Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said clinching the La Liga title with Sunday evening’s 2-0 win at Malaga had brought what was the “best day of my professional life.”
Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema gave Madrid a comfortable final game win at La Rosaleda, meaning that Barcelona’s comeback 4-2 win at home to Eibar at the Camp Nou mattered little in the end.
It was Madrid’s 33rd La Liga title in all, and their first domestic championship in five years, with Zidane’s team now heading into June 3’s Champions League final against Juventus aiming to complete the club’s first such double since 1958.
During his playing career, Zidane won a World Cup with France, two Serie A titles with Juventus as well as La Liga and the Champions League with Madrid, but he said in his postgame news conference that knowing the expectations which came with coaching the Bernabeu outfit, he was extra happy to have won the title in his first full season in the job.
“You know where you are, as Real Madrid coach, you know the expectations are very high,” Zidane said. “I like that, I lived it as a player, I won everything with this club, with this jersey, but to win La Liga as coach is different, it is the maximum.
“Being first after 38 games, for me it is the happiest day of my professional life, for sure. When the season starts you think the most important day to day is La Liga. So there are no words to describe it. Inside I am very, very happy.”
Having rotated his extra-deep squad through the season, even resting galacticos like Ronaldo at various times, Zidane said that key to their success had been each of his players pulling together.
“We have suffered along the way, over 38 games in this Liga, which is the most difficult in the world,” he said. “It is a big moment for the coach, and even more for the group. Their unity all year has been key, the players who played more and the players who played less.
“The 24 players, they are the ones on the pitch, who suffer, and battle. If you work hard, having the squad we have, we can achieve this Liga, which is not easy at all.”
The focus to finish the job by taking maximum points from three difficult games in final seven days of a long season had also been vital, Zidane said.
“What has been key for us, has been the last three games we have won, Sevilla, Celta [Vigo] and today,” he said. “Playing these three teams, and winning all three, after 35 games before that with some difficulties, losing some games, that has been key. 4-1 at home, 4-1 away, and 2-0 today — spectacular.”
After being interrupted by a group of players lead by vice-captain Marcelo spraying champagne, Zidane said that before thinking completing the double in Cardiff in a fortnight’s time they would all be heading straight to the Cibeles fountain in central Madrid, where Los Blancos traditionally celebrate all their triumphs.
“I am not going to talk about Cardiff today, we are not thinking about that yet,” he said. “We’re going to enjoy what we have done. We want to celebrate, to go to Cibeles to see the fans who must see their team.”