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Real Madrid 2021-22 season review - star player, best moment, standout result

:Headline: Real Madrid 2021-22 season review - star player, best moment, standout result:
Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at Real Madrid's 2021-22 campaign, which saw them win a La Liga and Champions League double.
Sports Mole

Real Madrid's 2021-22 campaign came to a close at Stade de France on Saturday night, with the Spanish giants beating Liverpool 1-0 in the final of the Champions League.

Los Blancos also breezed to this season's La Liga title, winning the division at the end of April, with Carlo Ancelotti enjoying a hugely successful campaign at the helm on his return to the club.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at Real Madrid's season, which also saw them win the Spanish Super Cup and reach the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey.


SEASON OVERVIEW

Final league position: 1st

Copa del Rey: Quarter-finals

Champions League: Winners

Top scorer: Karim Benzema (44)

Most assists: Vinicius Junior (20)

There were eyebrows raised when Ancelotti returned to Bernabeu last summer as a replacement for Zinedine Zidane, and it was a quiet transfer window for the club, with David Alaba arriving on a free transfer, while talented teenager Eduardo Camavinga joined from Rennes.

Influential figures in the shape of Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos, who had both been so key to their success, were also allowed to leave, with the latter departing on a free transfer, while the former moved to Manchester United.

Not too many expected Los Blancos to be a major force in La Liga, while they were not considered to be among the favourites for the Champions League at the start of the campaign, but it has been a spectacular season for the club, who have now lifted the European Cup on 14 occasions.

Real Madrid were excellent in the early stages of the campaign, putting wins on the board in La Liga and the Champions League, but they suffered a shock home loss to Sheriff Tiraspol in the Champions League at the end of September before Espanyol beat them in the league straight after.

The team's response was incredibly strong, though, and the wins continued to arrive at an impressive rate, with their next loss not coming until the start of January away to Getafe. At the start of 2022, Los Blancos won the Spanish Super Cup by beating Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, while they were progressing in the Copa del Rey, overcoming Alcoyano and Elche.

Real Madrid's spot in the knockout round of the Champions League had also been secured, and Ancelotti's side were flying high at the top of La Liga. There was disappointment in the Copa del Rey at the start of February, losing to Athletic in the final eight, while they suffered a 1-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 affair.

Real Madrid managed to turn things around in the second leg at home, though, running out 3-2 winners on aggregate, while a series of victories in La Liga strengthened their position at the summit. There was the setback of a 4-0 home loss to Barcelona in the league, but they produced two spectacular Champions League wins over Chelsea and Manchester City to reach the final of the European Cup.

Ancelotti's side also secured the La Liga title at the end of April by beating Espanyol 4-0, which allowed the manager to rotate his squad in the final weeks of the campaign, and it paid off in terms of the European Cup.

Real Madrid actually finished their campaign with back-to-back league draws with Cadiz and Real Betis, but they were 13 points clear of second-placed Barcelona, boasting a record of 26 wins, eight draws and four defeats, scoring 80 times and conceding just 30.

Reclaiming the La Liga trophy was special, but Real Madrid's best moment of the season came on Saturday evening, with Vinicius's second-half effort proving enough to beat Liverpool to win the Champions League, but they needed their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to put in a stunning performance.

Having beaten PSG, Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool to win the European Cup, it is difficult to argue against their position as European champions, and it proved to be a famous campaign for a certain Benzema, who scored 44 goals and contributed 15 assists in 46 appearances in all competitions.


LA LIGA STATS

Wins: 26 (1st)
Draws: 8 (=9th)
Losses: 4 (=20th)
Goals scored: 80 (1st)
Goals conceded: 31 (19th)
Yellow cards: 76 (=15th)
Red cards: 0 (20th)
Passes: 22, 960 (2nd)
Shots: 657 (1st)
Saves: 99 (10th)
Tackles: 560 (14th)
Clearances: 480 (19th)


HOW DID IT COMPARE TO LAST SEASON?

Last term, Real Madrid finished second in La Liga behind Atletico Madrid, reached the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey, and made the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Los Blancos were two points off Atletico at the end of the campaign, and they actually had a stronger defensive record last term, conceding just 28 times in their 38 matches, but the capital giants, under Zidane, only scored 67 goals, 13 fewer than the 2021-22 campaign.

Real Madrid made hard work of their Champions League group last term, only picking up 10 points from six matches, but they did beat Atalanta BC and Liverpool in the knockout rounds before losing 3-1 on aggregate to Chelsea in the semi-finals.

Last season, the team were heavily reliant on Benzema for goals, and while the Frenchman has enjoyed another excellent campaign, there has been a much stronger contribution from the players around him, namely Vinicius, who ends the season with 22 goals and 20 assists in 52 appearances in all competitions.


PLAYER OF THE SEASON - KARIM BENZEMA

Real Madrid have had a number of outstanding performers this season, but it is impossible to look past Benzema when discussing the team's player of the campaign.

The 34-year-old has been in stunning form for Los Blancos, scoring 44 goals and providing 15 assists in 46 appearances in all competitions.

In La Liga, he scored 27 goals and provided 12 assists in 32 matches, while he netted 15 times and contributed two assists in 12 Champions League appearances.

Benzema also registered in both the semi-finals and final of this season's Spanish Super Cup to help Los Blancos win the trophy, contributing in all of the major competitions aside from the Copa del Rey, where he did not make a single appearance this term.

The France international has now scored 323 goals and registered 159 appearances in 605 games for Real Madrid, meaning that only Cristiano Ronaldo (450) has netted more times for the famous club.

It has been a special season for Benzema, and while he did not register against Liverpool in the Champions League final, he was again brilliant in the final third, and there is little doubting that he is currently the best centre-forward in world football.


STANDOUT RESULT

Real Madrid were involved in spectacular two-legged affairs with PSG, Chelsea and Man City in the knockout rounds of this season's Champions League, while the 1-0 win over Liverpool in Saturday's final could certainly be considered as a standout result for the club.

However, the second leg of their semi-final with Man City at Bernabeu was so dramatic, as Los Blancos looked down and out when Riyad Mahrez scored in the 70th minute to make it 5-3 on aggregate to the Citizens.

Rodrygo had other ideas, though, scoring twice in the final moments to force extra-time, before Benzema won it from the penalty spot in the 95th minute.

Not too many teams are able to score three times against Man City, especially under immense pressure in a European Cup semi-final, but it was a magic finish to the contest for the La Liga champions.

> Click here for a full list of Real Madrid's results from the 2021-22 season



BEST MOMENT

The final whistle in the Champions League final.

Liverpool, for many, were the favourites heading into Saturday's affair, but this is Real Madrid's competition, and Vinicius's 59th-minute effort ultimately proved enough to decide the contest at Stade de France.

Benzema had a first-half goal controversially chalked off for offside, but Liverpool will feel that they did enough to win the match, with Los Blancos goalkeeper Courtois making a string of wonderful saves.

Luka Modric effortlessly glided through the match, demonstrating that he remains one of the best central midfielders in world football at the age of 36, while Dani Carvajal was a standout performer in a defence that refused to buckle under some late pressure.

When the final whistle went on Saturday, Ancelotti became the most successful manager in the history of the competition, lifting the trophy on four separate occasions, twice with Real Madrid.

The fact that a number of the club's players have now won five Champions League titles is an indication of their utter dominance in this competition, and they will be searching for a 15th trophy next term.


TOP PRIORITY FOR SUMMER

Isco, Marcelo and Gareth Bale are leaving the club on free transfers this summer, but Modric is said to have agreed a contract extension until next June, and it is absolutely vital that the club keep hold of the Croatian, who will believe that he still has at least another season in him at this level of football.

The defence will be boosted this summer with the arrival of Antonio Rudiger on a free transfer, and it would not be a surprise to see Los Blancos bring in another midfielder, but they are well-stocked in that area with Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga, Toni Kroos, Modric and Casemiro all options.

Benzema, Vinicius and Rodrygo will again be key for Real Madrid next term, while Eden Hazard is staying, but Bale is on his way out, and Marco Asensio, Luka Jovic and Mariano Diaz face uncertain futures.

Kylian Mbappe was supposed to be a statement signing this summer, but the France international has now signed a new deal with Paris Saint-Germain, and the club have missed out on Erling Braut Haaland to Manchester City.

Real Madrid certainly need to boost their attack this summer, and they could potentially now look to the likes of Napoli's Victor Osimhen and RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku, or even Sadio Mane, who has allegedly told Liverpool that he wants to seek pastures new during this summer's transfer window.

The Mbappe saga will take a while to get over, and it will be fascinating to see who the club target in the coming months, but an outstanding forward to complement Vinicius and Benzema should be their priority, especially as a deal for Rudiger has already been secured.


FINAL VERDICT

Ancelotti's return to Real Madrid last summer was widely criticised, but the Italian has once again proved that he is one of the best managers in the world.

Los Blancos breezed to the La Liga title, which is fortunate considering that they needed all of their strength to pull off some spectacular comebacks in the Champions League.

Winning the league and reaching the Champions League final would have been seen as a successful campaign for the club, but they managed to go a step further on Saturday, and this will certainly be remembered as one of their best seasons in history.


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La Liga Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Atletico MadridAtletico11003033
2Real Betis11003033
3Villarreal11003033
4Osasuna11002113
5Real Madrid11002113
6Real Sociedad11001013
7Valencia11001013
8Celta Vigo10102201
9Espanyol10102201
10Athletic Bilbao10100001
11Barcelona10100001
12Mallorca10100001
13Rayo Vallecano10100001
14Almeria100112-10
15Sevilla100112-10
16CadizCadiz100101-10
17GironaGirona100101-10
18ElcheElche100103-30
19Getafe100103-30
20Real Valladolid100103-30
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