Ladies and gentlemen, FC Barcelona are the official La Liga Champions for the 2010-2011 season!
This season was special. We were made fun of in the beginning of the season, after losing our first home game to Hercules in September. The doubters and haters had come out as fast as they could after the game. We were called weak, they said we were tired, that Real Madrid would trounce us this year, especially considering that Madrid were the ones who possessed the “Special One”. Yet after a brutal season, our boys have battled through every obstacle placed in front of them, and in they end, after all the smoke had cleared, OUR team stood the tallest. This is a day for all of us to be proud, We Did It!
We went into Week 36 squaring off against Levante. The Valencia based side needed to win this game just as much as we did, although a draw would have been beneficial to both teams. We needed a point in order for us to be appointed La Liga Champions, and a point for Levante would have guaranteed them a place in the Spanish top flight next season.
Guardiola clearly realized the situation, and his team selection reflected the occasion. Our coach decided to roll out with a line-up which consisted of both first-teamers and substitutes. Valdes was the goalie, while Pep chose a back-line of Alves, Mascherano, Pique, and Abidal, with a midfield consisting of Xavi, Keita, and Busquets, while our front line included Messi, Villa, and Afellay.
The beginning of the game was unusual. Barça had most of the ball, while Levante had the better chances in the first 20 minutes. Weak headers, and some woeful finishing denied Levante the chance to get the opening goal of the game. Barcelona then managed to grab a hold on the match, and the best chance in the first half for Barcelona fell in the 25th minute. After winning a free kick, Xavi whipped the ball into the penalty area which Busquets almost managed to get a head to.
Two minutes after the first chance, we took the lead thanks to a brilliant pass from Xavi. After having received the ball 40 yards from the goal, Xavi turned, looked up, and spotted Keita’s 20 yard run. Our midfield general then picked out Keita with a peach of a pass, from where our number 15 managed to produce a wonderful header into the top left corner of the net.
As soon as the first goal was scored, Barcelona went back to what it does best. Keep Ball. Our next chance of the game fell to Villa, whose curling shot from the edge of the area missed the right hand corner by a couple of inches. Two minutes after this chance by Villa, Levante scored their first goal of the night. A routine ball from Javi Venta should have been cleared by Pique, but a misunderstanding between the defender and Valdes allowed Caicedo to roll the ball into the empty net. Messi then almost managed to get his first goal of the night, trying to place the ball into the top corner of the net from a 25 yard free kick, but it curled agonizingly wide from the post. With that, the half time whistle had blown.
The second half was probably one of the most boring halves of the season. The only highlights were two Messi runs, two runs which should have produced a better outcome. His first occurred in the 56th minute. He received the ball 25 yards from goal, and after having his passing options limited by the Levante defence, Messi managed to wriggle and skip past four Levante players, but his shot bounced back from the inside of the post and it was cleared to safety.
His second run saw him start from 40 yards out. After playing a one-two with Alves, Messi went on a mazy run, which saw him evade the attention of the entire Levante defense, but after some nice footwork, his shot from the edge of the area missed the goal by a matter of centimeters.
The clock ticked down to the final minutes, and other than a few substitutions, one that included Abidal getting a standing ovation from the Levante faithful, there was not much special to witness. And when the last minute of stoppage time had finished, and the referee had signaled the end of the 36th game in Barcelona’s 2010-2011 season, everyone that was associated with FC Barcelona were ecstatic, as that was the whistle that confirmed FC Barcelona as the 2010-2011 La Liga Champions.
When I wrote my first review, the review that I submitted when I applied for totalBarça (I picked the Barcelona-Real Madrid game), I wrote that whether or not FC Barcelona win a title this season, we were witnessing a special era. An era which saw us rack up title after title, assemble one of the greatest teams ever brought together, both on an individual and collective note, an era which saw us produce one of the greatest performances in the history of football, an era which saw three of our best players recognized as the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd best players in the world, an era which saw us witness one of the greatest ever football players to have graced the game, the list goes on…. This team is special, and they now have three La Liga titles from the last three years. I feel like crying. A part of me feels as if though, until I die, I will never be able to witness such a golden period in FC Barcelona’s history, and just for the record, I’m eighteen years old. I haven’t seen Sacchi’s Milan, I haven’t seen the great Ajax, I haven’t seen the 1970′s Brazil, I haven’t even seen our very own Dream team of the 90′s, but watching this team play makes me feel as if, though I don’t need to see all those other teams play, it makes me feel as though this team is better than all the other great teams of the years before. Enjoy this moment fellow Cules, WE did it. Oh, and did I mention, we’re also in the Champions League Final… Not bad, not bad at all… VISCA BARCA!!!!