Luis Enrique’s last game while at the helm for FC Barcelona culminated in the club’s ninth trophy in three seasons, and their third consecutive Copy del Rey victory.
Thanks to another decisive performance from Lionel Messi and additional goals from Neymar and Paco Alcácer, Barça came away with a 3-1 win against Alavés in the final match at the Vicente Calderón.
Gerard Piqué, Aleix Vidal, and Javier Mascherano returned from injury to the team sheet, with Sergi Roberto and Luis Suárez sitting out due to suspension and Jeremy Mathieu and Rafinha still not cleared to play. Although Mascherano was back in the starting 11, playing at right back, he collided with Marcos Llorente in the ninth minute and was stretchered off the pitch with a potential concussion and possible knee injury.
(In lieu of saluting the stands after the game, Messi held back for a bittersweet celebratory moment with Mascherano).
Barcelona was commanding in possession from the get-go, but Alavés was stringent in the midfield and limited space for Messi upfront. The Basque team had chances in the box as well, and in the 27th minute Ibai Gomez beat Cillessen with a shot, but it rolled along the goal line without making contact with the net.
Lucky to not concede, Barcelona made the most of an opportunity at the half-hour mark to take the lead. After combining with Neymar, Messi shot from the edge of the 18-yard box to give his team the advantage.
Only three minutes later, however, Theo Hernandez scored an excellent free kick to put Alavés back level.
The two quick goals were not the end of the first-half action, though, as Barcelona would tally two additional goals by the 45th minute.
André Gomes came on as a substitute for Mascherano early in the game and was inexplicably playing at right back when he sent a cross in for Neymar to finish.
Neymar dedicó su gol a Luis Suárez… pic.twitter.com/bgVC1YA0Xb
— ImMESS10nante (@ImMESS10nante) May 27, 2017
Then, as stoppage time wound down, Paco received a gift of a pass from Messi after he slipped past the majority of the Alavés defense.
His finish for the 3-1 would prove decisive. The second half was nervy at points, with the Barcelona defense allowing Alavés several chances to get back in the game. But the scoreline held up, and when the whistle blew, Barcelona’s season ended with a title.
“There is no sadness, just total joy,” Lucho said in his final press conference for Barcelona.
He went on to say, “If someone told me I would win nine trophies out of 13, I would have been delighted. I have received 100 percent from the team and I have given them 100 percent, too. I don’t think anyone can knock me in that regard.”
It was a fitting last set of remarks for a manager who was at times unafraid to make unpopular decisions, and a fitting way for him to go out, as well. Whether or not he was universally liked, his leadership was indisputably successful and even a (somewhat) underwhelming final season gave fans moments like the comeback against PSG and Messi’s goal against Real Madrid.
Visca el Barça y visca Catalunya! pic.twitter.com/9BwBiH2sAK
— LUISENRIQUE (@LUISENRIQUE21) May 27, 2017
There’s not much left to say besides Gràcies per tot, equip, and on to the next. Real Madrid winning the league means that next season will open with a Clásico in the Spanish supercup, which means it’s probably already time to start buckling up and blocking people on Twitter.