Atletico Madrid finally ended the reign of Barcelona and Real Madrid, becoming the first team outside of those two giants to win the La Liga title since Valencia did it in 2004.
A 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou against the Blaugrana on Saturday was enough to give the Atleti the title, with the winning goal coming from Diego Godin. Squawka has images of the historic moment:
Alexis Sanchez had put the hosts up before half-time with a sensational blast from close range, leaving goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois no chance.
Atletico had to face Barcelona for most of the match without key contributors Arda Turan and Diego Costa, who both had to leave the pitch with injuries within the first 25 minutes.
But the team refused to roll over, equalising early in the second half on a corner and holding onto their one-goal lead to win their first title since 1997.
Via AS English, manager Diego Simeone couldn't explain the feeling of winning a league title this way, at the home of their closest rivals:
Simeone: "It's amazing. You can't explain it. Thanks to the players".— AS English (@English_AS) May 17, 2014
The Argentinian explained the reason his team's success this season, keeping it short:
Simeone: "What's behind this success? Work. Hard work".— AS English (@English_AS) May 17, 2014
Barcelona's Andres Iniesta would have loved to have won the title, but he had no problems admitting the Atleti were deserving winners:
Iniesta: "Atleti are deserved Champions"— AS English (@English_AS) May 17, 2014
Scorer Godin also emphasised hard work and dedication, echoing the sentiments of his coach:
Godín: "We've fought the whole year for this".— AS English (@English_AS) May 17, 2014
Via Barcastuff, manager Simeone was truly impressed with the reaction from a fantastic home crowd on his team winning the title:
Simeone (coach Atletico): "Ovation Camp Nou? One of the nicest things in football. Barça players, coaches and fans showed they have class."— barcastuff (@barcastuff) May 17, 2014
As shared by Kelechi Nkoro, David Villa was yet another Atletico player talking about "warriors" and the impact of his coach, as a pattern started to emerge:
David Villa: "With Simeone and lots of warriors we have achieved success." pic.twitter.com/0LOVuBVpa9— Kelechi Nkoro (@K1Says) May 17, 2014
Simeone truly seems to be loved by his players, and this Vine shared by Bleacher Report UK seems to back that up:
Atleti players celebrating with Diego Simeone: https://t.co/ws2FI6LTy9— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) May 17, 2014
Following the celebrations, Simeone had an unusual surprise for the assembled media: He brought his entire coaching staff with him into the press room. The Argentinian explained why, via ESPN's Dermot Corrigan:
Simeone: “This is moment to be with my people. The people you do not see on TV, but who work same or much more. They make the coach better.”— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) May 17, 2014
With his squad reeling following a difficult first half and a one-goal deficit, Simeone was truly impressed with the way his players stepped up after half-time:
Simeone: “Second half was impressive, the players respond in that epic way. Work, humility, knowing what they were doing.”— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) May 17, 2014
Gerardo Martino was reluctant to face the press following Barcelona's first trophy-less season in six tries. Per Corrigan, it took him a long time to make his way to the press room:
Still no Tata Martino in the Camp Nou press room...— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) May 17, 2014
Per The Telegraph's Richard Martin, Martino told reporters the loss was his last match in charge of the club, as he congratulated the new champions:
Gerardo Martino opens his press conference by declaring he is leaving Barcelona, and congratulates Atletico on their triumph.— Richard Martin (@rich9908) May 17, 2014
Via Corrigan, Martino stated the club did not meet the objectives they establish every year while also acknowledging Atletico were simply the better team this season:
Martino: "We did not achieve objectives club is used to, and has done year after year. We tried until the end, but met rival better than us”— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) May 17, 2014
Martin also noticed this odd scene, as Martino tried to leave the press conference before the rest of Barcelona's staff could finish:
Martino makes his farewell speech and then makes to leave, but press officer tells him to stay and listen to Zubizarreta's speech too.— Richard Martin (@rich9908) May 17, 2014
Atletico have plenty of reasons to celebrate, but their season isn't over. There's still the matter of the Champions League final against city rivals Real Madrid, who will be looking for their 10th title in the competition, one that has been at the top of their wish list for years now.
Losing Costa and Turan early definitely hurt the team today, and Simeone was asked about their availability for the Champions League final. The manager refused to make any statements on the matter, however, leaving reporters with just this quote, as shared by AS English:
Simeone: "The 'Profesor' (Atleti's physical trainer) won't be sleeping much before the Champions League final!"— AS English (@English_AS) May 17, 2014
Atletico did just fine without Turan and Costa on Saturday, but there's little question they are a far better team with both of them in the squad. Should either of the two be unavailable for selection, it will give Real a tremendous advantage going into the final.
But regardless of the outcome of that match, the Atleti can already look back on one of the best seasons in club history—one that includes a historic title win at the ground of their nearest challenger.