Spain’s biggest selling sports daily Marca summed it up in Monday’s headline after Barcelona wrapped up a fifth La Liga title in seven years and their 23rd overall on Sunday: “Messi’s League”.
The Argentina forward scored a typically brilliant goal to secure a 1-0 win at Atletico Madrid exactly a year after last season’s champions pipped Barca to the title with a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp on the final day of the campaign.
Barca’s latest triumph was the first part of a possible treble of Champions League, domestic league and Cup crowns, which Barca became the only Spanish club to achieve in 2008-09 under Pep Guardiola.
Messi’s goal was his 41st in 37 La Liga appearances this term, four behind top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, whose Real Madrid side are four points adrift of their arch rivals with one game left.
Messi has also made an incredible 17 assists and it has been his scintillating form since the turn of the year, after he broke the La Liga scoring record in November, that has been the main driving force behind Barca’s treble charge.
They meet Juventus in the Champions League final on June 6, a week after hosting Athletic Bilbao for the King’s Cup final, an impressive achievement for coach Luis Enrique in his first season in charge.
“Right now I am thinking about all those who have helped us win this title, without exception,” Luis Enrique told a news conference after the match at the Calderon.
“There are still two titles up for grabs and then we will know what mark we can award ourselves, but winning this league makes us very happy,” added the former Barca and Spain midfielder.
Barca’s defence, marshalled by Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, has also played its part, conceding a mere 19 goals in 37 La Liga games, while Real leaked 35.
But club talisman Messi predictably dominated Monday’s front pages after the 27-year-old again proved decisive when it mattered most.
Exchanging passes with Pedro, he found the tiny amount of space he needed in the crowd of defenders and clipped a precise shot into the corner to make it a Messi’s league.