Ancelotti completes ‘Grand Slam’ as Real win 35th La Liga crown

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Real Madrid clinched their 35th LaLiga title on Saturday after a thumping 4-0 win against Espanyol gave them an insurmountable lead over Barcelona at the top of the table with four games remaining.

At the Santiago Bernabeu, Rodrygo’s first-half double sent the champions elect on their path to the title before Marco Asensio made it 3-0 just after the break. Benzema added a fourth goal in the 89th minute after coming off the bench amid wild celebrations.

The league title is Madrid’s second of the 2021-22 season, following their Spanish Supercopa victory in January. They’ll seek to keep their Champions League semifinal chances alive against Manchester City on Wednesday, recovering from their 4-3 loss in England.

Carlo Ancelotti – who returned to the club this summer for a second stint – becomes the first coach to win a title in each of Europe’s “big five” leagues: Italy’s Serie A, England’s Premier League, France’s Ligue 1, Germany’s Bundesliga, and now Spain’s LaLiga.

Ancelotti said: “It’s emotional. It’s an achievement. The season we’ve had in the league has been spectacular, with a lot of consistency. It’s thanks to the work of the players, and their commitment. Today we have to celebrate, I want to celebrate.

“It fills me with pride. I like what I do, and the five leagues [I’ve won] mean I’ve done quite well. I’m proud to be here and to win trophies for Real Madrid and I want to carry on winning trophies for Real Madrid.”

Real Madrid now holds the record for most league titles in Spain with 35 to Barcelona’s 26. Since 2010, the team has won four titles in 2012, 2017, 2020, and presently 2022. The Los Blancos have won four Champions League titles also during the time.

Last year’s defending champions and local rivals Atletico Madrid were put on notice by Ancelotti when Zinedine Zidane resigned in June.

David Alaba and Eduardo Camavinga joined the team on free transfers from Bayern Munich and Rennes, respectively, while Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos left for Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain respectively.

Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior gave the team a solid start to the season with their prolific scoring as the pair managed to find the net 42 times-26 in LaLiga. Madrid gained a commanding lead over their archrivals Atletico and Barcelona, who both struggled to stay on top of the standings.

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Since then, Real Madrid have only lost three times in La Liga: to Espanyol in October, Getafe in January, and Barcelona in March. They have never looked like they were going to be stopped.

Thibaut Courtois was also a key player contributed to the  squad as he kept 14 clean sheets and conceded just 29 goals, the second-lowest total in the division after Sevilla.

Both domestic and Champions League obligations have been met by Real Madrid, who have knocked out Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea in the last 16 and quarterfinals respectively. Taking against Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday is a chance for them to secure their fifth final place in the last decade.

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