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Barça have failed in their bid to win La Liga for the third time in a row after a 2-1 defeat at home to Osasuna coupled with a 3-1 victory for Real Madrid against Villarreal means that the all-whites have been confirmed champions regardless of what happens on the final day.
Barça needed all three points but a late goal from the visitors meant they got none, although the result from the Bernabéu means Madrid would have been confirmed as champions regardless of what happened at Camp Nou.
Osasuna were only really playing for pride, but they made it clear from the start that they had come to make a game of it. They had created as much danger as the home side when they found the net on the quarter hour, when the lively Pervis Estupiñán picked out former Barça B man José Arnáiz unmarked.
Barça were trailing, and to make matters worse, Real Madrid had taken a 1-0 lead against Villarreal. If the chances of winning the Liga title had been feint before this game started, they were dimmer than ever now.
Given that scenario, and in an empty stadium, there was naturally a despondent air to the proceedings. But Barça bravely soldiered on against some solid Osasuna defending.
Leo Messi spearheaded the Barça reaction. Not only did he set up a goal for Martin Braithwaite (disallowed for offside) but he came close with three free kicks, one of them hitting the crossbar. Even Messi can miss three such chances in a row… But four?
Of course not, and bang! With just under half an hour to go he executed the most perfect of deliveries and we back all-square. The celebrations were muted, but things were looking better – and would have looked better still had Luis Suárez, coming on as a substitute tonight, not had another Barça goal disallowed for the tightest of offside decisions.
Barça’s hopes were further boosted when Osasuna were reduced to ten men after Enric Gallego, who had only been on for five minutes, elbowed Clement Lenglet in the face…
But as that was happening, news came through that a Karim Benzema penalty had put Madrid 2-0 ahead in their game. La Liga was over.
And to truly rub salt into the wound, with Barça throwing everything forward in search of a winner, and deep into injury time, Roberto Torres got on the end of an Osasuna break and put the Navarrans 2-1 ahead.
It was a cruel way to end the last Liga game of the season at Camp Nou, and Sunday’s fixture is now academic. The real focus is now on August, and the Champions League. Força Barça!
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