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The Wins that Defined Barcelona's La Liga Title - Part 2

The second in a two-part series of the pivotal games that earned Barcelona the title

Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Here's part one. On to part two!

Barcelona 2–1 Atlético Madrid

Matchday 22

30 January 2016

Atletico Madrid needed a win to put themselves within striking range of Barcelona's league lead. And they seemed up for it. Koke struck within ten minutes, and Barcelona looked like they might be too shocked to reply as Atleti settled into their shell. Instead, two absolutely brilliant goals put Barcelona in front, both created by fullbacks. Alba to Messi, Alves to Suarez, 2-1. The first, a subtle, inch perfect build-up finished delicately by Messi. The second, a long ball controlled by a bull-rushing Suarez, smashed through the keeper's legs in a goal that looked just like his Clasico winner from the previous season. Atletico would lose their minds a bit, first with Filipe Luis getting sent off for a savage challenge on Messi, then Diego Godin getting two bookings, the second for a reckless foul. Improbably, Atletico actually played better despite that, and they deserve huge plaudits for their huge effort. Claudio Bravo had to save an Antoine Griezmann point blank shot with a combination of positioning and blind luck... but Barcelona sneaked across the finish line in a match between two brilliant teams.

Barcelona 6–1 Celta Vigo

Matchday 24

14 February 2016

Celta were considered a bogey team for Luis Enrique. Of the three matches he had played against his former team, he lost two, including the most recent by a staggering 4-1. His lone win was a 1-0 smash and grab powered by a Jeremy Mathieu header. Lionel Messi gave Barcelona the lead, but just 11 minutes later, John Guidetti equalized for Celta. It was going to be another, slog wasn't it? Luis Suarez restored the advantage for Barcelona in the second half, but it was still close and Celta seemed a credible threat to get a draw with about 15 minutes left to play. Here's the second half in full, I suggest you skip to about minute 29 and just watch til the end. It's bonkers. Mad. Ridiculous. Absoludicrous. Just as Ray Hudson says Celta might be about to get the draw, Messi dribbles past half the team, sets up Neymar, and Suarez taps into an empty net. 3-1. Neymar almost scores four minutes later. And a minute later, Messi absolutely bamboozles a defender in the box, only to receive a foul. Penalty. What does Messi do? He passes the penalty to Suarez! 4-1 and a hat trick to the grateful Uruguayan. Three minutes later and Suarez scoops a pass to Rakitic who loops it over the keeper. 5-1. And just to round things off, a long ball towards Neymar ends with another expert finish into Celta's net. 6-1. Possibly the best 15 minutes of football any team produced anywhere, and against tough opposition, too.

Barcelona 2–1 Sevilla

Matchday 26

28 February 2016

There's a scene in an old Star Trek episode where the Romulan commander is beaten again by Captain Kirk. The alien struggles to fathom how his opposite number is so good. "He's a sorcerer, that one!" he yells in frustration. I imagine that's how Sevilla felt about Messi this season. They took the lead a total of 3 times when Messi was on the field, and all three times, he scored a beautiful free kick to draw the game level. The first were in the European Super Cup. The other was this match, in which Vitolo put Sevilla ahead 1-0. Messi hit the post directly from a corner, as did Suarez with a smashing volley, but it was that sumptuous free kick that gave Barcelona belief against a team that beat them in the previous meeting. Some incredible work from Luis Suarez and Messi also set up a winner from a somewhat unlikely source - Gerard Pique in the center-forward role. The defense held together, Bravo pulled off a 1-v-1 save, and Barcelona got all three points.

Granada 0–3 Barcelona

Matchday 38

14 May 2016

Of course, we can't forget the final win to seal the title. They almost let it slip earlier, going four games in the league without a win, including three losses in a row. But the team was absolutely brilliant down the stretch, and it bears repeating. In five games, Barcelona did not receive a single goal, scoring 24 in the process - almost 5 a game. And Barcelona needed every last win, as they claimed the title by just a point. Heading into the last match, there was confidence, but no assurances. There even was a moment of mild panic as Real Madrid went ahead in their game first, temporarily giving them the crown in a virtual table. But the team kept plugging along. Luis Suarez grabbed all three goals, and the Pichichi trophy, but it was a total team effort. The first came from a one-two between Neymar and Alba, letting Suarez tap into an empty net. The second was all about Alves's effort - chasing down what looked like a lost cause for Suarez to nod past the keeper. And the one that did in fact seal it started from a delicious Messi through ball which Neymar unselfishly prodded towards Suarez to finish into an empty net. Champions!

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