Real Madrid celebrations turn awkward for $160m outcast

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Gareth Bale (pictured far right) cross-armed during celebrations and (pictured right) walking off the field.
Gareth Bale (pictured right) cuts a forlorn figure during Real Madrid's celebrations after clinching their 34th Spanish La Liga title. (Getty Images)

Real Madrid clinched their 34th La Liga title overnight after holding on to defeat Villarreal 2-1 and mark their 10th victory in a row since coming back from the coronavirus break, but not everyone in the team was in the mood to celebrate.

Madrid opened a seven-point gap to second-place Barcelona with one round to go overnight, Barcelona lost to 10-man Osasuna at Camp Nou, as Karim Benzema scored twice to give Madrid their 10th consecutive league victory.

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There was Zinedine Zidane again being thrown into the air by his Real Madrid players in another title celebration.

With the Frenchman back in charge, Madrid are back to collecting major trophies.

Madrid clinched their 34th Spanish league title - and first since 2017 - with a 2-1 win over Villarreal on Thursday, opening a seven-point gap to second-place Barcelona with one round to go.

The title celebrations were subdued as Madrid played at their training centre with the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium under renovation.

Captain Sergio Ramos lifted the trophy at the empty Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium as confetti went into the air behind him and his teammates.

Gareth Bale cuts forlorn figure

But many eyes were on Gareth Bale when players later threw Zidane into the air a few times and all posed for photos in front of one of the goals.

Bale cut a forlorn figure in recent weeks and even pretended to nap on the bench, with his face mask covering his eyes, during a recent win for Madrid.

But this time, it was Bale standing cross-armed and appearing uninterested that had fans questioning whether he will be in the Spanish capital much longer.

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Bale’s lack of first-team participation since the return of La Liga will once again fire up transfer rumours during the football break.

Zidane hails Real Madrid win

"This is one of the best days in my life professionally," said Zidane, who also won the Champions League and World Cup as a player.

"It's another league title, after the confinement and everything else that happened. I wish we could celebrate with the fans, but I'm sure they are very happy at home seeing their team win the league again."

Zidane quit as Madrid coach in 2018 after leading the team to three straight Champions League titles, then returned less than a year later with the team floundering.

In his first full season back in charge, Madrid wrested the league title away from Barcelona for the first time in three years.

It was also Madrid's first league title since Cristiano Ronaldo left to join Juventus two seasons ago.

Benzema opened the scoring with a shot from inside the area in the 29th minute and added to the lead by converting a penalty in the 77th, reaching 21 league goals and moving within two of leading goalscorer Lionel Messi, who netted for Barcelona against Osasuna.

Fifth-place Villarreal pulled one back with a header by Vicente Iborra in the 83rd.

Messi scored his league-leading 23rd goal for Barcelona from a free kick in the second half to cancel out Jose Arnaiz's opener, but Osasuna's Roberto Torres scored in stoppage time.

Messi said it was "not the way" Barcelona wanted to end the season.

"Madrid did its part by winning all its matches, which is impressive, but we also helped them to win this league," Messi said.

"We have to be critical of how we have played, starting with the players, and for the rest of the club."

With AAP