Barcelona seal La Liga title in style
Barcelona were crowned La Liga champions on Sunday for the 27th time after a convincing 4-2 win over Espanyol in Cornella.
Xavi’s side sealed the title in style with an impressive display to end a four-year spell without the trophy and clinch the title for the first time since Lionel Messi departed.
There may have been nerves in the Barcelona team but they didn’t show on the pitch as the visitors took an early lead and never really looked back.
Robert Lewandowski got things going by scoring his 20th goal in 30 La Liga games this season, before Alejando Balde scored his first goal for the club.
Another Lewandowski goal had Barca in cruise control, while Jules Kounde also netted for the first time in Barca colors.
The win means Xavi’s side deservedly seal top spot with four games left to play in the 2022-23 campaign.
Xavi’s team are far from the finished article, as was demonstrated in European competition, but there’s no doubt they’ve been the best team in Spain this season.
Balde and Kounde get first Barca goals
Sunday’s win was topped off nicely by the sight of Alejandro Balde and Jules Kounde scoring for the first time in Barcelona colors.
Balde’s contribution was particularly apt, considering he’s in the midst of a sensational breakout season for the club. The teenager also grabbed an assist, something that hasn’t been done too often in the derby.
Let’s get that new contract signed, sealed and delivered ASAP please Mr Laporta.
1 - Alejandro Balde has both scored and assisted in the same game for Barcelona for the first time in all competitions (48 games), becoming the youngest player to score and assist in a derby against Espanyol in LaLiga in the 21st century (19 years and 208 days). Dagger. pic.twitter.com/VqLYpoq6mK— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 14, 2023
Credit also goes to Kounde who netted Barca’s fourth of the night. His goal was made by the excellent Frenkie de Jong, who had all the time in the world to flight a ball into the Frenchman to finish.
Kounde has had to play out of position for most of the season, and was at right-back once again versus Espanyol.
The Frenchman is not the answer to Barca’s right-back problems but he’s still played a key role since joining in the summer and formed part of a title-winning backline.
Lewandowski does the job for Barcelona
Lewandowski put in one of his best post-World Cup performances against Espanyol, scoring twice to extend his Pichichi lead and help deliver the trophy.
There have been question asked of Lewandowski this season, and Barca’s decision to splash out heavily on the striker last summer, but there’s no doubt at all that he’s delivered in his debut season for the Catalans.
⚠️ | QUICK STAT— Sofascore (@SofascoreINT) May 14, 2023
⚽️ Most goals: Robert Lewandowski (21)
✅ Most goal involvements: Robert Lewandowski (27)
Most xG accumulated: Robert Lewandowski (21.72)
Most winning goals: Robert Lewandowski (8)
Not bad for a first season at the club. pic.twitter.com/PipIjwFkJR
Lewandowski has now won the Super Cup and La Liga in his debut campaign at the Camp Nou and is in a strong position to win the Pichichi too. The Pole is now four clear at the top of the standings from Karim Benzema.
It’s also worth noting that Lewandowski’s double against Espanyol means he’s now scored 20 or more league goals in 11 of his 13 seasons in Europe’s top five leagues and is the first Barcelona player to score 30 or more goals across all competitions in his debut season since Ronaldo in 1996-1997.
Lewandowski was brought to to provide experience, lead the line and score goals and he has done exactly that.
Another reason for Raphinha to stay?
Raphinha’s been in the headlines all week ahead of the game with the rumor mill being increasingly convinced he could be on his way in the summer
The Brazilian has responded angrily to the rumors and let his football do the talking once again in the win over Espanyol with yet another assist.
Raphinha started ahead of fit-again Ousmane Dembele and teed up Lewandowski to make it 3-0, before being replaced by the Frenchman just after the hour.
The stats now show that only Antoine Griezmann, Vinicius Junior, Mikel Merino and Rodrygo have more assists in La Liga this season than Raphinha, who has also created 45 chances.
Any big offers for Raphinha this summer will surely be seriously considered by Barcelona, due to the club’s financial situation, but the Brazil interational is certainly making a very strong case to stay with his performances on the pitch.
Bye, bye Espanyol?
Barca’s win was seriously bad news for Espanyol who remain mired in trouble at the bottom of the table ahead of the final four games of the season.
In fact, things got so bad at one point against Barcelona that some fans couldn’t even bear to watch their team being taken apart by the champions-elect.
Image: An Espanyol fan covering her eyes during the match. pic.twitter.com/07aIgkgyLi— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) May 14, 2023
The ugly scenes at the end won’t help either as frustrations boiled over. There will surely be ramifications and bans for supporters look inevitable.
The end result is that the defeat leaves Luis Garcia’s side just four points from safety with four games remaining.
Espanyol’s last four games are against Rayo, Atletico, Valencia and Almeria and, as things stand, it’s going to take a huge effort for the Catalans to remain in Spain’s top flight.