Who said there's a duopoly in La Liga?
For the first time since 1996, Atletico Madrid are champions of La Liga. Diego Simeone's men went into Camp Nou on Saturday and earned a 1-1 draw with Barcelona to secure their title.
Meanwhile, Barca and Real Madrid, who've grown accustomed to battling for the title among themselves, are forced to settle for second and third respectively. Those three will also be battling in the Champions League next year.
Have a look at the complete final standings:
|Final La Liga Table|
The Battle for the Top
Entering the final week, both Atleti and Barcelona controlled their own destiny. Barca trailed Atleti by three points in the table, but they held a big edge in goal differential. That meant Barcelona simply had to win the game on their home pitch and the league title would be theirs.
Barcelona entered the match with a sparkling 16-1-1 record at Camp Nou entering Saturday's epic showdown and had to like their chances of escaping the match with three points.
They must've liked their chances even more after Alexis Sanchez netted a goal in the 33rd minute and their 1-0 advantage held to halftime. Not to mention the fact that Atleti talisman Diego Costa was forced off the pitch with hamstring issues.
Atleti had come too far to be denied their title in the final week, however. Diego Godin netted a header in the 49th minute to level the score, and Atleti made the score stick.
Barcelona controlled 64 percent of possession, but they only had four on-target shots to show for their effort.
The match was not without controversy, and 101 Great Goals provides a picture they believe proves Barcelona were on the wrong end of a costly bad call:
After the game, an overjoyed Simeone was quoted by The Guardian's Sid Lowe as saying: "It's one of the loveliest things that you can experience in football. The applause rounded off the season wonderfully. We made history today. At half-time, I told them that we had played well."
Atleti's surprising run to the title is great for La Liga. Adding a new team into the title mix helps keep the drama on high. It will be tough for them to follow up their performance next season, however. Real and Barca will be busy this offseason as they quest to return to the top of the table.
Champions League Outlook
As mentioned, Atleti, Barca and Real all booked their spot in Champions League play for next season. Meanwhile, Athletic Bilbao, who finished a distant fourth, will attempt to qualify for Champions League play.
Bilbao didn't have to endure a lot of suspense over their position. They've been locked in for weeks and finished 17 points behind Real Madrid and seven points ahead of fifth-place Sevilla FC.
Of course, it is Real and Atletico who will battle in Lisbon’s Estadio da Luz next Saturday for this year's Champions League crown. With Diego Costa battling his hamstring, Real are in a good position to capture some hardware.
Europa League Outlook
By finishing in fifth, Sevilla booked their spot in next season's Europa League. Sevilla beat Elche 3-1 on Sunday, but they were already locked into fifth heading into the final week.
They finished four points ahead of both Villarreal and Real Sociedad. With the sixth- and seventh-place finish, both Villarreal and Real Sociedad will be attempting to qualify for next season's Europa League.
Osasuna, Real Valladolid and Real Betis wound up in the bottom three of the final standings. Cellar-dweller Betis have long had their fate sealed. It was a different story with Osasuna and Valladolid.
There was a lot up in the air in terms of the bottom three heading into the final week, and Valladolid was at the center of it.
If Valladolid could've beaten Granada, Granada likely would've finished in the bottom three. Granada won that match 1-0, however.
Almeria was also in danger of finishing in the bottom three, but a goalless draw against Athletic Bilbao gave them all the cushion they needed. It also ensured that, despite their 2-1 win over Real Betis, Osasuna would be stuck staring at relegation.
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