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Barcelona deserved winners of their 23rd Liga

I regularly discuss football with a Chelsea supporting good friend of mine. One topic of discussion has been questioning which of our teams have the more difficult task to win its domestic league: FC Barcelona in La Liga or Chelsea in English Premier League (EPL). I concede that the EPL may have a few more contenders for Chelsea, although not really that many. On the other hand, Barcelona contends with one of the strongest teams in world football, its eternal rival Real Madrid, in its quest to win La Liga. As an indication of this, it usually takes more points to win La Liga than it does to win EPL. I think it is possible that one season both Barcelona and Real Madrid will break the 100 point (out of a maximum 114) record they jointly hold. Fortunately, this has not yet happened and hopefully it never actually will.

Last Sunday, a hard fought but deserved 0-1 away win at Atletico Madrid mathematically clinched its 23rd La Liga crown for FC Barcelona with one round still to be played. Such a high number confirms Barcelona’s status as one of the most successful teams in world football. Significantly, this season’s La Liga triumph was Barcelona’s seventh in the past eleven seasons. The team has certainly made being a supporter enjoyable for Barcelona’s ever growing world-wide fan base. For me, this season’s win is especially sweet because for a long time it did not seem likely to happen with our great rival Real Madrid leading for a large part of the season.

With 93 points, FC Barcelona has an insurmountable four point advantage over Real Madrid with only the final round remaining. Putting this in another way, Barcelona has dropped 18 points compared to the 22 points dropped by Real Madrid. I thought that you wound find the details of the points dropped by the two great rivals interesting. The dropped points against other teams can often be the difference between winning and not winning the title. 

In some seasons, the destination of La Liga’s crown is decided directly by the head to head clashes. However, that was not the case this season. Both teams won their home El Clasico with Real Madrid winning 3-1 at home in the first round and FC Barcelona winning the return clash 2-1 at Camp Nou. The fact that Madrid’s win was bigger than our win was a potential worry as Real Madrid would have had the head to head tiebreaker in the event of the two teams finishing level on points. Unlike many other leagues, overall goal difference is not the primary tiebreaker in La Liga.

Of the two teams’s other dropped points, there is only one common item. Both teams lost away to Real Sociedad. The Basques beat Madrid 4-2 early in the season and also beat Barcelona 1-0 in the first game of 2015. That loss looked like it could totally derail our season but fortunately some behind the scenes damage control averted the looming crisis. 

Most of Barcelona’s other dropped points were ones that we would expect not to drop. We could not beat Malaga. In fact, we could not even score a goal against them as we drew 0-0 away and lost 0-1 to them at Camp Nou. Our other home loss was an equally surprising 0-1 to Celta Vigo in the round after our El Clasico loss in Madrid. Those two consecutive losses enabled Real Madrid to take a lead that for a long time they did not look like relinquishing. Our other dropped points were away draws at Getafe (0-0) and Sevilla (2-2). The draw at Sevilla came after we let a two goal lead slip and enabled Madrid to close within two points of us in the final run in to the title. At that point, we had no further margin for error.

I like to joke that my second favourite team in world football is whoever is playing Real Madrid. The truth is that it is not a joke as every time that Madrid drop points it is to the benefit of FC Barcelona. Probably, the key team the aided our cause this season was Atletico Madrid who won both of their clashes with Real Madrid, 0-1 away and a 4-0 thrashing of Real at home. In contrast, we won both of our matches against Atletico. As well as our title clinching win last Sunday, our 3-1 home success came a week after that horrendous loss at Real Sociedad. That set us on a winning run which culminated in a very sweet title win.

Of course, we needed a few other Madrid results to go our way and fortunately they did. While we were able to beat Valencia twice, Madrid failed to beat them at all. The debacle against Real Sociedad hurt even more as it came the same day as Valencia had beaten Real Madrid 2-1 at home thereby ending Madrid’s 22 match winning run. While we did not initially capitalise on it, it did set something good in motion. As we gathered momentum, Madrid dropped further points in a 1-1 home draw with Villarreal and a 1-0 away defeat at Athletic Bilbao. These results enabled us to take the lead in La Liga even before our El Clasico win which then took us to a four point lead. The final straw for Madrid was a 2-2 home draw with Valencia again which nullified our draw at Sevilla.

Any season where a team wins its domestic league title is a successful season. Therefore, we can already be happy with what FC Barcelona has given us this season. However, the team has a chance to turn a successful season into a truly unforgettable one. Victories in the Copa Del Rey Final and UEFA Champions League Final in the next few weeks would give us our second treble. That would be a lovely number with which to end the 2014/15 season.

Published by Drago, columnist for

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