La Liga 2018/19: 5 major factors behind Barcelona's domestic triumph

Barcelona won their 26th La Liga trophy on Saturday
Barcelona won their 26th La Liga trophy on Saturday

Barcelona sealed a 26th league trophy after a narrow 1-0 win over Levante on Saturday. Lionel Messi was the difference-maker yet again, as individual brilliance separated the sides in a frankly sloppy match.

However, considering the bigger picture, this was the Blaugrana's eighth league title in the last 11 years - a testament to their domestic hegemony and how they've prolonged it this season. Moreover, they did it by losing only two games so far- and none in the last 23!

It wasn't a historic campaign by any means, but the Catalans have served just another reminder that they remain untouchable in Spanish football. And without any further ado, let's delve through the five biggest catalysts that precipitated yet another domestic triumph:

#5 Dominant run in the second-half of the season

Barcelona's unbeaten run now extends to 23 games!
Barcelona's unbeaten run now extends to 23 games!

Barcelona's start to the campaign was far from straight-forward. Four draws and two defeats in the opening 13 games made it an open contest, despite both Madrid teams struggling to establish stability in their respective early run-ins. And following the 1-1 draw at home to Los Rojiblancos, Sevilla were the surprise leaders - two points clear at the top and looking to upset the applecart.

But what looked to be a four-way race for the title, was completely turned on its head in the second-half of the season as Barcelona's massive upturn in form left everyone else in the dust. From matchday 19 until 35, Ernesto Valverde's side won 13 times and lost none. The quartet of draws along the way did little to dent their title hopes as Barcelona had already consolidated their positioning atop the summit.

Just to get you up to speed, during the same time frame, Atletico Madrid lost four times whereas Sevilla and Real Madrid slipped up five times in all - thrice finishing on the losing end and witnessing two more stalemates. This allowed Barcelona to open up a healthy margin which presently stands at a resounding nine points.

#4 Excellent record against the top guns

The Blaugrana were undefeated against any of top seven sides, also doing the double over Real Madrid.
The Blaugrana were undefeated against any of top seven sides, also doing the double over Real Madrid.

A champion's hallmark is coming up trumps consistently against bigger challenges, and Barcelona certainly know a thing or two about it. Having lost none of their games against the top seven sides in the division, the Blaugrana avoided costly slip-ups.

Defeats to lowly Leganes and Real Betis - the only games they've lost so far - may just be accidental, but did demonstrate their might against in the big games.

Barcelona did the league double over the horrendously stuttering Real Madrid, before condemning Atletico to a defeat at home. They also pillaged all six points off Sevilla as well as Getafe, though Valencia and Athletic Bilbao ended up being a real thorn in the face, holding them to a stalemate in both legs.

And yet, Barcelona dropped only 10 points against the top seven sides from the available 42, suggesting everything was copacetic against the big teams in big games.

#3 Incredible ability to fight back from deficits

Barcelona won or drew seven games from losing positions!
Barcelona won or drew seven games from losing positions!

Amongst the many other features of the club, what truly signifies Barcelona's strength and fortitude is the uncanny ability to pull off a 'remontada' even in the most unlikeliest of the circumstances. And of the 83 points so far, the team has pillaged a total of 21 from losing position - the most by any team in the league this term.

Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Girona, and Valencia were all forced to settle for a draw by the Blaugrana despite holding the advantage for a considerable time, before the latter pulled off the most thrilling comeback of the season against Villarreal on matchday 30 when Messi and Suarez scored in injury-time to propel the side from 4-2 deficit and earn a 4-4 draw.

Barcelona haven't been perfect, in fact, they've been downright ridiculous on various occasions and even fortuitous much to their rivals' dismay, but this incredible knack of eking out results even while playing unsatisfactorily is another important forte of a champion. And that seemingly runs through this team's DNA.

#2 Barcelona's offensive defense

Barcelona's defenders were heavily involved in the attack
Barcelona's defenders were heavily involved in the attack

The Blaugrana had conceded 32 goals at the time they were crowned champions - not the figures to be boasting about. But what was special about this defense was it's penchant to contribute more upfront, easing the burden off the shoulders of Messi, Suarez and the likes.

Jordi Alba has liberated himself since Neymar left as the Spaniard became quite involved in the attacking third for the last two seasons. This term, he's had a direct hand in 12 goals, two more than the whole of last season with three more games left to play. And he also seems to have inspired attacking instincts in his team-mate Gerard Pique, who with four goals and three assists, is enjoying his most productive season too.

So with Alba, Pique, Nelson Semedo and Clement Lenglet put together, the defensive quartet have contributed 23 goals amongst themselves, which amounts to almost 27% of the team's goals so far - a highly impressive figure by any account.

This stepping up of the Barcelona defense at the other end of the field not only eclipsed certain shortcomings at the back, but also opened up newer avenues for goalscoring output which made them even more lethal.

#1 Lionel Messi

Do I need to say anything more?
Do I need to say anything more?

Probably Barcelona's single biggest factor, the Argentine thaumaturge was at his best again this season, or may be even better than he has in the last three seasons or so. But anyways, he has his imprints all over this title.

Messi's staggering return of 34 goals - highest in the league (and Europe) by a mile - from 27 starts has contributed massively to Barcelona's fortunes. He has literally dragged this team through the thick and thin at various points this season by chipping in at crucial moments, and not to mention another 13 assists that he's racked up - also the highest.

Single-handedly, he's won 17 points for Barcelona, further accentuating just how instrumental he has been in the title race, alone.

Like a fine wine, the Blaugrana skipper seems to get better with age and has shown no signs of slowing down even while turning 32. In all competitions, he's netted 46 times and would inevitably hit the half-century mark by the time the season is drawn to a close.

So with league wrapped up, Ernesto Valverde and co. will now be eyeing Copa Del Rey and the Champions League, leaving the prospects of an unprecedented third treble very much alive. And if that indeed happens, you know who's going to have the biggest impact.

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Edited by Nnanna Mba