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Five key factors in Real Madrid’s title victory

Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid won the Spanish title for the fourth time in 12 years on Saturday, beating Cadiz 3-0 before former champions Barcelona lost 4-2 in Girona.

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Carlo Ancelotti’s side trailed last season’s winners to shock challengers Girona to lift their record-extending 36th La Liga trophy.

AFP Sport explains the keys to Los Blancos’ domestic success this season:

Brilliant Bellingham

No one expected Jude Bellingham to have such an immediate impact in Spain following his move from Borussia Dortmund last summer.

The England international quickly established himself as a key player in Madrid’s attacking areas with ten goals in his first ten league matches, replacing the departed Karim Benzema.

Although his numbers have fallen in the second half of the season, Bellingham remains Los Blancos’ top scorer with 18 in La Liga, and Ancelotti also regularly praises his strong work ethic.

Catalan capitulation

Barcelona seemed revitalized last season under Xavi Hernandez, but the champions struggled in the first half of the season.

Their previously rock-solid defense collapsed with alarming regularity and the consistency of Madrid, who have suffered just one defeat in the entire season so far, made their march to the title seem inevitable.

Barcelona found new life after January, but it was too little too late for Madrid’s arch-rivals.

Mentality masters

Real Madrid are admired for their never-say-die attitude and certainty in big games. In their main La Liga battles against Girona and Barcelona, ​​they were victorious on every occasion.

Ancelotti’s side beat Girona 3-0 in September in a show of strength and then crushed the Catalan minnows 4-0 in February, completely nullifying their title bid.

Against Barcelona, ​​Bellingham scored stoppage-time winners in both league matches, helping Madrid to a 2-1 win in October and a 3-2 win at the Santiago Bernabeu in April.

And when Madrid didn’t play well in some of the less important games, they at least managed to draw. “If you want to win a league, you can’t lose the games you can’t win,” Ancelotti said.

Sustainable defense

Real Madrid have suffered several setbacks in defense this season, with Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao and David Alaba all sidelined with long-term injuries. Despite this, they have the strongest record at the back in La Liga.

Antonio Rudiger has raised his level to strengthen the defense, while right-back Dani Carvajal is in perhaps the best form of his career.

Defensive midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni has dropped into the backline without fuss when necessary and has always looked solid despite playing out of position.

Madrid’s players have also contributed in key moments, with Lucas Vazquez shining at right-back in the recent Clásico.

Carlo’s calls

Madrid coach Ancelotti has made his biggest decisions this season. The coach’s first decision was to deploy Bellingham as part of a three-pronged attack with Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes, a role his previous bosses had not envisaged for him.

The Italian managed Rodrygo’s problems in front of goal well and remained confident in the Brazilian, who made a point of celebrating with his coach after ending his goal drought in November.

Ancelotti has slowly phased out aging great Luka Modric, while still calling on him at the right times.

He kept players, including Brahim Diaz and Joselu, engaged and hungry and both scored against Cadiz on the day Madrid won La Liga.