Barcelona lifted the La Liga title for the 26th time, when they defeated Levante narrowly 1-0 on Saturday at Camp Nou, courtesy a Lionel Messi strike.
Barcelona were crowned the champions of the 2018-19 La Liga season, when they beat Levante 1-0, with club captain Lionel Messi making the difference coming on from the bench.
Barcelona needed a victory on Saturday to seal consecutive title triumphs and they started the game strongly, dominating territory and possession, but failed to convert that into goals.
Philippe Coutinho was denied thrice in the first period by Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez, while the Brazilian also rattled the crossbar as both teams went into the break with no goals. Luis Suarez too had an effort saved by the Levante stopper, who seemed determined to delay Barcelona’s title celebrations.
Messi was introduced at half-time in place of Coutinho and the substitution proved to be an inspired one as the Argentine superstar got the only goal of the game, beating Aitor with a lovely effort into the bottom corner. Levante reacted strongly, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen being forced into making a save from Borja Mayoral.
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Enis Bardhi seemed to have pulled it back for the visitors in the dying stages of the match, but Barcelona were relieved to see his shot bounce off the woodwork, allowing them to lift the title on home soil. On what was a memorable night for the Catalans, here is how we rated their performances.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 7/10
The German international had very little to do for most parts. Showed good alertness to keep Mayoral out in the second period and was at hand to deny a couple more headers from close-range. Beaten by Bardhi’s strike, but the post came to his rescue.
Nelson Semedo: 6/10
Starting ahead of Sergi Roberto at right-back, the Portuguese defender had a fairly solid game without really standing out. Steady at the back for large phases, barring a couple of iffy moments and was an outlet going forward as well. However, will probably lose his place to Roberto for the big game against Liverpool in a few days.
Gerard Pique: 7/10
Another commanding display from Barcelona’s defensive leader as he hardly put a foot wrong and kept the Levante forwards at bay for most of the game, while he was always eager to drive upfield and join in attack. Did seem to take the eye off the ball on a couple of occasions late on, but came out unscathed.
Clement Lenglet: 6.5/10
Back into the starting lineup in place of Samuel Umtiti, the Frenchman came close to breaking the deadlock early on, but saw his header drift wide. Composed and solid at the back, but looked rather nervy towards the end as Levante pressed in search of an equaliser.
Jordi Alba: 6.5/10
Not the best of the nights for Barcelona’s first-choice left-back. Was his usual marauding self on the left-hand side and combined well with Coutinho to cause problems to the opposition. Not all that solid at the back, though, and had a few sloppy moments that went unpunished.
Arturo Vidal: 8/10
Another game where the Chilean was the heart of the Barcelona midfield. Ran around with tremendous energy, pressing the opposition, regaining possession and starting out attacks. Always wanting to get on the ball, he used it smartly and got the assist for Messi’s goal, before testing the goalkeeper himself. An incredible eighth league title in row for Vidal (4 with Juventus and 3 with Bayern Munich).
Ivan Rakitic: 6.5/10
Returning to the lineup after the Alaves match, the Croatian international slotted in the defensive midfield position in Sergio Busquets’ absence and kept things tight and organised. Worked hard off the ball and came close to scoring after the break with a curling effort from the edge of the area.
Arthur Melo: 6/10
Was Barcelona’s conductor in the midfield as he directed play forward with some incisive passes to create openings, with one pass to set Coutinho on goal being a particular highlight. Faded as the game wore on, though, and was taken off. Hasn’t played the full ninety minutes for 16 matches now.
Ousmane Dembele: 6.5/10
A very lively performance from the Frenchman as he caused all sorts of problems to the Levante defence each time he ran at them with the ball, but the end product wasn’t always there. Was involved in the lead-up to the only goal of the game and his movement was sharp throughout, which bodes well ahead of the Liverpool encounter.
Luis Suarez: 6/10
Could have had a couple of goals very early in the game, but his finishing seemed to be off the radar on the night. Nevertheless worked very hard, leading the line with great gusto and energy.
Philippe Coutinho: 7/10
May have played for just 45 minutes, but this was one of his most impressive performances of the season for Barcelona. Had five opportunities to score in the first period, but was denied by Aitor Fernandez on four occasions, while the crossbar prevented his brilliant free-kick from going in. Will have done his confidence a world of good ahead of the meeting against his former club.
Lionel Messi: 8/10
Thrown on for Coutinho at half-time. Made the difference for Barcelona. His introduction added a spark in Barcelona’s gameplay in the final third. And when needed, he stepped with the defining moment of the game, netting the goal that secured the win and title for Barcelona.
Came close to scoring a second and created a chance for Vidal as well. It is his tenth La Liga title with Barcelona and it was fitting that he scored the goal that sealed it.
Sergio Busquets: N/A
Came on for Arthur in the 73rd minute as Barcelona looked to see out the game.
Sergi Roberto: N/A
Replaced Dembele with less than ten minutes on the clock.