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We are the champions! FC Barcelona have beaten Espanyol in Cornellà to mathematically clinch the club's 27th league title and the first under Xavi Hernández. It has happened with four games still in hand and completes a fabulous season in which the Spanish Super Cup trophy was also conquered in Saudi Arabia.
Dominant from start to finish
Barça utterly dominated La Liga 2022/23. Despite stumbling off the blocks with a 0-0 draw at home to Rayo, they followed that with a run of seven wins in a row, conceding just one goal in the process. And that defensive brilliance would continue, with the team on course to sett all kinds of records for the fewest goals against and the most clean sheets.
Some thought 3-1 defeat in the Clásico may have sparked a turn for the worse in Barça's campaign. But far from it. They won every game, including a spectacular comeback at Osasuna with just ten men, before the competition took a break for the World Cup in Qatar.
Another setback, a 1-1 draw at home to Espanyol, proved to be no more than a minor hiccup as the wins flowed again in early 2023, often by the narrowest of margins, including a surprising number of 1-0 victories.
A decisive Clásico
Boosted by success in the Spanish Super Cup, the Catalans threaded together seven wins on the trot. That run was interrupted by a 1-0 loss in Almería. Every team has the occasional off-day. Barça were already so far ahead that they could afford to slip up now and again.
But there was still the concern of the Clásico at Spotify Camp Nou, where Real Madrid had the chance to close the gap to 'just' six points. And they might have done it had their late winner not been cancelled out for offside. Instead, Kessie's goal at the other end widened the Barça lead to 12 points. The job was as good as done.
Teams in that kind of situation often have a tendency to relax and start dropping silly points. Indeed, Barça did lose to Rayo and were held to a couple of 0-0 draws. But otherwise, they continued to collect wins, including a brilliant 1-0 defeat of an Atlético Madrid side that was threatening to leap back into the title race.
With every win it was looking more inevitable that the title was going to be Barça's, and the two Madrid clubs weren't helping their own causes by dropping points they would normally expect to win. All Barça needed now was mathematical confirmation, and today against Espanyol it finally happened.
Nine leagues in 15 years
This was the first Barça league title since 2018/19 under Ernesto Valverde, prior to the pandemic. But although it is the first for four years, it is also the ninth in the last 15. Since Guardiola took over as coach in 2008, Barça has won 60% of the editions.
Having won the league eight times as a player, Xavi now has another as manager. And he has done it with an extraordinarily young side, with breakthrough talents like Pedri, Gavi and Araujo showing that there are replacements aplenty for the likes of Gerard Piqué, who retired mid-season, and Sergi Busquets, who will be leaving at the end of it, having won the 32nd and last of his honours in a glittering career at the club.
We are the champions. And we mean to go on and on and on and on...
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