How Real Madrid turned the tide against Manchester City (1:49)

Real Madrid came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Manchester City in the semifinals. 1:45

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There appeared to be a "changing-of-the-guard" moment during Real Madrid's win over Manchester City last week. The average age of the starting lineup was 29 years old, with seven players in it who were 29 years old or over.

By the time City were on their knees after two last-minute goals from Rodrygo leveled the tie on aggregate, the average age of the Madrid players left on the pitch was three years younger.

The average age of the Madrid stars with the most minutes in the league this season is 30. On the pitch, there were players such as Eduardo Camavinga, Rodrygo and Jesus Vallejo. The average age of these five is 22 years old.

With Madrid looking to sign Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer this summer, as well as Aurelien Tchouameni from Monaco for around $60 million, the victory over City might be a sign of things to come. It was intriguing, and it had been waiting for.

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Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid have all won the LaLiga title before, but until this season, each has struggled to keep up with the changing vibe of European football. In the round of 16, Madrid were knocked out by Manchester City in a 4-2 aggregate defeat, Atleti were beaten by RB Leipzig in a shortened one-leg quarterfinals, and Barcelona were thrashed by the Germans.

In the round of 16 the following season, Atleti were completely uncompetitive in a defeat against Chelsea and Barcelona were humiliated by Paris Saint-Germain. Los Blancos were lucky to only lose the second leg of their semifinal tie to the eventual European champion by a single goal.

Real Madrid's mix of veteran and young players has given them a unique balance. Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images

Although there isn't a team in Europe's elite leagues that doesn't feel the weight of too many games and too little recuperation time, the fact remains that the trend in the Champions League is that the fittest, fastest, most.

There are many reasons why Madrid has won the title in Spain this season, most of which are related to their superb attitude, relentless ability to stand up in big moments and the fact that several of their players are having their best ever performances. One reason is that LaLiga is more deliberate, technical, less oriented towards brutally fast counter-attacking or nonstop asphyxiating pressing.

The fact that a group of players might be in their 30s isn't a problem. This is a title race where the tortoise can beat the hare and they can dominate.

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On Tuesday, May 10.

• Valencia vs. Real Betis (1 p.m. ET)

• Granada vs. Athletic (2 p.m. ET)

• Barcelona vs. Celta Vigo (3:30 p.m. ET)

On Wednesday, May 11.

• Alaves vs. Espanyol (1 p.m. ET)

• Osasuna vs. Getafe (1 p.m. ET)

• Ajax vs. Heerenveen (2 p.m. ET)

• PSV vs. NEC Nijmegen (2 p.m. ET)

• Go Ahead Eagles vs. Feyenoord (2 p.m. ET)

• Sevilla vs. Mallorca (2:30 p.m. ET)

• Elche vs. Atletico Madrid (3:30 p.m. ET)

Let's add another person to this equation. For anyone with a romanticism in their hearts, the Yellow Submarine's progress to within 45 minutes of reaching the final in Paris should be a joyful memory.

There are a lot of things to say about the club, its squad and the way Unai Emery's players pushed hard. Like Madrid and the old guard of Barcelona, the guys at Villarreal prefer to make the ball do the running rather than sprint after it. Vicente Iborra is 34 years old, while Etienne Capoue is 33, and Dani Parejo is 33.

It was partly because of fitness and injury problems, but also because of the age of the first XI, where there are players such as Francis Coquelin at or around 30. I know that they knew that this was going to be the case after having coffee with a few of their technical staff. They were expecting the storm to last half the game.

An aging Spanish team that doesn't have to live with intensity and huge demands on its athletic ability every week is at a disadvantage if it is required to produce a 45 minute burst in order to overturn a deficit against an elite team in Europe. To compete more comprehensively in Europe once again, LaLiga needs its teams to be a little younger, a little faster and a little more intense.

Villarreal struggled when up against the dynamic nature of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side. (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)

Benzema, Modric, Kroos and Courtois will still be some of the club's dominant forces next season, following that first hint of change at Madrid.

If you take the Saturday games as an example, LaLiga won't be getting young and trendy any time soon, as theGala of Grandads still appears to be running things. The numbers Friday and Saturday were amazing.

On Friday, Levante beat Real Sociedad. David Silva, who just renewed his contract for another year, equalized for La Real after the home team had taken the lead throughJorge Miramon.

The Grandad Gala was sent into motion by Mallorca's loss to Granada. The Islanders were back in the match after a brilliant 25-metre goal by the 38 year old Salva Sevilla. The performance of 40-year-old Jorge Molina was more impressive than that of 32-year-old Maxime Gonalons. He made one goal and scored two more, the second of which was a brilliant penalty box strike with a turn and finish that any player would have been proud of.

Iago Aspas, 34, and Thiago Galhardo, 31, were among the goal scorers for Celta in their win over Alaves, and Aspas is a recurring feature in the argument that age seems to be a state of mind in Spain. The Spanish player who scores most in LaLiga is a shoo-in to win the Zarra award. The two awards before his hat trick of victories went to Athletic Club's Aritz Aduriz, who was 34 and 35 at the time.

There was more evidence. The opening goal of the game was scored by Alvaro Negredo, who is 38 years old, and Lucas Perez, who is 33 years old.

The cherry on top of the cake was the Sevilla game, when Barcelona secured their place in the group stage with a win. The 39-year-old, who won the ball back more often than anyone else on the pitch across the 90 minutes, set up Jordi Alba, who volleyed home a left-footed volley from the edge of the penalty area.

For the moment, all hail the golden oldies, but for LaLiga clubs to win regular European trophies again it's long overdue that young, vigorous, athletic and technically gifted players start carrying more.

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