It wasn’t easy or pretty, but a Lionel Messi goal in the second half gave Barcelona a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid to clinch a 23rd La Liga title a week before the end of the season, making Real Madrid’s 4-1 win over Espanyol redundant.
It’s hard to say the Colchoneros were too happy about the prospect of having Barcelona celebrating a championship at the Vicente Calderon, but they were conflicted; helping out Real Madrid isn’t in their DNA.
In the end, the compromise meant a regular Atletico Madrid game. A lot of physicality, but very little flair, spark or creativity. Only after the conceding the Messi goal did they start creating some chances near Claudio Bravos’ goal, most of them once Mario Mandzukic was introduced.
But it didn’t matter. Barcelona this season don’t have an Atletico problem. Even without Luis Suarez playing, they don’t seem like they have any sort of problem, finishing the season in incredible form, putting Luis Enrique in a situation in which he can win a treble on his first season as the team’s manager, just like Pep Guardiola.
Cristiano Ronaldo? He’ll win the Pichichi once again. He and Real Madrid were fantastic until December, but then injuries and simply poor form and ability from time to time ruined what could have been a historic season. Barcelona now can be relaxed heading into two finals, while Real Madrid finish another season without any title (their second in three years), wondering how they’ve won just one league title in seven seasons. Barcelona have won five over that span.