The aircraft Real Madrid CF has landed at a Liga title airport and everything is in order. So you may heave a sigh of relief. Because Real Madrid have at long last won La Liga 2007-2008. Because Real Madrid have deservedly won La Liga 2007-2008. Because after flirting so dangerously with the trophy mistress, los Meregues have ultimately locked the wedding ring.
Because the teasing and toying and playing catch with the pole position is now a thing of the past. Because Real Madrid have encapsulated their first successive Spanish league conquests in 18 years.
Yet Schuster’s triumphant side hasn’t only relied on spirit this season. They have coupled efficiency with discipline, married steel to silk and although goals have been leaked in like Mr. Ocean’s team stealing into safes, the midfield and the stikeforce have compensated for those lapses.
Goalkeeper Iker Casillas might have had more shots spit at him than any other custodian in La Liga this season but Guti has more assists for goals than any other player in the league with 14 in 24 starts. The latter clause becomes more enticing when you consider that the 11 matches that Guti hasn’t started, Real have actually won!
Which finely tees us to the contribution by other players in the championship conquest. This season Saint Iker has of course been the safest pair of hands in Spain again worth 18 points (at least) and Guti the temperamental genius somehow inspired by Schuster to temporarily delete the “temperamental” tag but it has been the likes of Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Wesley Sneijder, Mahamadou Diarra, Fernando Gago, Raul, Robinho, Arjen Robben, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Gonzalo Higuain who have shaped the edge. Virtually the entire team really.
Pepe has gradually developed into the €30 million Real Madrid splashed out at FC Porto last summer, Sergio Ramos has been the best right back in Spain and even past-his-sell-by-date Fabio Cannavaro has positively contributed (at times). Wesley Sneijder took over from Guti when the latter was insipid and off key, Mahamadou Diarra has been a rock in Real’s midfield when he has received the support, Fernando Gago is enjoying himself and has been passing the ball around exquisitely, Robinho has mischievously sprouted glimpses of his world class Pele side and Arjen Robben has been a Voldemort for opposition defenders in the last couple of matches when he has got rid of his Injury Demon.
Raul has 17 league goals to his credit this season and with three assists and countless running and constructive passes. Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 12 goals have arrived in spite of his injury plague and three goals in his last three matches all after coming off the bench has earned Gonzalo Higuain the super sub status.
So you see it has been a team effort, Real Madrid’s conquer of Spain. When one of the soldiers have puked and fallen on the ground, another has held the line. With 73 goals in 35 matches, Real Madrid cannot boast to have played romantic fantasy football that President Ramon Calderon promised at the art of the season after getting rid of the “boring” Capello but it has been Real’s efficiency and consistency that has ultimately carried them home but not dry as champagne bottles are being uncorked even as you read this.
There was a whisper of conspiracy in Spain ahead of Real’s trip to Pamplona that they would actually not win at Osasuna on Sunday night preferring to win against FC Barcelona at the Santiago Benabeu on Wednesday to conquer Spain. But if it’s one thing to win the championship with a win over the Catalan rivals, then it’s quite another—and more relishing—to have them form a Guard of Honour and salute the champions.
Which Barcelona shall do in El Clasico on Wednesday night.
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