Barcelona wins La Liga title on Messi hat trick; what's ahead in pursuit of unbeaten season
It's been a brilliant league season for Barca and it was capped off with the title on Sunday
For the third time in the last four years and for the 25th time in club history, Barcelona has been crowned champions of Spain. On Sunday at Deportivo La Coruna, Barca needed just a draw to win the title, but a Lionel Messi hat trick saw the club secure a 4-2 win. The team led the match 2-0 before surrendering two goals to a team likely heading towards relegation, but two late Messi goals proved to be the difference.
Barca opened its first two-goal advantage after 38 minutes with goals from Philippe Coutinho and Lionel Messi before goals from Deportivo's Lucas Perez and Emre Colak gave the struggling hosts a chance at the three points. But then Barca's attack started to click, and it was over.
The winner in the 82nd minute came on a brilliant give-and-go with Luis Suarez from inside the box, one that Messi kissed it off the post and in the back of the net:
Messi's third goal came inside the box with another cool finish low and to the left:
The win gives Barcelona the title and an 11-point lead in the table over second-place Atletico Madrid, which just has three league games left and only nine points available to earn. It also keeps Barcelona unbeaten in league play with 25 wins and eight draws.
Barcelona has three league matches remaining to finish the campaign undefeated, something that has never been done in La Liga. But how realistic are their chances of doing so? Let's take a look at the remaining games and assess their chances:
Sunday, May 6th
Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, 2:45 p.m. ET
Outlook: El Clasico. A game Barca will always be up to play no matter what's on the line. It's the first game the club will play as champs, and it is at home. It's the most dangerous fixture left. Real has a busy week with Bayern Munich on Tuesday in the Champions League semis, so Barca should be the fresher team.
Likelihood of winning or drawing: Pretty likely.
Wednesday, May 9th
Barcelona vs. Villarreal, 2 p.m. ET
Outlook: Another challenging one, but Barca has no business losing to Villarreal at home. The Yellow Submarine is looking to qualify for the Europa League and will be looking to spring the upset, but this Barca is too good.
Likelihood of winning or drawing: Very likely.
Sunday, May 13
Barcelona vs. Levante, TBD
Outlook: An away game, this one is against a team that isn't going to be relegated. Will that impact how the hosts play? Similarly to Villarreal, Barca has no business losing points to an inconsistent team like Levante. This would be the match to clinch an unbeaten league season.
Likelihood of winning or drawing: Very, very likely.
No matter what happens, it's been a fantastic domestic season. Though they came up way short in the Champions League by losing in the quarterfinals, doing the domestic double is no small feat. Now, without another trophy to compete for until next season, the team can shift its focus to finishing the season undefeated. It probably won't be a talking point from the players, but it has to be on their minds. Barcelona is just 270 minutes from becoming the first unbeaten team in a major European league since Juventus in the 2011-12 Serie A season, and probably the most impressive unbeaten run in a major league since Arsenal's "Invincibles" in 2003-04, considering the recent improvement of teams in La Liga.
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