BARCELONA: Thousands of Barcelona fans lined the streets of the city Monday to celebrate the club’s La Liga and Copa del Rey double, although the pain of an early Champions League exit was omnipresent.
Wearing the club’s trademark blue and claret-coloured shirts, fans cheered as an open-top bus passed by carrying Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and other stars who were taking photos with their mobiles, throwing confetti or singing “champions, champions.”
It is the eighth time Barca have achieved the feat, although the celebratory parade through the city centre was not as well attended and less exuberant than in past years.
Not only did it take place in the middle of a long weekend, when many locals leave the city, but Barca fans are still reeling from their shock elimination by Roma in the Champions League quarter-finals.
“It’s an incomplete season, it feels like two titles is not enough,” says Enric Vilalta, a 57-year-old supporter who went to the victory parade with his two children wearing Barcelona shirts.
“The Copa (del Rey) is not the biggest award and La Liga is good but the Champions (League) is what generates excitement. You can lose in semi-finals or in the final, but not in the quarter-finals and against a lesser team.”
“What happened with Roma is a thorn in our side,” says Javier Gibello, a 37-year-old civil servant who also brought his son.
“But if I had to mark them, I’d give them a B plus.”
As arch-rivals Real Madrid continue their bid for a record-extending 13th Champions League title, Barca fans are left pondering what might have been had their turbulent season gone differently.
The departure of Brazilian star Neymar last summer came before defeat to Real in the Spanish Super Cup.
Barcelona regrouped, dominating their rivals on the pitch to win the Copa del Rey with a 5-0 demolition of Sevilla last week and then securing the league title, in their first season with Ernesto Valverde as coach, with a 4-2 win at Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.
It is Barca’s seventh La Liga title in 10 years and their fourth consecutive Copa del Rey victory.
“The problem is we always want more,” says Trini Lorente, a 58-year-old supporter.
“But the season is really good, especially if tomorrow (Tuesday) Real Madrid loses,” joked her husband Jordi Olive, referring to the semi-final between their arch-rival and Bayern Munich.
Real, who beat Bayern 2-1 in the first leg of their semi-final last week, host the Bundesliga giants for the second leg on Tuesday.