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La Liga: FC Barcelona 1-1 Atlético Madrid: Match Review

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A review of Barcelona's 1-1 draw against Atlético Madrid which gave the Madrid side the La Liga title.

David Ramos

The game started with Atlético looking lively and full of confidence. The league leaders seemed unfazed by the daunting 99,000 strong Camp Nou crowd and were determined to play their own game. This spell lasted for a couple of minutes but Barça grew into the game and found space down Dani Alves' right-flank. Alves' hooked cross fell to the feet of Andrés Iniesta, but the Spaniard was left with little time and arrowed his shot wide.

Eager to get ahold of the game, Barça restarted the play quickly every time they were awarded a free kick or throw-in. Iniesta and Fàbregas were working overtime to link with the front three. But Atlético always looked dangerous on the break and Koke charged towards the defence. With Diego Costa making a run ahead of him, Koke looked to chip the ball to him. He clashed with Gerard Piqué and the defender was harshly booked.

In the game turned into end-to-end football. Adriano tried his trademark golazo while Piqué was forced into a panicked clearance at the other end. But then the game changed. Diego Costa broke forward but pulled up looking like a man who knew his game was other. He seemed to have agitated his hamstring injury that had kept him out previously. He was replaced by Adrián and was seen crying on the bench, perhaps with next week's trip to Lisbon and the summer's trip to Brazil on his mind.

A blow to Atletico's chances was only made worse ten minutes later. Arda Turan became sandwiched between Cesc Fàbregas and the referee. He went down clutching his ribs, an action which some fans inside the stadium thought was an act to stop Barça's building momentum. It turned out to be the real deal and Turan left the field for Raul Garcia.

Atlético looked visibly shocked by the loss of two of their best players and Barcelona were looking to capitalise. Alexis and Pedro both had headers which were saved or wide but it wasn't long before Barcelona did break the deadlock. A chipped ball from Cesc Fàbregas was chested down by Lionel Messi. Alexis Sánchez snapped onto it and hammered the ball towards the goal. At such an acute angle, there was such a small gap for Courtois to be beaten in. Alexis found that gap. The ball was hit with such venom that it flew past the helpless keeper as it fired Barça into the lead.

The goal seemed to vitalise Lionel Messi who was suddenly appearing all over the pitch. Willing to take anyone on and more often then not beating him. But Atlético didn't look down and out and ended the half stronger. A Dani Alves clearance was all that stood between them and going in at half time level.

When the teams did remerge after the interval, it was the Madrid team who came racing out of the blocks. David Villa worked space in the box before firing the ball at the post, which seems to be the story of Villa's season. The pressure was mounting when Koke line up to take a corner. Godín was left unmarked and rose high to head the ball past a diving Pinto.

Atleti were level and looking to land the knockout blow. Barcelona were retreating and struggling to keep ahold of the ball. The inability to retain possession was not helped when Sergio Busquets withdrew from injury. The pivote struggled with a hip injury before Martino decided to swap him for Alex Song.

A couple of minutes later, Neymar was brought into the fray. The Brazilian looked lively as Barcelona searched for the league winning goal. The Catalans did manage to get the ball in the net just past the hour mark. Five yards from goal, the ball ricocheted off Cesc Fàbregas' shins into the path of Messi. He hammered into the back of the net but Atlético were saved by the linesman's flag.

Later, Messi charged towards goal before being hacked down by Filipe Luis. The resultant free kick was hammered into the wall but allowed Atlético to waste some time by moving the wall forward when the referee had his back turned.

Fifteen minutes to go, Xavi was brought on in the place of Cesc Fàbregas. The pressure was building and building on Atlético. Gerard Piqué played as a makeshift centre forward with Song and Mascherano staying back. Piqué was targeted by a cross but Godín tumbled into the back of him. Replays suggested it should be a penalty but the referee disagreed.

The pressure continued to grow but Atlético stood firm and won their tenth La Liga crown.