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Monday May 22 2017
What we learned from La Liga Week 38

The 2016-17 La Liga season is in the books and Real Madrid have won the title.  David Peters takes a look at five things the final weekend taught us.

1. This Real Madrid is the real deal

For the first time in five years, Real Madrid won the La Liga title. They may have won the Champions League and the Copa del Rey during that time, defeating rivals Atletico Madrid and Barcelona en route, but Los Blancos can now claim to have been the truly best team over a whole season. With a lucky draw and by hitting form at the right time, an imperfect team can win a cup competition, but the league table doesn’t lie and it separates the best from the rest over a full season. They finished a full three points ahead of Barcelona, a larger winning margin than Barcelona enjoyed during their previous two title wins. Zinedine Zidane’s men are the real deal. 

2. Diego Simeone is staying and he has big plans

While many were assuming Diego Simeone would see out his contract and stay in charge of Atletico Madrid for the 2017-18 season, there was always a lingering doubt as to whether or not he would indeed stay or if he would be swayed by an offer from abroad. Following Los Rojiblancos’ match on Sunday, their final ever one at the Estadio Vicente Calderon, he proudly announced that he wasn’t going anywhere and that the reason was that the club has a positive future. The Argentine has spoken of catching up with Barcelona and Real Madrid on several occasions over the past few weeks and he seems to truly believe the team can do it, especially with him at the helm.

3. Athletic fans will be rooting for Barcelona in the cup final

Real Sociedad’s 94th minute equaliser in Vigo snatched a Europa League spot from their Basque neighbours’ Athletic’s grasp. Juanmi’s goal, coupled with the Bilbao side’s loss away at Atletico, meant that Villarreal and Real Sociedad claimed fifth and sixth, leaving Athletic in seventh and praying for a Barcelona win in the cup final. That’s because a Copa del Rey triumph for the Blaugrana would see the seventh placed La Liga team inherit the Europa League spot for the cup winners, since the Catalan side have already booked their continental ticket. However, should Alaves win the final then they would be the ones to qualify.

4. Eibar performed right until the last whistle

Eibar had nothing to play for as they entered the final weekend, but they went toe-to-toe with Barcelona in what was a must-win match for the Catalan side. Takashi Inui scored two excellent goals, before some dubious penalty calling and a harsh red card took the wind out of Eibar’s sails. They ended losing 4-2 in that trip to the Camp Nou, but they will have impressed the many onlookers. It was a fitting end to what has been the most successful season in the tiny club’s history and they managed to finish in the top half of the table. That is an incredible achievement given that the team comes from a town of 27,000 people and that they had a budget which should have seen them battling relegation.

5. Jorge Sampaoli signed off in style

In his pre-match press conference, Jorge Sampaoli dropped the strongest hint yet that he will be leaving Sevilla at the end of the season to take over as Argentina’s Coach. Yet his side still performed in his final game and were ruthless against an already-relegated and an injury-decimated Osasuna team, winning 5-0 at the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan. It was an excellent way for Sevilla to finish a successful campaign, one in which they’ve qualified for the Champions League, and it means that Sampaoli cannot be accused of being distracted and of allowing Sevilla’s season to fizzle out. He has achieved the goal of finishing in the top four and should now be able to part ways on good terms.

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