Season Review: Barcelona

Barcelona completed a domestic league and Champions League double as they cruised to a third successive Primera Division title, successfully fending off a challenge from Real Madrid, before winning their fourth European Cup with a stunning performance to see off Manchester United in the final at Wembley.

Domestically, the Catalan giants were favourites from the start and rarely failed to deliver playing a style of football that has become their undeniable trademark. A shock home defeat to newly-promoted Hercules was followed by a thumping 5-0 win in the first El Clasico encounter of the season at the Camp Nou at the end of November. The defeat to Hercules started an unbeaten run of 31 games, smashing the record set by the team of the early 1970s that included a certain Johan Cruyff.

After setting their sights on the all-time La Liga record set by Real Sociedad, their unbeaten streak was, rather ironically, ended by the Basques as Guardiola’s charges succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at end of an extremely busy April: only their second of the entire league season. In the process, Barca won sixteen games on the bounce, an amazing maximum of 48 points. The achievement set yet another record and broke the previous record set by the Real Madrid side of the 1960s that boasted stars like Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas.

Scoring records have also tumbled: Lionel Messi’s tally of 53 goals in all competitions was the highest ever by a Barcelona player and, even more impressively, accounted for just over a third of the Catalans’ 152 goals over the course of the season. At the other end, goalkeeper Victor Valdes can boast a breathtaking ratio of conceding a little over a goal every two games. In 38 games, Valdes has conceded 24 goals compared to nearest rival Iker Casillas of Real Madrid who conceded 35.

In Europe, Barca returned to the scene of their first European cup triumph and were crowned Kings of Europe for the second time in three years, their fourth overall. A scintillating performance from la Blaugrana saw them run out 3-1 winners against English champions Manchester United. They had reached Wembley after a gruelling semi-final encounter with rivals Real Madrid that formed part of a sequence of four Clasicos in just over a fortnight.

The club’s motto is M

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