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Five Titles, 180 Goals – Is There Any One Who Can Stop Barcelona In 2016?

The Catalans rounded off a memorable year with a 4-0 win over Betis and a new goals record as they end 2015 on top of La Liga and seem set for more success in the months ahead.

This has been Barcelona’s year. The Catalan club claimed five out of a possible six trophies in 2015 and rounded it off in sumptuous style with a 4-0 win over Betis on Wednesday night that saw them set a new goals record in the process. Is there any stopping them in 2016?

Time will tell, of course. After all, Real Madrid finished 2014 with four trophies, a hatful of goals and a club record 22 victories in a row last December, only to fade after Christmas and miss out on all the major prizes at the end of last season. So Barca will be wary of counting their chickens just yet.

For the Blaugrana, though, this has been an extraordinary year. To think that is started in January with defeat at Real Sociedad and an unhappy Lionel Messi left on the bench seems almost unthinkable now. Barca clicked later that same month and never looked back, winning the treble as they swept aside everyone in their path to claim La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.

The Catalans added the Club World Cup to their 2015 collection by beating River Plate just before Christmas and showed off their trophies before the match against Betis on Wednesday.

With the Camp Nou crowd in celebratory mood, Barca took a while to get going and were fortunate to go ahead after winning a penalty for a supposed foul by Antonio Adan on Messi. The former Real Madrid goalkeeper clearly punched the ball, however, and the spot-kick should not have been awarded.

Neymar took it but slipped and touched the ball with both feet – which is illegal – as he blasted against the bar and there was also a foul by Ivan Rakitic on Heiko Westermann as the defender put the ball into his own net. So Betis were unlucky to say the least.

In any case, Messi made it 2-0 soon afterwards and after something of a scrappy first half from both teams, Luis Suarez scored twice in a much better performance by Barca in the second period. It was one final exhibition in a memorable year for the Catalan club.

Barca, of course, were banned from registering new players in 2015 after a Fifa sanction for irregularities in the club’s recruitment of young players.

That suspension was expected to hit them hard, but the Catalans coped and can now field summer signings Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan in January, which should make them even stronger for the second half of the season.

The Bluagrana also managed without Messi for two months as the Argentine attacker sat out with a knee injury, but he returned to play a cameo role as Luis Enrique’s side thrashed Madrid 4-0 at the Bernabeu last month and a win by the same scoreline on Wednesday sees them back on top of La Liga with a game in hand as well due to their participation in the Club World Cup.

It was a fitting finale to a wonderful year. And although repeating the success of 2015 will be extremely difficult, but there are no signs of a let-up right now and Barca will be the team to beat again in 2016.

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