super barca seal la liga
MADRID - Barcelona swagger and eye-catching football wins them league title.
To take them there, coach Pep Guardiola defied his inexperience using the attacking talents of Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto'o to perfection to a 19th league title.
Barca led for most of the season and their attacking style drew comparisons with Johan Cruyff's "Dream Team", in which Guardiola played.
Guardiola, a former Barca midfielder, replaced Frank Rijkaard at the young age of 37 and was pitted against Real's far more experienced coach Bernd Schuster.
The rivals began by losing their opening matches, with promoted Numancia defeating Barca 1-0 while Real lost 2-1 at bogey side Deportivo La Coruna.
Barca's winning of one point from a possible six represented their worst start since the 1973/74 campaign while Real defeat of Numancia gave them an early edge, but from there on it would be the former who set the pace, winning nine games in a row.
A rejuvenated Eto'o scored four goals in the first half during a 6-0 thrashing of Valladolid in early November.
With 12 games gone Real hit a rocky patch losing derby rivals Getafe and Sevilla.
In contrast Barca cruised past Sevilla (3-0) and Valencia (4-0) to open up a nine-point gap ahead of "El Clasico" at Camp Nou in mid-December.
Then Schuster tempted fate by saying Real had no chance of beating Barcelona. They lost, and he was sacked.
Replacing him, Juande Ramos had a baptism of fire with his first league match against Barcelona at Camp Nou.
Eto'o and Messi fired a goal apiece to seal a 2-0 win as Barca opened up a 12-point gap at the top in mid-December.
At the halfway stage Barca set a new record of 50 points, beating the previous best of 47 points set by Real last season.
Then Ramos got Real's groove back going 18 games unbeaten but they came off their cloud when key defender Pepe was suspended for ten games for violent conduct.
The second Clasico pretty much sealed it for Barca who gave their rivals a 6-2 masterclass.
"We gave a footballing lesson in one of our best displays of the season," said midfielder Xavi.
It was sweet revenge after Barca had to perform the guard of honour at the Bernabeu to salute Real as champions before crashing to a 4-1 defeat last season.
This time, a demoralised Real waved the white flag with a 3-0 defeat at Valencia, then they did Barca a huge favour by losing at Villarreal on Saturday to surrender the league championship with very little fuss. AFP