As gameweek 38 of La Liga came to its conclusion, the Spanish top-flight was finally wrapped up for the season, even though it wasn’t the most memorable campaign in recent history.
The coronavirus pandemic had forced all major sporting activities across the globe to a halt earlier in the year, and La Liga was no exception. Football did resume in the month of May with Bundesliga paving the way for other major European leagues to follow suit.
La Liga restarted in early June and witnessed an emphatic title race between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Prior to the two-month hiatus, Los Blancos lost to Real Betis which enabled Barca to head into the unstipulated break with their noses in front.
However, it was a complete role reversal in the remaining 11 matches as Zinedine Zidane’s men stormed their towards a record 34th La Liga title, winning 10 games in a row.
Barcelona failed to keep up with their eternal rivals and subsequently ended up relinquishing their league crown and have nobody else but themselves to blame.
At the other end of the table, Leganes’ 2-2 draw with Real Madrid on matchday 38 compounded their miseries, sending them into the Segunda Division, alongside Espanyol and Real Mallorca.
Meanwhile, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid will join the two El Clasico rivals in Champions League next term, while Villarreal and Real Sociedad took up the Europa League places alongside Granada, who will enter the qualification round.
That being said, now that the dust has settled in Spain, we decided to chalk-up a season review for La Liga’s 2019-20 campaign, along with all the stats that matter.
Champions: Real Madrid
After beating Barcelona 2-0 in El Clasico in early March, Los Blancos appeared to be in the driving seat for this season’s league title. However, their 1-2 defeat at the hands of Real Betis gave the Blaugrana a two-point lead, which they couldn’t hold on to.
Quique Setien’s men failed to overcome the likes of Sevilla, Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid, games which cost them points and handed the advantage back to Real Madrid.
For their part, Zinedine Zidane’s team embarked on a 10-game winning streak, often picking up points by narrow 1-0 victories. Despite claims of VAR coming to their rescue, the All Whites didn’t let their critics distract them one bit.
Real Madrid became the latest example to personify former Manchester United great Sir Alex Ferguson’s famous quote, “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.”
In the absence of a consistent goal-threat like Cristiano Ronaldo, Zidane shored up the defence, and that, in turn, made them a really hard nut to crack.
Talismanic performances from the likes of Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos helped them overcome various stern tests against the likes of Real Sociedad, Getafe, Athletic Bilbao. Those wins may not be the most memorable ones, but Los Blancos were effective, and in the end, that made all the difference.
European Places: Who achieved what?
Barcelona, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid will join Real Madrid into the Champions League next season.
While the Blaugrana and Sevilla were always favourites to do so, Atletico Madrid won seven of their 11 games after the league’s restart to rise up to third on the table, a far cry from the sixth place, where they were before the break.
Villarreal, meanwhile, secured Europa League football alongside Real Sociedad, although late drama in matchday 38 saw Getafe lose 0-1 to Levante which in turn allowed Granada to scrape past them into seventh place, thereby booking their place for the qualification round of UEFA’s second-tier club competition.
Who got relegated to the Segunda Division?
Having won just five matches all season, Espanyol became the first team to get relegated from La Liga after securing European football the season before. They changed four coached throughout the campaign and will have to reinvent themselves in the second tier now.
Elsewhere, Real Mallorca will also bid adieu to La Liga, after having secured promotion in the 2018-19 season. But they failed to make any sort of impact upon their return to top-flight.
Leganes, meanwhile, became the third and final side to be relegated to the Segunda Division, having won just eight matches, and a staggering 12 draws, falling just one point short of safety.
Surprise Package of the Season: Granada
For the first time in their 89-year history, Granada have qualified for Europe and will now enter the second qualifying round of the Europa League.
Their achievement becomes all the more impressive when taking into account the fact that they achieved promotion to La Liga in 2018-19 season itself, and finished higher than Osasuna this term, who had won the Segunda Division last season.
Head coach Diego Martinez has played a key role in Granada’s revival and he will be now tasked to put together a team capable of juggling between cup competitions and league duties next season.
Key Stats from La Liga 2019-20 Season:
- Lionel Messi, being the phenomenon that he already is, enjoyed yet another stellar season on a personal level. His 25 goals helped him win a record seventh Pichichi trophy.
- Messi also broke his former teammate Xavi’s all-time record for most assists in a single La Liga campaign. While the Spaniard had set up 20 goals in the 2008-09 season, the Argentine surpassed that tally with 21 lay-offs to his name this term.
- Last but not the least, Messi became the first and only player to have an incredible 1000 goal involvements in his Barcelona career. We’re honestly running out of words to put his genius into account.
- Barcelona, meanwhile, scored the most goals in La Liga during the course of 2019-20 season (86), but it wasn’t enough to retain the league title.
- That’s because Real Madrid had the meanest defence in the league, having conceded just 25 goals all season, which highlighted their defensive solidity this term.
- Real Mallorca, on the other hand, let in the highest number of goals, 65 to be precise, while Espanyol’s tally of 27 goals scored was the fewest for any team.
- Thibaut Courtois conceded just 20 goals throughout this season, thereby winning the Zamora trophy, which makes him the first Real Madrid player to have won the individual accolade since Iker Casillas in 2008. It was also the Belgian goalkeeper’s third Zamora trophy, having won it twice before with Atletico.
- Real Madrid became the only team in Europe this season to have 21 different goalscorers for them in the league, highlighting the teamwork of Zinedine Zidane’s men.
Also Read: Real Madrid’s 34th La Liga triumph — A lesson in patience and perseverance