It has been a memorable year in Spanish football, with great goals, silky skills and no shortage of excitement.
As 2021 reaches its conclusion, here comes a look back at 10 of the best moments from this past year of LaLiga Santander football. From the greatest moments of magic on the pitch to the most important experiences off of it, it has been a year to remember.
21 January: Dmitrovic scores a penalty
Eibar’s Serbian goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic produced one of the first memorable moments of 2021 when he stepped up to take a penalty himself in a match against Atletico Madrid. With Eibar having missed several penalties to start the 2020/21 season, the goalkeeper was chosen to take their next spot kick, and he beat his counterpart Jan Oblak, becoming the first goalkeeper to score a LaLiga Santander goal since 2011. Later in 2021, Sevilla’s shot-stopper Bono scored a goal too, in a match against Real Valladolid.
10 April: A dramatic El Clasico in a downpour
The clashes between Real Madrid and Barcelona are among the highlights of every year of Spanish football and that was once again the case in 2021, especially when they met beneath a downpour at Valdebebas in April. Goals from Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos put Los Blancos into a commanding lead, but Óscar Mingueza pulled one back and Barca came close to equalising, before Real Madrid ultimately held on for the 2-1 victory.
16 May: The late drama of the penultimate round
Atletico Madrid started 2021 leading the LaLiga Santander table, but Los Colchoneros feared they might have let that lead slip on Matchday 37. With Real Madrid winning away in Bilbao, Atletico needed three points at home to Osasuna to stay top. After falling behind, Diego Simeone’s side produced the most epic of comebacks, first equalising through Renan Lodi and then grabbing a 2-1 victory thanks to talisman Luis Suarez’s clinical strike. The dugout emptied as they celebrated moving one step closer to the trophy.
16 May: Fans back in the stands
The penultimate round of the 2020/21 season also produced a poignant moment, as Valencia vs Eibar and Villarreal vs Sevilla were the first LaLiga Santander matches with fans allowed back in the stands since the COVID-19 lockdown. A few stadiums across Spain were permitted by their local authorities to open the doors for the final two rounds of the season, before all venues were able to welcome back their supporters for the start of the 2021/22 season.
22 May: The final matchday of 2020/21
At the end of May, football fans around the world tuned in to the final matchday of the 2020/21 season as Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid fought for the title. Atletico held a two-point advantage going into their final round trip to Real Valladolid, meaning they would need a victory if their city rivals won their home match against Villarreal. With Real Madrid duly winning, Atletico Madrid required three points and came from behind to earn them thanks to goals from Ángel Correa and Luis Suárez, claiming the club’s 11th Spanish championship.
18 September: Vallecas falls in love with Falcao
The most eye-catching piece of LaLiga Santander transfer business in 2021 was newly-promoted Rayo Vallecano’s acquisition of Radamel Falcao. Days after thousands of fans queued around the stadium to attend the Colombian’s presentation, even more were in the stands for his debut and it was a perfect start to life at Rayo for El Tigre. Just 10 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute for his debut, he fired in a goal against Getafe to prove he still oozes quality.
26 September: Ansu Fati’s triumphant return
After 10 months out recovering from a knee injury, Ansu Fati returned for Barcelona in a LaLiga Santander match at home to Levante in Matchday 7 of the 2021/22 campaign. After coming off the bench in the second half, he wowed the Camp Nou with his skill and speed, before converting his first chance to complete a 3-0 victory and to tell the world he was back.
1 October: Iñaki Williams’ record
By playing in Athletic Club’s match against regional rivals Alavés at the start of October, Iñaki Williams set a new record. That match was his 203rd in a row in LaLiga Santander, with the forward not having missed a league game for Athletic since 2016, and it moved him ahead of the previous record of 202 that had been set by Juan Antonio Larrañaga three decades ago.
22 November: Pedri is named the Golden Boy
LaLiga Santander players won several individual prizes in 2021 and one of the most prestigious went to Barcelona’s 19-year-old midfielder Pedri, who claimed the Golden Boy award for the best Europe-based talent under the age of 21. Not only did he win it, but he did so with the largest points margin ever seen between first and second place.
28 November: Vinícius’ brilliant match-winner
One of the stories of 2021 has been the evolution of Vini Jr, with the Real Madrid winger improving with each week and adding goals to his dribbling game. He proved this in the top-of-the-table clash against Sevilla at the end of November, firing in a brilliant strike from distance in the 87th minute to earn Real Madrid a 2-1 win and a commanding lead at the top of the standings.
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