Barcelona-Atletico Madrid Live: Atletico Madrid Wins Spanish League Title


May 17, 2014

Barcelona-Atletico MadridFinal, 1-1: It’s all over. Atletico Madrid has wrested the La Liga title away from Barcelona with a beautifully courageous draw at the Camp Nou.

Head coach Diego “Cholo” Simeone is grinning on the bench, while Atletico Madrid players celebrate wildly on the field. Some Barcelona players are in tears. Others have looks of stunned disbelief. 100,000 Barcelona fans are giving Atletico Madrid a standing ovation, while 447 travelling Atletico Madrid supporters are partying in the highest reaches of European soccer’s biggest stadium.

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If Atletico Madrid didn’t convince observers of its worth over the course of this dream campaign, it did so against Barcelona on Saturday. The visitors entered the soccer cathedral that is Camp Nou, lost two of its leading lights early on and still managed to do the job.

Sanchez gave Barcelona an unlikely lead after 34 minutes, but the host’s inability to hold the advantage for longer than 15 minutes was indicative of the balance of play. Atletico Madrid came back stronger from each setback, which is a testament to the technical, tactical, physical and especially mental qualities of Simeone’s team.

Simeone must take a lion’s share of the credit for Atletico Madrid’s triumph. The Argentine had a fraction of his rivals’ resources but forged a title winning team in 18 months. It’s a testament to what one can achieve through pride, passion, will power and graft. Having become synonymous with Atletico Madrid as a player and coach, Simeone is the embodiment of Atletico Madrid’s dream season.

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Here’s how the top of the La Liga standings look and some vital stats from the contest.

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Atletico Madrid will celebrate its first title in 18 years — but only for a few hours. It must recover quickly before travelling to Lisbon where it will play Real Madrid in the Champions League final next Saturday.

The draw confirms Barcelona’s season as a trophy-less one and likely spells the end of Martino’s tenure as head coach. Barcelona is expected to buy and sell a number of players this summer, and Luis Enrique could be named head coach in the coming weeks. It’s the end of an era, Barcelona’s “beautiful cycle.” There’s no telling where Barcelona goes from here.

That’s all for now and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion that is on the way on

90th minute +2, 1-1: Garcia crunches Neymar with a body check in the midfield. The referee cautions the Atletico Madrid midfielder for a cynical, albeit professional, foul.

90th minute, 1-1: Mascherona takes out Sosa deep in the Barcelona half and receives a yellow card for the tackle.

The fourth official indicates that there will be three minutes of stoppage time. It’s now or never for both teams.

84th minute, 1-1: Pique and the 100,000 Barcelona fans want a penalty kick after the defender surged forward and nearly put his head on the end of Adriano’s cross. Godin’s contact prevented him from doing so, but the referee said “no foul.”

81st minute, 1-1: Alves tests Courtois with a blast from 25 yards out, but the Belgian ‘keeper parries it over the crossbar.

77th minute, 1-1: Xavi comes on for Fabregas, as Martino makes his final roll of the dice.

The veteran midfielder’s ability to keep the ball could help Barcelona breath amid Atletico Madrid’s suffocating pressing game in the final quarter-hour.

72nd minute, 1-1: Song is cautioned for a handball.

72nd minute, 1-1: Sosa replaces Adrian Lopez in Atletico Madrid’s third and final substitution.

Adrian Lopez came on for Costa in the first half. This switch is tactical, as Simeone is removing a forward and adding an extra man in the midfield. This could stymie the flow of Barcelona’s passing game.

69th minute, 1-1: Luis is cautioned after hacking down Messi 25 yards away from Atletico Madrid’s goal.

69th minute, 1-1: Barcelona has found a passing groove in the last five minutes. The hosts are possessing the ball with intent and pinning Atletico Madrid back in its own third of the field. Whether that will translate into the title-winning goal remains to be seen.

64th minute, 1-1: Messi appeared to score the go-ahead goal, but the referee disallowed it because the Argentine superstar was offside — by inches.

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63rd minute, 1-1: Neymar comes on for Pedro. The Brazilian forward is seeing his first action since suffering a foot injury in mid-April.

60th minute, 1-1: With a half-hour left, Atletico Madrid is chasing and harrying Barcelona in the midfield and defending with authority at the back.

57th minute, 1-1: Busquets suffered an injury in a mid-air collision with an Atletico Madrid player. It appears to be a problem with his hip — similar to Turan’s. Song comes on for the stricken Busquets.

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49th minute, 1-1 : Godin scores. Atletico Madrid has tied the game.

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It came off a corner kick from Koke. The Urugayan defender rose and thundered his header past Pinto.

We knew set pieces would be a key component of Atletico Madrid’s attack.

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48th minute, 1-0 Barcelona: Atletico Madrid threatens again, but Pinto’s intervention prevents the game-tying goal.

46th minute, 1-0 Barcelona: Villa fires a shot off the post, as Atletico Madrid nearly caught Barcelona napping in the opening seconds.

46th minute, 1-0 Barcelona: The second half is underway.

Messi and Busquets were cautioned on the stroke of halftime. Messi saw yellow for booting the ball past the referee, while Busquets’ was for protesting Messi’s caution.

Halftime, 1-0 Barcelona: The first half has come to end with Barcelona in front.

Fortune, both good and bad, was the driving force behind the proceedings in the first half. Barcelona leads thanks to Sanchez’s wonder-strike, but the game was proving to be as even a matchup as everyone expected up until that point.

We’ll never know how things would have unfolded had injuries not struck Costa and Turan down after 20 minutes. Atletico Madrid lost two of its leaders — the personification of its heart and soul — at the worst possible moment in time. Yet, Aletico recovered from the triple blows (the injuries and the goal) and mounted a series of fierce attacks on the Barcelona goal near the end of the half.

As predicted, this game is fiercely competitive, and it looks like this: next goal wins.

Here are some stats.

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45th minute, 1-0 Barcelona: Ateltico Madrid has Barcelona under pressure near the break with a succession of corner kicks. Barcelona is defending them nervously but looking to break forward on the counter-attack nonetheless.

38th minute, 1-0 Barcelona: Atletico Madrid reacts to Sanchez’s goal by turning up the physical intensity and earning a pair of bookings.

Godin was cautioned for a foul on the goal-scorer Sanchez. Moments later, Tiago was shown a yellow card for a foul on Fabregas.

34th minute, 1-0 Barcelona: Sanchez scores a sensational goal from the right edge of the penalty area.

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Messi chested Fabregas’ pass into Sanchez’s path, and the Chilean blasted a first-time shot around a defender, past Courtois’ outstretched arm and into the smallest opening in the top corner.

30th minute, 0-0: The injuries rattled Ateltico Madrid, but the visitors have regrouped and continue to stifle Barcelona.

26th minute, 0-0: Now Pedro heads an Alves cross but can’t direct it on target.

The Brazilian fullback is providing much of the danger for Barcelona.

24th minute, 0-0: Sanchez heads a shot comfortably into Courtois’ hands. Alves delivered the cross from the right.

22nd minute, 0-0: Turan’s game is over. Garcia replaces the Turkish battler.

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The injuries have disrupted Simeone’s plans by robbing him of his top two goal threats in under 20 minutes.

20th minute, 0-0: Now Turan is down. He’s limping, and it looks like he has a problem with his hip.

Turan bumped into Fabregas, but there was little force or intention and no malice in the collision.

18th minute, 0-0: The show must go on despite Costa’s injury.

It’s a massive blow for Atletico Madrid, as Costa is its best player, toughest fighter and top goal scorer with 36 in all competitions.

14th minute, 0-0: This is bad.

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Costa is down on the field after pulling up on one of his runs. It looks like he has re-injured his balky hamstring.

This could threaten his participation in next Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final and the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Adrian Lopez replaces the distraught Costa, who is openly weeping on the bench.

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12th minute, 0-0: Juanfran creates some danger with a cross that Pique desperately clears out for a corner kick. Atletico Madrid is looking composed and assertive in the early stages.

Seventh minute, 0-0: Adriano cuts inside from 25 yards out and rifles a shot at the Atletico Madrid goal. Courtois makes the save.

Fifth minute, 0-0: Pique is cautioned early on for a tackle on Koke.

Fourth minute, 0-0: There has been a fast and combative start to this game. Barcelona fans are reacting to Atletico Madrid’s possession with sustained whistling. Barcelona is showing a hunger in its pressing, but Atletico Madrid looks comfortable on the ball.

First minute, 0-0: We’re underway at the Camp Nou.

This is only the third time ever, and the first time in 53 years, that the two contenders for the title meet on the final day of the season.

Barcelona is gunning for its seventh league title since 2005. Atletico Madrid, the insurgents of Spanish soccer’s elite, looks to break up the Barcelona-Real Madrid duopoly and win its first title in 18 years.

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Pregame: Pique’s return from a hip injury strengthen’s Barcelona’s defense and boosts its chances.

There’s no place for Xavi in the starting lineup, which is surprising. Fabregas takes his place in the midfield, while Pedro and Sanchez join Messi up front.

Atletico Madrid is fielding a strong and familiar lineup. The back four is settled, Tiago and Gabi will sit in front of them, and Koke and Turan provide a threat on the wings.

Costa has shaken off a hamstring injury and is healthy enough to start. Villa — the ex-Barcelona hitman — can strike the hearts of his former club by scoring what surely would be one of the decisive goals of his first season at Atletico Madrid.

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11:30 a.m.: Here are the lineups:


Jose Manuel Pinto (13), goalkeeper
Dani Alves (22), right back
Gerard Pique (3), center back
Javier Mascherano (14), center back
Adriano (21), left back
Sergio Busquets (16), midfielder
Cesc Fabregas (4), midfielder
Andres Iniesta (8), midfielder
Pedro (7), forward
Alexis Sanchez (9), forward
Lionel Messi (10), forward


Oier Olazabal (25), goalkeeper
Marc Bartra (15), defender
Jordi Alba (18), defender
Xavi (6), midfielder
Sergi Roberto (24), midfielder
Alex Song (17), midfielder
Neymar (11), forward
Cristian Tello (20), striker

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Atletico Madrid

Thibaut Courtois (13), goalkeeper
Juanfran (20), right back
Miranda (23), center back
Diego Godin (2), center back
Filipe Luis (3), left back
Gabi (14), midfielder
Tiago (5), midfielder
Arda Turan (10), midfielder
Koke (6), midfielder
David Villa (9), striker
Diego Costa (19), striker


Daniel Aranzubia (1), goalkeeper
Toby Alderweireld (12), defender
Mario Suarez (4), midfielder
Raul Garcia (8), midfielder
Jose Sosa (24), midfielder
Adrian Lopez (7), forward
Diego (26), forward

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11 a.m. ET: The race for Spanish soccer supremacy comes down to this.

Barcelona hosts Atletico Madrid on Saturday at the Camp Nou in a meeting between La Liga’s (Spanish first division) first- and second-placed teams on the final day of the season.

League leader Atletico Madrid only needs a draw to secure its first league championship since 1996. But Diego Simeone’s team faces its toughest test of the season in Saturday’s visit.

A few weeks ago, it looked like Barcelona was out of the reckoning for the title, but recent results have allowed the Blaugrana to make an unlikely late-season bid for glory. Should embattled coach Tata Martino lead his team to victory, Barcelona would move level on points with Atletico Madrid but win the championship based on a better head-to-head record.

These two teams have faced each other five times this season in all competitions. Atletico won one of them (in the UEFA Champions League), while the other four meetings — in La Liga, the Champions League and the Spanish Super Cup — ended in draws.

The game kicks off at noon. Stay right here, as we’ll bring you all the action from the Camp Nou.

Photo via Twitter/@FCBarcelona

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