Barca close in on eighth La Liga title in 11 years
Barcelona are on the cusp of retaining the La Liga title after a hard-fought 2-1 win over Real Sociedad at the Nou Camp yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Goals from Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba restored their nine-point lead at the top of the table, after nearest rivals Atletico Madrid won 1-0 at Eibar.
French centre-back Lenglet scored his first league goal for the Catalans with a crashing header from Ousmane Dembele's corner at the end of the first half to break the deadlock against the stubborn visitors.
Sociedad were rewarded for their strong showing when Juanmi equalised in the 62nd minute, sliding in to meet an incisive pass from Mikel Merino and diverting it past Barca's Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
But Barca hit back almost immediately when Lionel Messi picked out Alba, who cut in from the left wing and produced a magnificent curling finish into the top corner.
The Catalans will be crowned champions if they beat Alaves on Wednesday morning (Singapore time) and Atletico lose to Valencia the following day.
Coach Ernesto Valverde had named three changes to the team that outclassed Manchester United 3-0 last week to reach the Champions League semi-finals and, initially, it looked as if they were still recovering from their exploits.
"Today was a little bit harder, we just made a huge effort (against United) but we tried to play the same way and, in the second half, we were a little better," said Alba.
"The team are responding very well, we want to be champions as soon as possible."
Securing their eighth La Liga title in 11 years early would help them focus on next month's two-legged semi-finals with Liverpool. - AFP
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now