Barça won this league title race twice. They had it in the palms of their hands when they stretched out a sizeable lead, then left all of that by the wayside in four games when they picked up just one point from a possible 12; they made up for it though by withstanding the pressure from Atlético and Real Madrid, the latter pushing them all the way to the final day. They won the league simply because they were the best side. When it’s all totted up, the balance sheet doesn’t deceive – LaLiga is played over four seasons: in the sun, rain, in hot weather and cold, with the grass cut high or low, before and after the FIFA virus, with shot hitting the woodwork, with penalties gifted or not given. The final balance adds ups, although the margin this time might not have been so big, only one team can celebrate as champions.
It turned out to be an exciting afternoon... until Luis Suárez grabbed his second goal. He has been the principle figure in this league campaign – he concluded the season with a hat trick and ended on 40 goals. After him, Leo Messi, who has definitively changed his style of play; the electric, unstoppable dodging and weaving goal scorer has dropped back a few metres and has made way for a player who views the whole panorama, picking out his team mates with precision passes. Neymar started the season well and ended it in the same manner, albeit after a dip in form which had an effect on the team. The rest was down to Barça, and that’s no small thing; magnificent champions of a league which has produced three European finalists – two in the Champions League and one in the Europa League. In effect, the best league in the world.
Real Madrid placed their trust in Rafa Benítez, servile with the president, tiresome with the players. The 0-4 drubbing by Barça (which was decisive, a draw that day would have been enough for Madrid to end as champions) left them shell shocked. In the end he was relieved from the post and after a survey from which it was deducted that Mourinho wasn’t favoured, Florentino opted for Zidane, who did the opposite to Benítez: he brought the players together and ignored Florentino’s whims. He made just a couple of changes (Carvajal and Casemiro), to great effect. They didn’t lift the league trophy, but were in the running right up until the end. And they will be in Milan, facing Atlético. The hardest part is yet to come.