Xavi lifts his first title as Barça coach in a season marred by refereeing payoffs

Barça win Negreira's league title and make fans more anaesthetised

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photo_camera REUTERS/ALBERT GEA - FC Barcelona players celebrate winning La Liga.

Barça lifted their 27th league title at the home of their great rivals in Catalonia, Espanyol of Barcelona. A club that has lost its identity and that has gone in a few years from stealing a league title from Barça and handing it to Real Madrid with that goal by Tamudo, to bleeding between the First and Second Divisions without any reference points to lead the way. 

The league that Barça has won serves to anaesthetise a fan base, a board of directors and players who do not want to be aware of the reality they have been living in since the rugs were pulled up on Bartomeu's management years ago. The decline began the day Ernesto Valverde left the dugout and alerts of the good life that was lived on the sidelines surfaced. 

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REUTERS/NACHO DOCE - FC Barcelona victory parade after La Liga win

Messi's departure humanised Barcelona. The Argentine star asked to leave and got it a season later while warning, in the few interviews he gave, of the loss of competitiveness of a team that was wandering around Europe.  

Joan Laporta was delighted to see madridismo again, but he did not expect an avowed madridista like Javier Tebas, president of LaLiga, to bring order to the Catalan club's accounts to avoid total bankruptcy. 

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AFP/ LLUIS GENE - Barcelona President Joan Laporta

Barça lifted LaLiga with many more people than expected on the streets of Barcelona. A symptom that they have seen too many Real Madrid Champions League titles on TV and that the last two years playing in the Europa League still hurt. 

The blue-and-white smokescreen behind that title is a season marked by a string of payments to the former vice-president of the Technical Committee of Referees, Enriquez Negreira, for more than 20 years; a war economy that has even taken the club's official channel by storm; suspicious remodelling work at Camp Nou that involves banishment to Montjuic and the shadow of Messi that, for the moment, has already forced Mateu Alemany to jump ship. 

Xavi has won 11 games by 1-0 in La Liga alone and with a game that is far from that of Guardiola's Barça, a mirror image of the Catalan coach, but which has been enough to leave Real Madrid a long way behind and to lay the foundations of a project that will falter again this summer

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AFP/LLUIS GENE - Barcelona's Spanish coach, Xavi Hernández

The "cheap league" thing annoyed Xavi, but it is no more than a reminder that Real Madrid resigned in November from contesting it and Atlético Madrid were late to the fray because they did not find their game early. With Lewandowski, Raphinha, Pedri, Gavi or Ter Stegen alongside Busquets, Alba or Araújo, Barça were bound to fight for La Liga, even to show their faces in Europe, but the price of the title is paid by all the teams in a boring competition that loses steam with insufferable matches. 

Negreira did not give Barça this league, we will never know what he could have done for the azulgrana years ago, but the stain will remain forever. If the past always returns, the future is no less flattering for a club that all it can offer its fans is a pilgrimage to an icy stadium with the sole argument of watching Messi. Carpe Diem.

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