A truly memorable night for Atletico Madrid as they ground out a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou to claim their lift their first Spanish La Liga title since 1996. It was not always pretty, but Diego Godin’s headed equaliser early in the second half was enough to deny Barça in a tense title decider.
In the last two and a half years Diego Simeone has led Atleti to wins in the Europa League, Euro SuperCup, Copa del Rey and Spanish League. Oh and he has them in the Champions League final next week. Is their a better young manager in Europe at the moment?
After failing to wrap up the title last week, it looked like the wheels were going to come of the Atleti wagon when their two best players; Diego Costa and Arda had to be replaced in the opening 20 minutes due to injuries. Costa was in tears on the bench after reinsuring his hamstring and he has to be a major doubt for next weekend’s Champions League final in Lisbon.
Bad things happen in threes so it wads not a surprise when Alexis’ wonder-strike put Barca ahead in the 34th minute, with the Chilean rifling a shot into the roof of the net from an acute angle before Courtois had a chance to move.
That was the only goal of the first half and Barca came out knowing that they were 45 minutes from lifting another La Liga trophy. But this is not the Barca team old and within 45 seconds into the second half David Villa hit the post before Godin headed them level in the 48th minute, rising highest to power a header into the bottom corner of the goal.
Barca have aged before our eyes this season, which does not bode well for Spain’s chances in the World Cup. Xavi and Iniesta have been poor all season while Lionel Messi seems totally disinterested.
As time wound down, the tension levels rose but Barça could not find a way past the dogged Atletico defence, who huffed and puffed but never lost their heads as they played the ball out of trouble to frustrate their hosts.
Pinto raced up for a stoppage-time corner, but Atletico pumped the ball clear and seconds later their celebrations could begin. Barcelona’s fans stuck around to applaud, a fitting end to a pulsating title race.