La Liga

When the era of the Galacticos begun - La Liga in 2000/01

Luis Figo's record arrival was the catalyst for Los Blancos to clinch the title

9:00am on Sunday 29th March 2020
By
Dan Edwards

The Florentino Perez era at Real Madrid got off to a fine start with the club claiming their 28th Liga title.

The new club president delivered on his pre-election promise to sign Luis Figo from arch rivals Barcelona, and also orchestrated the sale of the club’s training ground, which funded the ambitious recruitment drive of transfer windows to come.

This set the tone for the rest of the season and after taking top spot on Matchday 14, Los Blancos would never look back.

CHANGES

The story of summer 2000 starts and ends with Figo. Madrid met his €62m release clause to bring the Portuguese winger from Catalonia to the capital. This cut the rivalry between the two clubs to one of its deepest points. Los Blancos also decimated another one of their league rivals with another crucial signing, bringing in Claude Makelele from Celta Vigo with relatively little fanfare - a fitting tone for his career.

Under new boss Lorenzo Serra Ferrer, Barcelona didn’t waste time, lining up Marc Overmars from Arsenal to replace Figo, while Gerard also made a big-money switch to Camp Nou from Valencia. Meanwhile, Deportivo pulled off two moves that shaped their identity at the turn of the century, adding Juan Carlos Valeron and Diego Tristan to their ranks.

Las Palmas, Villarreal and Osasuna joined the top flight, with Real Betis, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla sinking to the Segunda.

SUMMARY

From the moment the fixture list was released, everyone circled October 21 - the first Clasico of the season and Figo’s return to Camp Nou. Barcelona fans had their first encounter with their self-proclaimed Judas. Even by Clasico standards, the hostility in Camp Nou that day was legendary, with whiskey bottles among the missiles rained down from the stands. It was ugly but it worked, with Barcelona winning 2-0 and Perez himself admitting that the crowd had got inside their heads.

But in the long run, it didn’t matter. Madrid would recover their poise soon after, reeling off a devastating run of 11 wins and one draw in 12 games either side of the new year that sent them into an unassailable lead at the top of the table. Raul had arguably his finest domestic season at the club, clinching the Pichichi with 24 goals.

Defending champions Deportivo were dethroned, but still managed a strong second-place finish to head directly into the Champions League group stages for 2001-02. They were nearly beaten to an automatic spot by Mallorca, who surprised everyone by finishing third, only two points behind Depor.

Barcelona were scoring freely with Rivaldo and Patrick Kluivert tallying 41 goals between them, but an atrocious defensive record of 57 goals conceded was their undoing - and the end of Ferrer’s brief spell in the dugout. Charly Rexach replaced him, but the Catalans still trailed Valencia for the fourth and final Champions League qualifying spot heading into the final matchday, when they welcomed los Che to Camp Nou, needing a win to qualify.

And Rivaldo would deliver the signature performance of his career.

His 89th-minute overhead kick from the edge of the box broke a 2-2 tie, completed his hat-trick and snuck the Catalans into the Champions League at Valencia’s bitter expense.

Zaragoza nearly had the shame of playing in next season’s Uefa Cup from the Segunda after winning the Copa del Rey, but managed to finish one point above the relegation zone. Real Oviedo, Racing Santander and Numancia were the three sides that could not avoid the drop.

TOP GOALSCORER

RAUL - 24 GOALS

The forward scored 24 goals, edging one ahead of Rivaldo to wrap up his second Pichichi award.

MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER

LUIS FIGO

Barcelona to Real Madrid

€62m

KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON

With Real Madrid keeping the competition at a safe distance for most of the campaign, the race for fourth was the real battle of the season. The stars aligned to make the final matchday at Camp Nou hold all the stakes, and Rivaldo rose - at least three feet in the air - to the occasion.

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