Barça finally end four years of frustration by capturing their 27th league title. Unlike some of the recent league titles, this triumph was a complete team effort. The next step is to improve in Europe but the signs indicate that the team is heading in the right direction.
Barça fully deserved their 27th league title. Their performance throughout the season was superb. Was the quality of the clubs in La Liga average this season? Sure, but that’s not Barça’s fault. They play who is front of them and they still got the job done. Their defensive record was remarkable in the Spanish league while also displaying gritty character to grind out numerous 1-0 wins, which at times had us hyperventilating.
What made this league title so remarkable was that this was the first one that Barça has won in this century without Lionel Messi. The last couple of league titles felt as though Messi singlehandedly won it for Barça. This one though was a total team effort reliant on many players who shone at different times during the year.
We saw a team where the old guard and new guard contributed in this team’s success. Sergio Busquets still showed some flashes of magic in his final season at the club while youngsters such as Alejandro Balde, Gavi and Pedri rose to the occasion. In goal, Marc-André ter Stegen reminded us of the MAtS that shone for the club in the past. He won the Zamora award and tied the record for most clean sheets in La Liga and also had the highest save percentage in La Liga with 84.7%. Ronald Araújo became the leader of the back line while new additions Jules Koundé and Andreas Christensen also impressed in their debut season and played a part in the club only conceding twenty goals all season long.
Robert Lewandowski had an impressive debut for the Blaugrana by winning the Pichichi trophy thanks to being on fire in the first half of the season with his goals. When he fizzled in the second half of the season, Raphinha stepped up and scored the key goals to keep the title hopes alive. Frenkie de Jong reminded everyone of his class after Xavi figured out a starting eleven that worked for Busquets, Frenkie, Pedri and Gavi. Even Ousmane Dembélé, Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres, Franck Kessié, and Jordi Alba had their moments this season that played a part in this league success.
A special mention goes out to the manager Xavier “Xavi” Hernández. Xavi had to manage this team and deal with so many issues and distractions. Xavi had to prepare for a season without knowing which player was going to be signed and registered before certain matches. He had to deal with the sudden retirement of Gerard Piqué halfway through the season, and made the brave decision to bench Jordi Alba for Balde. Meanwhile, Xavi had to do his job while also being bombarded with questions about levers and signings, the Negreira scandal, and about Messi. Yet, he shouldered the burden and showed he was the right man for the job.
This season was not as easy as the final standings would indicate. Barça had their ups and downs. They won the league and the Supercopa de España final. Sure, their early exits in the UEFA Champions League and Europa league coupled with their elimination in the Copa del Rey by Real Madrid were major disappointments, where you some blame can be attributed to bad luck and unfortunate injuries. However, it takes time to build a winner, and president Joan Laporta should know that; after all, Barça won their second Champions League title in the third year of Laporta’s regime. Next season will not be easy, so as we celebrate this successful season, we should also expect Barça to continue to improve and challenge for all trophies for many years to come.