One down, two to go, says Barca coach
BARCELONA coach Luis Enrique believes his side's 23rd La Liga title can be the launch pad for another prolonged period of success and a potential treble this season.
Lionel Messi scored the winner to hand the Catalans a fifth title in seven years with a 1-0 win at Atletico Madrid on Sunday, as Barca returned the favour after Los Rojiblancos sealed the title at the Nou Camp exactly a year ago.
Barca face Athletic Bilbao on home soil in the Copa del Rey final on May 30, before taking on Juventus in the Champions League final a week later.
Enrique was recruited along with seven new players last summer, after Barca's first trophyless campaign in six years, and he lauded their response in what he described as a season of "transition".
"I hope it can be a new era... We have two finals left and we need to show we are better than the opponents," he said.
"We started 10 months ago with many changes at the club and coming off a season having not won anything.
"We knew that it would be a season of transition and we tried to do our best. We have two titles still to play for, but we already have the one that rewards consistency."
A treble would be just the second in Barca's 115-year history.
However, many of the current squad were also part of the side that achieved the feat for the first time in the 2008-09 season.
One of the those is midfielder Sergio Busquets, and he insisted that the marathon 38-game La Liga season makes it the toughest competition to win.
"Last year, we weren't at the level required to be champions. This year, we are on the right track. The first trophy is out of the way and now we have to celebrate it because it is the hardest competition to win, as you have to play against all of the teams and be consistent," he said.
"It is the most important one, you are competing every week, playing against other sides home and away. The Champions League is more prestigious but the league's more important.
"We are still a young team. There are still quite a few players from the (Pep) Guardiola era. This could turn out to be a historic season for us."
In contrast to Barcelona's euphoria, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was left to face the fact that his side will go without a major trophy this season, despite Cristiano Ronaldo registering his 30th hat-trick for the club in a 4-1 win at Espanyol.
Real led the league for four months after a 22-game winning streak at the end of last year, but they ultimately paid for a run of one win in four games in February and March.
"I congratulate Barcelona and my colleague Luis Enrique for winning the title," said Ancelotti.
"The overall balance of the season is not positive. Madrid always play to win and that has not happened.
"We had a very good first half of the season, but it was more difficult in the second part."