Ancelotti hails Real Madrid 'commitment' after sealing record-extending 36th La Liga title

Carlo Ancelotti, Head Coach of Real Madrid, congratulates Federico Valverde of Real Madrid at the final whistle during the LaLiga EA Sports match between Real Madrid CF and Cadiz CF at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 04, 2024 in Madrid, Spain.

Carlo Ancelotti credited Real Madrid's La Liga title triumph to the "commitment and attitude" of his players after the Spanish giants sealed a record-extending 36th championship on Saturday night.

After beating Cadiz 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu, with second-half goals from Brahim Diaz, Jude Bellingham, and Joselu, Real needed Barcelona to drop points to Girona in the later game to clinch the title with four games remaining.

Girona duly delivered, twice fighting back to secure their second 4-2 victory over Barca this season, and in the process qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history, in only their fourth year in Spain's top flight.

"We're very happy and very content. It's a deserved La Liga in every way and we've had fantastic support from the fans," said Real manager Ancelotti, who added that celebrations will be kept to a minimum as his side prepare for the Champions League semi-final second leg against Bayern Munich on Wednesday. The first leg in Munich ended 2-2.

"We would like to celebrate with all the fans, but they understand because on Wednesday we have a very important challenge. We want to prepare well to make the fans happy and we will celebrate the title together on Saturday. Now it's important to have a restrained celebration because Wednesday's objective is very important."

With the Bayern second leg in mind, Ancelotti only selected captain Nacho Fernandez from the starting line-up that earned the draw in Bavaria this week.

Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois started for the first time after a nine-month lay-off with a knee injury and kept a clean sheet.

Madrid midfielder Luka Modric became the oldest player to appear for the club in La Liga, at 38 years and 238 days, breaking late Hungarian great Ferenc Puskas' record from 1965 by five days.

The visitors, 18th and still battling to stay up, shaded the first half but Madrid's goals came after the interval.

Courtois made a superb save to deny Chris Ramos early in the second half and Madrid took the lead immediately afterwards. Diaz received the ball from Modric on the edge of the area, turned and curled an effort into the top corner.

Bellingham, on as a substitute for Turkish teenager Arda Guler, added the second soon after entering the fray at the end of a fine team move. It was the England international's 18th league goal of the season, keeping him in contention to finish as the top scorer.

Madrid completed the victory after a superb run by Nacho. Poised to depart at the end of the season, the Spaniard was hailed by the Bernabeu after setting up Joselu for a simple finish in stoppage time.

Los Blancos were then able to celebrate after Girona came from behind twice to defeat Barcelona in a wild clash.

When asked what the key factors were to Real's title success, Ancelotti said: "The commitment of everyone. It's been easy to manage this squad because there's a lot of commitment, few egos, everyone helps each other and are friends. We have a good atmosphere and these characteristics have allowed us to win.

"It's been a fantastic La Liga campaign, with a lot of continuity, commitment and attitude. Everything has gone well thanks to our players and above all to the fans. Here at the Bernabeu they have given us a lot of support in every game."

While Real have been crowned champions, the story of the Spanish league season has been Girona, and the small Catalonian club continued their remarkable campaign with another swashbuckling win over giant neighbours Barcelona.

Barca took the lead through Andreas Christensen's fine volley after three minutes but La Liga's top scorer Artem Dovbyk levelled with his 20th goal of the campaign just a minute later.

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Robert Lewandowski sent Barcelona ahead with a penalty after Lamine Yamal was felled, but substitute Portu made a huge impact in the second half for Girona.

Michel Sanchez's side netted two goals in two minutes to turn the game on its head. Portu scored the equaliser moments after coming on and then set up Miguel Gutierrez to put Girona ahead.

Portu sensationally volleyed home the fourth to ignite Girona's tiny Montilivi stadium and get the party started.

"The players have entered Girona's history books, what we've done this year is incredible," said Sanchez.

Girona players celebrate in front of the fans after beating Barcelona to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history. AFP

Girona players celebrate in front of the fans after beating Barcelona to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history. AFP

Girona played Champions League music over the stadium sound system to give their fans a taste of things to come.

"I want to play against Liverpool, I want a historic giant here, there are many, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Inter," Sanchez said.

For Barcelona, in third, the summer will be for self-reflection rather than dreams.

"It's a shame, we sink with any negative situation," said Barcelona coach Xavi after losing the title. "Like this it's impossible to compete."

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