Real Madrid clinches Spanish league title with win

Real Madrid's players toss their French coach Zinedine Zidane after winning the Liga title after the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid CF and Villarreal CF at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Valdebebas, on the outskirts of Madrid, on July 16, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 17 July 2020

Real Madrid clinches Spanish league title with win

  • Karim Benzema scored twice to give Madrid its 10th consecutive league victory
  • Barcelona had won the last two league titles

MADRID: There was Zinedine Zidane again, being thrown into the air by his Real Madrid players in another title celebration.
With the Frenchman back in charge, Madrid is back to collecting major trophies.
Madrid clinched its 34th Spanish league title — and first since 2017 — after extending its perfect run following the pandemic break with a 2-1 win over Villarreal on Thursday, opening a seven-point gap to second-place Barcelona with one round to go. Barcelona lost to 10-man Osasuna at the Camp Nou Stadium.
Karim Benzema scored twice to give Madrid its 10th consecutive league victory. It was the only team with a perfect record after the coronavirus-enforced break, having trailed Barcelona by two points before the league was halted.
“This is one of the best days in my life professionally,” said Zidane, who also won the Champions League and World Cup as a player. “It’s another league title, after the confinement and everything else that happened. I wish we could celebrate with the fans, but I’m sure they are very happy at home seeing their team win the league again.”
Zidane quit as Madrid coach in 2018 after leading the team to three straight Champions League titles, then returned less than a year later with the team floundering. In his first full season back in charge, Madrid wrested the league title away from Barcelona for the first time in three years.
It was also Madrid’s first league title since Cristiano Ronaldo left to join Juventus two seasons ago.
The title celebrations were subdued as the triumph came with Madrid playing at its training center because the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium remains undergoing renovation work.
Fans have not been allowed into games since the pandemic, and Madrid had warned supporters not to gather at the team’s traditional celebration spots in the Spanish capital. Most of the early celebrations came from fans honking their car horns across the city’s streets.
Captain Sergio Ramos lifted the trophy at the empty Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium as confetti went into the air behind him and his teammates. Players later threw Zidane into the air a few times, then they all posed for photos in front of one of the goals.
“It has been a strange season after everything that has happened,” said Ramos, who won his fifth Spanish league title. “After the confinement we knew that we had to win every match to clinch the title. There was no margin for error.”
Barcelona had won the last two league titles but stuttered after the break, drawing three times and losing once after the league resumed.
Benzema — one of Madrid’s key players this season — opened the scoring with a shot from inside the area in the 29th minute and added to the lead by converting a penalty in the 77th, reaching 21 league goals and moving within two of scoring leader Lionel Messi, who netted for Barcelona against Osasuna.
Benzema’s goal from the penalty spot came after Ramos’ initial attempt was called back after he just rolled the ball sideways to Benzema to score. The French striker had entered the area too soon and the penalty had to be taken again.
Luka Modric set up Benzema’s first goal after a breakaway that started near midfield.
Fifth-place Villarreal pulled one back with a header by Vicente Iborra in the 83rd. It was denied an equalizer by a great save by Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in stoppage time.
Madrid’s Marco Asensio had a goal disallowed moments later.
BARCELONA FALTERS
Barcelona needed to win its match and hope Madrid slipped up. Instead it lost 2-1 at home against midtable Osasuna.
Messi scored his league-leading 23rd goal from a free kick in the second half to cancel out José Arnaíz’s opener.
Osasuna lost substitute Enric Gallego to a direct red card for bloodying the mouth of Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet with an elbow to the face in the 77th.
But Osasuna’s Roberto Torres scored in stoppage time with Barcelona pushing forward searching for a late goal.
It was Barcelona’s first home loss in the league since a 4-3 result against Real Betis in Nov. 2018.
Messi said it was “not the way” Barcelona wanted to end the season.
“Madrid did its part by winning all its matches, which is impressive, but we also helped them to win this league,” Messi said. “We have to be critical of how we have played, starting with the players, and for the rest of the club.”
OTHER RESULTS
Mallorca became the second team to be relegated after a 2-1 loss to Granada at home. Espanyol had already been demoted. Leganés keep its chances of survival alive thanks to a 2-0 win at Athletic Bilbao. Celta Vigo stayed just outside the relegation zone after a 3-2 loss against Levante at home.
Third-place Atlético Madrid won 2-0 at seventh-place Getafe, while fourth-place Sevilla drew 0-0 at sixth-place Real Sociedad. Valencia moved into eighth place to keep alive its hopes of grabbing a Europa League spot after a 1-0 win against last-place Espanyol.
There was a total of nine red cards handed out during the 10 games.


Postponed Tokyo Olympics to cost extra $2.4bn

Updated 46 min 20 sec ago

Postponed Tokyo Olympics to cost extra $2.4bn

  • The extra costs come as officials work to build enthusiasm for the first Games postponed in peacetime,
  • Tokyo 2020 said an additional $1.5 billion would be needed for operational costs related to the delay

TOKYO: The coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics will cost at least an extra $2.4 billion, organizers said Friday, with the unprecedented postponement and a raft of pandemic health measures ballooning an already outsized budget.
The extra costs come as officials work to build enthusiasm for the first Games postponed in peacetime, insisting the massive event can go ahead next year even if the pandemic is not under control.
But more spending, on top of the previous budget of about $13 billion, could further harden public opinion in Japan, where polls this year showed a majority of people think the Games should be postponed again or canceled together.
“Whether it’s seen as too much or that we have done well to contain the costs, I think it depends on how you look at it,” Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told reporters.
“We have done all we can to earn the public’s understanding,” he added.
Tokyo 2020 said an additional $1.5 billion would be needed for operational costs related to the delay, with another $900 million in spending on coronavirus countermeasures.
The dollar figures are calculated at an exchange rate of 107 yen, and the total is around $2.56 billion at today’s rate. The costs look set to rise further, with Tokyo 2020 saying it would also release an additional $250 million in “contingency” funds.

The new spending swells a budget that was set last year at around $13 billion, and will add to disquiet about the cost of the Games after an audit report last year argued the national government was spending significantly more than originally planned.
The extra costs will be split between Tokyo, the organizing committee and the national government. The International Olympic Committee will not be chipping in, but has agreed to waive its sponsor royalty fee for the first time, organizers said.
The unprecedented decision to delay the Games has thrown up a plethora of extra costs, from rebooking venues and transport to retaining the huge organizing committee staff.
And with organizers committed to hosting the Games even if the pandemic remains a threat, extensive safety measures will be needed.
Tokyo 2020 this week released a 54-page plan they said would make it possible to hold the Games, including restrictions on athletes touching and fans cheering, and an infection control center in the Olympic Village.
Organizers have tried to scale back elements of the Games, offering fewer free tickets, scrapping athlete welcome ceremonies and making savings on mascots, banners and meals, but so far they have cut just $280 million in spending.
And on Thursday, they said 18 percent of Olympic tickets sold in Japan will be refunded, with domestic fans demanding their money back on about 810,000 of the 4.45 million tickets sold in the country.


Organizers hope to now resell those tickets, and demand for seats at the Games was high before the pandemic.
But enthusiasm has since waned, with a poll in July revealing that just one in four people wanted to see the event held in 2021, and most backing either further delay or cancelation.
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said the spending plan was carefully considered and he hoped people would accept it.
“If you have a drink, you could say your glass is half-full, or half empty. It depends on how you look at it,” he told reporters.
“There’s a rationale behind this plan. I hope the Japanese people will understand it.”
Tokyo 2020’s final price tag has been hotly disputed, with an audit report last year estimating the national government spent nearly 10 times its original budget between 2013-2018.
Organizers countered that the estimate included items not directly related to the Games.