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Barça may have been beaten on the pitch, but Saturday night was a night for partying. There had been chants of "campeones, campeones" all through the game and that is indeed what Barça are. All that was missing was the trophy itself, a situation that was sorted out once the final whistle had blown.
Captain Sergio Busquets was the man who went up to collect the treasured item from the director's box, but in a jiffy he was back down on the pitch and handing it over to his team-mates to each hold in turn. Everyone has played a part in this conquest.
Amidst a shower of confetti in Catalan national colours of red and yellow, players, coaches, directors, families and fans celebrated the historic moment as one.
Busquets and coach Xavi were the men chosen to address the crowd. The visibly emotional captain wished to thank "all the reserve and youth players that have helped us to win this title. And especially the staff who are there in the shadows, but are as important as the players."
He ended by saying that "this is just the beginning." Poignant words, because for the man himself, it is the end. But there was no word about his retirement at the end of the season. A Barça man to the end, he wanted this moment to be about the team and not about him.
Busquets handed the mike to his manager, who also thanked all the different people who had helped to make this happy. But he particularly wanted to single out the fans. "You have been spectacular all season" said Xavi, describing the moment as 'bump-gooses', in allusion to Johan Cruyff's now legendary linguistic mix-up.
Ronald Araujo, who missed the game itself through injury, then organised a traditional circle dance in the middle of the pitch, before they all joined for group hug to the tune of Barça song "Un dia de Partit." And Xavi wasn't going to get away with the the tradition of giving the coach the 'bumps'. Up he went. And up he went again!
Then came the lap of honour, with the Liga trophy being passed from player to player, and Busquets even jumping into the stands to take the mike and lead the fans in a chant. Out came all the classics, "Ser del Barça és el millor que hi ha", "1899 neix el club que porto al cor", and more. Not forgetting Coldplay's "Viva la vida", which has become something of a club favourite since Pep Guardiola's days....
And more, and more, and more. This was going to be very long night. And, boy, haven't these players earned it?! Força Barça!
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