FC Barcelona Spain News
Five things from the weekend's La Liga action, as the title was secured while the relegation race got as tight as ever.
1. Xavi's role in Barca's title win
Barcelona claimed their 23rd La Liga title on Sunday in a way that was very typical of their season, with a solid defence and superstar Lionel Messi making the difference at the other end. The 1-0 win at Atletico Madrid means Luis Enrique has won the title in his first season as coach, while the blaugrana have won seven of the 11 La Liga titles played for since Messi became established in the first team.
It is also clear that Barca only really became likely to lift this year's trophy once Messi and Luis Enrique sorted out their personal differences after the 1-0 defeat at Real Sociedad in January and the Argentine's subsequent no-show at training the following day.
While exactly what went on between Messi and Luis Enrique around that point remains a mystery to everyone outside the blaugrana camp, Santi Gimenez in AS floats the theory today that it was veteran midfielder Xavi Hernandez who organised the "ceasefire" that has underpinned Barca's amazing second half of the campaign (17 wins, 1 draw, 1 defeat).
"Xavi mediated with the Argentine to sign a ceasefire with the coach, who discreetly took himself to one side, " reckons Gimenez. "Messi took the team on his back, and Barca laid waste to all around them. This resurrection would not have been possible without Xavi's wisdom and diplomacy."
The 35-year-old's contribution on the pitch has been limited this year, but Xavi's off-field influence could well have been vital in what is now looking very likely to be his final season at the Catalan club.Barcelona celebrated their league title thanks to Lionel Messi's goal, but Xavi played an integral role in their success.
Real Madrid's 4-1 win at Espanyol was in vain, except for Cristiano Ronaldo's ensuring some personal glory for the end of the season with his 28th La Liga hat trick.
Ronaldo now has 45 La Liga goals this season, with Messi having just 41, meaning the Portuguese is all but assured of his third Pichichi trophy as Spain's top scorer, and his fourth European Golden Boot.
For some Madrid fans, Ronaldo beating Messi to these individual trophies will offer consolation for a season ending in disappointment for the team. But Antonio Romero in AS is not the first pundit to wonder whether the now-30-year-old might need to put aside his quest for these prizes from now on.
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