Barcelona have been crowned champions of LaLiga at Estadio Riazor
with four games still left to play on the league calendar. The title, combined with the Copa del Rey, represents the club’s eighth double in their history, with Ernesto Valverde and his players writing their names into Blaugrana legend with a level of domination that has never been matched before. Nobody has been able to compete with them throughout the season as Real Madrid all but gave up after a woeful start to the season, losing substantial ground early on.
Valencia started strongly and kept up the pace but ran out of steam whilst Barcelona went from strength to strength. Atletico Madrid have been their closest rivals since Los Che fell away, but they have never really threatened the Catalans.
At one point they were just five points behind as Valverde’s side went through a blip which saw them drop points against weak rivals, such as Espanyol, Getafe and Las Palmas.
That came to an end with Barcelona’s victory over Atletico at the Camp Nou and ever since then their consistency with Valverde’s strongest line-up has made lifting the title look comfortable. The former Athletic Club coach has stuck to his guns with few rotations throughout the campaign, even after losing Neymar and suffering a thrashing at the hands of Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana.
The coach changed what he inherited to and made a disjointed attack into an organised unit, with lines which work together and regained the precision in their passing that used to be their trademark.
Once focused on what their modus operandi was, everything became easy for this new look Barcelona side with Valverde the conductor.
Leading the charts in goals and assists, Lionel Messi has been the star as he so often has been, whilst Luis Suarez has become a close ally despite a slow start in terms of goalscoring. Add in to the mix the likes of Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Samuel Umtiti, and the whole squad have been at their best throughout the campaign.
A special mention must go to Marc-Andre Ter Stegen who looks set to battle Jan Oblak for the Zamora trophy, given to the goalkeeper to concede the fewest goals, to the final day.
The defensive record is the product of the whole team’s hard work but the German has been crucial at key moments, denying opponents the chance to take the lead.
The numbers add up for Barcelona, and with four games left to play, their total domination has been based on two key aspects. The team has not lost a single game all season and looks on track to get to the end of the campaign without doing so.
The other is that the team has shown strength at the most important moments, especially at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and in wins over Valencia and Atletico at the Camp Nou, drawing with both sides away from home despite having to come back from behind. The victory in the Copa del Rey and LaLiga is the club’s eighth double in their history.
Barcelona won the first three all in the same decade in the 1950s but then had to wait until 1998 when Louis van Gaal managed it.
Pep Guardiola won the next one in 2009, adding a third title for a treble with the Champions League, a feat repeated by Luis Enrique in 2015 before winning a double again in 2016.
Now, Valverde has joined the ranks of double winning Barcelona coaches.
Source : Marca