The 17th May has played host to some of Atleti’s greatest achievements in recent years.
From Miranda’s extra time winner against Real Madrid back in 2013 that brought us our Copa Del Rey decima to Godín’s equaliser against Barca last year that gave us the title, this date has been synonymous with rojiblanco delight but this year it marked the end of Atleti’s reign as La Liga champions.
There is no doubt that Barça are deserved league leaders and it is a shame that Atleti were not able to truly mount a creditable title defence this season but the superhuman efforts of the previous campaign, which came to a thrilling climax 364 days from this defeat, are now more conspicuous than ever.
It was always going to be a mammoth task to defend the title with the departures of key players whilst at the same time our rivals were strengthening, but the narrow 1 nil loss was far from a thrashing and had it not been for the cat like reflexes of Claudio Bravo the scoreline may have been different.
There were a plethora of penalty shouts for Barça in the first half involving a hand ball from Juanfran and a shirt tug on the (unofficial) winner of the worst dressed La Liga player, Dani Alves.
The latter’s claim ended with the Brasilian receiving a yellow card for claiming he was fouled whilst simultaneously being awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. Spanish refereeing at its finest.
Atleti had the chance to take the lead early in the second half through Godín and Torres who both failed to test the reserve of Bravo between the sticks.
Godín found himself a pocket of space and rose unopposed only to nod the ball over the crossbar. Same time last year that identical situation secured Atleti’s decima. The juxtaposition of both chances sums up the performances of Atleti in the current and previous league campaigns.
This woke up Barça (Messi) who then applied more pressure resulting in a piece of magic from the Argentine who played a one-two to break into the box and then proceeded to stroke the ball into the back of the net.
The final whistle brought the game to an end and with that the La Liga crown escaped the clutches of Madrid and made it’s way to Catalunya. For now.
Post-game notes and quotes
“We still depend on ourselves” – Cholo
“I congratulate Barcelona because they are deserved champions. Since December until now they have played phenomenally. I congratulate them because it is absolutely deserved.”
“For others, perhaps the Spanish Super Cup is not such a prestigious title, but Atleti had only ever won one in its history and now we have won the second one, so it is a significant achievement.”
Simeone reflects on the season and although the only silverware picked up was at the start of the season it is not so doom and gloom.
“But we are well, competing in our own championship with Sevilla and Valencia, we are three points ahead of our closest challengers, pending one match”
Cholo reiterates that this season has been about securing automatic Champions League qualification and warding off the likes of Valencia and Sevilla.
“in 50 years we have won two league titles. You have to work a lot and that is what we’re working for, to be among the very best.”
“Three years ago we were third, last year first, now we are fighting to be third again. It is very difficult to become champions. We will try to compete with the quality we have at our disposal.” – Simeone ended with.
“We depend on ourselves to be third” – Gabi
“We are going to Granada to take all three points. No one has given anything to this team for free. We are still fighting for our objectives.”
The skipper highlights the spirit of the squad, the unrelenting desire to achieve the best it can and this will be needed against an in-form Granada side scrapping for their lives.
“There is a game left at a tough ground against a team playing for its life. Both teams have much at stake and we have to focus on winning. Our fate is in our hands, which is good.”
Torres chimed in reinforcing his captains sentiment that concentration cannot be dropped and the the ‘championship’ against Valencia and Sevilla is far from over.
The Final Thoughts
- Jan Oblak had an excellent game and was equal to almost everything Barca threw at him. The young Slovenian has signed off for the season at the Calderon where he will no doubt be playing more regularly next season.
- Diego Godín had a strong match and dealt well with the irresistible threesome of Messi, Suarez and Neymar – the Uruguayan almost scored himself.
- Guilherme Siquiera showed fantastic abilities up front but left a lot of space down the left hand side. Whether or not the Brasilian will the first choice left back next season is yet to be seen.