LaLiga matchdays 37 and 38 are complete and with that the 2019/20 season is now over, some 11 months after it started. It has been an unprecedented campaign in terms of its longevity and we had to wait until the very final minutes of the season to get the answers to some of the big remaining questions such as who would stay up and who would qualify for Europe.
LaLiga matchday 37 & 38 results
Thursday 16th July
Sunday 19th July
Links lead to the official Youtube highlights.
LaLiga Weekly Review – Matchdays 37 & 38
by Mark Sochon
Number 34 for Los Blancos
Sergio Ramos levanta o 34.º troféu da La Liga da história do Real Madrid ? pic.twitter.com/yttCWD7MEy
— B24 (@B24PT) July 16, 2020
It was a week which saw Real Madrid clinch their 34th Spanish league title. Victory over Villarreal in their penultimate match saw them get their hands on the trophy in the unlikely environment of the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano. While they would finally drop points in their last match with several players rested, 10 straight wins following the restart blew the competition away as Los Blancos set a pace that Barcelona simply couldn’t match.
It has been a curious title success in many ways with Karim Benzema in truth their only consistent attacking threat and even he had poor spells in the season. Overall though, it was a campaign in which virtually the entire squad played its part and it would be wrong to single out one man although the extraordinary end of season form at both ends of Sergio Ramos was instrumental in seeing them over the line.
Zinedine Zidane will rightly also draw plenty of plaudits. Having been rumoured to have been on the brink of the sack heading into Real Madrid’s Champions League trip to Galatasaray in the autumn, Zizou has done it again by adding two more trophies to his extraordinary haul in the shape of the SuperCopa and LaLiga. No other coach in world football has won more trophies since he first took the Real Madrid job in 2016.
Heartbreak for Mallorca & Leganes
Tenemos lo más importante para volver… De verdad, GRACIAS afición ? pic.twitter.com/kSLXhrH9nY
— C.D. Leganés (@CDLeganes) July 19, 2020
With Espanyol already gone, there were still two relegations to be dished out in the final week and despite brave fights in both cases, there was ultimately a somewhat predictable outcome as Mallorca and Leganes dropped down into the Segunda Division having spent much of the season in the bottom three.
Mallorca entertained until the very end with some enterprising football, and with teenage starlet Kubo shining, they were a very watchable team but ultimately one short on genuine top flight quality. Following back-to-back promotions that to some extent was no surprise and with just 6 points collected away all season, they put far too much pressure on their home games. Their relegation was ultimately confirmed with a 2-1 home defeat against Granada. News that coach Vicente Moreno was set to leave had leaked out in the hours before the game and that may be a source of regret for all parties.
As for Leganes, it was an even more gut-wrenching conclusion. They surprised everyone by taking 10 points from 4 games which included winning their MD37 game at San Mames to keep their hopes alive heading into the final day. They had to beat newly crowned champions Real Madrid to have a chance and they may well have done that had a controversial late decision not to award a penalty for handball against Luka Jovic gone in their favour. Despite some late pressure, a 2-2 draw only served to end their 4 year stay in LaLiga and grant safety to a Celta Vigo side that in truth barely deserved it, having stuttered and stumbled over the line with a home defeat to Levante and 0-0 draw at bottom club Espanyol.
Euro-Joy for Granada & La Real
Great scenes in the Real Sociedad dressing room after they secured European football with an 87th minute goal at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Arguably the most watchable team in LaLiga this season. Would have been a real shame if they'd missed out.pic.twitter.com/GqgoFuQFzx
— LaLigaExpert (@LigaExpert) July 20, 2020
The race for Europe produced an equally dramatic finale to the season. The top four had already been resolved heading into the final week while Villarreal secured 5th place leaving two Europa League places up for grabs on MD38 and four teams vying for them in the shape of Real Sociedad, Getafe, Valencia and Granada.
In keeping with their season, Valencia bowed out in uninspired fashion, losing 1-0 at Sevilla to finish in a disappointing 9th place. Granada were the only team to quickly rise to the challenge as Diego Martinez’s men put on a fine display to race into 4-0 lead against Athletic Club and put themselves in pole position for Europa League qualification.
They still needed a favour or two elsewhere though. Real Sociedad, so good for so long this season, yet strangely out of sorts since the restart, were trailing 1-0 at Atletico Madrid and looked like missing out until an 87th minute strike from Adnan Januzaj rescued their European dream and saw them rise from 8th to 6th in the table – thus clinching a place in the group stages of the Europa League.
As all the other games finished, Getafe were still goalless with Levante in La Nucia, despite having had three strikes ruled out by VAR. A goal for Pepe Bordalas’ side would have seen them pip Granada to that final Europa League place but instead they finally conceded in the 100th minute to guarantee Granada’s passage into Europe for the very first time to the joy of everyone in the Andalusian city.
Legends Bow Out
Santi Cazorla bids farewell to Villarreal and LaLiga ?
What a player! ? pic.twitter.com/oTlEGj8Ugh
— Premier Sports ? (@PremierSportsTV) July 19, 2020
It was also a week that saw several LaLiga legends bow out. Most notably at the Ceramica, Bruno Soriano and Santi Cazorla both started their final games for Villarreal having announced their respective departures. Both have endured terrible injury problems in their careers but it was great to see Bruno finally back on the pitch in the final stages of this season while Santi Cazorla has been a joy to watch over the last two years and has produced some of his best football back in a Villarreal shirt again.
On the touchline, it was also an emotional and potentially very significant occasion for Atletico Madrid as Diego Simeone’s long-serving assistant Mono Burgos moves on to pastures new. He has become a recognisable and influential figure alongside El Cholo during the past decade and it’ll be interested to see where he goes as he looks to become a head coach himself.
The Managerial Merry-Go-Round Starts Up
As reported elsewhere, Unai Emery is set to be appointed at Villarreal. Talks began before LaLiga restarted. Views it as a good club, long-term project. Location suits him. Hard act to follow this season though. More coming up at @ESPNFC.
— Alex Kirkland (@alexkirkland) July 19, 2020
Burgos could be a slightly left-field option for LaLiga clubs looking for a new boss this summer and already we’ve got some significant movement on that front. Unai Emery is expected to be announced as the new Villarreal boss imminently with Javier Calleja unfortunate to lose his job after an impressive 5th place finish.
Emery’s former club Valencia are also on the lookout for a new boss with Javi Gracia reportedly their first choice. Betis have already appointed Manuel Pellegrini and we could see some movement elsewhere with Alavés another side that doesn’t currently have a permanent head coach.