Alright amigos, we come to the end of another season in Spain’s top-flight soccer league. As always, we had a lot happen on the final day of the season, with at least a couple of teams getting sent down to La Segunda.
Real Madrid were finally crowned champions after three long seasons of Barcelona dominance. It has been a record setting campaign for the ‘madridistas’ who scored 121 goals (breaking Madrid’s own previous record of 107 goals during the 1989-1990 season) and finished the league with an outlandish 100 points on their way to a 32nd league title. Madrid has to be disappointed after crashing out of the Champions League but all in all a very good season for ‘los blancos.’ On a side note there was a very interesting article on Real Madrid’s President, Florentino Perez, in the New York Times detailing Mr. Perez’s use of debt to finance business ventures, including Real Madrid. Will a global reluctance to ever-increasing debt and FIFA’s fair play initiatives prohibit some of Real Madrid’s spending this summer? With the sale of Kaká and Gonzalo Higuaín appearing imminent it may not matter as Madrid’s coffers will probably be replenished. We will see but one always expects Madrid to make a splash in the transfer market…
Villarreal, Sporting de Gijón, and Racing de Santander are the unfortunate teams being relegated to La Segunda. The heartbreak seems especially unfair to Villarreal. Villarreal lost to Atlético de Madrid, a team who had nothing to play for, on the last day of the season to see themselves out of La Liga for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Falcao scored the winner in the 88th minute, when most Villarreal fans must have thought the tie, and possible safety, were almost inevitable. Injuries certainly played a part and it is disappointing to see such a talented team go down, but that is how life in La Liga goes.
However, there is no yin without the yang. Zaragoza, who once seemed doomed to relegation, became the first team to overcome a 12 point deficit to remain in the top flight. Their fans must be applauding a great team effort.
Málaga, as their high spending owners surely expected, finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League next season, finishing fourth behind Real Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. Manuel Pellegrini, Málaga’s skipper, saved them from relegation last season and now leads his men into Europe (have hope, Villarreal fans, for circumstances can change so quickly!). Atlético and Levante round out the Europa spots, and hopefully Levante will not curse me so next season, as they have been wildly unpredictable and a quiniela buster for me in the second half of the season.
Leo Messi has the honor of finishing the season as this year’s ‘pichichi’ (La Liga’s top goalscorer), finishing with an incredible 50 goals. Christiano Ronaldo finished with 46, a total that would certainly have won any other year. It is somewhat bittersweet, as Pep Guardiola, the coach who has watched Messi transform from a ‘good’ player to arguably the best in the world, will step down as Barcelona’s coach this summer. Truly unfortunate for the fans, as Pep vs. Mourinho was really shaping up to be a rivalry for the ages. It will be interesting to watch next year to see how Barcelona reacts to the loss of a true legend.
Well, that’s it for this year. However, we have an action packed summer with Spain defending its European Championship at Euro 2012. Look for our coverage. Next year, the quinielas will be better than ever here at WheretoWatch.com, and look for our introduction to a Premier League Quiniela.
Hasta la proxima!
By: Ryan Moore