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Sergio Ramos hails Zinedine Zidane as 'captain of the ship' after Real Madrid lift La Liga title - in pictures

Victory over Villarreal secures 34th league crown for Los Blancos

Sergio Ramos lauded manager Zinedine Zidane for his leadership skills after Real Madrid sealed their 34th league title with a 2-1 win over Villarreal at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium on Thursday.

Madrid are now seven points ahead of second-place Barcelona with one round to go. Barca lost 2-1 to Osasuna at the Camp Nou, capping a poor restart to the season.

"He has been the key, he is the captain of this ship," said Ramos of his manager.

"I hope he lasts a long time at the club and that he is appreciated, because he is unique."

Zidane had risked tarnishing his record by returning to the Madrid coaching job just 10 months after resigning, but he showed there is no one better than him for the job by securing the title when Barcelona had the chance to taste La Liga glory before the pandemic-enforced break.

“He has guided this team. He has shown that he trusts all of his players. That doesn’t happen with all coaches. And we believe in him,” Ramos added.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was even more effusive in his praise of Zidane after the manager secured his 11th trophy following 209 games in charge of Real Madrid.

"He has won a trophy every 19 games," said Perez. "He is a blessing from heaven and hopefully he will be with us for a long time. People can criticise him as much as they want as long as he continues to win titles."

It all seemed a long way away when Real were thrashed 7-3 by Atletico Madrid in a pre-season friendly in the United States in June last year. That defeat had come a few months after Zidane was asked to return as manager.

What made this league title significant is that it was won without Cristiano Ronaldo, who is now ruling the roost at Juventus. Ramos was among the leaders when Ronaldo was in the squad, and he raised his game in the last few of seasons.

He added scoring abilities to his rock solid defence, becoming the defender with most goals in the history of the league.

Ramos scored 10 goals this season, with half of them coming after the pandemic-enforced break. He took over from Ronaldo as the team’s main penalty taker and converted a few decisive ones in recent games, including in consecutive 1-0 wins against Getafe and Athletic Bilbao.

Ramos is Madrid’s second-best scorer this season behind Karim Benzema, who has 21 league goals and still has a chance of surpassing Messi for the league’s golden boot award. Messi, who scored Barcelona’s goal on Thursday, has 23 entering the final round.

Updated: July 17, 2020 08:42 AM

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