La Liga

Raul and Real retain as Ronaldinho era ends at Barca - La Liga in 2007/08

Madrid were too good as in Catalunya their talismanic figure's influence had begun to wane

11:00am on Sunday 5th April 2020
By
Dan Edwards

Real Madrid's winning run in La Liga continued as the Merengue retained their title with ease. It was the first time the club had achieved that feat since 1990, when a mythical team containing legends Emilio Butragueño, Michel and Manolo Sanchis won the last of their five straight crowns in a period of total domination.

While the Santiago Bernabeu was in raptures, storm clouds were settling over Camp Nou. Barcelona were in transition and failed even to make the top two, conceding the runners-up spot to swashbuckling Villarreal. It would prove to be Frank Rijkaard's final season on the bench, as at the end of the year he stepped aside to give an opportunity to a Barcelona B coach by the name of Josep Guardiola.

CHANGES

As with most seasons, the elite clubs in the Spanish Primera Division flexed their financial muscle during the summer transfer window. Real Madrid acquired the Dutch duo of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben and also solidified their defence with Pepe from Porto and Gabriel Heinze from Manchester United. In what was probably the most eagerly-anticipated transfer of the summer, legendary Arsenal striker Thierry Henry joined Barcelona to join an already star-studded forward line, while Yaya Toure also arrived from Monaco. Some of the most impressive business of the window was conducted by Atletico Madrid, as although they allowed Fernando Torres to join Liverpool, they shrewdly spent the funds on Diego Forlan, Simao, Raul Garcia, and Jose Antonio Reyes. Real Valladolid, Almeria, and Real Murcia joined La Liga from the Segunda.

SUMMARY

Despite taking La Liga in his debut season, Fabio Capello's efforts were deemed insufficient for those in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu. The Italian was summarily dismissed from his post once the title was in the bag (just months later he would take the reins with England) and in came former Barca, Madrid and Germany star Bernd Schuster, his first taste of life on the bench with one of Europe's elite having previously directed the likes of Koln, Shakhtar Donetsk, Levante and Getafe.

Schuster's arrival was accompanied by the now-traditional flurry of new faces at the club. Arjen Robben, Pepe, Wesley Sneijder and Gabriel Heinze were the biggest of Madrid's eight summer purchases, while Florentino Perez also moved to clear out the previous generation of Galacticos as Roberto Carlos and David Beckham were both released.

Such upheaval, however, was barely noticed on the pitch: Schuster won eight of his first 10 Liga outings to establish Madrid at the summit, a place they would not relinquish for the entire season.

There are always difficult moments and more so at a club like this. From the start, I believed the team was capable of achieving what it has done.Bernd Schuster

Barca also spent heavily pre-season, with Thierry Henry, Yaya Toure, Eric Abidal and Gabriel Milito all arriving at Camp Nou. But just like the previous year a promising start to La Liga failed to hold. Barca suffered the indignity of Clasico defeat at Camp Nou thanks to Julio Baptista's solitary goal in December, rounding off a first half of the season that was tainted by three defeats and four draws.

The real revelation of the season could be found further down Spain's east coast in Castellon. Under the direction of Manuel Pellegrini, Villarreal battled to their best-ever Liga season, with a side that included the likes of Diego Godin and Joan Capdevila at the back and the brilliant Santi Cazorla pulling the strings in the middle.

The Yellow Submarine capped their season by beating Barca 2-1 at Camp Nou, and eventually finished a comfortable 10 points clear of the Catalans in second place. Nobody, however, could deny Madrid, who finished a further eight ahead with the league's best attack and best defence.

PLAYER OF THE SEASON

SERGIO AGUERO

While all eyes were on Madrid, on the other side of the Spanish capital a teenage Argentine star was beginning to turn heads. Aguero enjoyed a break-out season with Atletico, scoring 19 goals to help his team into fourth place and the Champions League.

MANAGER OF THE SEASON

GREGORIO MANZANO

After years of bouncing between the top and second divisions and nervously eyeing the relegation standings, Mallorca had plenty to cheer in 2007-8 thanks to their coach. Manzano moulded the side into a unit that was extremely tough to beat and managed a laudable seventh-place finish as worries of the drop were extinguished.

TOP GOALSCORER

DANI GUIZA - 27 GOALS

Mallorca's star forward beat out Luis Fabiano and Aguero with 27 goals for the Balearic side, form that would see him make a belated entry into the Spain squad at the age of 27 and also earn him a European Championship winners medal in June 2008.

TEAM OF THE SEASON

MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER

ARJEN ROBBEN

Chelsea to Real Madrid

€36m

KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON

Madrid's silencing of the Camp Nou in a famous away Clasico victory, a result that would set the tone for the rest of the campaign.

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