Madrid, April 30, 2022
Real Madrid are Spanish LaLiga champions for the second time in three seasons and for the 35th time overall, after beating Espanyol 4-0 on Saturday to clinch top spot.
Los Blancos have led the way pretty much throughout a campaign that has seen erstwhile champions Atletico Madrid and a Lionel Messi-less FC Barcelona struggle for consistency.
Indeed, Sevilla proved Los Blancos’ biggest threat for large parts of this season, but Carlo Ancelotti’s men never truly looked in danger of relinquishing their grip on another title.
Real Madrid’s latest triumph came in Ancelotti’s first season back at the club, with the Italian becoming the first head coach to win each of Europe’s top five leagues.
While Ancelotti deserves plenty of credit, the title stroll would not have been possible if not for Karim Benzema and Thibaut Courtois at opposite ends of the pitch.
The numbers behind Real Madrid’s latest title romp, which they could still yet add to with the UEFA Champions League in the coming weeks, say it all.
Real Madrid have already won more European Cups than any side ——- 13.
Their two LaLiga titles in three seasons, with the other coming under Zinedine Zidane in 2019/2020, are as many as they won in the previous 11 campaigns.
Ancelotti’s men have done so in style too, having clinched top spot with four match days left, surpassing 2007/2008 (three match days) for their earliest title win this century.
Ancelotti won five trophies during his previous spell in charge of Real Madrid but the LaLiga title eluded him.
However, the 62-year-old can now lay claim to having won the title in Italy, England, France, Germany and indeed Spain —-– the first head coach to have ever achieved a sweep.
He is also the oldest coach to have won the Spanish top-flight, some two years more senior than Fabio Capello was when also tasting success with Real Madrid in 2006/2007.
Incidentally, Ancelotti and Capello are the only two Italian coaches to have reigned in Spain, with the latter having done so twice.
Benzema has led the way for Real Madrid with this his fourth LaLiga conquest, adding to the titles won in 2012, 2017 and 2020.
The France international has scored 26 goals in 30 league games this season, making this his most prolific campaign across his 13 years in Spain’s top-flight.
Not only does Benzema lead the LaLiga scoring charts, his 11 assists are also level with FC Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele as the most in the division.
Just to further underline the striker’s importance this season, with 37 direct goal involvements, he has played a part in 51 percent of Los Blancos’ 73 league goals.
For all of Benzema’s goals, Real Madrid have so often called upon goalkeeper Courtois to rescue them this campaign.
The former Chelsea stopper has conceded just 29 goals across 34 matches, keeping 14 clean sheets in the process.
Real Sociedad’s Alex Remiro (18) can hold claim to keeping more shutouts, but a separate metric shows just how good Courtois has been in 2021/2022.
The 29 goals Courtois has conceded have come from 33.4 expected goals on target conceded, meaning he has prevented 4.4 goals based on the quality of his shot-stopping.
To put that in some perspective, no goalkeeper in LaLiga has prevented more goals this season, while only five others across Europe’s top five leagues have prevented more.
Benzema and Vinicius Junior may get most of the plaudits, but Courtois’ influence has undoubtedly been significant.