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La Liga: Four things we learned in Spain's Matchday 38 (analysis)
Madrid, May 23 - The final weekend of La Liga ended with Villarreal assuring the final place in Europe for next season with a 2-0 win in the Camp Nou, while Granada were relegated after failing to win at home to Espanyol. Here are some things we learned as the curtain came down on another campaign in Spain.
1. Villarreal cruise in Camp Nou
Villarreal's 2-0 win away to Barcelona highlighted the talent that Unai Emery has on his side and the fact that Barca needs to hit the 'reset' button over the summer.
It's hard to imagine that the beaten Champions League semi-finalists, who have players such as Arnaut Danjuma, Dani Parejo, Pau Torres and Gerard Moreno in their squad (although Moreno has had injury problems) were close to missing out on Europe, but goals from Moi Gomez and Antonio Pedraza mean they will at least play in the Conference League next season.
2. It will be a busy summer at Camp Nou
Barca's defeat to Villarreal merely served to highlight the work that lies ahead over the summer. Although Xavi Hernandez has improved Barca since his arrival, the 'bounce' his replacing Ronald Koeman brought to Barca's game has long gone flat and the club now has to face some difficult realities.
Players such as Martin Braithwaite, Oscar Mingueza, Samuel Umtiti and Riqui Puig will all leave, while the loans for Luuk de Jong and Adama Traore end and it seems unlikely that veteran Dani Alves will not next season.
Meanwhile, others such as Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay, and Sergino Dest have not set the world on fire and could be sold along with Clement Lenglet, while Ousmane Dembele hasn't signed a new contract and is on his way.
That leaves Barca needing to bring in a lot of new faces, but with one eye on the wage ceiling.
3. No Mbappe changes Real Madrid's plans
Kylian Mbappe's decision to sign a new contract with Paris Saint Germain, rather than move to Real Madrid, whose well-publicized chase of the striker lasted for several years, is a blow to Real Madrid's plans for the summer.
Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez had aimed to make Mbappe his marquee signing, but now he will have to look elsewhere to bolster his attack.
With Luka Jovic and Mariano both likely to leave, Real Madrid need back-up for Karim Benzema, who has been magnificent, but will be 35 in December and maybe someone such as Espanyol's Raul de Tomas (a former Madrid B-teamer) could provide a low-cost answer to that problem, reports Xinhua.
Meanwhile, Antonio Rudiger will arrive on a free transfer and the end of Gareth Bale's contract will free up funds for further arrivals over the summer as Madrid look to rejuvenate their midfield.
4. Granada pay the price for wasting time
Granada's failure to beat Espanyol, coupled with away wins for Cadiz and Mallorca saw them condemned to relegation to the Spanish second division.
The club struggled to replace Diego Martinez, who saw them from the second division to a place in Europe, with former Spain boss Robert Moreno sacked in March and replaced by Roger Torrecilla.
Torrecilla's reign lasted 5 games in which the club took five points from 15 before he was replaced by Aitor Karanka for the last six games of the season. Karanka led Granada to a win, four draws and just one defeat in those matches and you can't help but think that had he been given the job in March, they would have survived.
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