Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Real Madrid 2-1 Villarreal: The major points as Los Blancos lose their La Liga crown

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, La Liga 23 May 2021

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While Real Madrid might have completed a stunning last-gasp turnaround in the capital on Saturday evening, it was not enough to help Los Blancos make it back-to-back La Liga crowns.

Despite Karim Benzema and Luka Modric bagging two goals in the final minutes after Yeremi Pino’s first-half opener for Villarreal, Atletico’s 2-1 victory away at a relegated Real Valladolid was the final nail in Madrid’s title ambitions.

In what was a lively meeting at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano, we have taken a look at what are the three big talking points after a rollercoaster day for the now-former Spanish champions.

End of the road for Zidane?

While Real Madrid might have completed that remarkable turnaround on Saturday evening, all eyes will firmly be on what the future holds for Zinedine Zidane past the summer.

Crashing out of the Champions League at the hands of Premier League outfit Chelsea last month, many around the Spanish capital believe that a second-place La Liga finish might not be enough to warrant another year under the French icon.

Admitting after his side’s 2-1 victory that he will hold talks with Madrid president Florentino Pérez over the next few days, Zidane has been heavily linked with a potential move back to another one of his former clubs this summer.

With it widely suggested that Juventus Head Coach and former star Andrea Pirlo will be given his marching orders, the question remains, who will be in the Bernabéu come next season?

Benzema impresses again

While the likes of Eden Hazard might have come under real scrutiny from the Madrid fan base this season, Karim Benzema once again showed on Saturday evening why he is still one of the top marksmen in Europe.

Leveling the score in the 87th minute with a beautiful effort past Villarreal keeper Gerónimo Rulli, the 33-year-old also had a header ruled out by VAR in what was the most marginal of calls in the second-half.

A constant nuisance all evening and feeling that he probably could have left with the match ball on another day, Benzema’s performance on Saturday highlighted why he has been recalled to France’s squad for this summer’s European Championships.

Ending his international exile after making his last appearance for the world champions back in October 2015, the one-time Lyon striker ended the 2020/21 campaign with 23 La Liga goals, only sat behind Lionel Messi in the final charts.

Villarreal turn their attention to Europe

Although many might have been surprised to see 18-year-old Yeremi Pino open the scoring after 20 minutes with a smart finish past Thibaut Courtois, Villarreal largely failed to build off of their shock opener.

Failing to match a similar level that set in their stunning 4-0 romp against Sevilla last weekend, Unai Emery’s side were largely outplayed in the Spanish capital and failed to really gain a foothold in proceedings.

Not asking the former Chelsea shot-stopper many questions after their first-half opener, there is no doubt that all attention in Villarreal’s camp will turn to next week’s Europa League showdown against Manchester United.

Making the trip out to Poland, The Yellow Submarine will know that they must put in a far more complete performance over 90 minutes if they’re to salvage what has been a downbeat campaign for the former Arsenal boss.

Match Report

Real Madrid: Courtois (6), Odriozola (6.5), Militao (5.5), Varane (6.5), Gutierrez (7), Valverde (6.5), Casemiro (6), Modric (7.5), Asensio (5.5), Benzema (8), Vinicius Junior (5)

Villarreal: Rulli (6.5), Pedraza (6.5), Torres (6), Albiol (7), Mario Gaspar (6), Pino (7.5), Capoue (5.5), Parejo (7), Trigueros (6), Bacca (5), Moreno (6)

Goals: Real Madrid: Benzema (87′), Modric (90+2′), – Villarreal: Pino (20′)

Referee: Munuera Montero

Yellow Cards: N/A

Red Cards: N/A

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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