They dropped two points in the opening eight games, scoring 22 goals and conceding none, to open a three-point lead over second-placed Sevilla at the top, with Real Madrid, who lost two of their first three matches, a further point behind in third.
MADRID Barcelona made a brisk start to the season with new coach Luis Enrique at the helm in place of Gerardo Martino and a host of additions to the squad, including midfielder Ivan Rakitic and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
But Real went down 2-1 at Valencia the same day, ending a Spanish-record winning run of 22 matches, and the tide turned.
It was fitting that Barcelona wrapped up a fifth La Liga crown in seven years at Atletico, who pipped them to the title on the final day last term with a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp.
Messi started to move up the gears and, with Neymar and Suarez also coming into form, Barca began to look unstoppable, particularly with the defence playing its part..
Barca climbed back on top after Real’s defeat at Athletic Bilbao at the start of March and Suarez scored a superb goal to clinch a 2-1 ‘Clasico’ win when Real visited the following week.
Bravo set a record for minutes unbeaten at the start of a La Liga season but finally let goals through when Barca lost the ‘Clasico’ at Real 3-1 at the end of October.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)
The only blips after the defeat at Sociedad were a 1-0 reverse at Malaga and a 2-2 draw away to Sevilla, with 18 wins, 67 goals scored and 11 conceded in 20 outings.
A draw at Getafe left Barca four points adrift of their arch rivals at the turn of the year and January was a depressing low as rumours of a rift between Messi and Luis Enrique swirled after they lost 1-0 at Real Sociedad in their 2015 opener.
It was a disappointing debut for Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, whose ban for biting an opponent at the World Cup expired the previous day, and there was more pain to come when Barca lost 1-0 at home to Celta Vigo in their next match.
They slipped to fourth, with Real leading ahead of Valencia and Atletico Madrid, although Barca’s gloom was partly offset by Lionel Messi setting a La Liga scoring record with a hat-trick against Sevilla on Nov
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