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Suárez seals Barça title
Editorial

Suárez seals Barça title

FC Barcelona are champions of Spain for the 24th time after topping Granada 3-0 on Saturday at the Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes in week 38 of the 2015-16 La Liga season.

Luis Suárez once again was the hero for the Catalonians, with his third hat-trick in four matches with goals in the 22nd, 38th and 86th minutes. With Barcelona clinging to top spot in La Liga with four matchdays left, it was Suárez who led the way forward with 12 goals in his team's final four matches, starting with four goals in Barcelona's 8-0 win over Deportivo on April 20. It was only fitting then that Suárez was the protagonist for Barcelona in Saturday's title clincher.

For Barcelona it is their fifth league title in seven seasons, and they will no look to claim a league-cup double when they face Sevilla next Sunday in the final of the Copa del Rey.

There were no surprises in manager Luis Enrique starting XI as the Asturian fielded his strongest possible lineup. From the start it was clear that Granada were going to make Barcelona work for the win, with home goalkeeper Andrés Fernández making a sensational stop on a Gerard Piqué header that looked destined for the back of the net inside the first 10 minutes.

Moments after Andrés' stop, news filtered through of Cristiano Ronaldo's goal at Riazor, meaning for the moment Barcelona were staring a second place finish. It made for a very nervy spell for Barcelona, who almost looked to be trying too hard, but finally their genius brand of football emerged, led by Neymar who played a cutting pass into Jordi Alba and the cross from the left-back found Suárez all alone at the far post. The Uruguayan had the easiest of tap-ins into the net from four yards out to hand Barcelona a 1-0 lead and regain their place atop the table.

The goal gave some relief to Barcelona, but with their lead still just a single goal there was still some anxiousness surrounding each Granada run into the Barcelona half. The Andalusians proved a feisty foe and made Barcelona work for every ball, however there was nothing the hosts could to stop Suárez from doubling the margin shortly before half-time.

Javier Mascherano looped a pass down to Dani Alves down the right flank, and just as the ball looked like it was going to cross the end line, the Brazilian adroitly curled his boot around the ball to send in a cross, which was met by a Suárez header right in front of Andrés at the near post for the goal.

Bolstered by their two-goal advantage, Barcelona looked to add a third at the start of the second half to effectively put not only the match on ice, but the celebratory champagne that was surely awaiting Luis Enrique's men in the locker room.

Still, Barcelona had to be wary of Granada, and if not for a diving stop Marc-André ter Stegen when Fran Rico was in on goal just shy of the hour mark, it could have easily been a one-goal game heading into the final half-hour.

Granada's belief grew as the second half wore on, and soon it was the home side carving out most of the scoring chances, rather than the team that was on the cusp of clinching the league title.

Yet as the minutes continued to tick away, any thoughts of a late Granada charge disappeared and slowly extinguished Real Madrid's slim hopes of a last day miracle. Barcelona defence, ridiculed all season long for their inopportune lapses, proved to be an anchor in the final 30 minutes, ensuring that there would be no "Cara de Granada" headlines across Spain on Sunday morning.

Barcelona finally sealed their championship and it only made sense for Suárez to be the one to do it, as he fired in Barcelona's third goal just minutes from time, with Neymar unselfishly placing the ball on a silver platter to score. For Suárez, the third score capped an astoundingly productive season in front of goal, as the former Liverpool man amassed a mind-numbing 40 goals during the 38-game season, putting a bow on what was a memorable campaign in Spain's top-flight.

Luis Enrique: Barcelona have overcome great difficulties to win La Liga

Luis Enrique only had positive things to say after Barcelona clinched their second successive La Liga title under his stewardship, following a 3-0 victory over Granada on the campaign's final matchday.

Three goals from Luis Suarez were enough to see the visitors home and dry, with their victory meaning that Real Madrid's 2-0 win over Deportivo was a moot point.

The coach asked for the club's supporters to value the silverware, given that it is easy to forget how taxing a league campaign is when you are accustomed to winning year upon year.

"Throughout the season we have been at a very high level," explained the Barcelona boss.

"We have been consistent across the 38 match days and I believe that it is a deserved title, because we showed that we can overcome the difficult moments.

"I am very happy for all of the fans, those close to us and the club. Now, we are going to celebrate it and think about the possibility of winning another trophy next week.

"I believe that there are only two teams in history that have won the double consecutively," he explained.

Luis Enrique also went on to speak of the club's unbelievable recent trophy-winning run, again emphasising the importance of savouring the moment.

"I believe that it is the competition that shows how your season has gone. If you win the league and have a bad year, you would lose your credibility, although I have seen everything," he added.

"You have to enjoy and value this league title, because it is hard to achieve, as you have seen.

"To win six out of the last eight league titles shows that the club clearly has a winning dynamic, and you have to appreciate this because it is very tough to achieve."

Suarez nets Pichichi award with hat-trick at Granada

Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick at Granada on Saturday to clinch the Pichichi award for the top scorer in La Liga this season.

Barcelona's 3-0 win at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes clinched a second-consecutive league title for the Catalans, as they won their final five matches to finish one point ahead of Real Madrid.

The 29-year-old scored an incredible 14 times over those five games, and finished the season with 40 goals in 35 matches.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice at Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday, but the Real Madrid striker was subbed off at halftime and finished the campaign on 35 goals.

Suarez is the first player other than Ronaldo or Lionel Messi to lead La Liga in scoring since Diego Forlan, another Uruguayan, did so in 2008/09.

He also is tied with Messi with a league-leading 16 assists.

His 40 goals will also likely be enough to earn him his second European Golden Shoe award in three seasons, as Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain and Benfica's Jonas would need seven and nine goals, respectively, to catch the Blaugrana striker.

In his first two seasons at the Catalan club, Suarez scored 83 goals in 95 matches, more than the 82 goals he had in three seasons at Liverpool.

Messi, Suarez and Neymar lead from the front

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar have taken Barcelona to a second straight La Liga title with their incredible contributions in attack.

Barcelona's run to the title was far from a straightforward one with Luis Enrique's side having widely been seen as the best team before the campaign began.

For the first half of the season this was proven to be true with the Catalan giants swatting away all teams that stood before them.

They appeared to have built an unassailable lead at the top before the team hit a rough patch.

It is when these rough patches hit that you need your big players to drag you out and back into calmer waters.

This is exactly what the MSN trio did at the Camp Nou this season.

The attackers have yet again scored over 100 goals combined in a season, numbers that have never before been registered with such consistency.

Aside from the obvious benefits of their goalscoring ability, the trio manage to play with a style that is synonymous with Barcelona.

Their technical ability as individuals is beyond reproach whilst their speed on the counter-attack has added an extra string to the bow left by Pep Guardiola.

Messi has taken the role vacated by Xavi as the team's lead playmaker with the Argentine's passing having improved yet further this term.

His goal tally may not be as astounding as in recent years but Messi has provided countless assists for his two attacking partners.

Arguably the most impressive aspect of the trio is the way one will step up if the other is absent or not performing.

Neymar carried Barcelona whilst Messi was missing at the beginning of the year whilst Suarez has taken the reigns whilst the Brazilian has wavered under debilitating pressure.

The Uruguayan will also take the Pichichi, becoming the first player other than Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to lift the award since Diego Forlan.

The front three have been phenomenal all season and given there is little sign of them slowing down and it will take a herculean effort next season for a team to wrestle the title from Barcelona.

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