How Barcelona won 2010/11 La Liga crown

MADRID - Barcelona won their third consecutive La Liga title on Wednesday, making it a hat-trick of league crowns for coach Pep Guardiola in his first three seasons in charge.

Following is an analysis with five main reasons for their success.

CLOCKWORK CONSISTENCY

Barcelona's well-oiled machine, built around the midfield trio of Spanish internationals Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, has continued its unrivalled domination of possession, frustrating rivals forced to chase the ball for long periods.

The club set a La Liga record of 16 successive wins in February and have only been knocked off their stride twice.

Promoted Hercules stunned the champions 2-0 in their first home game, while between the first and second legs of the Champions League semi-final, they went down 2-1 at Real Sociedad, ending a record 23-match unbeaten run away from home.

With five 1-1 draws, against Real Mallorca, Sporting Gijon, Sevilla, Real Madrid and Levante, Barca have only dropped 16 points all season while racking up 29 victories.

GUARDED GUARDIOLA

Pep Guardiola's outstanding achievement has been to maintain the hunger for success in a squad that has already won every available trophy.

His decision to off-load striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in favour of Spain's David Villa has been vindicated and it led to a tighter squad unit without any of the controversy that dogged last season.

He conducted the campaign with a first-team squad of only 18 outfield players, adding Ibrahim Afellay in January, exploiting the versatility of players such as Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets to cover at centre-back after Eric Abidal's surgery on a liver tumour.

The former Barca midfielder refused to rise to Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho's constant sniping, until his uncharacteristic outburst on the eve of the Champions League semi-final when the bad blood between the clubs boiled over.

MESSI'S GOALS

The World Player of the Year has scored 31 league goals, and 52 in all competitions this season.

The tirelessly enthusiastic 23-year-old has avoided any serious injuries and once again has shown an unerring ability to score important goals. The team's domination of possession combined with Messi's more central role means he sees plenty of the ball and he has also weighed in with 19 assists, more than any other player in La Liga.

The main beneficiaries have been his strike partners Villa and Pedro, who have scored 18 and 13 respectively.

Messi's inability to exercise the same influence for Argentina speaks volumes for the way his Barca team mates play to his strengths.

SOLID DEFENCE

Barca only conceded more than once in a game in their two defeats and opponents have managed 20 goals against them in 36 games.

Spain goalkeeper Victor Valdes is virtually assured of a third consecutive award for having conceded the fewest goals in La Liga, and has once again shown that a Barca number one has to be as good with his feet as his hands.

Spain centre back Gerard Pique has grown in stature, especially in the lengthy absence through injury of captain Carles Puyol. He epitomises the "build-from-the-back" playing style of the team.

Makeshift centre backs Busquets and Mascherano rose to the task while the irrepressible Dani Alves has provided bite and attacking thrust. The Brazilian right-back has the league's second highest number of goal assists with 14.

THE CLASICOS

Barca's 5-0 thrashing of Real Madrid in November was perhaps their outstanding performance of the season and gave them an unassailable advantage in the head-to-head record between the sides.

A 1-1 league draw at the Bernabeu, in the first of the four-match series in three competitions in 18 days played out over the last month, was the first time Guardiola had failed to win against Barca's arch-rivals.

Barca's dominance over the only side able to compete with them in financial terms is reflected in their impressive "Clasico" record in Guardiola's three years as coach - six wins, two draws and one defeat across three competitions.


SHARES
comments