Real Madrid won their first La Liga title in three years, opening an unconquerable seven-point gap over Barça with just a game to play. Quique Setién’s side were outclassed in their dismal 2-1 defeat by Osasuna at the Camp Nou on Thursday night.
Lionel Messi and co knew before the game that anything other than three points would almost certainly hand the domestic title to their arch-rivals Real Madrid should Los Blancos defeat Villarreal in the Spanish capital.
Former Barça B youngster José Arnaiz stunned Setien’s side inside 15 minutes as the 25-year-old came back to pour misery on the Catalan giants and net against his former club.
Messi equalised on 62 minutes with a sublime freekick in off the post leaving goalkeeper Sergio Herrera with no chance.
The visitors later had Enric Gallego sent off for elbowing Clément Lenglet, and as Barça were looking for the win and sent bodies forward into the opposing box right at the death, Osasuna hit the Blaugrana on the break and Kike Barja picked out Roberto Torres from the right, who comfortably slotted past a helpless Marc-André ter Stegen on 94 minutes to send the away side into raptures and claim all three points. The first away side to win at Camp Nou since 2018.
Here are five things we learned from the match…
Lionel Messi nets again and looks to be on course for the golden shoe
It’s fair to say that Messi looked out of sorts throughout the game and with speculation regarding his future at the club and ongoing problems behind the scenes, it was evident in his performance.
One positive for the Argentinian forward was his spectacular freekick, which was his 23rd goal of the current campaign, having played a total of 2790 minutes thus far. His finish meant it lifted him two ahead of Los Blancos’ Karim Benzema in the goalscoring charts for this season.
Barça have relied on the phenomenon throughout the season too much and it has reflected in the players’ performances and ultimately cost them from reaching the finish line in first position.
FC Barcelona have never recovered from their Anfield horrorshow
Many Barça fans will never have heard of the name Trent Alexander Arnold before they rocked up at the World champions’ Cauldron last season for the second-leg of the Champions League tie against Liverpool. It was the quick thinking scouser who provided the killer corner pass to Divock Origi to secure that all-important fourth goal as Barça were caught out.
Just when FC Barcelona thought the impossible couldn’t be made possible, they flattered to deceive in front of a hostile Anfield crowd that swallowed them up, as the Reds rocked them, and former manager Ernesto Valverde could only turn away in despair.
The result on the night came two years too soon for the Catalan giants it seems, and a 2-1 defeat against Valencia in the Copa del Rey then added further misery, on what was going to end up with turbulent times moving forward.
José Arnaiz haunts his old club and helps to hand Real Madrid the La Liga title
Just when Barça didn’t think it could get any worse, when a former player in Arnaiz nets to help hand their bitter rivals the La Liga, it was a nail in Catalan giants’ coffin. The 25-year-old only made one appearance on the Camp Nou turn between 2017-18 before he was surplus to requirements at the end of the campaign.
The fiesty left-winger, who is on-loan at Osasuna from Leganés was a constant threat throughout. But it was a credit to whole away side who starved Barça and stopped them from finding the key to unlock the barn door which was in front of them due to Osasuna’s two banks of four.
Time for a change with Setién, the board and most of the playing staff’s futures in doubt
It’s the end of an era for FC Barcelona. If there were three words to describe what there has been a lack of throughout the last two seasons it would be: hunger, attitude and desire.
All need to stand up and be counted, that’s a fact. It is unfair to solely blame Barca’s form and current situation on one single person – it has come from a collective. Eyebrows were raised when Valverde was sacked and replaced by Setién, the latter who hasn’t won a trophy in his career as a manager. His assistant Eder Sarabia has also seen himself land in hot water, with the media reporting stars have been unsettled by his management style, which has also played a part.
That said, it also stems from above, and president Josep Maria Bartomeu will most likely move on for former chief and front runner Joan Laporta, with the bookmakers suggesting he will be elected to take the club forward and in a different direction. Eric Abidal, whose recruitment has been slipshod since he was brought in, could well depart at the end of the campaign, should a new manager be brought in.
Virtually all of the current crop could well depart in the summer with the exceptions of ter Stegen, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong and Messi, and even the man himself could well have other ideas following his sides two dismal campaigns.
Beating Napoli now looking out of reach
It could be the first time the club hasn’t won a trophy in a full season, with the Champions League there only chance of claiming silverware.
The Italians head to Camp Nou in high spirits following their 1-1 draw with Setién’s side in the first leg at the Stadio San Paolo.
Despite sitting in sixth place in Serie A, Napoli have plenty of talent with the likes of the experienced Belgium international Dries Mertens in their ranks, who netted in the previous clash between the sides back in February.
It could well be an uphill battle should Barcelona look to progress to the quarter-finals, let alone if they are eyeing their sixth Champions League title. If they pull it off against Napoli then Bavarian giants and this years Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich stand in their way. On this showing, Barça’s season could end earlier than anticipated.