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The Matches that Defined Barcelona's La Liga Win, Part 2

We continue from part 1, which you can read here.

David Ramos/Getty Images

During the first part of this analysis, we saw a team starting to take shape. A pivotal loss to Real Sociedad seemed to have Barcelona in chaos, only for them to react with a thrilling win against Atletico Madrid in the next matchday. From then on, things seemed to really click...

Matchday 28

Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid

Barcelona and Real Madrid's fortunes had swapped since the start of the new year. The capital club, which started the season in superb form and handed Barça a 3-1 loss, was now in irregular form. And Barcelona, which had 10 matches ago seemed hopeless, was on a rampage.

This Clasico then, would prove if it was all a mirage or if Barcelona were truly ready for the title. Barça had to cope without Sergio Busquets for most of the match and at times really struggled to exert midfield control. Lionel Messi played the match with an injured foot that hampered his ability to dribble.

Still, Messi dropped a free kick to Jeremy Mathieu, who became an unlikely hero by opening the scoring. Yet Real Madrid were well on top for much of the first half and equalized through  Cristiano Ronaldo, making the Blaugrana faithful truly nervous.

But in the second half, a brilliant long ball by Dani Alves was then expertly brought down and slotted past Iker Casillas by an ecstatic Luis Suarez. The first Clasico, Suarez was playing for the first time in a while and it showed. This time, he was decisive.

After that, and the introduction of Busquets and Xavi, Barcelona retook control and had Madrid on the ropes for most of the match. Messi engineered chances that should have been put away. In the end, 2-1 was a big result still and one that would put the gap at four points - just as it is now.

Mathieu's good form would continue against Celta in the next round, scoring an important header in a 1-0 victory against tricky opposition.

Matchday 32

Barcelona 2-0 Valencia

Talk about a congested fixture list.  First Sevilla at the Sanchez Pizjuan, where they were next to invincible. Then, away to PSG in the Champions League. Then this match against Valencia at Camp Nou, and then the return leg against PSG.

Barça did drop points late away to Sevilla, though they did also slam PSG 3-1 in Paris. Still, the team was surely tired after such intense games, and it showed.

Luis Suarez opened the scoring about 55 seconds in from a Lionel Messi assist. For the next... oh about 92 minutes, Valencia were well on top. Gerard Pique gave away a contentious 50/50 penalty, but luckily for the Blaugrana, Claudio Bravo did well to save the ensuing shot.

Bravo probably was man of the match, in fact, pulling off stunning saves. The team did just enough to keep Valencia at bay, and with the last kick of the game, Lionel Messi scored the second goal. His celebration consisted of falling over in exhaustion. We know how you feel, buddy.

Matchday 34

Barcelona 6-0 Getafe

Getafe are not an elite team but they're hardly pushovers, having already taken points off of Barcelona the first time these two teams met this season. Barcelona's first half was absolutely - it's hard to describe. It may be the single most brilliant half of football I've ever seen in a long time.

Barcelona scored 5 during that half, and at least a few of them were goal of the season contenders.

Messi opened the scoring with a superb panenka penalty - so good, in fact, it was hailed as the best ever panenka penalty by no less of an authority than Antonin Panenka.

The second goal was better, with Messi lofting a superb ball into Suarez, who volleyed it high and into the corner of the net. In any other game that may have been easily the best goal.

Next, the merry-go-round would continue, this time it would be Suarez setting up Neymar for the Brazilian to dribble past one and shoot for the 3-0 lead.

You score a goal, you assist. Neymar played a simple enough pass for Xavi, who found himself with space outside the corner of the box. He figured "why not?" and bent one into the top corner of the goal.

And of course Xavi would give an assist. Messi played a ball towards the maestro, standing just outside the center of the box. Xavi would flick it with his heel, ever so slightly, towards a wide-open Luis Suarez. Suarez did not waste his teammate's moment of brilliance, firing in his own goal.

And at the beginning of the second half, and to round things off, Messi would curl in his trademark right-wing finish to make it six. Woah.

Matchday 37

Atletico Madrid 0-1 Barcelona

Of course. The title clincher. It would have been a mistake to call the title a formality despite how close to the title Barcelona were.

Atletico at the Calderon is perhaps the most difficult match of all beyond the Clasico. And this after a long season and the emotional high of reaching the Champions League final. Of course, it wasn't necessary to win... and Deportivo at home isn't the world's trickiest match. But in this very situation last season - small teams at the end to win the league - Barcelona faltered. It could happen all over again.

But it didn't.

You could have almost forgiven Barcelona for not winning given an easier route to the title remained open. The absence of Luis Suarez due to injury was the perfect excuse.

Atleti were well up for it, despite suggestions they'd let Barcelona win to annoy their city rivals. Claudio Bravo, as has been typical this season, was forced to pull off some highlight reel saves.

The defense stood firm, the midfield covered ground, and wouldn't you know it - Lionel Messi would unlock a defense with a moment of magic.

It was fitting that Suarez's replacement, Pedro, would assist the goal after helping seal the league in the previous round, scoring a fantastic bicycle kick goal to ensure the victory against Real Sociedad.

Messi was far and away the best player this season but it was full of heroics.

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