Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde was relieved more than anything as his side finally sealed their 25th La Liga title on Sunday with four games to spare.
A hat trick from Lionel Messi and a first-half strike from Philippe Coutinho secured a 4-2 win against Deportivo La Coruna as Barca wrapped up a seventh league title in 10 years.
Following last week’s emphatic Copa del Rey triumph against Sevilla, the league title also saw the Catalan side complete a league and cup double for the eighth time in their history.
Unbeaten in the league this season, it had long been a question of when not if Barca would get their hands on the La Liga trophy.
“When you’re chasing something for the whole season, it’s more a feeling of ‘finally’ when you eventually get there,” Valverde said, playing down the euphoria of his first-ever league title in Spain.
“At the end of the day, the league is such a long competition. You have to make sure you get through autumn, through the tough winter […] and we have come through it all. We have got there with room to spare. I think we have been the best team.”
Barca’s domestic dominance has been tainted by their failure to get past Roma in the Champions League quarterfinals, although Valverde gives more credit to success in the league than any other competition.
He added: “For me, La Liga is the most difficult competition to win. In the Copa and in the Champions League, one bad day can knock you out. But the league is a constant over many months and you need to have resolve and determination.
“Because of how we were knocked out [of Europe], it marked us a little bit. It was unexpected. It’s difficult to do what we have done [domestically] but as we want to win everything there’s always a but.”
Valverde also praised the ability of his players to relentlessly keep on winning trophies, with this the ninth league title won by Messi and Andres Iniesta and the seventh by Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets.
“The most difficult thing is to keep winning,” the coach said. “Everyone has moments when they win once. The hardest thing is to keep on winning and winning and winning.
“Having to re-motivate yourself and staying at the top is the toughest thing in any sport. As Valero Rivera said: ‘The difficult thing is not winning, it is winning again.'”
Midfielder Busquets, meanwhile, lauded his side’s “almost perfect” season — they’ve dropped just 16 points — and called on them to go on and become the first-ever side to go an entire top-flight campaign in Spain unbeaten.
“[The title] tastes glorious, like they all do,” Busquets said. “Especially knowing that it’s more and more difficult to keep winning the league every year — but also because of how we’ve won it, with four games left.
“To win seven titles out of 10 is outrageous, keeping in mind our rivals in La Liga. It’s been an almost perfect season [so far], without losing a single game. And I hope we can continue [that record] until the end of the campaign.
“I think it’s been a good season. We’re gutted about what happened in Europe but that shouldn’t take away from winning the double. It’s a spectacular achievement.”
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.