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Barcelona sign off La Liga season on a high

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Superb performance at Mendizorrotza

Deportivo Alaves v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

That’s the way to end a league season.

With nothing to play for other than some pride after handing the La Liga title to Real Madrid, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if the match against Alaves had taken on the feel of a traditional end of season game.

It’s true that it resembled a training match for large parts of the second half, but by then Barca were four goals to the good and energy conservation was the name of the game.

Three shots against the woodwork and a magnificent save from Martinez, as well as three goals in a totally one-sided first half, sent a message to anyone believing that Barcelona’s season is already over.

In a handful of one-off games, when they’re in this mood they are devastating.

Deportivo Alaves v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Alaves may be down the wrong end of the table, but as Barca showed against Villarreal, when the XI on the pitch really want it there’s not too many teams that can live with them.

Looking forward, what a joy it was to see Riqui Puig, Ansu Fati and Ronald Araujo in the starting XI too.

Puig continues to make a name for himself and has surely cemented a place in midfield. The Blaugranes are much more creative with him in situ, and his ability to find space and distribute with aplomb promises much. Ditto Fati who finished off a great move with the ease of a veteran.

Araujo had little to do, but when he was called upon he was calmness personified.

If nothing else, the board must see - and understand - that these aren’t just players for the future, but for the present.

The identity that many have suggested in the recent past Barca are losing, can be resurrected with a smattering of La Masia graduates on the pitch.

Deportivo Alaves v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

No one really had a bad game, and it would have to be Messi that wrote the narrative again of course.

A 21st assist of the season gives him the all-time record, and his two goals were enough to put the Pichichi out of Karim Benzema’s reach.

Trying to describe his continued importance to this and every other Barca side he’s graced with his presence is a thankless task, suffice to say that even on a day when he wasn’t at his brilliant best, he still influenced proceedings in the way only Messi can.

It’s worth doffing a cap to Quique Setien too. Under such scrutiny and pressure, and with a depleted side to boot, he masterminded one of the team’s best performances under his tutelage.

Bring on the Champions League...