It was supposed to come sooner than later, but it took some resilience to a near season-ending disaster for the Catalan giants to finally land their 24th La Liga title.
FC Barcelona is arguably the most dreaded team in the World. In the month of August 2015, they had won the UEFA Super Cup in Tbilisi, Georgia. Four months later, they also won the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. In fact, they were undefeated in 39 consecutive matches (32 wins and seven draws against 26 teams in four competitions) for six months, scoring 122 goals and conceding just 23 (+99 goals difference) to set a new Spanish record.
Then, the unthinkable happened! Playing against their local arch rival Real Madrid in front of a full capacity home crowd of nearly 100,000 spectators, they lost after taking the lead and with a numerical advantage. This loss threatened to derail their hitherto beautiful season. Barça also lost twice more successively to less prestigious teams in the league and in the UEFA Champions’ League. Four losses in five games, and they appeared ordinary in the eyes of many.But the Azulgranas were not done and dusted. With two rivals in Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid hot on their heels, they shook off their lethargic form and pummeled the next five teams to the tune of a 24-0 goals differential. And the icing on the cake came on a date they had won the league three times in the past. The grass became green again, and it will be a victory to cherish for the next few weeks. What’s more? A 28th Copa del Rey title awaits this weekend. Surely, the 2015-16 football season has not been all Roman candles for the Catalan club, but they have done the needful.
Looking back, it seems that the primary lesson learnt this season is aptly echoed by the words of team manager Luis Enrique Martinez last season at a critical moment: “You are not the best in the world when you are winning, and you are not the worst in the world when you are losing”. This implies that a good plan can go awry when it is least expected.The failure of the board and the manager to replace the fourth man in attack in January almost threatened to jeopardize the efforts of the team. For FC Barcelona, this season will go down as the one in which they almost achieved the impossible—winning consecutive trebles of the national championship, the national cup and the European cup.
Almost never kills a bird, but they gave it a good try until they slumped and lost the most glamorous prize of all. Still, they remain the only European club to have won two trebles (in the aforesaid fashion) after the achievements of last season and 2008-09. Barça have won another three this season, with one still to come. Life has not been entirely catastrophic for them.Plaudits must be given to some principal actors for this league victory and the way their season panned out. First, the fans for not giving up on the team at a crucial period. Second, the team manager must be credited for the way he rotated the squad throughout the season. Javier Mascherano was a bulwark in defense, team captain Andres Iniesta was largely inspiring and midfielder Ivan “the Terrific” Rakitic has been Barça’s “high-performance spark plug”. Then, there is MSN, Barça’s potent weapon that crushed almost every obstacle in its path and that broke their own record of 122 season goals to set a new one of 130.
Lionel Messi, the best football player in the world, rose from the throes of a two-month injury layoff to contribute immensely in attack. His “partners-in-crime”, Luis Suarez and Neymar Jr., had the league’s highest goals/assists and suffered the most fouls in the league respectively. Notably, Sergi Roberto must be commended for playing seven different positions and giving everything for the team when needed. All the other players must be recognized, too, for the different roles they played.Indeed, Barça can look forward to next season and hope to win it all again. Weary legs will definitely depart the Camp Nou while fresh ones arrive, especially in defense.But those worries can wait for the 2016-17 season.
For now, they will celebrate the gains of ten months of industry and tenacity. Let’s be frank, FC Barcelona were the most consistent of all the teams that vied for this trophy, and they must be congratulated for their victory.