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Real Madrid’s Journey To Win The 34th La Liga Title

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Real Madrid's Journey To Win The 34th La Liga Title

Real Madrid sealed their 34th LaLiga title on Thursday with a 2-1 win over Villarreal, knowing full well that a victory would be enough to secure Real Madrid’s third domestic league title this decade. They have been irresistibly spectacular since the return of football and it was in that same style that they won their 10th game in a row and marched on to snatch the title away from arch-rival Barcelona.

After three month of compulsory rest in the Spanish La Liga due to the coronavirus pandemic, arguably the best league in the world, sprung back into life last month exactly on a Thursday evening with the Seville’s derby between Sevilla and Real Betis ushering us back into the remaining football fixtures in the Spanish topflight, fast forward to matchday 36 in the league since the restart it’s now getting clearer and clearer how fast the men are been separated from the boys in the title race.

No one will be surprised to see the Catalans and Los Blancos battling it out at the top of the league table again after the league resumed back to action, neither of the two Spanish giants has looked more like a vintage team since the beginning of the season with both teams churning out patchy results. However, both teams have been able to grind out results that have been able to push them further in the fight for the title this season.

Quique Setien led side Barcelona were leading the way on the table with two points before the league went on break, but since the restart the title race has swung in Real Madrid’s favor as everything looks done and dusted for Barcelona, having relinquished a two-point advantage to Real Madrid.

READ ALSO: Top Transfer Controversies In Football World Over The Years

At the beginning of the season, Barcelona looks more like a team with the advantage, having led the league with two points prior to the break, after Real Madrid dropped point away from home at the Benito Villamarin Stadium against Real Betis in Seville, as such it was looking like the Calatans might be going straight to clinch their third straight La Liga championship, but sadly the pandemic happened and the league was halted.

Prior to the break, Real Madrid was battling with the fitness concern of some of their important players, such as Asensio, Hazard, et al, and for what Los Blancos is perhaps unique for having several members of squad injured, fortunately for Zidane, the pandemic happened and it looks more like a blessing in disguise for Real Madrid, and specifically for some of their injured players who were able to play again this season all thanks to the break who afforded them the opportunity to get back into full fitness.

Who knows, perhaps if there hasn’t been the coronavirus the league wouldn’t have gone on break, and perhaps Barcelona could have been crowned champions of the Spanish topflight league. It is what it is and the virus has been able to buy Real Madrid more time to restrategized and launched an assault on the league title this season, with the results of their hard work and most importantly the return of their injured players clearly evident with the results on the table.

As such Real Madrid are edging closer to reclaiming the Spanish La Liga title since 2017 from the jaw of Barcelona who had won it two years in a row under Valverde, Los Blancos last won the league in 2017 under  Zinedine Zidane, ironically this season the French gaffer led Los Blancos in securing their 34th La Liga title.

The journey to the top of the league and clinching the title started for Los Blancos at home in the first match of the league restart against Eiber on June 14, and since the first match,  it has been winning upon winning for Los Blancos, even though some of their triumphs have been seen to be controversial, as such ‘Radio Marca’ residential referee analyst Andujar Oliver has clearly stated times without number that those calls in favor of Madrid were clearly on point.

However, the Spanish giant hasn’t let that affect their momentum as they forge ahead in their quest in winning the title.

Having won 9 games on the bounce since the restart, matchday 37 against Villarreal won the league for Los Blancos with Karim Benzema scoring a brace to power Real Madrid to a 2-1 triumph over the Yellow Submarine, a result which earns them their 34th league title on Thursday night.

Real Madrid's Journey To Win The 34th La Liga Title

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is thrown up in the air by his players after Madrid secure the La Liga title

With the last match away at Leganes Sunday been just a formality, having achieved this great feat, it won’t be out of place to eulogizes the players who have been an integral part in making sure Los Blancos keep their composure and stay focus. Without a doubt, the accolades have to start with captain fantastic Sergio Ramos, for what is the general belief that defenders in a football game should be more concerned about how to protect and defend his team from conceding goals during the game.

The Statistics Of The Champion

  • Real Madrid has the most wins (26)
  • Fewest Defeats (3)
  • Fewest goals conceded (25)
  • Only team unbeaten at home
  • Most away points (38)
  • Most away wins (11)
  • Fewest away goals conceded (14)
  • Most goalscorers (21)

Real Madrid’s Best Matches In La Liga 2019-20 Season

Having lost four previous El Clasicos on-the-trot and tasting a home defeat to Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid needed inspiration when Barcelona was knocking at the door on March 2.

Having stopped Lionel Messi at Camp Nou in the return fixture, Real Madrid believed they could go all the way. And after a close first-half, young Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz scored in the second to give Real Madrid a massive win.

More than anything, the win had changed Los Blancos’ mentality as Zidane had little work to do to keep his side motivated for the remaining season, despite the forced COVID-19 break. Real Madrid had leapfrogged Barcelona after the win to sit atop the table with 12 games remaining.

Real Madrid 1-0 Getafe

A high-flying Getafe side had been a tough nut to crack this season, and they were up for the task on their trip to Santiago Bernabeu on July 3.

With Barcelona being held to a 2-2 draw by Atletico Madrid at Nou Camp, Real Madrid knew they had the best chance to stretch their lead at the top of the table to four points. However, after a goalless first 45 minutes, Zidane’s men knew it was not going to be easy.

However, they had captain Sergio Ramos for inspiration who scored from the spot after Dani Carvajal was fouled inside the box. One goal was enough to take Real Madrid four points ahead of the rest on the table.

Athletic Bilbao 0-1 Real Madrid

Traveling to Athletic’s San Mames is one of the toughest fixtures in La Liga and Real Madrid’s winning run was largely expected to be hindered, when they traveled on July 5 – just two days after a grueling match against Getafe.

The return fixture at Santiago Bernabeu last December had seen Real Madrid hit the woodwork thrice before settling for a 0-0 draw against Athletic Bilbao, and the Lions made life difficult for Real Madrid this time as well.

READ ALSO: Barcelona’s Transfer Policy & Its Impacts On The Club’s Philosophy

However, Zidane’s men fended off the challenge to emerge victorious with a narrow 1-0 win as Sergio Ramos converted from the spot, yet again, to help his side lead by six points atop the table.

Real Madrid’s Game Changers

Real Madrid's Journey To Win The 34th La Liga Title

  • Sergio Ramos

Hence, this season Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane have been rock solid defenders for Los Blancos, especially since the restart of the league, the Real Madrid captain has always risen to the occasion to scores for his team when it matters most, as such Ramos has scored from the spot 4 times since the restart to make him hit double-figure (12) goals this season, as he now equaled his goal tally which he set in 2016-17 season, and also placed himself in the history book as a defender with the highest goals in La Liga with 69 goals total.

  • Thibaut Courtois

A lot of credit must be given to the man in between the stick Thibaut Courtois, the Belgian shot-stopper has been faced with a lot of questions concerning his lethargic performances at the beginning of the season. The Belgian goalkeeper has turned around those poor performances into a world-class display for Los Blancos in La Liga especially since the restart of the league and against Granada, the Belgian was decisive once again with a brilliant save to secure a victory for Real Madrid.

  • Karim Benzema

The French forward have been an integral member of the Real Madrid since the departure of Los Blancos talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo, to Juventus with 21 goals to his name this season. Another player that also deserves the accolade in the team his the Brazilian midfielder Casemiro, the former Porto loanee has also been fantastic this season with his consistency, work rate and the ability to break down the attack of opposition, and also delivers topnotch performances for the team when it matters most.

  • Luca Modric

Another member of the old guard in the team who didn’t disappoint with his performances this season despite playing sparingly is Luka Modric, the Ballon d’Or winner may not be in the form that won him the most coveted individual award. However, he has been able to show since the restart that he can still be very instrumental for Los Blancos, and in response to that assertion, the Croatian maestro came to the party with a vintage performance against Granada.

  • Toni Kroos

In the middle of the park is another unsung hero this season for Real Madrid. Toni Kroos, the best way to describe the German is how his teammates Casemiro described him, that “Real Madrid matches always goes in Kroos rhythm, he’s one of the most important players at the club because he manages the ball and the rhythm with which we play, if Toni wants to play slowly, we play slowly, if he wants us to play quicker, we play quicker. The statement definitely depicts what Kroos meant to Real Madrid.

Other players that have also made great contributions in making sure Los Blancos wins the league are the likes of Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo Goes, Federico Valverde, Marcelo who is currently injured, Isco, and Ferland Mendy who has been improving under Zidane since he joined from France, and to wrap it all up the left-back got his first goal for Real Madrid opener against Granada.

There are also other players in the team who haven’t gotten enough chances to show what they could actually do, ironically some have gotten relatively decent chances but didn’t cover themselves in glory, and among those players are the likes of Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez.

Sometimes as a football enthusiast, you would want to question the man-management of Zidane on Bale and James, because it’s quite worrisome to be seeing the two great players in that Madrid team who at one point light up the Santiago Bernabeu with great goals and vintage performances both in the league and in the champions league. Suddenly becomes an outcast in the team who sits on the bench week in, week out without any hope of playing a match.

Without mincing words, I don’t think the Real Madrid management cares about all of that, likewise, Zidane as their main priority has to be winning the title this season.

The Champions League is the Champions League but La Liga makes me happier because La Liga is what it’s all about. This is a tremendous feeling because what these players have done is incredible. I am lost for words because I am too emotional.” – Zinedine Zidane

The celebrations of Real Madrid’s 2019/20 LaLiga title will continue for some time and word from many of the players and those associated with the club continue to pour out.

 

 

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Europe

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

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3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.

The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.

Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues

  • Paulinho

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.

Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.

They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.

He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.

The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.

In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.

Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.

Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”

  • Iago Aspas

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.

After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.

At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.

In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.

READ ALSO: 10 Premier League Players With Most Own Goals

  • Diego Forlan

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.

Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.

Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.

In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.

The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.

With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.

Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.

Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.

 

Conclusion

There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.

These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.

 

 

 

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Top 15 Highest Paid Players In Ligue 1

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Top 15 Highest Paid Players In Ligue 1

Ligue 1 no doubt harbors quite a number of talented players, as such it’s quite understandable for those considered to be world-class players among them to cash out hugely on what they earn at the end of the month.

As of late, the players’ salaries have given indications of solid development, on account of the tremendous income pouring into the game. The fierce rivalry between the country’s top football clubs has brought the nature of the competition higher than ever. The league has more than its own fair share of highly paid players.

Here is a rundown of the top 15 highest-paid players in the Ligue 1

  • Neymar Jr – (Paris Saint Germain, – €3.06 Per Month )

Top 15 Highest Paid Players In Ligue 1

Behind Ronaldo and Messi, the Brazilian forward is regarded as the third-best player in world football since moving from Santos to Barcelona in 2013 for a deal reported worth €86.2million.

After apparently growing and widening his status as a footballer with his achievement on and off the pitch, it was evident that the former Puskas Award winner would go on to attract top elite clubs.

With the Parisian club brimming with a lot of cash to flex muscles with high spending clubs, it was just a matter of time before Neymar would join them. Fast forward to 2017, the Selecao captain signed for PSG for a world record transfer fee worth €222million, and since then he’s been an important figure of both the club and their project.

Amidst transfer rumors of him returning to his old home Barcelona, plus the fact that the Parisian are also ready to offer him a new deal that would tie him down with the French side for at least another three seasons.

  • Kylian Mbappe – (Paris Saint Germain, € 1.91m Per Month)

Top 15 Highest Paid Players In Ligue 1

As a World Cup winner and one of the best prospects in world football, it’s quite understandable for Mbappe to be among the highest-paid players in Ligue 1 and Paris Saint Germain. The 2018 World Cup winner burst into the scene as a young player for Monaco, making his professional debut in 2015 at the age of 15.

The Frenchman signed for the Parisian club in 2017 on loan, which was later made permanent in 2018. He has shown to be a great prospect for both the club and their project in dominating the Ligue 1 and also flex muscles with the top clubs in Europe.

His permanent transfer to Paris Saint Germain is reported to be worth €180million, making him both the second most expensive player and most expensive teenager. Since joining the Ligue 1 Champions permanently, the 22-year-old has scored over 120 goals for the Parisian club.

However, amidst the rumor of Real Madrid prepping up to break the bank in their quest to bring him down to the Bernabeu, the World Cup winner is still actively the second biggest earner in the league and of course Paris Saint Germain.

READ ALSO: Top 10 Highest Paid Premier League Players As Of 2020/21

  • Correa Marquinhos & Marco Verratti – (Paris Saint Germain, €1.2m Per Month)

Top 15 Highest Paid Players In Ligue 1

Since the departure of top players such as Edinson Cavani, Zlatan, and recently Thiago Silva, Marquinhos’s status has risen from being a mere squad player in the dressing room into a leader, captain, and one of the best gladiator of the club.

As a 19-year-old teenager, the Brazilian was signed in 2013 on a five-year deal by Paris Saint Germain from AS Roma for a fee of around €31.4million. And as reported by BBC Sport, the deal was said to be the highest transfer fee for a teenager then, while Sky also reports it to be the then fifth highest transfer.

The current form of the Brazilian makes him rank as one of Europe’s most valuable players, most especially as a player who is currently plying his trade with the best team in France.

According to the transfer market rating, Marquinhos market value currently stands at €70million, as such with his years of experience and playing over 313 matches for the Parisian, it’s no surprise that the club captain takes home €1.2m per month tied with the Italian on the same amount.

Veratti

As for the Italian, he’s also been a very instrumental player for the team since joining the club nine years ago. There have always been rumors concerning his future, either joining Barcelona or go back to Italy, but as it stands his current contract with Paris Saint Germain would expire in 2024.

  • Angel Di Maria – (Paris Saint Germain, €1.1m Per Month)

Top 15 Highest Paid Players In Ligue 1

Since joining the Parisian for €63million after a disappointing stint with Manchester United in 2015, the Argentine winger has continued to prove to the world that he’s still one of the best players in football since leaving Real Madrid.

Di Maria isn’t just rank among the highest earner for doing nothing, he earns his pay through his brilliant performances over the years since joining them, accumulating a total of 251 appearances scoring over 88 goals and 104 assists.

The former Real Madrid winger may not stay in the Ligue 1 with Paris Saint Germain for three years or more, as he’s already moving close to the end of his career. However, with his deal still running that makes him the fourth-highest earner in the league.

  • Keylor Navas – (Paris Saint Germain, €1m Per Month)

Top 15 Highest Paid Players In Ligue 1

When Navas joined Madrid from Levante in the summer of 2014, no one ever thought he’s going to achieve quite a number of success with Los Blancos based on where he was coming from and his antecedent as a goalkeeper.

After a successful stint with Los Merengues, the imminent arrival of Thibaut Courtois means the Costa Rican goalkeeper days at Real Madrid are numbered.

With his achievement at Real Madrid, it was evident that the Costa Rican won’t find it hard to get good European suitor to come by, as such Paris Saint Germain came calling for his services in 2019 having been told he won’t be Real Madrid number one going forward into the new season.

Following Navas’s move to the French capital, it means his salary would be on the high side based on his achievement and reputation as a Champions League winner with arguably the biggest club in Europe.

As a Paris Saint Germain player, he earns €1m per month, making the Costa Rican one of the highest-paid players in Ligue 1

READ ALSO: 10 Richest Club Owners In World Football

  • Mauro Icardi – (Paris Saint Germain, €800,000 Per Month)

Top 15 Highest Paid Players In Ligue 1

The imminent departure of El Matador when Icardi joined Paris Saint Germain on loan means the responsibility of goalscoring would be on the shoulder of the Argentine. The former Inter Milan forward made his loan permanent with the PSG following a strong start in Paris.

The Argentine and controversy certainly go hand in hand based on his antecedent with his previous clubs. Everywhere he goes he has always shown he could lead the line perfectly, and since he joined the Parisian permanently no report of controversy has been recorded concerning the former Nerazzurri captain.

Icardi may not be the poster boy of PSG just like his days at Inter, that doesn’t make him less of a player in the dressing room among other star players like Neymar and Mbappe who are no doubt the face of the club.

  • Leandro Paredes – (Paris Saint Germain, €750,000 Per Month)
    Juan Bernat – (Paris Saint Germain, €700,000 Per Month)
    Presnel Kimpembe – (Paris Saint Germain, €670,000 Per Month)
    Ander Herrera – (Paris Saint Germain, €650,000 Per Month)
    Wissam Ben Yedder – (Monaco, €650,000 Per Month)
    Cesc Fabregas – (Monaco, €600,000 Per Month)
    Julian Draxler – (Paris Saint Germain, €600,000 Per Month)
    Idrissa Guaye – (Paris Saint Germain, €500,000 Per Month)

 

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