Barcelona drew 1-1 at Levante to win Spanish soccer’s La Liga for a third straight season, reinforcing its recent supremacy over Real Madrid.
Seydou Keita scored at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium last night to help Barcelona take an insurmountable six-point lead over Real with two games left. Barcelona increased its tally of Spanish championships to 21, 10 fewer than Real’s record mark.
Clinching the league with two games to spare gives Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola a chance to rest players including World Player of the Year Lionel Messi before its May 28 Champions League final against Manchester United at London’s Wembley Stadium.
“Now is the time to party,” Guardiola told Barcelona’s website. “That’s what winning this title deserves and we have time to get ready for the final in London.”
Barcelona has had a sapping finale to the season with a four-game series against Real last month that caused friction between Guardiola and counterpart Jose Mourinho and opposing players. Barcelona won 3-1 over two games in the Champions League semifinal. They drew 1-1 in the league and Real won 1-0 in the Spanish Cup final.
In La Liga, Barca has lost only two of 36 games and allowed 20 goals. Guardiola’s team is the first to win three Spanish titles in a row since 1993, when Johan Cruijff guided Barca to the third of four straight championships.
“We have worked hard against a strong rival in Madrid,” said Messi, who has scored 31 league goals this season.
Real, which last won La Liga in 2008, has 86 points in second place -- 19 ahead of third-place Valencia. Barca and Real, Spain’s two biggest and most successful clubs, had a 25-point advantage over the other 18 teams in the first division last season.
Smaller clubs are seeking a more of Spanish soccer’s television revenue to try and reduce the imbalance. Barcelona and Real get about half the $875 million annual broadcast income by negotiating individually. Last year, the pair agreed to collective bargaining from 2015.