Five Reasons Real Madrid reclaimed the La Liga title

Real Madrid have managed to clinch their 36th La Liga title with four games still to go in the ongoing season.

After a disappointing 2022/23 season where they had suffered eight defeats and finished ten points behind champions Barcelona, Real Madrid have managed to bounce back in some fashion. With four games to go, they have an unassailable 13-point lead at the top and have only lost once in the league with that loss coming back in September 2023.

Los Blancos were crowned champions of Spain after their 3-0 win over Cadiz on Saturday was followed by Barcelona’s defeat at the hands of Girona. With the race for the league title now done and dusted, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at major reasons for Real Madrid’s dominance in the 2023/24 season.

Jude Bellingham’s incredible debut season

Karim Benzema parted ways with Real Madrid last summer, and it was a huge blow to the team in white. They decided against signing a world-class number nine to replace the French striker as Carlo Ancelotti trusted incoming English sensation Jude Bellingham to do the job for him.

The English international has had a dream debut season at Real Madrid. Not many have had such an incredible impact in their first-ever campaign at the Spanish club. Bellingham has featured in 38 matches this term, contributing towards 32 goals (22 goals, 10 assists).

As far as La Liga is concerned, he has 18 goals and four assists in his 26 outings. Bellingham did the bulk of the scoring in the initial phase of the season when Rodrygo was struggling for form and Vinicius Junior was nursing an injury. He was Ancelotti’s go-to man in attack.

In La Liga, there are no bigger games for Real Madrid than El Clasico, and the English international was the difference between the two teams on both occasions. He scored the winner at home as well as in the away fixture. Bellingham helped them complete a double over rivals Barcelona. His goalscoring prowess and his ability to step up to the occasion have played a huge part in Real Madrid’s dominance.

Ancelotti’s tactical masterclass to bring the best out of Bellingham

Bellingham surely had an incredible debut season, which highlights the fact that he is a generational talent who is going to do wonders for the team in white for years to come. But, it might not have been possible without the Italian tactician on the bench.

In order to adjust without Benzema and make the best use of the English international, Ancelotti decided to switch from his trusted 4-3-3 system to a 4-4-2 formation with a diamond in the midfield, where Bellingham was the attacking midfielder.

While the former Borussia Dortmund star had his share of defensive responsibilities, the Italian tactician gave Bellingham the freedom to explore attacking areas. He was often seen making late runs into the box. And when Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo used to drift wide, the 20-year-old was seen taking up the role of a striker.

The fluidity of their attackers is what made them a much more threatening team, and it was one of the reasons for their dominance.

Real Madrid’s defensive triumph amidst adversity

Real Madrid had conceded 36 goals in their 38 league outings last season. While it is a decent defensive record, it was not good enough to go past Barcelona. This time around, they have only conceded 22 goals in their 34 outings so far, that too when some of their most important defensive players have missed the majority of the season with long-term injuries (Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao and David Alaba).

The Merengues had picked up injuries quite early in the season, and everyone expected them to struggle at the back as they did not have enough defensive depth. But, Real Madrid have still managed to put in some exceptional defensive performances through the course of the season.

Antonio Rudiger took his game to another level in the absence of Alaba and Militao; he became the leader and marshalled the defence in exceptional fashion. Dani Carvajal managed to turn the clock back and showcase to the world why he is considered one of the best right-backs in the world. He is arguably in the best form of his life.

While Nacho and Lucas Vazquez have also stepped up and produced the goods when needed, defensive midfield metronome Aurelien Tchouameni has dropped back into the backline at times of need, and he has looked exceptional at the back. In short, when the going got tough, the Real Madrid players stood up and got the job done for their boss.

Andriy Lunin’s coming of age

Thibaut Courtois’s injury forced Real Madrid to look for a new shot-stopper, and they ended up signing Kepa Arrizabalaga from Chelsea on a season-long loan. The Spanish international started the season as the preferred choice in goal. But he picked up an injury, which allowed Andriy Lunin to showcase to the world what he is made up of.

Lunin has been a part of the Spanish club since the summer of 2018 but never really had an extended run in the team. When he finally got his opportunity, the Ukrainian shot-stopper managed to impress one and all with his performances.

The 25-year-old shot-stopper has featured in 20 league games for the team in white, and he has kept a clean sheet on ten occasions while only conceded 13 goals. His consistent performances in goal are a major reason for their dominance in the league despite all the injuries at the back.

Real Madrid’s new look midfield

Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have done wonders for Real Madrid over the years. But this time around, it was about a new-look midfield which helped Los Blancos dominate the opposition. While Kroos is still the one dictating the pace of the game from the centre of the park for Real Madrid, the youngsters around him seem to have come of age.

Federico Valverde has already been a reliable figure in their midfield for years. But with Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni performing consistently, their midfield looks all set for at least another half a dozen years. Tchouameni has done wonders as the holding midfielder, while Camavinga has produced the goods in a defensive role as well as a central midfielder.

Luka Modric is no longer a regular feature in the centre of the park for Los Blancos. But Carlo Ancelotti has called the Croat into the act when the going has got tough, and the veteran midfielder has delivered time and again.

All five of them have managed a passing accuracy of over 90 per cent throughout the course of the season. They have helped Real Madrid control the game to ensure they come out on top on the majority of the occasions. The consistent performances of their midfielders are the biggest reason why they have managed to keep an excellent defensive record and have also scored goals for fun.

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