Barcelona seal first La Liga title since Messi exit as Xavi eyes Guardiola feat

Barcelona have clinched their first La Liga title in four years after beating local rivals Espanyol 4-2 at Estadio Cornelia, as Xavi Hernandez edges closer to matching Pep Guardiola’s achievement with the club. A double from Robert Lewandowski and strikes from defenders Alejandro Balde and Jules Kounde were enough to see off their relegation-threatened Catalan neighbours, as Barca celebrated winning the title with four games to go.

Not since Lionel Messi left the club in 2021 have the Blaugrana been crowned champions of Spain, but even with Real Madrid beating Getafe 1-0 on Saturday, they had a simple task ahead to clinch the trophy.

And they wasted no time in going ahead, with Balde opening the scoring inside the first 10 minutes. Lewandowski then added a second nine minutes later before the Pole grabbed another just before half time to put Xavi’s side three up at the interval.

Espanyol came out of the blocks with more spirit and attacking intent, but Kounde’s powerful header put the game beyond doubt at 4-0, or so it seemed.

As Barca began their party, their defensive paid the price for several lapses with Joselu twice beating Marc Andre ter Stegen but it was too little, too late from the La Liga strugglers. 

It means that with 34 games played, Barcelona already have 85 points – putting them 14 clear of Real Madrid, who can only get 12 at the maximum from their remaining games. And for Xavi, it marks an impressive achievement when comparing him to his mentor Guardiola.

In Guardiola’s first season at Camp Nou as a managerial rookie, he guided Barca to the title with his tiki-taka style of football and Messi taking centre stage. On that occasion, the Catalans took the title with 87 points and Xavi only needs one more win to match his feat.

It could get even better for the 43-year-old as speculation refuses to die down that Messi could make a sensational return to Barcelona – some two years after leaving for PSG.

Much will depend on whether they can reduce their salary cap imposed by La Liga, which could see players such as Raphinha, Franck Kessie and Ansu Fati sold. They need to raise £217m (€250m) under those conditions, which could complicate any deal for Messi. 

But with Messi set to decide his future at the end of the season, Xavi has already spoken of his intentions to reunite with his former team-mate if a deal can be done. And that would move him even closer towards bringing the golden days of Guardiola back to the club.


We’ll be bringing you the very latest updates, pictures and video on this breaking news story.

For the latest news and breaking news visit: Stay up to date with all the big headlines, pictures, analysis, opinion and video on the stories that matter to you.

Follow us on Twitter @dexpress_sport – the official Daily Express & Twitter account – providing real news in real time.

We’re also on Facebook @dailyexpresssport – offering your must-see news, features, videos and pictures throughout the day to like, comment and share from the Daily Express, Sunday Express and

Source: Read Full Article