A 4-2 win over local rivals RCD Espanyol away at Cornella El-Prat on Sunday night helped Barcelona become the champions of La Liga for the 2022/23 season.
The Blaugrana have enjoyed an excellent campaign in the Spanish top flight this season. And even though there had been one or two missteps over the past month, they never let go of their advantage at the top and finally sealed the title triumph last night.
Goals from Robert Lewandowski (two), Alejandro Balde, and Jules Kounde ensured that the Catalans were well on their way to a historic win although there were late consolation strikes for the hosts from Javi Puado and Joselu.
It is the first time that Barcelona have won the La Liga title after 2019 and club legend and manager Xavi Hernandez was absolutely ecstatic after leading the team to the much-coveted trophy.
“It’s not Xavi’s league, it’s Barça’s league, of a team that is growing, beginning a new era and the players have been vital, I’m just here to guide them,” Xavi said after the match.
“And also thanks to the work of the president and the club, who made a great effort, and Mateu and Jordi, who have done a great job too,” he added.
Despite having a healthy lead over second-placed Real Madrid, Xavi insisted that he never believed that the title was Barça’s until the half-time against Espanyol, at which point they were three goals ahead.
“Until today at half-time I didn’t see myself as a champion, as long as there were no distractions after the break,” he said.
The 43-year-old returned to the club at a time when things were not going very well on the pitch. Having undertaken a massive rebuild project, Xavi said that the La Liga title triumph indicates things are headed in the right direction, although insisted that there is unfinished business in Europe.
“This means that we are doing things very well, this gives us stability, we still have the unfinished business of Europe. This is a team, that’s the word I would underline. This gives us calm for the future,” the Barcelona manager insisted.
There were unsavoury incidents after full-time at the stadium as Espanyol fans rushed onto the pitch to prevent Barcelona players from celebrating their triumph. The Blaugrana stars were forced to run back to the dressing room as things escalated.
Talking about the incident, Xavi said that he did not see the pitch invasion, and added that he preferred to celebrate within the dressing room.
“We weren’t at home, you have to be respectful, but it’s normal to celebrate the league after ten months, I preferred to celebrate inside,” he stated.
Crediting the players for the success, he added: “The players are the great architects of this league, it is a title that gives us stability to believe in the project, we have been a team, a family, in a league that has been fantastic.”
“The family, friends, and all the staff, there have been difficult moments that we have lived through together.”
Highlighting what stood out for him the most in his Barcelona team, Xavi said: “The players have prioritised teamwork over individuality, that’s what I’m most proud of. And in many moments we have played very good football.”
“We have won La Liga and the Super Cup, two titles,” he added.
On the performance that the players put in against Espanyol, Xavi said: “It was the moment, we had to be brilliant, at times we played a superb game…. Also the criticism this week and people saying that we hadn’t trained, also weighed on us. It was the ideal scenario, a derby, and I’m very happy.”
“For the players, for the club, for the president, the objective was to win titles and we have won the league with four games to go and that means that we have been far superior, very much so.”
The former club captain then insisted that the change to a four-man midfield tactic was a major turning point in the season for Barcelona, saying:
“The change to four midfielders was key, that’s how I understand football, it belongs to the midfielders.”
On how he felt after winning the La Liga title in his first full season as the manager of Barcelona, Xavi replied: “It gives me stability and credibility. I’m proud to coach these players and it gives me a lot of satisfaction.”