The Week in Real Madrid: La Liga hoodoo continues as title slips away once more

Zinedine Zidane's men couldn't lift La Liga in the end, even if they deserve credit for the way they mustered their strength to push Barcelona to the wire under the Frenchman, writes Tim Stannard...

The week in five words

Another league title fight lost. 

What went well

About 14 minutes went well. The 14 minutes when Real Madrid were theoretical league champions, with the Bernabéu outfit 1-0 up at Deportivo and Barcelona still trying to grind down Granada. 

But then Luis Suárez popped up with the first of three goals to have reality biting Madrid on the bum in what turned out to be a very drama-free conclusion to the league title race, compared to what was expected a week before when three teams were going all guns blazing for the gong. 

Aside from that near quarter-of-hour of potential glory, it's slim pickings. At least Madrid were in a position to fail to win La Primera on the final day, as opposed to giving up the fight sometime in March.

A small pat on the pack for Cristiano Ronaldo is probably deserved, though, after his brace racked up 50 goals for Madrid for the sixth consecutive season. The current total stands at 51, with one match left to take care of in Milan. 

What didn’t 

It's less about the week and more about the season, but Madrid failed to win La Liga once again, which is the bread and butter of the club – or rather the toast and tomato, to convert it into more Iberian tastes. 

While the talk in AS was of the Madrid 'dying on their feet' against Deportivo, Barça's league title victory means Madrid have just the single one in the past eight years – the same as Atlético Madrid, who have spent slightly less. 

However, it's true that a Champions League win will quickly help cleanse that record a touch, but a defeat to Atlético in Milan will spell a trophyless season with the possibility of fellow Spanish sides Barcelona, Atléti and Sevilla all winning trinkets. 

Although the chances were slim of Ronaldo winning the Pichichi, Luis Suárez's treble bettered CR7’s brace which meant that the chances of a late surge were eliminated fairly quickly. 

Quote of the week

“How am I doing? Didn’t you watch the game?” – an incredulous Ronaldo modestly responds to some media enquiries about his general state of being after being subbed at half-time during the Deportivo win. 

The need-to-know facts

  • Madrid under Zidane dropped just seven points from a possible 60 under the French coach's leadership. 
  • The record of just one win in eight years is the worst run for Madrid since the 1953/54 season, when 17 campaigns flew by without a league title victory. 
  • After losing six games in a row at the Riazor against Deportivo, Madrid have now gone five matches there unbeaten.
  • The win meant Madrid have now gone 11 straight games unbeaten on the road.

Video of the week

Want to see all 35 of Cristiano’s goals this season? Then click away here…

Winner of the week

It’s time to give Zinedine Zidane a little love. Although Tomás Roncero was being more than a little mischievous in AS with the claim that the French manager "won La Liga", Zizou did pick up four more points that Luis Enrique’s Barcelona in the 20 matches that Zidane was in charge, after gathering the reigns from the now-very-forgotten (but loved elsewhere) Rafa Benítez. 

The rookie in charge of Madrid took a lot of learnings from Carlo Ancelotti’s easy-going approach, but also added a bit of his own strong, stubborn personality in not pulling any punches. Zidane's trick was to keep the superstars happy, but restore balance to the team by casting the shirt-selling James Rodríguez onto the bench and replacing the Colombian with the more defensive-minded Casemiro. 

Loser of the week

Florentino Pérez probably still feels that Madrid’s recent lack of success in the past seven years during his Second Coming is all someone else’s fault: failing players, failing managers, failing referees not stopping Barcelona enough, failing weather. 

But eventually, the euro has to fall that this was a league title that could well have been won had Carlo Ancelotti been in charge and the team had a season of stability rather than Sergio Ramos in-or-out, David de Gea in-or-out, Cristiano in-or-out, Rafa Benitez in-or-out and so on and so on.

But at least Madrid won something that matters a great deal to Pérez – the club is the most valuable in the world, according to Forbes. So that’s alright then. 

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