28th April, 2019
It was a perfect wrap up of the LaLiga title for Barcelona as they not only won it in front of their home fans at the Camp Nou but also did so through a goal scored by Captain Marvelous Messi himself.
The home team rounded up their 26th LaLiga title as Lionel Messi came off the bench to score the winner in a 1-0 victory over Levante last night in what many are already predicting to be the catalyst for a treble success.
This victory at Camp Nou means that Barcelona sits nine points ahead of nearest rivals Atletico Madrid, against whom they boast a superior head-to-head record, with three games to go.
Having now pocketed the first title of the season, Barcelona still have the chance to lift two more trophies, with a Champions League semi-final against Liverpool and a Copa del Rey final with Valencia still to come.
Starting Messi from the bench, perhaps with an eye on Wednesday’s first-leg visit of Liverpool, actually provided some initial comfort for the visitors.
In the first leg of this tie earlier in the season, the magical captain was involved in all of Barca’s goals – scoring three and assisting two – as the Catalans ran out 5-0 winners.
The visiting team might have hoped for an easier outing in Messi’s first-half absence, but their goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez – who did not play in the first leg match – was pressed into notable action twice inside the opening five minutes to repel efforts from Suarez and Coutinho.
The same goalkeeper was called to duty again shortly after as Suarez was stopped at the near post and Coutinho with a gilt-edged headed chance, before the Brazilian struck the crossbar with a free-kick.
Captain Marvelous Messi came on for the wasteful Coutinho at the interval and finally made the breakthrough just sixteen minutes later, with Levante failing to clear their lines and the Argentina striker supplying a two-touch finish from the edge of the six-yard box.
Levante were forced to react somehow and did so. Jose Luis Morales should have leveled matters soon after, but he skied over the bar with the under-worked Marc-Andre ter Stegen left exposed.
Taking into consideration their complete lack of attacking threat for more than an hour, Levante did well to make the closing stages interesting and Enis Bardhi struck the post in a late scramble, but Barca ultimately sealed the three points they needed to celebrate an eighth LaLiga title in 11 seasons.
As it stands right now, Barcelona have left their domestic rivals trailing in their wake, having suffered just two top-flight losses with three games remaining this term. A two-legged tussle with Premier League title hopefuls Liverpool is still to come in Europe’s top competition, while they are strong favourites to see off Valencia in the Copa del Rey showpiece.
By the way, this win was a very special one for a Barca player – Arturo Vidal. His trophy-laden run has continued at Barcelona after the Chile international collected an eighth straight league winners’ medal.
Vidal is a four-time Serie A winner with Juventus and a three-time Bundesliga champion at Bayern Munich – having appeared in 30 of Barca’s 35 games in his first campaign in Spain.