Real Madrid are champions of Spain once again.
With goals from Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema, as well as a brace courtesy of Rodrygo, Los Blancos wrapped up the La Liga crown with an emphatic 4-0 win over Espanyol on Saturday.
Truth be told, the La Liga trophy has looked destined for the Bernabeu for a long time now with even the sizeable blip of the 4-0 defeat in El Clasico barely damaging their title charge.
Real Madrid win La Liga
The simple fact of the matter is that the unexpected drop-off from Real‘s traditional title rivals left the door wide open for Carlo Ancelotti to complete his set of league crowns in each of Europe’s top five divisions.
And it’s the third consecutive season that the La Liga crown has taken residence in the Spanish capital with Atletico Madrid’s 2020/21 triumph now sandwiched between two wins from Real.
As such, the jubilant scenes at the Bernabeu on Saturday now mean that it’s been three seasons since Barcelona were able to brand themselves as the best male team in Spain.
And while that might not sound particularly note-worthy given all of Barca’s struggles in recent years, it’s certainly eyebrow-raising when you consider all their domestic success in previous campaigns.
Man City 4-3 Real Madrid Match Reaction (Football Terrace)
The days of Barcelona’s La Liga dominance
Its easy to forget that a time where the Blaugrana were hoovering up La Liga titles like they were going out of fashion was in full swing just a few years ago.
In fact, you’d be forgiven for wondering if Real and Atletico’s dominance of the last three seasons has made the Camp Nou faithful think that they took the club’s success in La Liga for granted.
At least, you might get that impression if you remember a speech that Lionel Messi made to Barcelona fans ahead of the 2019/20 season in which he directly spoke about the club’s La Liga wins.
Messi’s speech to Barcelona fans in 2019
Addressing supporters at the Joan Gamper Trophy clash with Arsenal, Messi looked back at the 2018/19 campaign that became notorious for the 4-0 collapse at Liverpool in the Champions League.
However, while not shying away from the club’s European capitulation, the Barcelona captain was keen to articulate that the La Liga victory of that very same season shouldn’t be underestimated.
And while that might have been lost on fans who were baying for Champions League glory at the time, it most certainly rings true now as Barcelona find it increasingly hard to top the Spanish league.
According to a translation by Goal, Messi remarked during his increasingly-poignant monologue: “It’s hard to say something after last season, but I don’t regret anything.
“But I have no doubt that together we are going to fight again for everything. We won eight League titles in 11 years. We do not give it the value it deserves but over the years we will see how difficult it was.
Messi was right 😕— 🪄🇳🇱 (@FDJChief) October 4, 2021
“This club fights for everything and this year will be no different. We have renewed dreams. Visca Barca and Visca Catalunya!”
A tough pill for Barcelona to swallow
That hits hard now, doesn’t it?
Between the decade-spanning period of the 2008/09 and 2018/19 seasons, Barcelona won every single La Liga campaign barring two Real Madrid wins (2011/12 and 2016/17) and one Atletico triumph (2013/14).
Now, Barcelona have lost as many La Liga crowns in the last three seasons as they did in the 11 campaigns before that, perfectly illustrating Messi’s point that their achievements will look more impressive with age.
After all, it really does feel as though that obsession with the Champions League – perpetuated by the crushing AS Roma and Liverpool defeats – really did take the shine off undoubtedly impressive league wins.
The reality of the situation is that Barcelona would be delighted to conquer Spain next season, and perhaps feeling the gravity of a La Liga win once again would be a really positive thing for the club.
So, all these years on and you can’t help feeling as though Messi predicted the future, but now Barcelona have to take stock of his words and try to make a success of said future without said Messi.