End of season report: Barcelona

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at how Barcelona performed in the 2014-15 season.

Barcelona had to watch Spanish rivals Atletico Madrid win the La Liga title and Real Madrid lift the Champions League trophy in the 2013-14 season.

Real Madrid also won the Copa del Rey in 2013-14, but a truly incredible campaign for Barcelona saw them finish this past season as treble winners.

There is still speculation over the future of head coach Luis Enrique, but the Spaniard has had a stunning first season in charge, with victory over Juventus in the Champions League final securing the treble.

Here, Sports Mole looks back at Barcelona's glittering 2014-15 campaign.

August

Enrique was the man tasked with returning Barcelona to the top of Spanish football and the Catalan outfit got their season off to the best possible start against Elche. As expected, Lionel Messi was at the forefront of their opening-weekend victory, with the Argentine scoring twice in a 3-0 success. The clash also saw 18-year-old forward Munir El Haddadi open his scoring account for Barca on his first-team debut.

It did appear that Barcelona would drop points in their second league match at Villarreal, but another youngster – Sandro Ramirez – came up with the goods late on to secure a 1-0 win.

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi celebrates with his teammates after setting a new La Liga goalscoring record during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Sevilla FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on November 22, 2014© Getty Images

Summer signings Claudio Bravo, Jeremy Mathieu and Ivan Rakitic all started the season in the Barca side, but the supporters were made to wait for Luis Suarez, whose four-month ban for a biting incident at the 2014 World Cup was to keep the Uruguayan out of action until October.

September

Barcelona made it three wins from three league games on September 13 as the Catalan outfit recorded a 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao - a match that saw Neymar open his tally for the season - before beginning their Champions League challenge with a 1-0 win over APOEL at Camp Nou.

Enrique's side then put five goals past Levante to make it five consecutive wins in all competitions, but they were held to a goalless draw by Malaga on September 24. Barca regained their scoring touch in their next league game, however, as they thumped Granada 6-0. Incredibly, after seven games of the season, Barca still had not conceded a single goal in any competition.

Claudio Bravo of FC Barcelona fails to prevent Thievy Guivane (#9) of UD Almeria from scoring during the La Liga match between UD Almeria and FC Barcelona at estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos on November 8, 2014© Getty Images

Their goal was breached in Paris, however, as Paris Saint-Germain recorded a 3-2 win over Barcelona to take charge of their Champions League group and bring the Spanish side down to earth after what had been an impressive start to the season at both ends of the field.

October

October started in positive fashion as Barca won 2-0 at Rayo Vallecano to continue their stunning start to the league season, before beating Eibar 3-0 at Camp Nou. As a result, it was now no goals conceded in eight league matches, not something that too many predicted.

Barca also got their Champions League campaign back on track with a 3-1 win over Ajax on October 21, but the month was to end in disappointment for Enrique's side.

Barca travelled to Real Madrid on October 25 boasting an unbeaten league record since the start of the season and having still not conceded a single goal in La Liga, but both records ended at the Bernabeu as Real Madrid recorded a 3-1 win in the Spanish capital. There was one positive to take, however, as Suarez made his long-awaited debut for the Catalan outfit.

November

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates with his teammates after scoring his team's fourth goal during the La Liga match against Sevilla FC at Camp Nou on November 22, 2014© Getty Images

November started in the worst possible fashion for Barca as they lost 1-0 at home to Celta Vigo, with that result allowing Real Madrid to consolidate first position in the table. There were also question marks over Enrique's brand of football and selection.

Barca did book their spot in the knockout stage of the Champions League with two games remaining, however, as Messi scored twice in a 2-0 win over Ajax. The Argentine's brace moved him onto 71 Champions League goals – level with former Real Madrid striker Raul's record in the competition.

Barca then returned to winning ways in the league with a 2-1 win at Almeria, before Messi scored a hat-trick in a 5-1 victory against Sevilla. That treble for Messi moved the Argentine onto 253 La Liga goals – surpassing Telmo Zarra, who had held the record of 251 since 1955.

Three days later, Messi scored another hat-trick in a 4-0 win over APOEL in the Champions League, which moved Messi onto 74 goals in the Champions League - a new record. The clash with APOEL also saw Suarez open his goal-scoring account for the club.

November was not quite finished for Barca, however, and they continued their excellent run of form with a 1-0 win at Valencia courtesy of a late, late strike from Sergio Busquets.

December

Barca's Copa del Rey challenge began on December 3 as they won 4-0 at Huesca in the first leg of their last-32 clash, before another hat-trick from Messi helped the team claim a 5-1 win over Catalan rivals Espanyol in the league.

Barca then needed to beat Paris Saint-Germain in their final Champions League match to top the group, and that was indeed the case as the Spanish side recorded a 3-1 win. As a result, topping the section paired Enrique's side with Premier League champions Manchester City.

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates with his teammates after scoring the opening goal during the La Liga mach between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at Camp Nou on November 22, 2014© Getty Images

Barca were then held to a goalless draw at Getafe on December 13, but booked their spot in the last-16 stage of the Copa del Rey with a thumping 8-1 win over Huesca at Camp Nou.

Their final match of the year brought more positives as Suarez netted his first league goal in the 5-0 win over Cordoba. Messi and Pedro were also among the goals for the Catalan outfit, who sat one point behind leaders Real Madrid entering the winter break.

January

Barcelona missed the chance to replace Real Madrid at the top of La Liga on January 4 when they were beaten 1-0 at Real Sociedad. That game brought an interesting side story, with Messi and Neymar both left on the bench. That was the start of speculation that Messi and head coach Enrique's relationship was at breaking point, and there were suggestions that the Argentine could be ready to leave the Catalan outfit.

Barcelona tasted victory in the Copa del Rey, however, with a 5-0 win over Elche ensuring that they had one foot in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Barca also returned to winning ways in the league with a 3-1 victory over Atletico Madrid on January 11, which saw Enrique's side cut the gap on leaders Real Madrid to just one point.

Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrate during the La Liga match against Atletico Madrid on January 11, 2015© AFP

A 4-0 victory at Elche in the second leg of their last-16 Copa del Rey clash comfortably ensured their spot in the quarter-finals, before they thumped Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 in the league to make it four straight wins since losing to Sociedad.

Elche were again on the receiving end of a thumping from Barcelona in the league on January 24, and that match, which ended 6-0, was sandwiched between a Copa del Rey quarter-final against Atletico Madrid. Barca won the first leg 1-0 at Camp Nou, before progressing to the semi-finals with a 3-2 victory at the Vicente Calderon.

February

Villarreal gave Barcelona a real scare in their league clash at Camp Nou on February 1, but a 3-2 success over the Yellow Submarine moved Enrique's team to within one point of leaders Real Madrid.

The victories continued to arrive in the league, with Athletic Bilbao and Levante both on the receiving end of five goals from the Catalan outfit, with Messi, Neymar and Suarez starting to show signs that they were building a real understanding. Fighting on three fronts, Barca also recorded a 3-1 win over Villarreal in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final on February 11.

Barcelona again scored five times in a thumping win over Levante on February 15, with Messi hitting his 23rd La Liga hat-trick. However, they lost their second league game of 2015 one week later when Malaga recorded a 1-0 victory at Camp Nou.

Malaga's Argentinian midfielder Pablo Javier Perez scores a goal during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Malaga CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on February 21, 2015© Getty Images

The month did end in positive fashion, however, with a 3-1 win over Granada in the league coming after a 2-1 success away to Manchester City in the first leg of their last-16 clash in the Champions League.

March

Barcelona secured their spot in the final of the Copa del Rey with a 3-1 victory over Villarreal on March 4, before they got their league campaign back on track with a 6-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano.

Victory over Eibar followed, before their spot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League was secured with a 1-0 win over Manchester City at Camp Nou.

Ivan Rakitic of Barcelona (L) celebrates scoring the opening goal with Neymar and Luis Suarez of Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match against Manchester City on March 18, 2015© Getty Images

Barcelona were one point clear of Real Madrid entering their clash at Camp Nou on March 22 and that gap became four points with a 2-1 victory over Los Blancos, who were struggling to replicate their form from the tail end of 2014.

At the end of March, Barcelona had a healthy lead at the top of La Liga, were in the final of the Copa del Rey and were facing a Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain.

April

Barcelona strengthened their grip on top spot in the league with back-to-back victories over Celta Vigo and Almeria at the start of the month, but they were held to a 2-2 draw at Sevilla on April 11, which handed Real Madrid hope in their pursuit.

Their Champions League charge continued with an impressive 3-1 victory at Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their quarter-final, before they returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Valencia in the league.

Barca's progress into the semi-finals of the European Cup was confirmed on April 21, when they recorded a routine 2-0 victory to progress 5-1 on aggregate. There was more good news at the end of the month, with back-to-back league wins over Espanyol and Getafe placing Enrique's side in a strong position at the top of the division.

Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar da Silva Santos Junior (Up) celebrates with his teammate Barcelona's Brazilian defender Dani Alves after scoring during the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals second leg football match FC Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Ger© Getty Images

At the end of April, Neymar, Messi and Suarez had surpassed 100 goals between them for the season, while Barca boasted the best defensive record in Spain. Entering May, the treble was very much on for the Catalan outfit.

May

The month of May started with an incredible 8-0 win at Cordoba, with Suarez grabbing his first hat-trick for the club. It got better on May 6, with a 3-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final meaning that the Catalan outfit had one foot in the final.

A 2-0 victory over Real Sociedad in the league followed and Barca ended Week 36 in La Liga with a four-point lead over Real Madrid. Enrique's team did lose 3-2 at Bayern in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final on May 12, but progressed to the final in Berlin, where they were to face Juventus at the start of June.

The La Liga title was secured with one game to spare as Messi made it 54 goals for the season with a second-half effort at the Vicente Calderon. Barcelona lost the title at home to Atletico last season, but gained some revenge in Madrid to regain the trophy.

Barcelona players celebrate at the Vicente Calderon after beating Atletico Madrid 1-0 to clinch the 2014-15 La Liga title on May 17, 2015© Getty Images

Their La Liga campaign did not end with a win, however, as Deportivo La Coruna came from 2-0 behind at Camp Nou to claim a 2-2 draw and secure La Liga survival. As a result, Barcelona finished the 2014-15 league table two points clear of second-placed Real Madrid.

Leg one of the treble was complete, and Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final was next. Bilbao provided a tough challenge at Camp Nou, but two goals from Messi and one from Neymar secured the trophy with a 3-1 victory. Two down - one to go.

Berlin were the hosts for the 2015 Champions League final, and the fixture started in the best possible way for Barcelona, who took the lead through Rakitic inside four minutes. Juve did respond in the second period, but late goals from Suarez and Neymar ensured that Barca lifted their fifth European Cup.

The Barcelona team celebrate victory with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and FC Barcelona at Olympiastadion on June 6, 2015© Getty Images

The whole squad, and indeed management, deserve praise, but the devastating front three finished with 122 goals between them for the season. Xavi, meanwhile, will now move on having won eight league titles and four Champions Leagues. Now the challenge for Barcelona is to win it all again next season.

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The Barcelona team celebrate victory with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and FC Barcelona at Olympiastadion on June 6, 2015
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona24195062115162
2Atletico MadridAtletico2416713692755
3Real Madrid24146458273148
4Valencia24144647281946
5Sevilla2412393135-439
6Villarreal2411583529638
7EibarEibar2410593236-435
8GironaGirona249783430434
9Getafe248972921833
10Real Betis24103114150-933
11Celta Vigo2495104137432
12Real Sociedad2485114645129
13Leganes2485112128-729
14Athletic Bilbao2461082427-328
15AlavesAlaves2491142233-1128
16Espanyol246992232-1027
17Levante24311102138-1720
18Las PalmasLas Palmas2453161852-3418
19Deportivo La CorunaDeportivo2445152453-2917
20Malaga2434171538-2313
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