Ten matches that helped Barcelona win the La Liga title

Barcelona

Barcelona did not lose a single game on the way to a 25th La Liga title. But out of the 34 matches they’ve played, which were the 10 most decisive results?

SEPTEMBER 9: BARCELONA 5-0 ESPANYOL

2-0 wins over Real Betis and Deportivo Alaves saw Barca begin the season on a positive note, but it wasn’t until the 5-0 thrashing of Espanyol that they proved the loss of Neymar and the 5-1 Supercopa de Espana thrashing by Madrid were not going to have any lasting effects.

Lionel Messi bagged a hat-trick – as he would do nearly eight months later against Deportivo de La Coruna to seal the title – and it was clear Barca meant business.

Lionel Messi Barcelona

SEPTEMBER 16: GETAFE 1-2 BARCELONA

Barca’s first real test came away at Getafe, where they still trailed 1-0 at the hour mark following Gaku Shibasaki’s spectacular goal.

A defeat at this point could have unsettled their rhythm, but Ernesto Valverde’s men dug deep to come away with a 2-1 win despite not being at their best thanks to Denis Suarez’s 62nd minute leveler and substitute Paulinho’s winner six minutes from time.

OCTOBER 1: BARCELONA 3 LAS PALMAS 0

With tensions running high as the Spanish government cracked down on an illegal independence referendum in Catalonia – Barca captain Gerard Pique found himself in the firing line over his allegiances, and political turmoil off the field was threatening to derail Barca’s season.

The players refused to get distracted from the task at hand, however, and not even a match played behind closed doors could stop their concentration.

In front of an empty stadium, Barca beat Las Palmas 3-0, making a massive statement of commitment and intent.

OCTOBER 14: ATLETICO MADRID 1 BARCELONA 1

The result may have ended Barca’s seven-match winning streak, but it ended up feeling almost like a victory after Valverde’s men found themselves trailing on the scoreboard with 10 minutes to play.

Up stepped Luis Suarez, drilling home an 82nd minute equaliser to avoid what could have been a momentum-swinging victory for Atletico.

NOVEMBER 26: VALENCIA 1-1 BARCELONA

Could a charging Valencia side underline their title credentials with a victory against mighty Barcelona at The Mestalla?

Like Barca, new coach Marcelino’s charges were also unbeaten, and it looked as if they might come away with bragging rights thanks to Rodrigo’s second-half strike.

Once again, the future champions pulled their fat out of the fire, Jordi Alba providing the assist for Lionel Messi to equalise in the final 10 minutes – an all-too familiar combination that would extend throughout the season.

The leveler prevented Valencia from moving to within one point of their opponents at the top of the table, and saw Barca maintain their unbeaten run.

Jordi Alba

DECEMBER 23: REAL MADRID 0 BARCELONA 3

The first ‘Clasico’ of the season was always going to be a massive occasion, even if a struggling Real Madrid side were not proving to be Barca’s closest rivals at the top of the table.

Victory over Barcelona would almost certainly have ignited Real’s season, but the visitors had other ideas – Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Aleix Vidal made hay at the Bernabeu to extend their lead over Los Blancos to an imposing 14 points.

Barcelona

JANUARY 14: REAL SOCIEDAD 2-4 BARCELONA

One confounding statistic loomed large over this game in the build-up: It had been more than 10 years since Barcelona last secured a victory in San Sebastian. The Anoeta curse, it seemed, was very, very real.

The trend looked certain to continue as Willian Jose and Juanmi gave the hosts a deserved two-goal lead.

But that served only as a precursor for what was to come, as Paulinho pulled one back before Suarez struck twice and Messi scored with a stunning free kick to banish any and all demons.

The curse was broken, and Barca were looking an awful lot like champions.

Lionel Messi Barcelona

FEBRUARY 4: ESPANYOL 1 BARCELONA 1

Coming off their first defeat of the season against Espanyol in the Copa del Rey, Barca returned to face their local rivals a few days later in driving rain.

Gerard Moreno put the home side in front as they threatened to take the sheen off Barca’s impressive season with yet another victory, but Gerard Pique found himself in the right place at the right time to head home a late header and secure a satisfying draw.

Pique scores Barcelona

FEBRUARY 24: BARCELONA 6-1 GIRONA

This wasn’t Barca’s only big win of the season, but it may well have been their most impressive.

It’s rare for a team to finish with six goals after finding themselves behind on the scoreboard, but that’s exactly what the champions did after Portu’s third-minute strike.

The next 42 minutes were Barcelona at their most destructive. Messi and Suarez would both have a brace before the break, with the latter completing his hat-trick in the second half to all but make a mockery of the fact that they were ever behind.

MARCH 4: BARCELONA 1 ATLETICO MADRID 0

Atletico Madrid entered the match with some hope of striking a significant blow in the title.

Draws from Barca against Getafe and Las Palmas had given Diego Simeone’s men – who had won their last eight – a lot of hope that they could reduce the gap at the top to five points.

Instead, the hosts moved 11 points clear as Messi coaxed a free-kick into the net to bag his 600th career goal and bring Atletico’s party to an abrupt end.

It didn’t seem like anything could stop Barca now, and – as it turned out – nothing would.

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