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FC Barcelona sealed their sixth La Liga title in eight years on Saturday with an emphatic 3-0 win over Granada at the Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes.
Two strikes from Luis Suárez in the first half and another late in the second helped the Catalans achieve their second straight league success on the final day of the season, and confirms the Uruguayan’s status as the division’s top marksman with 40 goals.
Barça went into the game knowing that a win would guarantee the league title, and that rivals Real Madrid were breathing down their necks ready to seize on any slip-up. And if there were any nerves ahead of kick-off, they were only amplified in the opening period of the game.
As Gerard Pique saw his point-blank header stopped on the line by Granada goalkeeper Andrés Fernández, Cristiano Ronaldo gave Real Madrid at Riazor seconds later to put Los Blancos momentarily top of the table.
Fernández was again on hand moments later to tip Leo Messi’s right-foot strike from the edge of the box over the bar. But those Barça nerves began to fade away on 22 minutes as Luis Suarez gave the Catalans the opener.
An exquisite through pass from Jordi Alba played Neymar through on goal and the Brazilian unselfishly laid the ball on a plate for Suárez who handed Barça the treasured opener.
Once the shackles were off, Barça really began to play more fluidly in the final third and a second goal looked inevitable.
Just seven minutes before the break, it eventually came. A fine diagonal pass from Javier Mascherano found Dani Alves who did superbly not only to keep the ball in play but to put in a first-time cross towards Suárez. The Uruguayan, in true predatory fashion, attacked the near post and nipped in before the outrushing keeper to head in a second.
It could have been three just minutes later as Neymar’s fine solo run ended in a shot which curled shot just wide of the mark. Nevertheless, Barça had one hand on the trophy going into the break.
Barça could well have been in for a tense final half hour had it not been for a top save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen on 58 minutes, as the German pulled off a fine stop to deny Fran Rico who was bearing down on goal.
Dani Alves continued to be Barça’s most potent attacking threat, running up and down the right hand side of the field and offering plenty of goalscoring opportunities for his teammate. Yet thankfully there was no need for a sprint finish as the away side smartly began to cool the game down with the desired result already in hand.
However, that did not stop them from putting the icing on the cake – as has been the case from the front three throughout the whole season, Neymar kindly handed the glory to his teammate, as Suárez was more than keen to knock in his 40th league goal.
Despite Real Madrid’s win over Deportivo, Barça’s win meant that yet another title was heading back to Catalonia, something which the final whistle of Alejandro Hernandez confirmed minutes later.
All in all, it was a dominant campaign Barça, who topped the table for all but eleven weeks of the season.
A stutter in April, which saw Luis Enrique’s side lose three games on the trot, including El Clasico, handed Real Madrid an outside chance of taking the title out of their hands.
But Barça kept their cool at the vital moment. After suffering that third straight defeat to Valencia, the team bounced back with five straight wins until the end of the season with a balance of 24 goals scored and none conceded.
From the stability at the back provided by Pique, to the assurance in midfield from Sergio Busquets, and the lethal finishing of Suarez up front, Barça were the complete package throughout the season and the table at the end of the season depicts exactly that.
Source: FC Barcelona