Atletico Madrid won their first La Liga title in 18 years, by fighting back from a goal down at an end of season title show down against Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Saturday.
Atletico went into the game needing just a point to lift the trophy come the final whistle, but their hopes were dealt a scare early on in the first half when both Diego Costa and Turan both had to be substituted off before the half hour mark due to injury.
Atletico’s luck was becoming into question on 33 minutes when an Alexis Sanchez strike put Barcelona ahead, and sent Atletico in at the break trailing by a goal to nil.
In a season where Diego Simeone’s men have impressed above and beyond their expectations, there response in the second half was rapid. A Gabi corner was whipped into the centre of the Barcelona box, where Godin rose highest to nod Atletico back onto level terms.
And that’s the way the game would stay. Barcelona were unable to muster up the response they desperately needed to defend their title, and they finish the season in second place and three points behind the newly crowned champions, who’s emphatic season could reap further reward yet when they take on local rivals Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 24th in Lisbon.
Speaking of Real Madrid, they were able to end their season on a high, despite looking good at times during the season to regain the league title. Two goals from young striker Morata (who has impressed this season), and a goal from Gareth Bale (who’s first season in La Liga following his record transfer from Tottenham has been a successful one) saw Real brush aside Espanol by three goals to one at the Bernabeu. Espanol themselves, finish the season in 14th place.
Athletic Bilbao put themselves in contention for a Champions League place next season by cementing their 4th place finish, whilst Sevilla, Villarreal and Real Sociedad are in the fold for Europa League places by finishing 5th, 6th and 7th respectively.
Also to be decided in the final round of the season’s fixtures, was which two remaining teams would lose their top flight status. In what could be considered as the closest relegation fight in La Liga’s recent history, any two from seven teams were in jeopardy.
All eyes were on Valladolid’s match with fellow strugglers Granada, and it would be Granada that dealt the knock out punch in Valladolid’s season, by defeating them by one goal to nil. The result climbed Granada to safety in 15th, but condemned Valladolid to a 19th place finish and second tier football next season.
And after Elche’s loss away at Sevilla and Almeria’s home draw against Athletic Bilbao, it would ultimately be already relegated and rock bottom Real Betis that would have the final say on who would be joining them in the Spanish second division next season.
Shortly after the game got under way, it was immediately halted after 12 minutes when fencing within the ground collapsed onto spectators, with injuries being incurred. It was only after fans helped to safety and treated that play was able to resume. Thankfully, no one to date was seriously harmed.
Matters on the pitch saw Osasuna win the game by two goals to one over Real Betis, with Osasuna storming into a two goal lead after 15 first half minutes. But results elsewhere ultimately determined Osasuna’s place in division two next season, finishing 18th in the league and missing out on survival by just one point.
Since the close of the season, Barcelona have parted company with head coach Gerado Martino.
It has been a thrilling La Liga season, and I hope you have enjoyed reading my weekly round-up coverage.
Friday 16th May
Málaga 1 Levante 0
(Portillo 60, Diop so.80)
Saturday 17th May
Real Madrid 3 Espanyol 1
(Bale 64, Morata 86, 90+1, Afonso Fernandes 90)
Barcelona 1 Atlético Madrid 1
(Sanchez 33, Godin 49)
Valencia 2 Celta Vigo 1
(Feghouli 41, Piatti 55, Lopez 5)
Sunday 18th May
Real Sociedad 1 Villarreal 2
(Vela 90+3, Dos Santos 23, Uche 69)
Valladolid 0 Granada 1
Osasuna 2 Real Betis 1
(Riera Magem 12, Acuna 15, Chica Torres 70)
Rayo 1 Getafe CF 2
(Trashorras 67, Marica 43, pen.90+2)
Almería 0 Athletic 0
Sevilla 3 Elche 1
(Iborra 16, 72, Samperia Bustara 61, Boakye 90+2)
Image sourced from: http://www.empireofsoccer.com/atletico-madrid-barcelona-25821/