FC Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola paid special tribute to his players after they celebrated clinching the club's second successive league title with a 4-0 triumph over Real Valladolid CF at Camp Nou.
Setting new standards in Spain, Barcelona finished top of the table with 99 points, seven more than the previous best achieved by Fabio Capello's Real Madrid CF in 1996/97. Los Merengues also surpassed that mark this term but ultimately finished three points off the pace in second after Manuel Pellegrini's charges could only draw 1-1 away to Málaga CF on the last day of the season.
Speaking to a packed house at Barça's famous stadium, Guardiola assured the ecstatic home crowd that they had witnessed something out of the ordinary over the previous nine months. "We won't see the likes of these players again; they are truly exceptional," said the former Spain international, who took over in 2008. "They have the ability to make the impossible look easy."
Then, having thanked the supporters "for being so generous and for getting behind us in every game", the coach spoke of the one regret he admitted still nags away at him: the club's failure to reach this season's UEFA Champions League final. "To be honest we owe you one; we should have been [in Madrid] next Saturday for the final."
Joining in on the title celebrations, captain Carles Puyol added that there could be "only one winner", but offered a pat on the back to rivals Madrid for "completing a great season". The defender also stressed that the key to Barça's triumph was "the team spirit and togetherness in our dressing room".
Madrid coach Pellegrini, meanwhile, lamented the fact that a trophyless season took away from what he believed was an impressive campaign from his players. "Obviously we can't say it's been a good year if we don't have a title to show for it, but in reality it's been an extraordinary term," the Chilean tactician explained. "We knew it was going to be difficult to win the Liga – especially against a great Barcelona side – but it's not easy to achieve the figures we have. All I can say is that we need to work harder in order to correct mistakes and reduce the gap next time."
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