Atletico Madrid crowned La Liga champions after drawing 1-1 with Barcelona
For the first time in 18 years, Atletico Madrid made away with the most prized trophy in Spanish football as they completed an extraordinary season with a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou to finish off in style.
Diego Simeone had told before the match,” We do not to want to deserve to be the Champions. We want to be the Champions.” And what a night, Simeone’s word materialized as the Camp Nou stood up in appreciation for an excellent performance by Atletico.
With Xavi and Jordi Alba left out, Martino was clearly taking a gamble while Simeone chose to go in with Costa supported by Villa and Turan. As the match started, there weren’t any fireworks as Barcelona slowly got into their rhythm.
Adriano looked to put Barca ahead in the seventh with a long range shot after cutting in from the left, but the shot was easily handled by Courtois.
Atletico’s chances were hugely dented as Diego Costa limped off in the 15th minute after the hamstring problem relapsed. Seeing as the Champions league final is round the corner, this may prove costly. The plight of Atletico’s tough season was to be further exemplified as Arda Turan limped off in tears in the 23rd minute.
He was replaced by Raul Garcia. As the game progressed, Barcelona dominated; they had yet another chance off a counter attack. Dani Alves, from the right wing, put in a cross only for Pedro to head it over the bar.
Although Atletico’s forwards failed to create any impact on the attack, their constant pressing of Mascherano and Pique ensured Barcelona wouldn’t be able to play their natural game.
Alexis Sanchez broke the deadlock in the 34th minute with a blinder of a shot from the right wing from an extremely close angle. With Fabregas lobbing a pass towards him, Alexis controlled it outside the six yard box before unleashing an unstoppable shot that left Courtois stunned.
Atletico’s misery would further continue as they earned two yellow cards in the next two minutes with Diego Godin and Tiago getting into the book. Nearing the end of the first half, Atletico had a series of attacks channeled through their flanks which resulted in quite a number of corners. However, they failed to make the best of these as Barcelona’s resolute defense ended the first half with no goals conceded.
As the players were heading back into the tunnel, Sergio Busquets got into trouble for arguing with the referee and talked himself into book. Pique, who sided with Busquets seemed relatively unhappy and was lucky to escape without a card.
No one was spared by the referee as Messi got a yellow card for kicking the ball in dissent as the half ended.
First half done and dusted, the scoreline read 1-0 in Barcelona’s favour.
Atletico were up and firing immediately as David Villa hit a half volley on the turn within seconds of the start of the second half.
No more than a minute later, Villa found himself with another chance but the lack of space for a shot saw him being squeezed by the Barca defenders and thus the chance was wasted.
As Atletico found themselves within earshot of the title, Atletico’s 447 strong support were in full flow. Contrary to the first half, Atletico dominated the ball in the second half and disrupted Barcelona’s flow.
Atletico had built up such momentum that every attack of theirs seemed to end in a goal scoring opportunity.
Gerardo Martino brought on Neymar for Pedro and his arrival was immediately marked by a splendid attack which resulted in Messi finding the net with a volley, only to be ruled out for offside. Upon further viewing, it was an easy decision with Messi definitely off.
Neymar’s arrival certainly lifted Barcelona’s spirits, Juanfran was well up to the task of dealing with Neymar. In the 70th minute, Messi earned a free kick just outside the box in the right hand side but disappointed by hitting it straight into the wall and wasting a very good opportunity.
Simeone used Atletico’s final substitution to bring in Jose Sosa in place of Adrian Lopez.
Martino, in a desperate attempt to restore Barcelona’s lead, used their final substitution to bring Xavi in place of Fabregas.
With Barcelona needing a win, Pique started to move forward in an effort to provide them an option with crosses.
The referee added three minutes of stoppage time as the voices of the Barcelona fans resonated across the Camp Nou. A corner with forty seconds to go and Atletico cleared it. But, that was Barcelona’s last hope in the match and they made nothing out of it.
As the referee blew the final whistle, Diego simeone erupted as Atletico won the title after 18 long years, finally breaking the duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid in the last few years.