CORUNA, Spain (Reuters) - Barcelona forward Lionel Messi said his side were superior to every team in the league after he scored a hat-trick in Sunday’s 4-2 win at Deportivo which clinched the club’s 25th Spanish title with four games left in the season.
Barca had thrown away a two-goal advantage against Deportivo but Messi, who scored their second goal, struck again in the 82nd minute to restore the lead before completing his treble.
“I’m very happy, we feel so much joy after winning this league. We know how complicated it is to win the league, which is why we have to cherish this and celebrate it as we should with all our fans,” the Argentine told Barcelona’s television channel.
Ernesto Valverde’s side have 86 points after 34 games, 11 more than second-placed Atletico Madrid and 15 more than arch- rivals Real Madrid who are third in the standings.
La Liga’s top scorer praised his side for remaining unbeaten in the league although he lamented the one black mark of their campaign, their shock elimination from the Champions League after losing a quarter-final second leg 3-0 to AS Roma.
“We were superior to all our rivals and we haven’t lost a single game. We only lost once in the Cup (against Espanyol) and in Roma where we had a very unexpected result,” Messi added.
“You always deserve a lot of credit when you win a league and to do so without losing a game is very difficult.
“It was a very special league win because we didn’t lose a game. We had some tough moments and we overcame them without losing and that’s incredible.”
Defender Jordi Alba praised coach Valverde for guiding Barca back to the title in his first season in charge and hit out at the people who had fiercely criticised the manager after the defeat by Roma.
“It’s a disgrace (the criticism) and the players need to stand up and admit that we all make mistakes. Valverde deserves this more than anyone. He has managed the dressing-room perfectly,” Alba told reporters.
“The Roma defeat annoyed us a lot but we’ve had a very good season, we have won the double. Roma was a difficult moment, but it should not erase what we have achieved in the last week.”
Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond