Barcelona crowned champions of Spain

Express May 17, 2010

BARCELONA: “Champion of champions,” said the Spanish daily El Mundo as last year’s European champions Barcelona retained their La Liga crown on the final day of the season with a 4-0 home win over now-relegated Valladolid, finishing with a record 99 points out of a possible 114, three ahead of big-spending arch rivals Real Madrid.

Real Madrid drew 1-1 at Malaga as their €250 million spending frenzy failed to bring a single title for the second successive season. Barca took the lead on 27 minutes when Valladolid’s Luis Prieto sliced Pedro Rodriguez’s harmless cross into his own net. Four minutes later Messi released Pedro who slotted through the goalkeeper’s legs for his 12th goal of the season. At half-time, Barcelona were almost home as Real failed to make a fight of it trailing 1-0 at Malaga.

Real fell behind on nine minutes with a neat back-heel from Salvador Caicedo releasing Sergio Duda to score. Minutes after the break, Real equalised through Rafael van der Vaart with the Dutch midfielder turning neatly and getting a snapshot away into the corner. A draw would not have done for Real in any case and it did not seem to matter as Messi scored to make it 3-0 on 61 minutes and Yaya Toure setting up Messi again on 75 minutes with the Argentine’s quick feet and shot making it 4-0 and 34 goals for the season, winning his first ‘Pichichi’ trophy for the league’s top-scorer The defeat meant Valladolid joined Xerez and Tenerife in being relegated while Malaga and Racing Santander, 2-0 winners over Sporting Gijon, survived.

Season epilogue The 2009/10 La Liga season was a clash between Real’s new collection of ‘Galacticos’ and Barcelona’s all-conquering treble winning team, each possessing world greats in home-grown Lionel Messi and a €94 million former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo. The Spanish media said it was a duel between Barcelona ‘cantera’ or ‘youth system’ against Real’s ‘cartera’ or ‘wallet’ and in the end, the money failed to buy success. Barcelona also won the European Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup and a World Club championship this season under coach Pep Guardiola, taking them to their fourth leage title in six seasons. For Real their huge summer outlay on ‘Galacticos’ has proved in vain and the writing looks to be on the wall for coach Manuel Pellegrini with Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho, who celebrated the Italian title on Sunday, strongly linked with the job. “We can’t say it’s been a good

Published in the Express Tribune, May 18th, 2010.