Atletico Madrid on 83 points with their Real Madrid on 81 points, it is Matchday 38, the final matchday. It all boils down to this.
One team is regarded as serial bottlers, the other respected worldwide as mental monsters. Atletico & Diego Simeone had been here in 2014 when they last won the title. Diego Godin scored the equalizing goal in 2014 against Luis Suarez’s Barcelona on the final day to make it 1-1 and give the title to Atletico.
Real Valladolid needed at least a win and a bunch of mathematical possibilities to survive. The game was poised.
Luis Suarez is through on goal but Jawad El Yamiq puts in a block to stop him. The Moroccan defender took a stamp for his effort. In the 8th minute, Yannick Carrasco dazzled into the box and fired a cross and it looped for Suarez who volleyed off target. Toni Villa cuts inside and shoots but Jan Oblak takes it easily. A Llorente header was cleared acrobatically by El Yamiq on 11.
7minutes later, the breakthrough came. From a corner kick, Carrasco dwelled too long on the ball and Shon Weissman won it. After fantastic interplay, Marcos Andre sends Oscar Plano through and he counters with speed and precision to finish past Oblak. 18 minutes,1-0. It is worth noting that Oscar Plano joined Real Madrid’s academy at 11 and spent 12 years there. Talk about repaying the favor. Saul Niguez slipped through and he put his effort past Jordi Masip but not past Kiko who cleared. Just then, it is announced that Real Madrid are losing to Villarreal. Yeremi Pinto the scorer. No team wants to win this league.
El Yamiq’s defensive header from a Kieran Trippier cross nearly catches Masip off guard but it goes into the side of the net. Valladolid players are finding joy behind Carrasco who is pushing high to support the attack but nothing meaningful comes from the space. Elche take the lead and that means that even with Valladolid leading, they will be relegated. On 32, Carrasco drives forward but is fouled and Niguez moves the ball to Suarez who cuts back to his left and angles an effort. Kiko heads away. From the corner, Felipe heads over from a great Koke cross. Left-back Lucas Olaza sends in a teasing cross on 38, but Oblak gathers Weissman’s header before delivering a stern warning to his teammates. Halftime 1-0.
Valladolid defending well and countering with speed and they deservedly lead. They will be wondering why they have not shown this sort of performance for most of the season. As for Atletico, they showed an utter lack of composure, something they have become known for. The pressure is getting to them. It is obvious in their mistimed passes, overhit freekicks, etc.
Marcos Llorente had been very quiet in the first half but in the second half he went on one of his trademark lung-bursting runs into the box and his cross finds its way to Suarez who heads but Saidy Janko clears in front of goal.
On 50, Koke’s cross is perfect but El Yamiq does enough to make sure Jose Gimenez’s header is off-target. Moments later, Carrasco crashes into the box but his cross is too fierce, and the ball runs away from everyone. Just then, Benzema scores for Real Madrid to equalize against the yellow submarines. As if Angel Correa heard the news, the Argentine attacker spun away from good pressure to toe-poke the ball into the bottom corner. 1-1, Atletico Madrid equalize. Real Madrid’s goal was ruled out for offside. What a minute for the red and white side of Madrid! That is now 9 goals and 8 assists for Correa this season.
On 61, Olaza powered a shot towards Oblak who palmed it towards Weissman but the striker headed over from close range. Great chance missed by the Israeli striker. 5 substitutions to be made. Saul Niguez off for Joao Felix, Mario Hermoso off for Renan Lodi, Toni Villa for Jota, Roque Mesa for Sergi Guardiola, and Marcos Andre for Michel Herrero.
Sergio Guardiola gifts El Pistolero the ball a good 40 metres away from the goal and the striker has to make the sprint before finishing with his left. 1-2. Atletico Madrid come back from a goal behind to lead. 21 goals in the league for Luis Suarez. Eat your heart out Barcelona! But that is one of the worst back passes you’ll ever see in a football match from Sergi Guardiola who has been poor this season. On 77, Suarez is released and he squares it for Carrasco but the Belgian skies his effort. Geoffrey Kondogbia is on for Marcos Llorente who caps a fantastic season with 12 goals and 11 assists in La Liga. Kike Perez on for Federico San Emeterio and Pablo Hervias is on for Janko. Correa off for Hector Herrera.
In the final minutes, there is a good flick from Weissman but Guardiola can’t make it count. Luka Modric scores to give Real Madrid the lead but Los Colchoneros hang on. Atletico Madrid win the league for the second time under Diego “Cholo” Simeone. As for Valladolid, it is Segunda football next season. Pucela have been poor for most of the season and the drop is deserved.