Barcelona Win Sixth Straight La Liga Title; King Lionel Messi Adds Another Record to His Collection
In what was an anticlimactic match, Barcelona easily dispatched of Deportivo La Coruna by a score of 5-0 to win their sixth straight La Liga title. The championship was all but guaranteed going into the final day of fixtures, as Barcelona held a 11-point lead over second-place Atletico Madrid. This is Barca’s 25th La Liga championship and fourth in the last five seasons.
Lionel Messi played a role in all five goals, scoring once and assisting on four others. This gave him 43 goals and 14 assists on the season, both of which are league-leading totals. With this performance, Messi also set a new record for most goals scored in a single La Liga campaign, eclipsing the previous mark of 41 set by Cristiano Ronaldo in 2017.
This was also Barcelona’s 100th league victory under head coach Ernesto Valverde. The former Athletic Bilbao boss has now won every major domestic trophy available in Spain during his time at Barcelona, including two league titles, two Copa del Reys and two Spanish Super Cups.
The only downside for Barcelona on the day was an injury to defender Gerard Pique that will likely sideline him for next weekend’s Champions League final against Liverpool.
Real Madrid’s Decade of Dominance Ends with Third Place Finish
Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona completed an historic season by becoming the first club ever to go unbeaten in La Liga. This title capped an extremely successful decade for the Catalan club, during which they won six league titles, four Champions League trophies, three Club World Cup championships, and three Supercopa de Espana titles.
Real Madrid’s decade of dominance has come to a crashing end. The “Galácticos” era saw Los Blancos win four league titles and three Champions League trophies, but their failure to mount a serious challenge to Barcelona this season resulted in them finishing third in La Liga behind both their cross-city rivals and Atlético Madrid.
The first signs that things were going wrong for Real Madrid came in the summer of 2013 when they lost out on the signing of Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale to their bitter rivals FC Barcelona. This was followed by a humiliating 9-1 aggregate defeat at the hands of Atlético Madrid in the semifinal of the Champions League.
The next season was slightly better for Los Blancos as they managed to win the UEFA Champions League trophy by defeating Atlético Madrid in the final, but they still finished second in La Liga behind Barcelona. The writing was on the wall for manager Carlo Ancelotti, who was sacked at the end of that season despite winning Real Madrid’s 10th European Cup.
Zinedine Zidane was appointed as head coach and things initially looked promising as Madrid won back-to-back Champions League titles in 2016 and 2017. However, their poor league performances saw them finish third and fourth respectively in those seasons, which ultimately cost Zidane his job.
Former Spain manager Julen Lopetegui was appointed as Zidane’s replacement but his disastrous tenure came to an end after just four months following Real Madrid’s 5-1 hammering by Barcelona in El Clásico. Santiago Solari was then appointed on an interim basis before being given the job full-time in March 2019.
Solari could not arrest Madrid’s slide and they finished third in La Liga this season behind both Barcelona and Atlético Madrid. As a result, he has now been sacked and Zinedine Zidane has been appointed once again as manager of Real Madrid with the task of rebuilding the team and restoring them to their former glory.
Atlético Madrid Crowned Champions for the First Time in 55 Years
Atlético Madrid, who had not won La Liga in 55 years, were crowned champions on the final day of the season. Diego Simeone’s side only needed a point to be certain of the title, but they managed to secure all three with a 1-1 draw away at Barcelona.
Atlético had led the table for much of the season, but they were pushed all the way by Real Madrid and Barcelona. Los Blancos went into their final game at Espanyol needing to win and hope that Atlético lost, but they could only manage a 2-2 draw. This meant that Atlético were confirmed as champions, while Real Madrid finished second.
Barcelona’s season ended in disappointment, as they missed out on both the league and Champions League titles. Luis Enrique’s men were beaten 3-0 by Atlético in the Champions League semi-final, before losing out to them in La Liga too.
Valencia, Sevilla, and Getafe All Make European Qualifications
The 2019-2020 La Liga season came to a close on Sunday, with three Spanish clubs securing qualification for the 2020-2021 UEFA Europa League. Valencia, Sevilla, and Getafe all finished in positions that granted them direct entry into the group stage of Europe’s second-tier competition.
Valencia’s qualification was in little doubt heading into their final matchday fixture, as they sat in fourth place in the table, four points clear of fifth-place Getafe. With a home fixture against Deportivo Alaves, Los Che only needed a draw to seal their spot in the Europa League. However, they pulled off a 3-1 victory to leapfrog Atletico Madrid and claim the fourth Champions League qualifications spot.
For Sevilla, their berth in Europe’s secondary competition came down to the wire. They entered their final matchday fixture in sixth place in the table, just two points shy of fourth-place Valencia and one point ahead of seventh-place Getafe. A home win against Real Sociedad would have seen them finish fourth and earn an automatic qualification spot for the Champions League. However, they could only muster a 1-1 draw, which allowed Getafe to overtake them on goal difference and snatch the fourth Europa League qualification spot.
Getafe’s qualification for Europe’s second-tier tournament came as a bit of a surprise to some observers, as they had never before qualified for a European competition. The Madrid club had been hovering around sixth or seventh place for most of the season before eventually finishing fifth, thanks largely to their strong finish (3 wins and 3 draws in their final 6 matches). They will join Valencia and Sevilla in the 2020-2021 Europa League group stage.
Bottom-Seeded Leganés Shock Barcelona with 2-1 Victory in Season Finale
Leganés, a smaller club in the La Liga, finished their season on a high note with a shocking 2-1 victory over Barcelona. This was Barcelona’s final match of the season and they were looking to end things with a win to clinch their second consecutive La Liga title. However, they were not able to get anything going against Leganés and ended up losing the match.
Leganés started the scoring early in the match when Rubén Pérez netted in the 10th minute. Barcelona was able to get on the board in the second half when Luis Suárez scored in the 63rd minute, but they were not able to hold on for the draw. José Callejón scored for Leganés in stoppage time to secure the victory for his team.
This was an impressive upset victory for Leganés and it will certainly go down as one of the biggest moments in their club’s history. They have now managed to beat both of Spain’s biggest clubs this season, as they also defeated Real Madrid back in February. This win is sure to give them plenty of momentum heading into next season.
Barcelona was obviously disappointed with this result, as it cost them their chance at a third consecutive La Liga title. They will now have to wait until next season to try and win back that championship.