La Liga: Atlético 0 – 1 Barcelona
Barcelona crowned champions of La Liga at the Vicente Calderón
Barcelona were confirmed champions of La Liga on Sunday evening as Atlético slumped to a 1-0 defeat and lost their crown at the Vicente Calderón.
Atleti started on top, and the opening part of the match saw the La Liga champions put pressure on this year’s probable winners.
Some great interplay from Griezmann and Siqueira almost opened up Barcelona in the opening seven minutes. A cheeky backheel almost gave our Frenchman some space, but the ball was shepherded out of play.
Atleti almost scored from the resulting corner kick too. A flick off the back of Giménez sent the ball looping up and over into the back of the net but Claudio Bravo did well to hook the ball away.
Bravo pulled off another reflex save a couple of minutes later after Griezmann hit a volley inside the eighteen yard box, however the assistant’s flag was up anyway for offside.
It wasn’t too long before Barcelona had their first chance, and it was Lionel Messi with a shot on the edge of the box after some link-up play between Neymar and Iniesta. The Argentinean’s shot was straight down the throat of Jan Oblak and didn’t cause too many problems.
After this, Barcelona came more into the match and Messi had another two attempts at the Atlético goal. The visitors should perhaps have had a penalty after Juanfran handled the ball in his own area, but it wasn’t seen by the officials.
There was a louder shout for a penalty on the half-hour mark, but this one did result in a decision. Simulation on the part of Dani Alves, after the Brazilian dived forward as soon as he crossed the threshold into the Atleti box, under no pressure from Godín.
Yellow card for diving, but a free kick given for a tug of Alves’ shirt outside the area. Strangely sensible refereeing.
The resulting Messi free kick grazed the top of the crossbar after he fizzed one in, and out for an Oblak goal kick.
It was Dani Alves who nearly redeemed himself just before half-time, as the right-back fired a shot from distance to test Oblak. It was dipping just under the Slovenian’s crossbar but a firm hand from the Atlético goalkeeper pushed it over the crossbar.
Torres had an opportunity for Atleti in the opening throws of the second half, but couldn’t get enough behind the shot to trouble Claudio Bravo.
As the game approached the hour mark, word had filtered through to the Vicente Calderón that Real Madrid had taken the lead away at Espanyol. To clinch the title, Barcelona needed to either win or match the Real Madrid result.
The Barca players knew this and were fighting for every ball. Gabi got into a bit of trouble for deliberately tripping Neymar as the Blaugrana surged forward.
The Barcelona goal was to come, and it was Lionel Messi that gave Luis Enrique’s men the lead at the Vicente Calderón. The Argentinean, after sensing that Cristiano Ronaldo had scored, played a one-two with Pedro inside the Atlético box before slotting it into the bottom corner of Jan Oblak’s net.
The visitors had the chance to make it 2-0 just a few minutes later but a through ball from Messi to Neymar set the Brazilian up to sky a shot well over the crossbar.
Atleti made moves to get back into the game, driven by their desire to clinch third place. Mandzukic came on to replace Arda Turan and instantly caught Busquets in possession. However the referee saw something he didn’t like and blew for a foul.
Pedro almost made it two with 14 minutes to go. He sidestepped both Giménez and Gabi before curling a strike just wide of the Atlético post.
Siqueira had an optimistic attempt from distance that troubled Claudio Bravo, and the goalkeeper was made to tip it over for a corner.
As the final minutes of the game ticked down, Barcelona were on course to become champions. Real Madrid needed a favour from their arch-rivals but Los Rojiblancos won’t be too disappointed that they didn’t get the goal that would deny Barcelona the La Liga title.
Messi had the chance to put it beyond doubt with a free kick in the closing minute, but a spectacular save from Jan Oblak was enough to delay the celebrations, if only for a couple of minutes.
The final whistle went, and Barcelona were crowned champions at Atlético’s stadium, a reversal of this exact date last year. Some unsavoury scenes appeared at the end of the game between Godín and Neymar, and then Siqueira and Messi, but in the end the Atlético players congratulated the new champions as they left the field.
|Atlético Madrid||0 1||Barcelona|
|17 May 2015|