Barca had a juicy setup awaiting them tonight.
Win and you secure La Liga on the turf of your most bitter inner city rivals, Espanyol. Lose and you still win the league sooner rather than later, but you lose the chance to savor the moment in front of thousands of Espanyol fans.
What route did Barca create for themselves? Well, I think you all can imagine the choice they made, but let’s look over the action one more time just to savor it all in once again.
The action started early for Barca, as they wasted no time in making sure their title clenching effort would be rewarded. Barca was right on top of Espanyol from the jump, simply by commanding possession — as expected — and hounding Espanyol whenever they did try to circulate possession in their own end.
But as we saw, the efforts were wasted, as Barca was way too much for the potential relegation bound Espanyol side.
That was proven even more true in the first 15 minutes, as Barca found a quick opening goal to quiet the Espanyol fans, many who were hoping to witness their favorite club spoil Barca’s early celebrations.
Balde, Lewandowski combine to make magic
The 11th minute was the opening golden moment for Barca, as Alejandro Balde darted down the left flank using one of his patented dribbles. He skipped past Oscar Gil, looked up to survey his options, then fired a lofted low cross into the box.
Robert Lewandowski was waiting, as the cross bounced off his knee and into the back of the net.
Can anyone else say perfect start? This is exactly what Barca needed to kick things off quickly, as doing so would put mounts of pressure on the home side, which was already dealing with a lot due to Barca’s own sheer quality and work rate.
But the work couldn’t stop here, Barca needed to pile on the goals to seal this one away for good, or else they’d risk letting a lowly side hang around and potentially causing chaos in the future.
Luckily for Barca, they understood the message, as they continued to pile on pressure.
More fruits of their labor followed, as Balde and Lewandowski continued to put their personal stamp on this match of significant importance.
Balde and Lewandowski create magic again
Balde continued where he left off, this time in the 20th minute, and as a goal scorer this time.
Pedri sent a bit of a cross/pass towards the far post, where Balde was waiting for an opportunity to score. All he had to do was not mess up the finish and he’d have a goal on his hands.
Even though Balde has had some misses this season, he didn’t miss this one at all. His shot slammed into the back of the net and gave Barca more cushion with a 2-0 lead.
Lewandowski wanted to add another goal of his to the party, as he put away a rather difficult looking tap in across the face of the goal.
Raphinha was the one who slid the pass across for Lewandowski, who had to stick his left boot out and fire home Barca’s third goal of the evening. They say tap ins are easy goals that even toddlers could score, but this one was no measly tap in.
The ability to slide across and get enough velocity on the shot, while skying it into the roof of the net? That’s insane talent from the aging Lewandowski.
What’s more, is the fact that this goal sent Espanyol fans out of the stadium. They had seen enough of their club getting absolutely battered and embarrassed, which I bet was liquid gold for the many Barca fans watching the match.
This wondrous first half for Barca ended with a scoreline of 3-0, obviously in favor of the away side.
All that was left to do, was control the game in the second half, and sit on the lead until the final whistle is blown.
Barca did in fact do that, they added an extra goal for good measure. But they lost from defensive discipline after the fourth goal.
Barca’s fourth and final goal of the match came early in the second half, as it was Jules Kounde who secured his first ever goal for Barca.
De Jong serves up a platter for Kounde
Frenkie De Jong lofted a gorgeous ball over the top for Kounde, who was darting into Espanyol’s penalty area from his right back spot. Kounde simply had to guide a header home and that he did, giving Barca their fourth goal of the night.
After this goal, there were some moments in which Espanyol took advantage of Barca’s declining intensity, which led to two second half goals. These spoiled Marc Andre Ter-Stegen’s clean sheet, and still leaves him one shy of the all time record for clean sheets held in a 38 match season by a single keeper.
He’ll have more chances for that though, so I’m sure he isn’t too upset.
What. A. Season.
Technically it isn’t over yet, but with the win tonight, it’s safe to say we can all relax and enjoy the last few matches of the La Liga season. Going away from that, what a moment this is for Barca.
From financial turmoil, to hectic summer transfer business, then the disappointing early season injury crisis and Champions League exit, then the Europa League exit, and some turbulent moments during the final stretch of the La Liga.
Barca had their fair share of troubles this season, but it can all be looked back as hopeful lessons learned and sweet success as the La Liga title has returned to Barcelona.
The club still has issues, mainly in the financial sectors — although Javier Tebas’ strict rules are a factor in that. But the foundation is set, as most of the main stars in this squad are young and still have a lot to improve on.
Culers, the future looks bright. For now though, savor the moment, and enjoy the rewards of your fandom.
Barca’s next match
Barca’s next match will be on on May 20th, a home fixture against Real Sociedad.
See you all then!