April 26, 2018 / 10:08 AM / a year ago

Soccer: Barcelona set for title party at Deportivo

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - FC Barcelona vs Leganes - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - April 7, 2018 Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates REUTERS/Albert Gea/Files

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said in February he was “in a hurry” to wrap up the Liga title and his side will almost certainly get to celebrate a 25th league crown at last when they play at Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.

Barca need a draw against Clarence Seedorf’s struggling side to clinch the title and the trophy could even be theirs before they kick off if Real Madrid fail to beat Leganes on Saturday and Atletico Madrid are unable to win at Alaves four hours before Barca’s game starts.

The Catalans have led from the front this season, topping the table in week two, and no-one can begrudge them a title which they have looked certain to win since they beat Real Madrid 3-0 on Dec. 23, marching 14 points clear of their arch- rivals and nine ahead of Atletico.

Barca’s surprise draws against Getafe and Espanyol briefly offered Atletico hope of chasing down Valverde’s side when they closed the gap to five points ahead of a top-of-the-table clash in March, but a superb free kick from Lionel Messi gave Barca a 1-0 win to lift them eight points ahead.

They never looked back and are still unbeaten in the league, five games from becoming the first team since Real Madrid in 1932 to finish a La Liga campaign undefeated and the only side to do so since the league was expanded to more than 10 teams.

The title win would also complete the club’s seventh double after they hammered Sevilla 5-0 in the King’s Cup final on Saturday, an utterly dominant victory which went some way towards healing the wounds from their shock Champions League elimination by AS Roma.

While Barca are preparing for a title party at Riazor, Deportivo might end up feeling like they are at a funeral as the Galicians will be relegated back to Spain’s second tier for the first time since 2014 if they do not beat Barca and Levante win at Sevilla on Friday.

Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond

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