How Barcelona won La Liga: the story behind success for a new era | Barcelona

In the finish, nobody may catch Barcelona, not even the Espanyol followers who chased them off the pitch and down the tunnel – though they obtained nearer than anyone else. The banner at the RCD stadium on Sunday had declared “we are Espanyol and this is our life”, but it wasn’t one they selected, nonetheless much less one they appreciated. They had by no means seen their staff win a derby in the place they made house, and this time not solely did they witness one other defeat that pushed them ever nearer to a second relegation in three seasons, however the few who hadn’t left early additionally watched their rivals have a good time changing into champions in their very own again backyard. For some – morons, largely – it was an excessive amount of to take.

Out there in the centre circle Barcelona have been dancing a sardana, a ring of gamers and workers spinning, when out of the blue they broke into a dash as an alternative. There had been no provocation and so they hadn’t even been there three minutes, coach Xavi Hernández already deciding it was sufficient, that this was neither the time or the place and calling them to come back in, when it occurred. In the south stand, some Espanyol followers – a couple of hundred maybe, many with faces lined – smashed limitations, climbed onto the pitch and started a stampede, heading for the gamers. Alerted simply in time, Barça set off straight for the sideline, bundling in. Some fell as they went, others have been caught up in all of it, scared. As he ducked past the forming cordon, Frank Kessié smiled.

There, from behind police and safety workers hurriedly making an attempt – and never all the time succeeding – to dam off the entrance to the tunnel, they watched missiles being thrown, chairs and bottles flying, and listened to the abuse. Some supporters turned to search for at the administrators’ field and demanded resignations. One kicked over a TV digital camera; he, it turned out, was on the list for the Partido Popular at the municipal elections and is a youngsters’ coach. Inside, there have been confrontations, gamers pushed again: Ronald Araújo and Sergio Busquets particularly. “It’s a pity, but it’s football, it’s life,” Barcelona’s captain stated. “What matters now is to celebrate, to be happy.”

In the dressing room, they did and so they have been. The membership president, Joan Laporta, barrelled in: rolling and bouncing about, go well with soaked, tie tugged to at least one aspect, soiled package thrown at him. Araújo, hair dyed blue and crimson – “I reckon I look nice like this” – was streaming on Instagram and Lionel Messi had joined the chat. Seven kilometres away, again in direction of the metropolis, a crowd was constructing at Barcelona’s Joan Gamper coaching floor, first cease for the gamers who piled onto the balcony above. More supporters gathered round the Canaletes fountain, a conventional assembly level at the prime of the Ramblas. What time’s the curfew, Xavi was requested. “Nah, tonight there’s freedom,” he stated, “This deserves a big celebration.” On Monday night, they may take a bus via the metropolis alongside their all-conquering women’s team.

Back in August 2019, Messi expressed his hope that at some point individuals would realise how exhausting it’s to win the league. Barcelona had simply won their eighth in 11 years, however there had been no bus then. It was April, Anfield was developing and the home title was, nicely, assumed. The evening they clinched it, the gamers wore t-shirts saying, “the extraordinary thing is that it seems normal”. This time was completely different. They had seen, been reminded, how exhausting it may be to win a league, realized to find it irresistible. This was extraordinary, full cease, and now not regular; that is the first time Barcelona have won the title since then.

Barcelona fans celebrate in the street after their team won the title.
Barcelona followers have a good time in the road after their staff won the title. Photograph: Joan Mateu Parra/AP

Four years is just not precisely an eternity, however it could actually really feel prefer it. Especially when sufficient has occurred for a decade anyplace else. And if that is the sort of “crisis” many golf equipment would crave, it’s also actual and this felt cathartic. TheT-shirts they wore this time stated: “The league is ours, the future too”. Over-optimistic, maybe, however perhaps there’s one thing in that, nonetheless small, and it spoke of an emotional want. “We’ve brought the happiness back,” Laporta stated.

This is Barcelona’s first league title with out Messi this century. Halfway via the season, Gerard Piqué introduced his retirement– he’s been invited to affix the celebrations – and Sergio Busquets won’t proceed, his ninth title set to be his final. “I wanted to leave with this,” he stated. Only 4 different squad members – Marc-André ter Stegen, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, and Ousmane Dembélé – have won the league right here. “This is important for the generation that’s coming,” Araújo stated; “It’s the first for many of us,” Raphinha stated.

“If I had asked the journalists at the start of the season if we would win the league, and with an advantage like this, few would have said yes,” the Brazilian added.

Real Madrid have didn’t win three league video games in a row since the World Cup and Atlético fell early, however it isn’t nearly their failure to compete. If Barcelona’s double European capitulation and the 4-0 defeat to Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-final inevitably invite questions, domestically their success is as incontestable as it’s sudden. Barcelona are 14 factors clear with 4 video games to spare. They have 85 factors already, one level off the title-winning totals of Madrid and Atléti from the final two years, and will but attain 97, the third-highest whole ever. Barça have been prime since October. Ultimately, no person obtained close to them. And but if that makes it sound straightforward, like they’ve rolled over everybody, it has not been that both.

Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring the opening goal at Espanyol.
Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring the opening objective at Espanyol. Photograph: Lluís Gené/AFP/Getty Images

This is a completely different Barcelona, a completely different era. It continues to be, Xavi insists, a staff below building however it’s a aspect, he stated final evening, whose success has introduced stability. Although that’s not a level he drove house, it is a crucial one. This is a staff that has won the league at a time of change and monetary disaster, working inside a membership with €1bn debt, constructing work at the Camp Nou about to drive them into exile at Montjuïc, and with the Negreira case as a backdrop, all the noise that has surrounded them.

This is a membership that wanted to drag on the notorious palancas to construct this squad in the first place – a threat some will take into account vindicated now, at the very least quick time period – and nonetheless has a wage mass €250m too nice, the place new contracts for Gavi, Araújo, Marcos Alonso and Sergi Roberto can’t but be formally registered. A membership that Mateu Alemany, the director of soccer and architect of all of it, is leaving at the finish of June.

All of which may be a part of the motive why Barcelona have won it with their followers, noisily packing the Camp Nou with common crowds of at 84,000 – it’s as if these issues, this new era, has made them extra conscious than ever they’ve a function to play, assist to supply. It actually has made them conscious of the shortcomings and keen to hunt options, new ones. When they misplaced the method they misplaced at the Bernabéu in October, profitable the league appeared implausible however they’ve competed like nobody, together with themselves. This could also be the least Barcelona of all Barcelona groups, which makes profitable the title really feel even higher – or at the very least extra meritorious, overcoming obstacles that may have as soon as been insurmountable

The clásico introduced a shift, a “tactical variation” based on Busquets. Gavi performed supposedly in the entrance three however was extra a part of a four-man field in the center. “No one knows what to call his position,” Ter Stegen admitted however no matter it was, it labored. “We had brilliant games and others where we had to roll up our sleeves,” Busquets stated. The phrases he used to explain Barcelona have been: “solid”, “stable” and “solidario”, including: “The defensive numbers were good.”

Very, excellent. With 21 targets scored, this has been Robert Lewandowski’s league, particularly early in the season when AS described him as “a water diviner, some sort of mystic [who] had found an oasis in the desert”. It may need been Pedri’s too, and when it comes to factors and play he has been important, though he has solely began 22 of the 34 video games. Dembélé began nicely – very a lot Xavi’s success, towards the needs of a membership that needed him gone – however then obtained injured, which is the place Raphinha took over.

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But it was additionally Gavi’s league, as a lot for his feistiness as his soccer. And Busquets’s league, at 35. And Frenkie de Jong’s, after that they had tried to drive him out. It belonged to Alejandro Balde, a revelation; to Andreas Christensen, silently excellent; and really undoubtedly to Araújo, the man who had Xavi applauding a large hoof into the stands. When it got here to the important second, it was Kessié’s league too, the president’s clásico objective in March all however ending the title race.

It was actually Ter Stegen’s league too, presumably greater than anybody else. He was the one man sad at how Sunday evening went, two insignificant targets irritating him: they have been in spite of everything, a sixth of all these he has conceded all season, a image of the shift. At 88%, nobody in Europe has saved extra photographs. On 25, nobody has saved extra clear sheets; another and it is going to be an all-time file. He has let in 13, 13, in the league, on track for one other file. Only two have been at the Camp Nou and so they have been a penalty and an personal objective. On Sunday Barcelona scored 4; on many nights it has been only one. A 3rd of their video games have completed 1-0.

“This is an extraordinary league, brutal, and we have to really value the way we did it: at times, we played very well, at others we showed we know how to suffer, how to be a block,” the coach stated.

That might not sound very like Xavi, the final ideologue, defender of a footballing religion, however he has proven the intelligence and flexibility wanted and collectively they’ve discovered a method.. If there was debate about their id even whereas they won – proof, he says, that that is the hardest place there’s – there might be none about the achievement. Despite being welcomed house as a hero, nonetheless few actually anticipated this. He took over at a time of disaster and adjusted the tradition, an evolution begun and though he had won eight league titles as a participant, that is his first as supervisor, loaded with a duty that goes past simply the staff and makes it completely different.

Quick Guide

La Liga outcomes


Mallorca 1-0 Cádiz, Real Sociedad 2-2 Girona, Osasuna 3-1 Almería, Villarreal 5-1 Athletic, Real Madrid 1-0 Getafe, Celta Vigo 1-2 Valencia, Elche 1-0 Atlético Madrid, Valladolid 0-3 Sevilla, Espanyol 2-4 Barcelona.

Monday: Real Betis v Rayo Vallecano

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So, he was requested, as soon as the champions had escaped the stampede and have been safely inside the place the celebrations may start correctly, the title theirs 4 years on, is that this Xavi’s league?

“No,” he stated, “it’s Barcelona’s.”

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