Our Superiority Gave Us 25th La Liga Title – Messi

Lionel Messi revelled in Barcelona’s seventh La Liga title in 10 seasons on Sunday, saying his team were “far superior” to their domestic rivals during their double-winning campaign.

The Argentinian star scored a brilliant 30th La Liga hat-trick as Barca survived a scare to beat Deportivo La Coruna 4-2, wrapping up the club’s 25th league title with four matches to spare and keeping their hopes of an unbeaten season alive.

“We have been far superior to our rivals, we haven’t lost a match during the whole season,” Messi told Barcelona’s in-house television channel.

“It’s a very special Liga in that sense because we haven’t lost a single match. We’ve had some tough times and we’ve overcome everything without losing, which is unbelievable.”

Regaining the top-flight crown from Real Madrid also secured Barcelona their third double in four years after thrashing Sevilla 5-0 in last weekend’s Copa del Rey final.

The only blemish on their season was a stunning Champions League quarter-final loss to Roma when they blew a 4-1 first-leg lead to be dumped out at the Stadio Olimpico.

“We lost just one in the Cup and disappointingly another in the Champions League,” added Messi, who leads the La Liga scoring charts with 32 goals this term.

“That was an unexpected result in view of our shape. But we take a lot of merit to win a title as difficult as this without losing a game.”

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also paid tribute to captain Andres Iniesta.

The 33-year-old midfielder came off the bench in the 87th minute at Deportivo to make his 670th Barcelona appearance just two days after announcing that he will leave the club at the end of the season.

“It’s a shame for us and the club, but he deserved to go like that,” said Messi.

“We deplore what happened in the Champions League, it prevented him from going out with a treble, but he’s leaving in an impressive fashion.

“This double is more than deserved for Andres, for all he has given to this club. I am very happy for him and wish him all the best.”

AFP

Messi Hat-trick Seals Barca’s 25th Title In Style

Barcelona claimed their 25th La Liga title on Sunday as a Lionel Messi hat-trick secured a thrilling 4-2 victory at Deportivo La Coruna that wrapped up the league with four matches to spare.

Ernesto Valverde’s men completed a league and cup double after thrashing Sevilla 5-0 in last week’s Copa del Rey final, regaining the Spanish crown from Real Madrid and relegating Deportivo in the process.

The only blip on the Catalans’ season was the stunning Champions League quarter-final loss at Roma when they blew a 4-1 first-leg lead.

“We have managed an almost perfect league campaign, without losing so far. I hope we can continue,” midfielder Sergio Busquets told Spanish broadcaster Movistar.

“This season was very good, almost excellent. The Champions League is a regret but we managed a double, it’s fantastic.”

Barca knew they just had to extend their record unbeaten streak to 41 La Liga matches to seal a seventh title in 10 seasons, and Philippe Coutinho fired them into an early lead.

Messi’s 38th-minute volley made it two, but Lucas Perez pulled one back for Deportivo before half-time and Turkish winger Emre Colak stunned Barca with an equaliser midway through the second period.

Barca finally saw off their stubborn hosts, though, as Messi pounced after a brilliant one-two with Luis Suarez before slotting in to complete his 30th La Liga treble.

The Catalan giants now hold an unassailable 11-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid, who have just three games to play, and are closing in on becoming the first Spanish side to go through a top-flight season without tasting defeat.

Andres Iniesta was surprisingly left on the bench after the midfield great announced earlier this week that he will leave the club at the end of the season.

But it was his expected long-term successor Coutinho who broke the deadlock in the seventh minute, bending an exquisite finish into the top corner for his third La Liga goal for the club since signing from Liverpool in January.

Deportivo had to win to stave off relegation for another week, but Clarence Seedorf’s men were denied an equaliser when Perez was flagged offside after tapping in from close range.

Messi went close to doubling the advantage just before the half-hour mark, only for home goalkeeper Ruben to pull off an excellent one-handed save to turn his free-kick around the post.

AFP

I’m Open To LaLiga Stay, Says Etebo

Super Eagles’ and Las Palmas midfielder, Oghenekharo Etebo has described the LaLiga as the greatest League in the world, saying he is open to a stay, AOIFootball.com reports.
The on-loan CD Feirense of Portugal midfielder, who disclosed this to AOIFootball.com exclusively from his base, added that the league has helped improve his game.
“The experience in LaLiga has been a massive one for me; after the World Cup, if I get an offer from here I will definitely consider it because it is the best league in the world.
“It was unfortunate I could not save Las Palmas from the drop but you know it’s a collective work. I tried my best but I guess somethings just happen like that,” Etebo concluded.
Etebo has featured 11 times for Las Palmas since joining on loan in the winter, including an eye-catching performance against a Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona where he was arguably Las Palmas’ best player on the pitch.

 LaLiga Unveils New Headquarters In Madrid, Invites Nigerian Ambassador Ojukwu

LaLiga has unveiled its new headquarters with an official event attended by series of diplomats, LaLiga Santander and LaLiga 1|2|3 club presidents, competition sponsors, LaLiga ambassadors, and other representatives of Spanish sport.

After a long-standing headquarters at Calle Hernandez de Tejada 10 for more than 25 years now, LaLiga continues to grow by moving its head office to Calle Torrelaguna 60 in Madrid, marching onwards to a new “stadium” where the association’s workforce can carry on working day in, day out for the benefit of the clubs, and on the internationalisation of professional football in Spain.

The new LaLiga office provides a new home for all of those people with the same likeness and undying passion for football. They feature modern open spaces with a design inspired by the history, legends, and values of the Spain as a nation. The philosophy underlying the “stadium” is based on the idea that there is no heart without a heartbeat, there is no passion without heart, there is no emotion without passion, and without emotion football simply would not be football.

Nigerian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain, Her Excellency Chief Mrs. Bianca Odumegwu-Ojukwu, was present during the ceremony on Tuesday.

The attendees at the ceremony showcasing the international emphasis of LaLiga also included the minister of foreign affairs and cooperation, Alfonso Dastis; the president of the High Council for Sport, Jose Ramon Lete; and the high commissioner for the Spain Brand, Marca España, Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros.

LaLiga president, Javier Tebas stressed during the event that “these new headquarters represent a giant stride towards our goal of becoming a leading global entertainment company, by creating experiences and allowing the fans to form part of the story in a different way”.

Meanwhile, the minister of foreign affairs and cooperation said: “The fact that the level of professionalization seen in Spain in recent decades, both in sporting and organisational terms, has permitted LaLiga to compete neck and neck with the best for some time now, not just with the other leagues, but also with other time-honoured sports competitions such as the NBA, and even the NFL”.

Shortly before the opening ceremony, the attendees visited the spaces in which LaLiga will occupy in the new building, getting a close-up view of each of the different areas where LaLiga will carry out its work on a daily basis. Furthermore, they got to enjoy a two-Michelin-star cocktail menu thanks to the creations of the Spanish chef, Ramon Freixa

La Liga Chases Asian Cash With Early Clasico Kick-Off

For the first time, Spanish football’s showpiece event, El Clasico between giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, has been scheduled for a lunchtime kick-off (1200GMT) on Saturday as La Liga seeks to capture Asia’s attention and its cash.

“We are keen to provide our fans in Asia the opportunity to watch Real Madrid and Barcelona face off at a time that is convenient to them,” La Liga’s Chief Communications Officer Joris Evers told AFP.

With a potential television audience of 650 million people, according to La Liga, El Clasico is the most watched club match around the world thanks to its unique mixture of star protagonists and a fierce rivalry fostered over decades both on the field and off it by the distinct cultural differences between Catalonia and Madrid.

“It is the ideal shop window, the marquee match to show to people Spanish football,” Jose Maria Gay de Liebana, professor of economics at Barcelona University and an expert in Spanish football finances, said to AFP.

However, it is not just a boom in lucrative television rights that La Liga and its two biggest clubs are seeking with an early start this weekend, but a showcase for all of their lucrative sponsorship contracts.

Last year Barcelona signed a club record shirt sponsorship deal worth a minimum of 220 million euros ($258 million) over four years with Japanese online retailer Rakuten.

“They want to sell their products to international markets, above all in Asia,” added Gay de Liebana.

According to a study carried out by consumer analytics specialists Nielsen Sports, last season’s corresponding first La Liga Clasico of the season generated more than $42.5 million in media value for sponsors.

“The kick-off of the next El Clasico on December 23 is at 1300 Madrid time, 2000 in Shanghai, 1900 in Jakarta and 1730 in New Delhi,” continued Evers.

“These are all locations where we know there are many La Liga fans and where we will be hosting events to celebrate El Clasico.

“Additional events are being held in various locations around Asia. Through this and other initiatives we want to make existing fans even bigger La Liga supporters and, of course, we want to attract new supporters as well.”

AFP