The Barcelona sky has dimmed into a deeper blue now. The air is thick with total euphoria. The game has ended and jubilations have well and truly begun. All night long, the Camp Nou atmosphere had alternated between deafening cheers and absolute silences in Barça’s 2-1 defeat to Soceidad. But as the game approaches minute 90, as Lewandowski halves Barça’s deficit, celebrations climb to a crescendo.
Sociedad have deservedly won the game but the night still belongs to Barcelona. A win at Espanyol last week had already sealed Barça’s fate as champions. In more ways than one, this loss was a timely reminder clinching La Liga doesn’t come cheap. And that a team that knows how to sweat for three points week after week is the one crowned champion as the season slows to an inevitable halt.
After a few intimate hugs, chatter and handshakes are exchanged, Sociedad players make a beeline for the tunnel. Meanwhile, Barcelona players assemble on the pitch and await the trophy presentation. Sergio Busquets goes to collect the trophy in the stands and the entire stadium sing praise names for him. Shortly, Busquets joins the rest of the squad and the trophy is hoisted into air. The players now celebrate as a unified group, bouncing and screaming their heads off. Barça’s technical team and backroom staff join them on the pitch with happy delight. The party is now in full swing and will definitely end but not soon.
Men, women and children appear on the big screen wearing big smiles and happy expressions. Barcelona are La Liga champions! And now Camp Nou feels like the happiest place on earth. Yet, in the last few years, the prevailing emotion at the Spotify Camp Nou has been one of disappointment. In spectacular fashion Barça lost La Liga to eternal rivals Real Madrid back in the 2019/20 season. That was a season blighted by sporting instability and internal conflict. Management and playing body were in serious disconnect. Barça made the news for all the wrong reasons.
Small wonder in that same season FC Barcelona suffered its greatest humiliation in Europe. An 8-2 schooling at the hands of Bayern accelerated the departure of the old guard in favour of new blood. Suarez, Rakitic and Vidal departed. But Messi, Pique, Alba and Busquets still remained for the next season. Furthermore, immeasurable faith was placed in Araujo, Pedri, De Jong, Dembele et al amid Barça’s financial troubles. And even in his declining years, Messi inspired Barça to a Copa Del Rey title in the 2020/21 season.
It was evident, then, that the rebuild process had long been set in motion. Joan Laporta was voted president of FC Barcelona in March of 2021. However, financial constraints meant he had to let Lionel Messi go at the beginning of the 2021/22 campaign. A poor run of form by the team under Koeman led to his mid-season dismissal. And then Laporta installed Xavi as head coach to lead Barça into a new dawn.
The future looks primising
This has been Xavi’s first full season in charge. La Liga has been won and so has the Spanish Supercopa. Happiness rather than frustration has returned to the Nou Camp. Youngsters such as Pedri, Gavi, Araujo, Kounde and Balde have inherited greater responsibilities and become indisputable starters. In Robert Lewandowski, these youngsters have a serial winner to fall back on when the going gets tough.
Despite FC Barcelona’s continued travails in Europe, there’s a growing feeling Camp Nou would enjoy bigger nights and bigger titles in the seasons to come. Time, without a scintilla of doubt, will make this team wiser and braver. And with a little luck, with a little wisdom, Barça will not only overcome in Spain, but also in Europe. For now, this La Liga triumph will be cradled and cherished as something worth more than gold and silver.