The 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season has reached its conclusion and there was a lot to learn from this memorable campaign, in which Real Madrid won their 35th Spanish championship.
Benzema could become Real Madrid’s next Ballon d’Or winner
Karim Benzema enjoyed the best season of his career as the No.9 led Real Madrid to the 2021/22 La Liga title, scoring 27 goals to win his first Pichichi Trophy as the division’s top scorer. His season was so good that the Frenchman finishes the campaign as one of the favourites to win the 2022 Ballon d’Or, meaning he could become Real Madrid’s 11th different winner of that individual prize.
João Félix is the real deal
This was the season in which João Félix turned 22 years of age and it was the season in which he came of age. The Portuguese forward was brilliant for Atlético de Madrid, especially during the spring months when he scored six goals in six games to steer Atleti towards Champions League qualification. The only negative from his campaign was that injuries prevented him from playing more, but he showed that he has what it takes to be one of the best in the world.
A match isn’t over until the final whistle sounds
This season underlined the fact that a football match isn’t over until it’s over. Of the 951 goals scored in La Liga this season, 80 of them hit the net in second half stoppage time, which works out at 8.4 percent of all goals. Some of these goals were very late winners, which will never be forgotten by those who witnessed them.
Seville boasts one of the most competitive rivalries in all of football
El Gran Derbi has always been one of the best rivalries in world football, thanks to the fans of Sevilla and Real Betis. What 2021/22 showed us, though, is that both clubs are in excellent shape on and off the pitch and competing for the biggest titles and prizes against each other and against giants of the game. The two clubs from the Andalusian capital finished just one position apart, with Sevilla fourth and Real Betis fifth, making this one of the most competitive rivalries in all of football right now.
Iraola has Rayo Vallecano in good hands
After winning a shock promotion through the LaLiga SmartBank playoffs last season, Rayo Vallecano managed to stay up this year and finished in 12th position. The capital city club even sat inside the top five at the halfway stage of the season and reached the Copa del Rey semi-finals. This was in large part down to the work of coach Andoni Iraola. The 39-year-old tactician has already committed to the club for the 2022/23 season, so Rayo Vallecano are in good hands.
FC Barcelona’s future looks bright
This was a season of transition for Barcelona, who still managed to finish in second place. Fans saw over the course of the campaign that there are reasons for optimism, especially with Xavi taking over as coach. The Camp Nou crowd also witnessed youngsters like Gavi, Pedri and Ronald Araújo take steps forward, saw signings like Ferran Torres and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang settle in immediately and enjoyed the brilliance of Ansu Fati when injuries respected him. The future is bright.
Iago Aspas is still RC Celta’s talisman
Iago Aspas’ greatness was well-known before this season, but he confirmed that he is still the main man at the Galician club by winning a record-equalling fourth Zarra Trophy, the award given out each season to the top scoring Spaniard in La Liga. By scoring 18 and assisting six of Celta’s 43 goals this term, Aspas was directly involved in 56 percent of his team’s goals.
La Liga’s centre-back depth is extraordinary
We saw this year that La Liga boasts so many of the best centre-backs in the world. With David Alaba, Pau Torres, Gerard Piqué, Jules Koundé, Stefan Savić, Robin Le Normand, Djene Dakonam, Diego Carlos, Iñigo Martínez, Éder Militão, Ronald Araújo, Marc Bartra, José María Giménez and Raúl Albiol all in the same league, you have to wonder how the strikers sleep at night.
Watch out for the promoted teams
None of the three sides that came up from La Liga SmartBank last summer were relegated, as Rayo Vallecano finished 12th, RCD Espanyol came 14th and RCD Mallorca avoided relegation on the final matchday to take 16th place. All three of these sides achieved some historic results, so the rest of La Liga teams know to watch out for the promoted clubs next year.
Football is better with fans
The 2021/22 season also reminded everyone that football is so much better with fans. Following a year and a half of matches taking place behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, supporters were gradually allowed back at the start of this season and the stadiums of La Liga were at 100 percent capacity for the second half of the season. That produced many moments of spine-tingling atmosphere and more can be expected in 2022/23.