Xavi Hernandez lifted the domestic league trophy in front of the adoring Camp Nou on Saturday in what was an emotional farewell to the most influential midfielder in the Catalans' history. Although Cules are obviously delighted to be celebrating their 23rd Liga title, their team has been forced to overcome plenty of adversity to reach their objective.
1. The deadly Lionel Messi-Luis Suarez-Neymar trident
After years of being left to carry the team's goal-scoring responsibility solely on his shoulders, Messi made a more decisive effort to get his attacking teammates involved this season. No longer hugely concerned about reaching individual records, the diminutive Argentinean was prepared to share the spotlight with Brazilian youngster Neymar and last season's Golden Boot winner, Luis Suarez.
Many were worried that the No.10 would be unable to modify his own game to accommodate both South American forwards to the team after years of calling the shots at the Camp Nou. Nothing could have been more further from the truth. In fact, La Pulga was eager to help them adapt to their new environment as quickly as possible for the overall benefit of the team.
And he succeeded, as proved by the almost instinctive understanding the trio have now built both on and off the pitch. Once again, it was proof that successful teams are not only built on raw talent and dedication, but also on strong relationships between its members.
Numbers never lie. Although this hasn't been Messi's best goal-scoring season, he has found the net an incredible 43 times in La Liga and contributed with 17 assists for others. Thanks to his improved connection with the No.10, Neymar has completed his best league campaign at Barca with 22 goals and seven assists. With Messi mainly positioned as a right winger, reference striker Suarez made an instant impact as soon as he was eligible to play in late October, ending the competition with a remarkable 16 goals and nine assists in 27 appearances.
The 'MSN' attacking trident have delivered fantastic attacking performances on a weekly basis, terrorising rival defences with ease and leaving markers shaking their heads in disbelief. Cules have witnessed three world-class strikers putting their individual interests aside in order to allow their partnership to grow into the most effective in over 115 years of history - and what a privilege it has been.The trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez romped to unparalleled success in 2014-15.
2. Newcomers making an instant impact
Barcelona invested a record €157 million in the summer to reinforce a squad that had been in alarming decline for a couple of seasons. Although Blaugrana president Josep Maria Bartomeu decided to sack him immediately following the 1-0 defeat in Anoeta in early January, the results tell us that former sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta did get some of his decisions right.
Although the signing of perennial substitute Douglas Pereira and the injury-prone Thomas Vermaelen are still inexplicable, Barca have won the league thanks to the invaluable contribution of Claudio Bravo between the posts, the brilliance of Ivan Rakitic in midfield and the many goal-scoring chances Suarez has created for both others and himself upfront - all transfers finalised by the Basque director.
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