The Week In Barcelona: Title glory beckons as champions approach final hurdle

After a near-collapse and mini-scare in April, Luis Enrique's side are a single game away from defending their La Liga title - only delayed by Real Madrid's last-gasp win over Valencia, writes Tim Stannard...

The week in five words

Almost a very unexpected party.

What went well

So near, yet so not-a-late-equalising-goal for Valencia in the Santiago Bernabéu to give the Camp Nou crowd a most unexpected league title party. And that’s probably a good thing for the sake of Barcelona’s oft-trashed city centre, as the city’s police forces might have been quite unprepared for happy folk jumping up and down on bus stop roofs on Sunday night. 

If it hadn't been for the eventual non-existence of a dramatic Real Madrid collapse in front of their own supporters, a quartet of very good things would have been completed, which would have in part given Barcelona their 24th La Liga title win and a second in two seasons for Luis Enrique. 

Barça made mincemeat out of Espanyol in the Catalan derby, with a very comprehensive 5-0 victory that was all but over in just eight minutes with a Leo Messi free-kick. The shock of the millennium (OK, week) then took place down the coast in Valencia, with Atlético Madrid losing late doors to an already-relegated 2-1 Levante. 

Even further down in Seville at the Sánchez Pizjuán, a win for Granada saw the Andalusians safe for the season, after Rayo, Getafe and Sporting dropped points. This makes next weekend’s task against Granada in Los Cármenes a heck of a lot easier, considering the opponents won't be fighting tooth and nail for survival.

Nevertheless, Luis Enrique was urging caution, as is in his managerial contract. “Look at Levante-Atlético. The only relegated team beat one of the best in Spain and Europe.”

What didn’t 

That final warning from the Barcelona boss will still leave the more pessimistic culés with the nagging doubt that the football gods could have a nasty, final surprise in store on the last day down in Granada. Dropped points from Real Madrid to leave a week of sighs of relief and celebrations would have been spot on. 

A Manchester City and Bayern Munich Champions League final would also have been very handy too, but that clash is only set to take place in an alternate universe. Those same pessimistic culés might now be contemplating the possibility of a Real Madrid double win. Or Real Madrid winning the league, Atlético Madrid winning the Champions League and Sevilla winning the Copa del Rey. 

Indeed. Those who weren’t contemplating that possibility might be doing so right now. You’re welcome! 

Quote of the week

“Neymar cannot be an example to our children, nor an icon when he is being investigated for fraud, evading taxes and corruption.” – Roberto Moreno, the Exective Director of DIS – a company that held 40% rights in Neymar and has launched a corruption case against the footballer – is not a big fan anymore. And probably underestimates how much time Neymar himself actually spends on his annual tax returns. 

The need-to-know facts

  • Ever since Barcelona’s triple whammy of defeats against Real Madrid, Real Sociedad and Valencia, the league leaders have gone on to score 21 goals with none conceded in La Liga. 
  • Suarez's 37 league goals is better than five another teams have managed in La Primera, including Espanyol. But to be fair, the Uruguayan is probably worth the same as the squads of that quintet combined. 
  • Barcelona have now gone 14 league games without a defeat to Espanyol, keeping 11 clean sheets in that period.
  • The Catalans have scored in all of their games at Camp Nou in a single league campaign for the first time since the 2013/14 season.

Video of the week

This little beauty from Messi that made the Catalan derby a most comfortable affair for Barcelona.

Winner of the week

Barring a very, very special effort from Cristiano Ronaldo against Deportivo next week – and a very special defensive performance from the Galicians – Suárez's two goals against Espanyol should see the Uruguayan winning the top-scorer Pichichi title in La Liga.

Suárez now has a four-goal advantage over his rival Portuguese poacher, and is set to be the first winner of the award who isn't Ronaldo or Messi since Diego Forlán in 2008/09. 

Loser of the week

The forward-thinking Barça stuff seller outside the Camp Nou who had the temporary monopoly on the ‘Barcelona Champions 2016’ merchandise. 

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