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Barcelona delighted after crossing title line

Published: Thursday 12 May 2011, 0.16CET
Josep Guardiola said FC Barcelona "have an obligation" to enjoy retaining the Liga title after finally shaking off the challenge of a Real Madrid CF team who have pushed them hard all season.
by Paul Bryan
from Madrid
Barcelona delighted after crossing title line
Daniel Alves celebrates after Barcelona sealed the Liga title ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 12 May 2011, 0.16CET

Barcelona delighted after crossing title line

Josep Guardiola said FC Barcelona "have an obligation" to enjoy retaining the Liga title after finally shaking off the challenge of a Real Madrid CF team who have pushed them hard all season.

FC Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola said that he and his players would be "singing, drinking, laughing and dancing" in the days ahead after the Azulgrana secured the final point they needed to win their 21st Liga title.

With closest rivals Real Madrid CF trailing by five points prior to kick-off on Wednesday, Barcelona knew a draw against Levante UD would suffice for a third consecutive championship with two games to spare.

Seydou Keita's 28th-minute header at the Estadi Ciutat de València got the celebrations under way and despite Felipe Caicedo's equaliser before the break, the Catalan club held on to claim the all-important result. "There was a lot of anxiety out there as we just wanted to get the title done and dusted," an ecstatic Guardiola said.

"We were spectacular for three-quarters of the season with a lot of high-scoring wins and wonderful play. In the last quarter we stuttered a bit and weren't as inspired in front of goal but overall we have been very competitive while also challenging in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey."

Through it all, Madrid have been a constant threat. Yet it was during the first of the teams' five encounters this campaign, in late November, that the Blaugrana left their rivals stunned with a 5-0 Liga win at the Camp Nou.

"We competed with a great team this term," Guardiola continued. "In fact, we must really value this triumph taking into account the rival we had in front of us. Winning a fifth title in six years has a lot of merit.
We will celebrate this great victory with our people, with family and friends, but also out on the streets. It's our obligation to enjoy this."

Admitting he felt some concern at the start of the season when he welcomed back players who had helped Spain lift the FIFA World Cup, the 40-year-old went on to say he could only salute the achievements of his "tireless" performers.

"We came into this term on the back of a World Cup and we didn't know how we would respond," he added. "That was the mystery: how would we react? Would we still have that eagerness to compete? In that respect the players have given a lesson, an example. To win takes so much. We are immensely happy."

Xavi Hernández – who became the club's record appearance holder this season – was also in jubilant mood as he celebrated his sixth Liga title with Barcelona. "Every one of them has felt good, including this one as you can see," the 31-year-old midfielder said. "This is a great team and I'd like to offer my thanks to everyone involved."

Scorer of 31 league goals in 2010/11, Lionel Messi explained that victory had "cost a huge amount of hard work", especially "against a big rival like Real Madrid". Now, though, he and his team-mates were finally "ready to enjoy the party".

Last updated: 12/05/11 11.22CET

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