The Catalans have won the La Liga title every time it has been decided between themselves and Real Madrid on the final day of the season
There’s an old adage that says history tend to repeat itself.
For FC Barcelona, at least, that seems to be the case.
The Catalans head into the final match day of the 2015/16 season involved in a two-horse race with Real Madrid for the La Liga title. It had been a three-horse race for weeks, but when Atlético fell at Levante on Sunday they cleared the way for sporting’s chief rivalry to clash for one final time this season.
But this latest El Clásico will not be a head-to-head match between the eternal rivals. Instead, it will involve four teams in two stadiums separated by about 1,000km of forest, mountains, prairie and desert. On Saturday at 5.00pm CET, Barça play at Granada in the southeast of Spain and Madrid play at Deportivo La Coruña in the country’s northwest — and the results will set the final standings in stone.
Barça control their own destiny. A win in Andalusia — or any result equal to or better than that of Madrid — will seal the deal. Madrid, on the other hand, must win and hope Barça draw or lose. If Madrid draw and Barça lose, the title goes to the Catalans on a tiebreaker.
This will be the sixth time in history Barça and Madrid have been the only two standing heading into the season finale.
On the previous five occasions, Barça came out on top every time.
History, it seems, does tend to repeat itself.
Hopefully, it will repeat itself one more time this Saturday.
Barça players listen on the radio as they await the final result from Tenerife. / FCB ARCHIVE
Memories of Tenerife
Arguably the two most memorable finales that ended with Barça beating out the Madrileños came in back-to-back seasons courtesy of Tenerife. Both times it was Real who held the league lead heading into the final match day, and both times they coughed up the hardware following defeats in the Canary Islands.
The first came in 1991/92, when Tenerife came back from two goals down for a 3–2 win over Madrid as Barça topped Athletic 2–0 to come out on top in the standings, 55 points to 54. The following season, 1992/93, Madrid fell in Tenerife, 2-0, while FCB beat Real Sociedad 1–0 to win La Liga, 58 points to 57.
Barça beat Valladolid with two goals from Messi, one from Pedro and and own-goal. / MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
But while Barça twice came from behind to win La Liga back in the early 1990s, at the end of the 2009/10 season it was FC Barcelona, led by then-coach Pep Guardiola, which held a one point advantage going into match day 38.
But the Catalans didn’t choke, routing Valladolid 4–0 to end the season with 99 points on 31 wins, six draws and a single defeat. Real Madrid, then led by Manuel Pellegrini, drew 1–1 with Málaga to end the season three points behind Barça.
The 1928/29 league season ended with a Barça team photo. / FCB ARCHIVE
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
The other two times when Barça and Madrid battled for the league title in separate games on the final day of the season came in the early and mid 20th century.
In 1928/29, Real Madrid lost to Atlético 2–0 in their final game and Barça beat Real Unión 4–1. Although Barça were still one point behind, they had a game in hand. The Catalans won that game too, 2–0 over Arenas Getxo, giving them the title.
Over 30 years later in the 1959/60 season, Barça came out on top once again, winning 5–0 versus Zaragoza on the final day while Madrid fell 1–0 against Las Palmas. The eternal rivals ended the season with 46 points each with Barça taking the title based on the second tie-breaker — the ratio of goals scored to goals conceded.
The first tie breaker was head to head goal differential, but Barça and Madrid were even there as well.