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5 reasons why Real Madrid could win the La Liga title this season

Real Madrid won their first La Liga title in three years last season.
Real Madrid won their first La Liga title in three years last season.
ANALYST
Modified 14 Sep 2020, 20:14 IST
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Real Madrid are one of three sides, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao being the other two, who have never been relegated from La Liga since the competition's inception more than nine decades ago.

With 34 titles, Los Blancos are the most successful side in La Liga history; not surprisingly, they also hold a plethora of records in the competition. Real Madrid have registered the most consecutive Liga triumphs (5 - 1961 to 1965 and 1986 to 1990), have the most wins (1716) and most goals scored in a single season (121).

Real Madrid were also the first team to breach the 100-point mark in the Spanish top-flight, doing so in 2011-12, and are one of only two teams to have scored in all 38 games in a 20-team Liga season.

Five reasons why Real Madrid could win the La Liga title this season

Last season, Real Madrid won their first La Liga title in three years, which happened to be their first major title since the departure of their all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer of 2018.

On that note, let us look at five reasons why Real Madrid could successfully defend their La Liga title this season.

#1 New-found defensive solidity

Raphael Varane (left) and Sergio Ramos (right) formed a formidable central defensive partnership for Real Madrid last season.
Raphael Varane (left) and Sergio Ramos (right) formed a formidable central defensive partnership for Real Madrid last season.

Real Madrid have traditionally been known for their firepower up front, especially when Cristiano Ronaldo was at the club.

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The Portuguese superstar used to average about 35 La Liga goals (50 in all competitions) every season. His departure from the club two years ago left a gaping hole in the Real Madrid attack, and expectedly, the club struggled massively upfront.

However, the return of Zinedine Zidane sparked a stunning reversal of Real Madrid's flagging fortunes. The Frenchman did not look for a like-for-like replacement for Ronaldo and instead focused on strengthening the club's oft-ignored rearguard.

In that regard, it helped that Belgian custodian Thibaut Courtois was able to turn around an underwhelming debut season and deliver a rock-solid campaign in goal; Courtois kept a Liga-high 18 clean sheets (in 34 games) last season.

Ahead of the former Chelsea stopper, captain Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane formed a formidable central defensive partnership while full-backs Marcelo, Ferland Mendy and Dani Carvajal tore down the flanks to lend bite to the attack and tracked back when the team did not have possession.

Casemiro impressed in a holding midfield role and proved to be an effective shield to the Real Madrid defence while German veteran Toni Kroos put in his usual shifts from a deep-lying midfield role.

Ramos, in particular, was also formidable at the other end, scoring 11 goals - a tally that included six penalties - as he admirably led the club from the front.

Not surprisingly, Real Madrid were difficult to score against in La Liga last season, conceding 21 fewer goals than the 46 they shipped in 2018-19.

Interestingly, Madrid conceded the fewest goals by a top-five league side last season (PSG conceded 24, but they played only 27 games in a truncated Ligue 1 season), a factor that could prove crucial in the capital side successfully defending their title in 2020-21.

#2 The Eden Hazard factor

 Eden Hazard would look to enthral the Real Madrid faithful this season
 Eden Hazard would look to enthral the Real Madrid faithful this season

Much like his compatriot Courtois, Eden Hazard had a forgettable debut campaign for Real Madrid last season after arriving from Premier League side Chelsea on a €115 million transfer.

The Los Blancos record signing failed to hit the ground running as he seemed bogged down by the tag of Madrid's most expensive player. Of course, it did not help Hazard's cause that he was afflicted by injuries for large swathes of the season.

Hazard, who plays as an attacking midfielder or winger, had blossomed into one of the best players in Europe during his stint with Chelsea and is renowned for his speed, creativity, dribbling, finishing ability and set-piece prowess.

Besides these attributes, the 29-year-old's versatility allows him to be a deployed in a bevvy of forward positions like left-winger, attacking midfield, second striker or even a false nine.

After scoring his lone Real Madrid goal in 22 games (16 in La Liga and six in the Champions League) last season, a fit-again Hazard would be looking to endear himself to the Madrid faithful and lend a cutting edge to the team's attack while complementing the efforts of French veteran Karim Benzema upfront.

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Published 14 Sep 2020, 20:12 IST
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