On this day two years ago, Barcelona headed into the final game of the season knowing a win at home against Atletico Madrid would see them snatch the title from their opponents.
Barcelona 1 Atletico Madrid 1
The equation was simple at the Camp Nou: if Barca could topple Atleti, they would win the title for the fifth time in six seasons.
The Rojiblancos on the other hand came into the game safe in the knowledge that – with a three point lead over the Catalans – simply avoiding defeat would clinch them a first league win since 1996.
Atletico faced a tough task against a fired-up Barca team, and their hopes weren’t done any good when they lost two key men inside 20 minutes.
The first to limp off was Diego Costa, who had bagged 27 goals in the league that season, lasting just 14 minutes before his hamstring went after a brief sprint. He left the field in tears.
Then, creator Arda Turan landed on his back awkwardly in a challenge and he too was unable to continue. Not a perfect start for the away side.
Having stifled what the hosts had thrown at them with great effect, it was a huge blow to Diego Simeone’s side when a moment of brilliance from Alexis Sanchez gave Barcelona the lead.
Lionel Messi provided a perfect chest-down from Cesc Fabregas’ curling ball, straight into the path of the onrushing Sanchez, who lashed a first-time effort in from a narrow angle to give Barca the situation they wanted.
But that was not to be the end of matters, as Atleti made a storming start to the second half.
David Villa struck the post with a quick turning shot, before the former Barcelona man had a a low effort well saved by Pinto.
They were to be rewarded for their quick start when they levelled the match. Gabi whipped a corner into the middle of the box where centre-back Diego Godin rose highest to send a bullet header low into the back of the net, stunning the home crowd.
Messi thought he had given Barcelone the lead again midway through the second half, but the Argentine’s effort was ruled offside, before Atletico keeper Thibaut Courtois produced a moment of brilliance to tip over a Dani Alves shot that was destined for the postage stamp.
The Atletico players held their nerve to keep Barcelona at bay in the final 10 minutes before the final whistle confirmed their status as league champions.
The Guardian described the scenes after the final whistle.
“Atletico Madrid have won the league, the first team outside of Barcelona and Real Madrid to do so since 2004. They celebrate on the pitch amid whistles and boos from the home crowd, which I think are directed towards Tata, Messi and co – the Atletico players are respectfully applauded. Their 447 fans, on the other hand, have gone nuts.”
Barcelona: Pinto, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano, Sergio, Cesc, Iniesta, Alexis, Pedro, Messi. Substitutes: Olazabal, Xavi, Neymar, Jordi Alba, Song, Bartra, Tello.
Goals: Alexis 32
Atletico Madrid: Courtois, Filipe Luis, Godin, Miranda, Juanfran, Gabi, Tiago, Koke, Arda, Villa, Diego Costa. Substitutes: Aranzubia, Alderweireld, Sosa, Mario Suarez, Diego, Adrian, Raul Garcia.
Goals: Godin 49
What they said
Diego Simeone was thrilled his side had managed to see out the job and win the title.
“Today we could make history. Not at any moment did I feel that the game was getting away from my team. I know them. I knew they could respond, and the bigger the challenge, the better.”
Diego Godin, who scored the equaliser, was similarly pleased to be brining the championship back to the capital.
“We fought all season long, hanging on against difficult teams, and against Real Madrid and Barcelona.
“We felt the pressure, a lot of things were going against us. But the coach told us just to be confident, and believe in ourselves, and the goal would come.”
As expected, coach Gerardo Martino said he was stepping down after Barcelona finished the season without a major trophy for the first time since 2008.
“We tried it until the end with dignity and we met an opponent that was better than we were,” Martino said. “I want to congratulate the great rival Atletico has been during the entire season.”