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Barça needed just one win from their last five games to mathematically clinch the Liga title. And they have done it at the first time of asking. And they have done it in style. And in a local derby, no less!
Barça had amassed such a huge lead in La Liga that for some time now it has really only been a matter of time before the championship title would be confirmed. Nobody seriously expected either Real or Atlético to cut down such a massive points difference.
But Barça staff, players and fans alike have remained prudent throughout. We’ve been holding it all in. Waiting. Waiting for this moment….
The moment when we can triumphantly proclaim… FC Barcelona, La Liga champions 2022/23!!!
It was a simply magnificent performance at the home of a neighbour that is now closer than ever to second division football next season.
From the very first instant, Alejandro Balde was bossing the game. Although Robert Lewandowski converted the opener after 11 minutes, the goal was all about the 19-year-old’s run in the build-up. Óscar Gil was left floundering as the blaugrana starlet raced down the left and all the Polish striker had to do was knock it home.
Ten minutes later, the same Balde would be celebrating his first ever league goal. Pedri flopped the ball over from the right, and the man of the moment stretched out an inspired foot to guide in Barça’s second.
Espanyol, clinging on for dear life in the Liga table were also in a desperate situation in this game. They were being overpowered in every department. As Barça chance came after Barça chance, they were fortunate to escape further punishment before they finally did on 40 minutes.
Raphinha was the mastermind, and for the second time of the night, all Lewandowski had to do was be there in the right place at the right time do see the ball across the line. Which he did for the 21st time this season. That Pichichi trophy is looking more and more his.
And so was Barça’s Liga title.
Four goals up. The game already looked more than won, as reflected by the number of empty seats around the RCDE Stadium after the restart. The home fans had seen enough. But Barça hadn’t. A gorgeous ball floated forward by Frenkie de Jong and Jules Kounde’s head delicately flicked it to the sweet spot.
Barça have ground out some results this season. Not tonight. They were flying.
Espanyol win back some pride
Desperate not to allow their city rivals to celebrate the title on their own turf, and much as they were fighting a lost cause, all credit has to go to Espanyol for the way they battled on.
They had already had one brilliant chance to pull one goal back just before the break. Martin Braithwaite had all the time in the world to do better, but Ter Stegen produced a gargantuan safe to keep that one out. The German would make some outstanding saves in the second half two.
With the game totally open as Barça pressed for more goals and Espanyol pressed for at least some honour, Javi Puado had Ter Stegen beaten. And with the very final kick of the game, Joselu slammed in another.
They were just the 12th and 13th goals conceded by Barça this season. Espanyol have scored three of those.
But ultimately, Espanyol’s attempt to poop the Barça party was in vain. It was just a side-plot to the big story of the day.
All that time, the clock was counting down to the minute that really mattered. The minute the referee’s whistle blew. Bizarrely mixed in with the moment Espanyol got their second goal, the title celebrations could begin.
Fireworks were already lighting up the skies throughout Catalonia. Barça are league champions!
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