La Liga: FC Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid

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Atletico Madrid came into Barcelona’s L’Estadi Camp Nou looking to earn their first La Liga title since 1996, knowing that anything besides a Barcelona victory would see them declared Campeones de España.  The match saw the return of former Barca star David Villa into the Atletico side, as he lined up alongside Diego Costa for the Rojiblancos in the 4-4-2 formation.

Barcelona would line up without Brazilian star Neymar in the starting XI, he would begin on the bench. Aside from that, Barca ran out their normal 4-3-3 with Leo Messi playing the fabled ‘false 9′ role up front.

FIRST HALF

The match kicked off to a fantastic atmosphere and just 4 minutes in the first card was shown in this feisty affair as Gerard Pique was shown yellow for a late challenge on Atletico’s Koke, the ensuing free kick was sent wide of the net. Early on there was excellent defense by both sides, but especially from Atletico Madrid.

In the 14th minute, Atletico star (and future Chelsea forward) Diego Costa pulled up on a run down the flanks, nursing a hamstring. He was unable to continue, and had to be subbed off for Adrian in the 16th minute. Just 3 minutes later, Arda Turan goes down and the manager looks on in disbelief, Turan could not continue either, and so manager Diego Simeone is forced to use his 2nd substitute within the first 25 minutes, as Rual Garcia replaces Turan in the 22nd minute.

Barcelona began to dominate Atletico, firing shots towards Atletico’s Chelsea loanee, Thibault Courtois. Atletico maintained their shape and containment, especially of the mercurial Argentine Lionel Messi.

Dani Alves began making an impact on the match, with one beautiful cross after another that were sent just wide or over the Madrid goal, including an inch perfect cross in the 25th minute that was just sent over the bar. The match had turned to a very physical affair, with both sides getting stuck into their tackles and making the opposition think about every neutral ball.

In the 33rd minute Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez scored one of the best goals of the La Liga season. A cross into the box was settled down by Leo Messi and knocked to the feet of Sanchez who volleyed a rocket into the net, an unstoppable shot. The Barcelona supporters went mad, the Atletico players seemed distraught, the title game had swung towards Barcelona.

Frustrations boiled over, on 35 minutes Diego Godin was shown a yellow for a very dangerous tackle on the goal scorer Sanchez, he was lucky to not be shown a red. Towards the end of the half, the tides turned to favor Atletico Madrid, with a flurry of chances going wide of Barca keeper Pinto in the net. Pinto was challenged on corners, and Atleticos service into the box was brilliant.

SECOND HALF

At the half it remained 1-0 to Barcelona, but the match was far from over. Atletico had begun to knock on the door, with chance after chance being saved or just sent wide of the goal. Moments after the whistle blew to kick off the 2nd half, Barcelona’s post was shaken with a thunderous shot from David Villa, but the keepers best friend kept the ball out. Another shot moments later by the striker was saved by Pinto. Madrid looked deadly, and nearly sure to score if this continued.

The goal Atletico were working for game in the 48th minute, and it was well worth the wait. Diego Godin powering a header past Pinto from a corner, and the Atleti supporters went mad. 1-1, and the title was now back in Atletico’s hands.

In the 56th minute, Barcelona were forced into a substitution as Busquets could not shake off an injury sustained in a collision with Tiago. Alex Song came on in his place. The Brazilian star Neymar began warming up, but did not make an appearance until the 62nd minute, when he replaced Pedro.

In the 63rd minute Barcelona thought they had taken the advantage, as Messi volleyed a cross into the top of the net for a brilliant goal, but the offside flag was up as the Argentinian maestro was ahead of the last defender. 1-1 still, but Barcelona were on the attack. Neymar and Messi began to imprint themselves on the game, as Barcelona’s attacks became more dangerous.

In the 75th minute a free kick nearly saw Diego Godin establish an Atletico lead, but it was cleared by Barcelona. Xavi came on for Barcelona, with Cesc Fabregas going off in the hopes Xavi could help create a title winning goal for the Blaugrana


The two sides began trading punches like the Spanish heavyweights they are, neither team budging an inch, shot after shot testing the keepers who stood tall.

Atletico Madrid’s league leading defense had to be at its best against the talents of Messi, Neymar, Alves and others. Barcelona’s 2nd best defense had a lucky break after the loss of Diego Costa, but David Villa looked a man possessed to score a goal in the 2nd half against his former club.

After 3 minutes of extra time, Atletico Madrid’s bench exploded onto the field as the whistle sounded, Champions of Spain for the first time since 1996!

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Tags: Atletico Madrid FC Barcelona La Liga