Real Madrid won their 34th La Liga title as they beat Villarreal on Thursday night, a triumph which extended manager Zinedine Zidane’s extraordinary record in the Los Blancos dugout.
Real edged past a resilient Villarreal thanks to goals in each half from in-form French forward Karim Benzema, surviving a late fightback from their rivals when Vicente Iborra scored inside the last 10 minutes at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.
In the end, however, the result was rendered academic as Real’s closest title rivals Barcelona slumped to a 2-1 home defeat against 10-man Osasuna, despite a trademark Lionel Messi free-kick.
For Real boss Zidane, the title triumph was his 11th trophy in just his 209th game in charge of the team, meaning he has a staggering average of winning silverware once every 19 matches.
The La Liga title adds to the one the 49-year-old Frenchman guided Real to in the 2016-17 season, as well as the famous ‘threepeat’ of Champions League titles between 2016-2018.
Zidane – who won La Liga and the Champions League with Real as a player – has also guided Los Blancos to two Spanish Super Cup triumphs, two UEFA Super Cup crowns and a pair of FIFA World Club Cup successes.
The man with the Midas touch is in his second spell as Real manager, having returned in March of last year to replace Julen Lopetegui – who had stepped into Zidane’s shoes following his shock departure just 10 months previously.
After the 48-year-old former Ballon d’Or winner recoded another success to bring La Liga back to the Bernabeu after a three-year absence, Zidane edged closer to Real’s most successful ever coach, Miguel Munoz, whowon 14 trophies – but in 605 matches in charge.
“Today is one of the best days for me as a professional and after everything that happened, the three-month break, it’s fantastic what’s been achieved,” Zidane said during Thursday’s title celebrations.
“It’s strange for everyone, we can’t control the situation, we would have loved to be with the supporters, hopefully that can happen further down the line but for a question of health that can’t happen.
“But I’m sure the supporters are happy celebrating at home. I say hello to all those supporters watching at home…
“Look, the Champions League is the Champions League but the Spanish league requires such an amount of effort, 38 weeks and effort and at the end of those 38 weeks you have more points than everyone else. It’s fantastic.”
“Well I have my role to play, I believe in the players and I’m just happy for them because they’re a group of humans before footballers, they’re good people.”
Real skipper Sergio Ramos hailed his manager, saying: “Everything Zidane touches turns into gold.
“We believe in him and in his work. He’s the one who has to make the difference, he’s a person who trusts players, and few do.
“We hope he stays here for a very long time, he is unique.”
While Real have one league game remaining, their attentions will turn to a Champions League last-16 second-leg clash away at Manchester City in August, when they have the formidable task of overturning a 2-1 deficit.
They will at least head onto that game buoyed by the fact that they are champions of Spain once again.