La Liga: I hope the win can spur us into a new era, says Luis Enrique

Barcelona secured 23rd league title after 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid.

Afp May 19, 2015
Messi once again asserted his influence as he guided the Catalans to their 23rd La Liga title. PHOTO: AFP

MADRID: Barcelona coach Luis Enrique believes his side’s 23rd La Liga title can be a launching pad for another prolonged period of success and a potential treble this season.

Lionel Messi scored the winner to hand the Catalans a fifth title in seven years with a 1-0 win at Atletico Madrid on Sunday as Barca returned the favour after Los Rojiblancos sealed the title at the Camp Nou exactly a year ago.

Barca face Athletic Bilbao on home soil in the Copa del Rey final on May 30 before taking on Juventus in the Champions League final a week later.

Luis Enrique was recruited along with seven new players last summer after Barca’s first trophyless campaign in six years and he lauded their response in what he described a season of “transition”.

“I hope it can be a new era. We have to deserve to win the other titles. We have two finals left and we need to show we are better than the opponents,” said Enrique. “We started 10 months ago with many changes at the club and coming off a season having not won anything.

“We knew it would be a season of transition and we tried to do our best. We have two titles still to play for, but we already have the one that rewards consistency.”

A treble would be just the second in Barca’s 115-year history, however, many of the current squad were also part of the side that achieved the feat for the first time in the 2008-09 season.

One of those was midfielder Sergio Busquets and he insisted that the marathon of a 38-game La Liga season makes it the toughest competition to win.

“Last year we weren’t at the level required to be champions. This year we are on the right track, the first trophy is out of the way and now we have to celebrate it because it’s the hardest competition to win as you have to play against all of the teams and be consistent,” said Busquets. “It’s the most important one, you’re competing every week, playing against other sides home and away. The Champions League is more prestigious but the league’s more important.”

In contrast to Barcelona’s euphoria, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was left to face the fact that his side will go without a major trophy this season despite Crisiano Ronaldo registering his 30th hat-trick for the club in a 4-1 win at Espanyol.

Madrid led the league for four months after a 22-game winning streak to end 2014, but ultimately paid for a run of one win in four games in February and March.

“I congratulate Barcelona and my colleague Luis Enrique for winning the title,” said Ancelotti.

“The overall balance of the season isn’t positive. Madrid always play to win and that hasn’t happened. We had a very good first half of the season, but it was more difficult in the second part.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th,  2015.

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