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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Barcelona 'lacked brilliance', says Valverde despite clinching title with 15 point gap on Real Madrid

Led by a Messi hat-trick, Barca claimed a seventh Primera Liga title in 10 years with victory over Deportivo

Lionel Messi scored three of Barcelona's four goals to clinch the Primera Liga title and in the process, relegate opponents Deportivo La Coruna. Miguel Vidal / Reuters
Lionel Messi scored three of Barcelona's four goals to clinch the Primera Liga title and in the process, relegate opponents Deportivo La Coruna. Miguel Vidal / Reuters

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde praised the consistency of his title-winning side but believes they have "lacked brilliance" at times this season.

A 4-2 victory over Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday, featuring a hat-trick from Lionel Messi, clinched the Primera Liga crown ahead of the two Madrid clubs with four matches to go.

It also completed a domestic double after the Copa del Rey success last weekend but the impact of Barca's shock Uefa Champions League loss to Roma continues to linger.

"When you chase it all season you say finally. The league is very long. It is not decided only in a match," said Valverde, who clinched the league title in his first season in charge. "From the beginning we have been in the lead. In the end we were the best. The hard part is winning and winning."

It is Valverde's first league title in Spain and Barca's seventh in the last 10 years.

"I have not invented anything, in the end these players have already won titles and leagues with other coaches. It's more of them than the coach," he said.

"We have been a competitive, compact team and we have overcome many difficulties, and in moments I know it has lacked brilliance."

It has been an emotional week for veteran playmaker Andres Iniesta, who came off the bench for the final moments once Messi had secured victory to soak it all in. The 33-year-old midfielder will leave the club he first joined at the age of 12 at the end of the season.

"The team deserved it with a good advantage over the second (team)," Iniesta said. "Each competition has its difficulty and its value and that is what we have to stay with. Great season and next year to try to improve what has not been done well.

"They are really indescribable sensations on a personal level and as an athlete when you receive so much affection from people. I have tried to be a good athlete and a great person, surrounding myself with unique people."

Denis Suarez made a big impact off the bench and was involved in the final two goals.

"I'm very happy," he said. "It's my first league title with Barcelona. We made a spectacular league (campaign) and we have to close it by being unbeaten for the whole season."

The emotions were very different for Deportivo, for whom the result confirmed their relegation from the Primera Liga.