrid’s possession. With their 4-0 victory over Espanyol on Saturday afternoon, the party could get started and Marcelo lifted the famous cup, his 24th with the club. Going into Saturday’s game, and with the Manchester City second leg just around the corner, there were many pre-match questions. We answer them here and also look at three more questions from after this title party.
1. Would Real Madrid get the draw they needed?
The big question for everyone who went to this game was a simple one. Would they get the point necessary? Tickets were like gold dust, with all Madridistas wanting to be present for this title party, which would be the first time since 2007 that Real Madrid would clinch a league title at the Bernabéu. It was only Espanyol and it was only a draw that they needed, although a heavily rotated line-up and defensive injuries caused some to doubt. But, Real Madrid put on a show. They won the league in style with this 4-0 victory, making this an unforgettable sunny Saturday evening for all those in the stands, and for Madridistas around the world.
2. How much would Ancelotti rotate?
Ancelotti had been harshly criticised at points in the season for rotating too little, but that policy has worked out perfectly, as Los Blancos have secured the title with weeks to spare and were even able to dish out some rest in this game, in between the two legs of their Champions League semi-final. So, how much would he rotate in this game? And would the likes of Luka Modrić, Vinícius and Karim Benzema play at all? Well, all three of them did feature, Modrić from the start and Vinícius and Benzema off the bench. As Ancelotti has explained in recent weeks, he doesn’t want to have his players so rested that they lose their match sharpness. So, his decisions for this game made complete sense. Nobody who’ll feature against Manchester City had to put in too intense of a shift, yet everybody can approach that second leg with a good rhythm.
3. Would Ancelotti finally bask in the glory of his historic achievement?
With this win, Ancelotti has now become the first coach in history to win LaLiga, Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1. It truly is an incredible achievement, but the Italian hadn’t wanted to discuss this whenever he was asked about it in recent weeks. So, would he finally bask in the glory after full-time on Saturday? Well, still not really. In his post-match comments, he said he was proud of it, but also expressed his gratitude to the players and explained he didn’t really want to talk. As he himself put it: “Let’s not speak for long, because I want to celebrate!”
1. Will anyone catch Marcelo’s 24 titles?
Marcelo is now the Real Madrid player with the most trophies in the history of the club, with 24. He has four Champions League titles, four Club World Cups, three UEFA Super Cups, six LaLiga titles, two Copa de Rey trophies and five Spanish Super Cups. Will anyone else ever lift that much silverware with the club? In terms of current players who are close, Karim Benzema has 21, and it seems he’ll keep playing for a few more years yet, while Luka Modrić and Nacho both have 19. Perhaps Vinícius, who already has five at the age of 21, could eventually reach the same number. For now, though, it’s simply time to appreciate Marcelo’s incredible achievement.
2. What must Rafa Marín have been thinking?
What a day to make your Real Madrid debut! Mario Gila came on for the final 15 minutes of this one to experience the title celebration up close and to make his first senior appearance for Los Blancos, even doing so against his former club. You have to feel happy for the 21-year-old. At the same time, you have to feel sorry for Rafa Marín. It had looked like he’d be the youth team centre-back to get some minutes, especially after having been on the bench in the previous two league games, but in the end he was used by Castilla and it was Gila who got the opportunity to form part of this historic day.
3. Will there be a ‘pasillo’ from Atlético Madrid?
It’s the Madrid derby next weekend and, with Real Madrid already the champions, that means there should theoretically be a ‘pasillo’, or a guard of honour, from Atlético Madrid. However, it’s 50/50 at this stage on whether there will be one. The Atleti players don’t want to anger the home crowd, as José María Giménez explained in an interview on Saturday night, while another reason being put forward by those in Atleti circles is that Real Madrid refused to give them a guard of honour back in Lisbon after their 2013/14 LaLiga success. The Atlético squad will, though, give a guard of honour if the club officials order them to. So, we’ll have to wait to see if Real Madrid’s lap of honour extends to the Wanda Metropolitano next weekend.