Barcelona and the Spanish league that got away

Ronaldo scored the opening goal as Madrid beat Malaga 2-0 on the final day of the season to end their domestic league title drought, and the superstar afterward responded to his treatment in the press over the past few days. Real Madrid's magical midfielder Isco has finally found his place in Zinedine Zidane's side as he tries to drive them towards a La Liga and Champions League double. Last night, he said his players were "f**king fantastic" and said they ran and fought and played all year with the kind of spirit you need to win leagues.

"The 24 players, they are the ones on the pitch, who suffer, and battle".

Over the 38 games, Barca have generally done the hard bits well: They won 3-2 at Madrid in April's Clasico and got victories at Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Espanyol, Athletic Bilbao and Valencia - something not even Pep Guardiola's all-conquering side ever managed in one season. "We never give up, although we couldn't finish the year how we wanted to", said Barca coach Luis Enrique.

That, of course, would've led to Barcelona retaining the league title - the team which Gaspart was president of between 2000 and 2003.

"I live what I am doing with passion and what I have enjoyed the most is today because after nine or 10 months we have won La Liga".

"The team did many things well this season, but the line that separates triumph form defeat is very small", said Enrique.

A victory over Juventus next month will give Madrid its first European Cup-Spanish league double in almost six decades. "But now we've got to focus on playing, and possibly winning, the (Champions League) final in Cardiff".

"The proof is there, we have won a very hard league against one of the best teams in the world in Barca and for me Zidane has done a phenomenal job".

Real Madrid were hoping to win their first title in five years whilst Barca were looking to make it three in a row. La Liga, until 1995, awarded 2 points for a win and one for a draw.

As is customary under Florentino Perez, the club headed straight for the centre of Madrid, but as white ticker tape and flares were pumped into the sky, some players were a little over-exuberant in joining fans as they abused Pique. "I've won everything with this club, but this title is special".

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