Barcelona win 23rd La Liga title with a game to spare
Barcelona won their seventh La Liga title in 11 seasons with a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon. Lionel Messi’s goal was enough to secure the title for Barcelona with a game in hand.
The game was identical to a game between the two, exactly twelve months ago when a title chasing Atletico went to the Nou Camp needing a draw to wrap up the title. Atletico got the result there and a certain Argentine magician made sure Barcelona had their revenge.
Barcelona decided to leave out £75m star signing, Luis Suarez, for the game. Atletico, on the other hand, handed a start to club hero Fernando Torres. Atletico needed a win to secure third place and save themselves the hassle of going through the qualification round of next year’s Champions League.
Atletico started the game on the front foot
Claudio Bravo was called into action pretty early in the game as Koke’s corner to the near post was glanced on by Gimenez, but the Chilean goalkeeper was up to the challenge. Barely a minute later Bravo pulled off an even better save from an Antoine Griezmann shot, which was later deemed offside.
After holding off Atletico’s early surge, Barcelona settled into a rhythm and began to take control of the game with Messi heading a Dani Alves cross into Jan Oblak’s hands. The first controversial moment came in the 31st minute when Dani Alves went down in the 18-yard-box following a tug at his shirt by Diego Godin. Both players were booked and Barcelona were awarded a free kick outside the box, from which Messi hit the crossbar.
The first half ended with a typical Barcelona performance with a lot of possession, which accounted for 77 percent by the 38th minute.
Messi rises to the occasion again
In the 65th minute, Messi found himself in a yard of space. He played a quick one-two with Pedro and slotted it home. Messi wasn't done as he ran at the Atletico defence 10 minutes later and put the ball into Neymar’s feet. The Brazilian, however, blasted well over the bar.
Barcelona saw out the rest of the game by just keeping hold of the ball. The game got slightly ugly in the end with Guilherme Siqueira, Messi and Neymar being booked for off the ball incidents.
Luis Enrique has definitely won over any last doubters with the title and a style of play that has seen Barcelona let go of their traditional tiki-taka football for a more counter-attacking style. They have already scored 108 goals so far in the league with a game to spare with MSN(Messi, Suarez and Neymar) having scored 79.
Barcelona are on course for an unprecedented second treble with Athletic Bilbao and Juventus to come in the Copa del Rey final and the Champions League final respectively.