It took nearly every minute of all 38 weeks, through all the deadlock and drama, but La Liga has finally crowned a champion with Atlético Madrid securing its first league title since 2014.
Keeping with the theme of the season, Los Colchoneros needed to survive yet another scare after conceding the opening goal to now-relegated Real Valladolid, which seemed to open the door to a second-place Real Madrid side needing a win and an Atlético slip-up.
But Zinedine Zidane's side also conceded early, and the La Liga apathy seemed to continue with each team entering halftime down a goal. However, Atlético's Ángel Correa equalized in the 57th minute and Luis Suárez gave Atlético the lead in the 67th, just a week after his 88th-minute goal against Osasuna sealed Atlético's first 2-1 comeback of the week and kept the side atop La Liga.
With a furious Real Madrid comeback thanks to goals from newly recalled French striker Karim Benzema and Luka Modriç against Villarreal, Suárez's goal would prove to be the one that clinched the title for Atlético.
Discarded by Barcelona and embarrassed by a failed transfer to Juventus after accusations of cheating on his Italian proficiency exam, Suárez's arrival at Atlético on a free transfer ended up as a title-defining move. After scoring 21 league goals this season, the 34-year-old fought through tears in his post-game interview as Atlético fans set off flares and fireworks outside Real Valladolid's empty stadium.
Atlético has ended each week atop La Liga dating back to Halloween, losing only once in its first 21 games of the season. But the club's facade slowly crumbled after dropping 21 points in the final 19 games, watching its 10-point cushion dwindle.
Yet Atlético wasn't the only powerhouse to be affected by a slump. Having failed to recover from a sluggish start, Real Madrid was left trophy-less for the first time in more than a decade despite going unbeaten since the end of January.
Meanwhile, a Barcelona side looking to repeat seemed most likely to pounce on Atlético's misfortunes. But La Blaugrana won only four of its last nine, despite multiple chances at taking first place outright, in what can only be described as an uncharacteristically toothless and unfocused run down the final stretch by a club that once reveled in such a chase.
In spite of Atlético's remarkable title win on 86 points, La Liga still revolves around Lionel Messi. The Argentine star sat out Barcelona's final match—a 1-0 win over Eibar—and is out of contract on June 30. After last summer's transfer saga, the soccer world will halt upon any inkling of his next move, whether he decides to stay at Barcelona or leave the storied club for a new challenge.
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