Atletico Madrid won the Spanish League on Saturday, snatching the much coveted prize away from Real Madrid and Barcelona for the first time in a long while.
La Liga ended in a dramatic fashion as the top three teams, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid faced their opponents simultaneously to decide who goes home with the league title.
Atletico led the league table with two points, followed by Real Madrid who were one point shy, and Barcelona who lost their chance to clinch the title against Granada, consequently dropping to the third position with seven points behind the leaders. The Rojiblancos needed only to beat Valladolid fighting not to get relegated.
At the end of 90 minutes, the suspense-filled games which saw the Madrid rivals losing 1-0 in the first half, ended in 2-1 victory respectively. It also ended a seven-year title drought for Atletico.
Second half goals from Ángel Correa and Luis Suárez sealed the victory for Atletico, to the excitement of about 3,000 fans waiting outside the car park outside the José Zorrilla stadium.
Real Madrid secured a 2-1 victory over Europa finalists, Villarreal, but it’s not enough to change the 2020/21 season title story, sealed through crisis and misfortune.
Barcelona, who was long left out of the race, secured 0-1 win over Eibar, and had to deal with seeing Suarez who they forced out in Summer, scored the winner to secure the 11th league title for the Diego Simone’s side.
Suarez left Barcelona for Atletico Madrid for $7 million, after 283 games, 195 goals, 113 assists and 13 trophies.
“Barca didn’t value me, and Atletico opened their doors for me. I will always be grateful to this club for trusting in me,” teary Suarez said after the match.
The Uruguayan scored 21 goals in the season to help Atletico clinch the title. But more of his joy came from winning La Liga from a top rival club after being rejected by the Catalan giants, a situation his friend and former team mate, Lionel Messi had regretted.
It’s more like a repetition of the 2009 incident, where Samuel Eto’o was forced to leave Barcelona for Italian side Inter Milan, and went on to win the Champions League, beating Barcelona in the semifinal.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who since 2014 has fought to bring the title home, had a fulfilled season.
“I’m happy for a lot of people,” Simeone said after the game. “It has been a very complex year, and so many people have been lost because of the virus, so for Atletico to be champions is different.
“It was a tough year, like our history; it’s one of the best years to be champions,” he added.
The season has been marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, cutting off spectatorship and plummeting clubs’ revenue. Winning through the chaos is borne of charisma and resilience that the entire Atletico Madrid team is known for.