Today, at the Camp Nou, Barcelona FC were not crowned Spanish Football's domestic champions. This time it was Atletico Madrid who with a 1-1 draw won the title in the last La Liga match day of the season.
The Catalans stumbled backwards into the championship thanks to the amazing accumulation of poor domestic results among the top three La Liga teams over the past month. Just a few weeks ago it seemed Atletico was so far ahead no one would catch them. Then, as they stumbled, it was Real who seemed destined to sneak in and take the trophy. Then they tripped and it became a two team crawl to the finish where goal differentials and head-to-head tie breakers were the talk.
Finally it boiled down Atletico needing to win three games to garner two trophies and so far they lost the first piece of silverware. Ahead is the Champions League Final against Real, a Spanish Football sweep of European honors what with Sevilla's Europa League win, and a chance for redemption.
The game began ominously for Atletico as within 20 minutes both Diego Costa, via a recurring injury that has yet to fully heal, and Arda Turan, via a knock from Cesc Faregas, had to leave the game. Not the way Los Colchoneros coach, Diego Simeone, had envisioned starting the "final."
Things went from bad to worse as at the 34th minute Alexis Sanchez took a howler of a shot from an impossible angle and the ball went in at the right upper ninety of the goal defended by Thibaut Courtois. A golazo!
The half ended on a sour note as yellow cards had to be given to players who were arguing and pestering each other all game long.
At the 49th minute Diego Godin, Atleti's Uruguayan defender headed in the leveling score off a Gabi cross. With the game tied the visitors were in their comfort zone. This is Madrid's formula, score and then defend to the death.
Unfortunately for Simeone his third substitution had to be made for another injury, this time Adrian's.
But as the clock ticked down at the Catalans' home it was the Madrid side that seemed aware their improbable odyssey was at a close. At game's end the yellow shirted visitors' relief seemed in equal measure to their thrill.