Believe, for this is real.
Atlético Madrid are the crowned champions of Spain, having toppled super-powers Real Madrid and Barcelona over the course of a 38-game season.
With the mantra of “one match at a time”, Diego Simeone’s men have achieved the unimaginable.
But, Simeone is a liar.
“La Liga is boring,” the coach had said.
Well, we forgive you ‘Cholo’.
There was nothing boring about Diego Godín’s glorious, game-tying and title-winning header and the ensuing 40-minute countdown to the final whistle.
There was nothing boring about the last couple of weeks of thrill, suspense, agony, Willy Caballero fingertips, devastation and, finally, absolute euphoric elation.
We did it!
Our battle-hardened warriors have brought home ‘La Décima’, conquering the Camp Nou — both the pitch and the fans in attendance — on Saturday.
No other club had won the league at the Blaugrana stronghold besides the home team in 57 years since the ground opened.
The cheers of the Colchonero supporters in the away section were ultimately dwarfed by the roughly 100,000 Culés’ supremely classy chants of “Atleeeti, Atleeeti!”.
But, because of the quirkiness of La Liga — Spanish Football Federation president Ángel María Villar was apparently on a trip on Saturday and couldn’t make it to the game — Atleti won’t receive their trophy until the Spanish Super Cup at the start of next season.
Atlético’s name has already been etched into the league history books, interrupting a nine-year reign between the two spoiled brats of the Primera División.
For the fifth straight season, the Vicente Calderón has added at least one trophy to its museum cabinets.
Six trophies in five seasons? You all are just a bunch of glory hunters, Neptuno included!
The Roman god of the sea, who calls Madrid home and was accompanied on the streets by a vast multitude of loyal subjects in red and white Saturday and Sunday night for the championship celebrations, is already demanding that his followers return from Lisbon next weekend with more silverware.
So, a por el Doblete hombres!
“This is a reward for all the hard work, sacrifice and love for colours that cannot be bought. This is just the beginning. The best is yet to come.” -Gabi, during the Neptuno festivities on Sunday
Post-game notes and quotes:
Simeone never had a doubt
“Today will be one of the most important days in the history of the club,” Atleti boss Diego Simeone said after his squad fought back to the 1-1 draw against Barça on Saturday. Per his request, he was joined by his entire coaching staff during the post-game press conference.
“I never thought for a moment the team would not do it. They always have a response. The bigger the challenge is, the more determined they are to achieve it.
“To become champions against Barcelona is a great feeling.”
‘Cholo’, who became the third man after Marcel Domingo and Luis Aragonés to win La Liga as an Atleti player and coach, continued: “We were calm at half time as the team had started well, although the injuries to Diego and Arda were a problem.
“From there though, we continued to be competitive and fight for each ball which is what I asked for. We looked comfortable.”
Simeone then offered some emotional words about the late Rojiblanco idol Aragonés, who passed away in February at the age of 75.
“I have been thinking of Luis and I am sure that he was out there helping us defend in the area in the second half.”
On Sunday, before the Rojiblanco masses at Neptuno, the Argentine tactician and masterful motivational speaker added:
“It’s not only a league, men, it’s not only a league, women, the message these guys offer you is much more important: that with belief and hard work, there is possibility.“
Godín forever immortalised
The proverbial law of sports that “defence wins championships” is very fitting for Atleti, and not just because for the second consecutive season the club have conceded the fewest league goals (26 in 2013-14).
The prominent goal scorers of our last two trophy-deciding clashes have been the pillars of our formidable back line.
After Miranda headed us to glory in last year’s Copa del Rey final at the Santiago Bernabéu, it was Diego Godín’s turn to do so on the anniversary of that memorable moment.
The Uruguayan, who earned hardware on his very first official appearance with Atlético shortly after arriving for the 2010-11 campaign (the UEFA Super Cup against Inter Milan), scored the most important goal of his career in the 49th minute.
It was the 28-year-old’s seventh strike of the season (fourth in La Liga), his highest output in a single term since becoming a professional.
Atleti have not lost in any of the 12 matches Godín has scored in (11 wins, 1 draw).
“This is Atlético Madrid’s league,” the World Cup bound defender told Canal Plus afterward.
“We have fought all year long. We have made an impressive effort, withstanding two teams like Real Madrid and Barça for 38 fixtures and we have gotten the fruit of our labour.
“We earned this league title.”
Arda and Costa at the half: “Guys, win the league for us”
Los Rojiblancos overcame the major adversity that was Diego Costa and Arda’s injuries before 25 minutes had even elapsed.
Adrián replaced Costa in the 16th minute and Raúl García came on for the Turkish wonder in the 23rd.
Our two fallen soldiers were spotted crying on the bench, but they gathered themselves by the break and reportedly told their team-mates at the half to “go out and win this league for us”.
Costa’s availability for the Champions League final on Saturday is in serious jeopardy. Multiple sources in the Spanish media claim the Spain international will not make it back in time to face off against Real Madrid in Lisbon, though the player has not ruled himself out yet.
Arda, on the other hand, will apparently be good to go–his knock being called a hip contusion.
Messi’s worst nightmare Courtois wins back-to-back Zamoras
May 17th is a day of fond memories for Thibaut Courtois, who secured his second Zamora Trophy in as many seasons on Saturday, having conceded a measly 24 goals in 37 league starts.
In 2011, at the age of 19, he won the Belgian league title on that day. In 2013, at 21, he won the Copa del Rey. In 2014, at 22, La Liga.
“This is very sweet,” Courtois said.
“It’s very nice. Last week, very few people believed that we could tie here against a Barça that were in search of the title, but it was incredible.
“To win the league with Atleti is very difficult. No one could have imagined before this season that Atleti could have done something like this.”
Will Thibaut be suiting up for Atleti for the last time on Saturday?
Well, according to Atlético owner Miguel Ángel Gil Marín, “Not even Courtois himself knows if he will be playing here next season”.
“The decision was postponed until the end of the season, but Thibaut, the coach and us [the directors] want him to stay,” Gil Marín told Spanish radio station COPE Sunday.
“He has received a call from Mourinho, right before our game against Barcelona, but the player is mature enough to know what he has to do and he doesn’t want to go to a club where he would have to compete against a god like Cech at Chelsea.”
Gil Marín denies rumours of a deal with Chelsea for Costa
“For Costa to leave, we have to sign and we haven’t signed or negotiated anything with anyone,” Gil Marín said.
“We have offered him a new contract. If he wants to stay, the financial aspect will be resolved for sure. In the many conversations I have had with Chelsea, they have never mentioned his name to us. In normal conditions, Costa will stay with us.”
The much-maligned (and routine subject of the vicious scorn of supporters) Atleti CEO continued: “Diego Costa, Koke, Juanfran and David Villa have all rejected better offers to play for Atleti. Koke is our franchise player. We want him to stay here for many years.”
But, can we believe the guy?
“This year, it’s not necessary for us to sell,” he said.
“Our books are balanced. We’ve had a large amount of additional income. For sure, there will be a player that will leave, but we’ll try to reinforce his position. The goal is to not sell any of our important players and to patch up the holes left by those that leave.”
“I hadn’t savoured it before. It’s been incredible. I already want to repeat it. We have fought against Real Madrid and Barça all year, against their players, their squads and their history. This is an Atlético for the ages. We have a great team with a lot of heart and soul. We feel the colours of this shirt. We feel the same thing the fans do.” – Juanfran.
- Atleti became the first team to score 100 goals against Barça at the Camp Nou. Which Colchonero has scored the most goals against Barcelona at their home? Luis Aragonés. Still don’t think the Atleti legend had a hand in this title?
- This league trophy was Atlético’s 29th title in their history (10 La Ligas, 10 Copa del Reys, 1 Supercopa de España, 1 Copa President, 1 Eva Duarte, 1 Recopa, 2 Europa Leagues, 2 UEFA Super Cups, 1 Intercontinental Cup).
- Simeone is the first Atleti coach to win La Liga, Copa del Rey and a European title, Mister Chip reported.
- Courtois-Juanfran-Miranda-Godín-Filipe: The Great Wall of Cholo. By far the league’s best defence, only allowing 26 goals in 38 games. That’s the lowest total we’ve conceded since the 1970-71 season, according to Info Atleti.
- Gabi earned his 13th assist of the season (7th in La Liga) with his successful corner kick to Godín. Our beloved ‘Capi’ had 5 in 2011-12 and 4 in 2012-13.
- Unless Diego Costa miraculously recovers from his hamstring injury to score in Lisbon, he will end the season on 36 official goals (27 in La Liga), matching Falcao’s best production in a single season.
- Fenerbahçe have officially announced that they are in talks with representatives of Diego Ribas for the possible transfer of the player.
- “These players would even fight a front line battle with a plastic spoon.” – ‘Mono’ Burgos