Heading into the match against RCD Espanyol on Saturday evening, Real Madrid needed only a single point to secure the 2021-22 La Liga Santander title. They went for all three points however, getting the job done with an emphatic 4-0 victory in front of an energised home crowd.
Real Madrid looked strong right from the beginning of the campaign and it became clear early on that it was a matter of “when,” not “if” they would secure their record-extending 35th La Liga crown. Los Blancos only needed a draw against Espanyol to wrap up the competition with four matches left to play, but they went all out to secure a dominant win despite massive rotations by manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Prolific striker Karim Benzema started from the bench, but youngster Rodrygo Goes scored a brace in the span of ten minutes in the closing stages of the first half. The young Brazilian proved that he is gaining enough confidence to allow Benzema some respite from scoring duties from time to time.
Marco Asensio also made a contribution in the second half, as he has so often done when given the opportunity throughout the campaign. Mariano was given another chance to prove himself, but his attempts somehow went off the mark and Benzema came in to finish the match with a flourish via an 81st minute goal.
Espanyol did fight hard, but such was the quality and motivation of Real Madrid especially after the opening goal. They could smell the victory and the championship, and it was impossible to stop the inevitable.
It was an early kickoff, leaving the players a lot of time to soak in the win right on the pitch after the final whistle. Family members joined the players to enjoy the atmosphere and play with the confetti on the pitch. Players took turns posing with the trophy before the crowd finally started to thin out to make their way to the Plaza de Cibeles for the customary celebrations.
In anticipation of the victory, Real Madrid had already set up the barricades and walkway that led to the Goddess on her chariot. The Santiago Bernabeu was filled to capacity, but even more people flocked to the famous plaza. An estimated crowd of over 250,000 turned up, with another close to 50,000 fans watching the celebrations live from the club’s online platforms. Captain Marcelo did the honour of adorning the statue with the Real Madrid scarf and flag after the squad paraded through the streets of Madrid with the trophy on display on top of the team bus.
The party lasted until the sun went down, with most of the fans likely celebrating even as we speak. However, for Ancelotti and the Real Madrid squad, they will be resting for the rest of the weekend before they start preparing for the comeback against Manchester City in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday.