Meet the champions: Barcelona's La Liga winners

Barcelona have been crowned champions for the third year running after winning La Liga for the 21st time last night. takes a look at the title-winning squad one by one
Barcelona's third title in a row rarely looked in doubt. A surprising defeat at home to Hercules in the second round of matches meant the Catalans were still trailing fierce rivals Real Madrid by the time the two teams met at the end of November, but a 5-0 win over Jose Mourinho's side saw Barca emphatically reclaim top spot and they have not let it slip ever since.

Lionel Messi has been the star again, but there is quality throughout this incredible side. Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Dani Alves, Pedro and David Villa have all made significant contributions for the Catalans, who many believe to be the best team ever. In order to be considered as such, Pep Guardiola's side must continue their dominance in Spain and in Europe. The first part of the equation is now complete - and a memorable double can be claimed by beating Manchester United in the Champions League final later this month.

Here we take a closer look at the Spanish champions one by one:


Games: 31

Clean sheets: 16

Average rating: 6.53

Valdes is probably Barcelona's most under-worked player, but he is also their most underrated. The Catalan keeper is an excellent shot-stopper, commands his area with authority and is the best in the league with the ball at his feet, operating almost as a sweeper in some Barca attacks. Solid and secure, his brilliant save to deny Nilmar in the 1-0 win at Villarreal was one of many crucial interventions which have seen him retain his status as the league's meanest keeper, having let in just 16 goals in 31 appearances.
Others: Jose Manuel Pinto
Games: 5, Clean sheets: 2, Average: 6.30



Games: 33

Goals: 2

Average rating: 6.75

Alves has enjoyed another fine season and, given the demise of his international team-mate Maicon this term, he is now unquestionably the world's best right-back. The Brazilian's marauding runs add another dimension to Barca's attacks and he has been involved in numerous goals for the Catalans this season. Alves may have only scored twice, but the half-volley against Getafe is one of the best goals seen all season.


Games: 31

Goals: 3

Average rating: 6.23

Pique's form was questioned earlier in the season as it was claimed he was distracted by his relationship with Shakira and other off-the-field activities. But the 24-year-old has been forced to play with several different partners due to Carles Puyol's injury problems and is finishing the campaign on a high, despite an unconvincing performance in the title-clinching draw at Levante. He also scored the crucial winner in the 1-0 victory at Villarreal, albeit with more than a hint of handball.

Games: 17

Goals: 1

Average rating: 6.65

Sometimes you don't value someone until they are not there, and that has certainly been the case with Puyol; when he has been missing this season, Barca have not looked the same team and Guardiola's side have struggled against some established sides without their inspirational captain. In fact, the club's only defeats this season have come when Puyol has been missing. Despite his fitness problems, Puyol has still featured 17 times for the Catalans in La Liga this term.

Games: 24

Goals: 0

Average rating: 6.28

Abidal was in the form of his life when he was cruelly struck down by cancer detected in his liver. The France full-back, who had been filling in adeptly in central defence to cover for the injured Carles Puyol, quickly underwent surgery to remove the tumour and thankfully has made a rapid recovery. Less than two months later, he is already playing again and will be remembered as perhaps the biggest hero of this year's league title triumph.

Games: 23

Goals: 0

Average rating: 6.24

Injuries in defence have seen Maxwell receive plenty of opportunities this season, and the Brazilian full-back has filled in competently. Although unspectacular, the former Ajax man is a tidy defender and has decent technical ability as well. He has been one of the most consistent performers for Barca this term and is likely to remain an important squad member next season.

Games: 14

Goals: 0

Average rating: 6.27

Many Barcelona fans were baffled by the signing of Adriano, but the former Sevilla star can play in a variety of positions and has become an important utility player for Guardiola's side. The Brazilian has appeared just 14 times in La Liga, but has racked up another 16 appearances in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, operating mainly as a left-back. He has gradually won over Camp Nou faithful with some fine performances of late.


Games: 10

Goals: 0

 Average rating: 5.55

Milito is not the same player he was when he arrived at Barcelona. A year and a half on the sidelines has taken its toll and the Argentinian offers less security than in his first season at Camp Nou, when he was often the first-choice defender alongside either Puyol or Rafa Marquez. His performances have been off colour and his future would appear to lie elsewhere.
Others: Andreu Fontas
Games: 4, Goals: 0, Average: 6.25
  Martin Montoya
Games: 2, Goals: 0, Average: 4.75



Games: 31

 Goals: 3

 Average rating: 7.10

Xavi began the season with injury problems and even Guardiola admitted his concerns, but the midfielder was soon back in the team and at his brilliant best. He can't go on forever, but this has been another fine season from the 31-year-old. Despite those early fears, he has made 31 league appearances and been involved in all of Barca's best play, scoring three goals and laying on seven more along the way.


Games: 34

Goals: 8

Average rating: 7.09

Iniesta came into the season on a high and hasn't looked back ever since. The midfielder was the toast of the whole of Spain following his winner in the World Cup final and although he is one to shun the limelight, he hasn't gone missing on the pitch in Barcelona's title-winning campaign. Operating in midfield or in an advanced role wide on the left, the Spain star has rarely disappointed, chipping in with an impressive eight goals in 34 appearances.

Games: 28

Goals: 1

Average rating: 6.60

Busquets' role must be the envy of many a defensive midfielder. The Catalan, son of former Barca keeper Carles, plays a no-frills role in midfield but has developed into a complete player himself alongside Xavi and Iniesta, showing some neat tricks and a good range of passing as well. His play-acting may not be to everyone's liking, but he is a key figure in this Barcelona team and is very popular with the Camp Nou crowd.

Games: 25

Goals: 0

Average rating: 6.08

Mascherano arrived after Yaya Toure was sold in the summer and took a while to get going. The Argentina midfielder made his debut in the 2-0 defeat at home to Hercules and was immediately something of a scapegoat with the Catalan press and fans as Barca failed to find their rhythm. But recent performances - in both defence and midfield - have been excellent and the former Liverpool player has managed to win over his critics.


Games: 34

 Goals: 3

 Average rating: 5.90

Keita has appeared mostly as a substitute this season and while he is unlikely to go down as a Camp Nou legend, he is a useful player to come on late in the game and fill in across midfield. Guardiola is sometimes frustrated with his tactical indiscipline, but he is a hard-working individual and offers a goal threat both in the air and on the ground, as he proved with his winner in the 1-0 victory over Zaragoza and his header against Levante in Tuesday's 1-1 draw.



Games: 11

Goals: 2

Average rating: 6.09

Having made just one league appearance in each of the last two seasons, Thiago made a bigger impact in the current campaign. The dynamic midfielder has appeared 11 times so far - mostly as a substitute - and scored two goals. Seen very much as one for the future, Barca fans are already purring at the prospect of watching the youngster in full flight in the coming years.

Jonathan dos Santos
Games: 1, Goals: 0, Average: 4.00



Games: 33

 Goals: 31

 Average rating: 7.48

There really isn't much to say about Messi that hasn't been said already, but every great team needs a great player, and among many fine footballers at Barca, Leo stands out. The best in the world by some distance, Messi has been devastating in a central role, scoring 31 goals and setting up many more. Guardiola has built up his confidence and plays the Argentine where he will do most damage. When that happens, the sky really is the limit for both the 23-year-old and for his team.


Games: 34

Goals: 18

Average rating: 6.83

Villa arrived in a big-money move from Valencia in the summer and scored on his first La Liga appearance as Barca thrashed Racing Santander 3-0. The Spain striker took a while to win over the fans, but then went on an impressive scoring run as he adapted well to life on the left of the Catalans' three-pronged attack. The goals have dried up recently, however, and the Asturian has only one in the last 11 matches. The Camp Nou remains unconvinced.

Games: 32

Goals: 13

Average rating: 6.75

Pedro seemingly came out of nowhere to star in Barca's first team and then found himself starting in a World Cup final in 2010, but the Tenerife-born forward has worked his way to the top after playing for Guardiola in Spain's third division at Barca B just three years ago. Goals have been harder to come by of late, but 13 in 32 is still a decent return and Pedro is likely to get better and better.

Games: 25

Goals: 5

Average rating: 5.76

Bojan is a player lacking in confidence and five league goals is his worst return in four seasons with the first team. A move may be needed for the youngster to rediscover his best form, but it would be a shame because he is a popular player who provides a real threat from the bench for Barca. If the Catalans sign another striker this summer, however, he is likely to fall even further down the pecking order.


Games: 6

Goals: 1

Average rating: 5.60

Jeffren may not have featured much this season, but the Venezuela-born youngster will forever be remembered for his goal against Real Madrid - the last in Barca's 5-0 humbling of their biggest rivals back in November. It was described by some as the biggest humiliation for Madrid - a Bojan pass and a Jeffren goal - but Guardiola rates the forward and, barring injuries, he should have a bigger role to play next season.

Ibrahim Afellay
Games: 14, Goals: 0, Average: 5.29

Games: 2, Goals: 0, Average: 5.50

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