Atlético de Madrid have won La Liga in dramatic fashion, by defeating Real Valladolid 2-1 on the last day of the season.
Before the game, they were two points clear of local and title rivals Real Madrid, meaning that both sides could win the league on its final day if the other slipped up.
Both Madrid sides got off to a shaky start, with Real Madrid going a goal down to Villareal and Atlético also trailing to Valladolid. But second half goals from Ángel Correa and Luis Suarez put Atlético ahead, meaning that despite a resurgence from Real Madrid, with Karim Benzema equalising in the 87th minute and Luka Modric scoring in stoppage time, the red and whites had already done enough to become champions for the first time in seven years and only the third time in more than three decades.
It has been an outstanding season for the red and whites who first moved to the top of the table months ago, on the 9th match day of the season.
Since then, their good form continued which enabled them to open up a nine point gap over their title rivals, Real Madrid and Barcelona, when all teams were 21 games into the season with 17 left to play.
Since then, however, a slight dip in form which saw them drop points in a number of games, gave Barcelona and Real Madrid the opportunity to close that points gap, and both Spanish giants did so by winning their games and clawing themselves back up into the title race.
The pressure was on Atlético, and by matchday 30, they were clinging on to their lead, sitting above Real Madrid by a just single point. With Atlético on 67 points, Real Madrid on 66, and Barcelona on 65, Diego Simeone’s side were no longer favourites to win the title, with both the bookmakers and fans alike assuming that they would fall from the top spot any day.
This widely held assumption became reality on matchday 31, with Barcelona finally overtaking Atlético and sitting top on 71 points. Both Real Madrid and Atlético were just behind the Catalans on 70.
But Atlético did not crumble under pressure, nor did they give up on winning their first title since 2014, and were able to regain their lead at the top quickly, although there was never going to be a comfortable points gap between the leaders and their rivals, as there had been earlier on in the season. With just a few games left, the title would go to the wire, only to to be settled on the final day.
It has turned out to be a dream season for Atlético de Madrid whose signing of Luis Suarez, last summer, has proved to work miracles for the club. The Uruguayan striker has revitalised his career at Atlético, scoring a total of 21 goals, which is five more than his tally for Barcelona last season, becoming his club’s top scorer this season, and most notably propelling his side to the title and scoring the decisive goal.
Barcelona fans will be left scratching their heads, after Ronald Koeman had told Suarez at the end of last season that he was surplus to requirements. The fact that he was sold to a rival club, became an instant success and won them the league has proven to be a spectacular self-inflicted wound for Koeman’s side, a decision that has backfired by gargantuan proportions.
The 2020/21 season therefore finishes with Atlético de Madrid as champions, Real Madrid runners-up, Barcelona in third and Sevilla getting fourth spot to secure a place in the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds.
5th placed Real Sociedad and 6th place Real Betis have earned their place in next season’s Europa League. 7th placed Villarreal are already in this season’s final in which they will face Manchester United. Villarreal have also now qualified for a new competition called the Europa Conference League which starts for the first time in September
The bottom three of Huesca, Valladolid and Eibar have all been relegated, a fact that will be hard to swallow for Huesca who descended into the relegation zone on the final day after drawing at home to Valencia whilst Elche picked up a shock win against Athletic Bilbao to survive the drop at the final hurdle.