A White League from start to finish that consolidates the current hierarchy

Marcelo and Benzema hold the trophy for the 2021-22 League champion. / ef

Analysis

Real Madrid only fell from the lead on the second day and the top seven classifieds of the 2020-21 academic year were repeated

Jose Manuel Andres

The end of the 2021-22 League yields two quick conclusions, in a flash: Real Madrid has been the hegemonic team of this championship, which it conquered without question, being the leader in all days except the second, and the hierarchy of Spanish football consolidates, with the same seven European teams from the 2020-21 academic year. Madrid, Barça, Atlético and Sevilla again in the Champions League, Betis and Real repeat in the Europa League and Villarreal finish seventh, like last year, although this time with a ticket to the Conference League.

So many months and 38 days later, many of the names of this League that is already history wear white. The player of the season has been without a doubt Karim Benzema. Top scorer by far thanks to his 27 goals, the weight of the French striker in Real Madrid's thirty-fifth league title transcends mere numbers. He has been the leader of a team far superior to the rest, well escorted by the explosion of Vinicius, second leg of Carlo Ancelotti's attack with 17 goals, but also by the teaching of Modric, Kroos and Casemiro in a fireproof midfield, the defensive leadership of Militao and Alaba, the new pair of central defenders in fashion in the League, and for the absolute security of Thibaut Courtois, the best goalkeeper in the world this season.

In August, when Caletto's second project on the Madrid bench began against Alavés in Mendizorroza, with Hazard and Bale in the starting eleven, few could imagine that the white team would be able to secure that League that the coach lacked Italian with a manifest superiority. So much so that he has even broken his particular record in terms of points advantage over the runner-up, thirteen units that exceed the dozen of 1961, 1963 and 1975, all of them under the criterion of two points per victory, yes.

Barça was finally left with a second place that tastes like glory according to the conditions in which it faced this championship, after the departures of Messi and Griezmann and in the bones at a financial level. Koeman was already starting the course touched by death, after Laporta bet on the Wembley hero only due to the impossibility of convincing another coach, and it lasted as long as it lasted. The hasty arrival of Xavi, who never imagined himself in such a situation of need, and the winter signings made it possible to straighten the course. So much so that despite the historic bump in the Champions League, which condemned the Europa League to desert, Barça even dreamed of fighting for the League after beating a relaxed Madrid in the Santiago Bernabéu classic.

It was a mirage, as the Barça house of cards collapsed in a more than disappointing final stretch of the campaign. Only 13 of the last 24 points at stake in the League and the embarrassment of the KO in the Europa League, in a white Camp Nou due to the massive presence of Eintracht Frankfurt fans, tarnished the reaction of Xavi's hand, who nonetheless breathed relieved with a second place that ensures the presence in the next Spanish Super Cup and also that classification for the Champions League that was so much in danger at times. The presence of emerging talents such as Pedri, Ansu Fati or Araujo suggests that better times will come at Can Barça.

Atlético stayed very close to the Barça team, on the podium for the tenth consecutive season, something unthinkable before the arrival of Simeone. And that this was perhaps the most complicated campaign for Cholo on the mattress bench. More was expected from the defender of the title but the defensive fragility at times with the style, the drop in performance of Luis Suárez or Marcos Llorente, decisive in the 2020-21 title, and the disappointing return of Griezmann, to whom injuries They have denied the necessary continuity to shine as the leader that is called to be in the Metropolitano, they have prevented Atlético from fighting to retain the crown.

Sevilla, deflated

Neither could Sevilla take that step from being in the noble zone to fighting for the title. And that for a long time seemed the only real alternative to Madrid. Lopetegui's team deflated in the final stretch although their progress allowed them to repeat that fourth place that a priori corresponds to them due to economic and sporting capacity and that they already achieved in the previous two seasons. The arrival of attackers like Rafa Mir, Martial and Tecatito Corona did not end up offering Pizjuán that extra goal that Sevilla seems to lack to be a candidate for everything. Once again, the reliability of the defensive trident made up of Diego Carlos, Koundé and Fernando became the cornerstone of a team weighed down by injuries but boasting for the first time in its century-old history of the Zamora Trophy, an award that Bono wins with 24 goals conceded in 31 games.

Betis and Real Sociedad also repeat in the Europa League, two of the most interesting sporting projects in Spanish football, capable of overshadowing the transatlantic League with sustained growth and a commitment to touch and quality football for two trainers as distant from the madding crowd as they are successful: Manuel Pellegrini and Imanol Alguacil. The Fekirs, Canales, Merino or Silva are a guarantee of a good game, like Emery of the solvency and competitiveness of a Villarreal that despite focusing their efforts on a Champions League in which they surprised Europe, reaching the semi-finals, finally managed to tie the seventh position, the last that grants a continental ticket, for the second edition of the Conference League.

Already in the middle zone, teams with pedigree continue to be established but those who still need one more step to assault Europe, such as Athletic, Valencia always in institutional crisis of Peter Lim or Celta. Also Osasuna, who guided by Arrasate and stability has changed suffering for comfort.

Interestingly, the three promoted have prolonged their stay among the best. Rayo de Iraola as one of the positive surprises in the League, Espanyol from more to less despite goals from Raúl de Tomás and Mallorca in agony.

Three consolidated projects that say goodbye

The 2021-22 League has ended up assuming the relegation of three teams that a priori did not start in the pools as scapegoats. Alavés, Levante and Granada bid farewell to the top flight after six, five and three years, respectively.

The Nasrid club returns to the silver category after two seasons at the top of the table. Led by Diego Martínez in Los Cármenes, they even made the leap to the Old Continent for the first time in their history, with a Europa League quarter-final tie against Manchester United that will go down in history.

Levante is also experiencing the bitter face of football after years of prosperity, with the milestone of the Copa del Rey semifinals in the 2020-21 campaign and resounding victories in the most difficult stadiums in the League, manufactured by the quality of Morales , Roger Martí or De Frutos.

Alavés, who accumulated the longest cycle in the First Division, dreamed big with a Cup final in 2017, although after two very long stays, through the reactions led by Abelardo and Calleja, they have ended up confirming their downward trend .

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