The final weekend of the 2013-14 La Liga season is underway, and all the glory ultimately boiled down to one fateful match.
Astonishingly enough, it was Atletico Madrid who entered Matchday 38 three points clear of the top of the table and with the ability to win the league with any points in their final match.
The problem? That match came on the road at Barcelona, who could repeat as champions with a victory over Atletico at home after being seemingly out of the hunt weeks ago.
It's been one of the more unpredictable and exciting finishes to La Liga in some time, but the final chapter will decide it all. Meanwhile, a handful of clubs will look to avoid relegation and others will hope to build momentum heading into next season.
Here's a look at the latest results from Matchday 38:
Now let's take a glance at every La Liga player who netted a goal over the weekend:
|2||Alvaro Morata||Real Madrid|
|2||Vincente Iborra de la Fuente||Sevilla|
|1||Gareth Bale||Real Madrid|
|1||Diego Godin||Atletico Madrid|
|1||Inigo Lopez||Celta Vigo|
|1||Giovani Dos Santos||Villarreal|
|1||Carlos Vela||Real Sociedad|
|1||Oriol Riera Magem||Osasuna|
|1||Javier Acuna Caballero||Osasuna|
|1||Francisco Chica Torres||Real Betis|
|1||Roberto Trashorras||Rayo Vallecano|
Week 38 Recap
The lone match to open Week 38 on Friday featured two clubs playing for nothing more than a meaningless finishing position in the table. One club's performance reflected that, while the other came out like their season was on the line.
Levante was lifeless on the road, Malaga looked as inspired as they have all season and the home club sent their fans home happy with a dominating 1-0 win that was much more lopsided than the scoreline suggests.
Malaga ripped a whopping 25 shots throughout the contest, 11 of which were on goal. That's compared to two total shots for Levante—none on goal.
Despite the dominance and holding 60 percent possession, Malaga didn't break through until the 60th minute, when Francisco Portillo connected from the right side of the box for the eventual winner.
Malaga had another chance to pad their lead in stoppage time, per Soccer-Spain:
Penalty for Málaga on Juanfran. Casado wants to take it (to celebrate his return after injury?), but he fires it in to the stands!!!— SOCCER-SPAIN (@LoveLaLiga) May 16, 2014
It hasn't been a season to remember for Los Boquerones, who look destined for the bottom half of the table after finishing in sixth last season. With manager Bernd Schuster on his way out, per Football Espana, Malaga will have one season-ending win to build momentum on top of as their new boss arrives.
Entering Saturday’s action, all eyes would be firmly fixed on Barcelona’s tussle with Atletico Madrid—and it didn’t disappoint. Madrid were three points clear of Barca entering the last week of La Liga play, so any points would give them the title.
Barca, on the other hand, needed to win at home for the La Liga trophy, and they were determined to play spoiler. Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring with a ridiculous strike that whistled into the net at an incomprehensible angle to give the hosts the lead and sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
Atletico Madrid would lose star striker Diego Costa—who left with a hamstring injury in the 14th minute—and Arda Turan so their title was definitely in jeopardy.
Early in the second half, however, Diego Godin got his head on the end of a corner kick and levelled the score.
The Atletico defense held strong despite Barcelona controlling 64 percent of the possession and Madrid held on for a point and consequently the title.
This is the first time in a decade that a team other than Real Madrid or Barcelona has won the league, and it’s Atletico’s first crown in 18 years.
In other news, Real Madrid capped off a relatively disappointing domestic season with a 3-1 win over Espanyol thanks to three second-half goals—one from Gareth Bale and a brace from Alvaro Morata.
Despite the win, fans of Los Blancos left the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium with concern over the status of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese star was initially listed in the starting lineup but he pulled out of the match moments before kick-off because he wasn’t comfortable with the hamstring that he injured over a week ago.
It may just have been a precaution to keep him fresh for the Champions League final, but it certainly is a concern for Real Madrid.
Sunday, the final day of the La Liga season, figured to be far less exciting than the day before with the title having already been decided. But with six games on the slate and two relegation spots still open, everything was on the line for some clubs.
Osasuna and Real Valladolid both needed to secure three points at home and have help from others to keep from being knocked down a league.
In Osasuna's showdown with Real Betis, the home side pulled out the crucial 2-1 victory. But on the other side, Real Valladolid were defeated 1-0 by Granada—guaranteeing their relegation.
Osasuna's three points would have been enough had one of a few other teams lost. But with Almeria securing a point and Granada and Getafe winning, it didn't matter. With 39 points, Osasuna didn't have enough to avoid being the third and final team in the relegation zone. Real Valladolid joined them with 36 points.
To add insult to injury for Osasuna, a scary incident happened early in their match against Real Betis. After Osasuna scored first in the 12th minute, fans spilled out onto the pitch and the action left "dozens of fans" hurt, according to Reuters via Yahoo! Eurosport:
Unfortunately for Osasuna and their fans, the celebrations ended up going unwarranted as their side's 2-1 win wasn't enough to avoid being relegated.
In the close-out match to the La Liga slate, Sevilla poured it on offensively for a 3-1 home rout of Elche—who were lucky to escape relegation despite the loss.