Once upon a time…La Liga in Spain was closing down to its final week and the title was still on the line for both Barcelona and surprise-team Atletico Madrid. Coming into the final round, Atletico was one point ahead of the defending champions. Much to the pleasure of fans around the world, the final game of La Liga 2013-2014 would be between Barcelona and Atletico in Camp Nou with everything to play for.
Simeone’s Atletico had emerged as the Cinderella team of the year and had even eliminated Barcelona from Champions League in quarterfinals. The defensively minded Atletico side had already qualified for the Champions League final against arch-rivals Real Madrid. However, they came into the final game of the season with some starters battling injuries.
On the other hand, Barcelona had already lost the Copa del Rey final and were eliminated prematurely from Champions League. Luckily for them, they had the opportunity to avoid their first trophyless season since 2007/2008 by winning the title at home.
In less than 30 minutes, Atletico loses both Diego Costa and Arda Turan to injuries and had to rely on their practically shallow bench. They showed no interest in actually keeping the ball and creating opportunities but seemed comfortable with sitting back and waiting for a mistake by Barcelona.
However, Alexis Sanchez opened up the scoring in the 31st minute with a world-class volley that beat Atletico keeper Thibaut Courtois at his near post. Barcelona’s second leading scorer had finally gotten the nod in a big game after not starting for most of the season.
The championship parade died down in Camp Nou when Diego Godin rose up to the sky to connect with his head and spiked the ball past a diving Jose Manuel Pinto to even the score. The uruguayan centre back was left unmarked during the corner kick and his goal was temporarily giving Atletico the title in Camp Nou
As expected, Atletico dropped back and battled for their life to keep the one goal lead for the remaining 40 minutes. The Catalans would eventually send up all their players hoping to find the game winner. Gerard Pique played as a center forward for the last 10 minutes of the game and only Alex Song remained behind the ball to prevent a counter-attack.
Lionel Messi would end up scoring the go-ahead goal in the 60th minute with a volley inside the six-yard box but the goal would eventually be incorrectly waived off for offsides. In the play, Messi is seen clearly in an offsides position but it was Atletico’s Juanfran who touched the ball before Messi. When the original cross had come in, Messi was also behind the defenders. A goal incorrectly marked offsides that would eventually prove to be crucial.
At the end of the day, Atletico squeaked by another tie against Barcelona and were able to clinch their first league title in almost 20 years. A beautiful memory in the eyes of the Atletico faithful who were proud to see their team amongst the giants of Spain once again. The cinderella team from the working part of the capital were once again the best in Spain. As for Barcelona, it was the exclamation mark of a horrible season which led to a revolution in the club and a Luis Enrique-led treble the next season.
The Catalan side would eventually get revenge on Atletico the following season by clinching their title in the Vicente Calderon. Nonetheless, Diego Godin’s league-winning header will haunt Barcelona fans for the rest of their lives.