The beautiful game of football witnessed one of its most dramatic days over the weekend as the football season across the top flight leagues in European football came to their respective ends.
The top flight leagues in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain all played their final matches of the season. Asides the English EPL, German Bundesliga, and the Italian ‘Scudetto’ Seria-A where the winners had already been known a few weeks before the final day, the other 2 leagues had to slug it out till the last game day to decide who walks away with the ultimate prize. This initiated the exciting buildup to what will be a tense, action packed, and mouthwatering finale.
In Spain, the decision of who wins the title between bitter city rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid was left till the last day, where the ultimate outcome rested on just the two games of the respective clubs. Atletico Madrid had had a good run and were sitting comfortably atop the table for the most part. They led the charge with 11 points clear at some stage, only to lose momentum and all advantage as the end drew nearer.
They sat on 83 points on the final day, while Real Madrid haunted them closely from behind with 81 points. Having been put at a disadvantage by the Head-to-Head between them and Real Madrid, Atletico simply had to win their final game if the title was going to be theirs. Los Blancos had work to do too. They also had to win their game if they were going to snatch the title on the last day. If both teams lost or won their games, the Colchoneros laughs last. If Real Madrid won and Atleti lost or played a draw, then the title goes to the Bernabéu!
Atletico took no chances
The match-day got off to an edgy start; both teams being a goal down at the halfway mark. Oscar Plano of Real Villadolid had found the net against Atleti in the 18th minute, and Yeremi Pino of Villareal had put one past Courtois in the 20th minute against Real. It was going to be a battle!
Atleti got an equalizer in the 57th minute through an Angel Correa strike, and immediately began to chase a much needed winner which inevitably came 10 minutes later from the foot of none other than the man Barcelona sold off for being “old”, Luiz Suarez. Call it poetic justice.
Things weren’t as easy on the other end where Villareal held Real Madrid off till just 3 minutes to stoppage time. Who other than the consistent hitman, Karim Benzema to do the job. Comeback was on! If the goal had come earlier, maybe it would have put huge pressure on Atleti to find a 3rd goal and make things safe, but the deal was sealed already. Not even Luca Modric’s 92nd minute winning goal had any consequence. Atletico Madrid clinched the title; their first in 7 years. Thanks to the brilliance of Barcelona reject, Luiz Suarez and the rest of the team.
French Ligue 1
Perhaps a more interesting story is that of LOSC Lille’s victory over at the Hexagon. The Uber Eats league delivered quite the meal this season with a very heated and satisfying title challenge; a kind we haven’t seen in many years as the league has been dominated by PSG for years.
The Paris club have hitherto won the league 7 straight times since 2013. This time around however, the title was keenly contested, and as the weeks went by, it became more and more a matter of who wanted it more, and who had more grit to keep fighting till the last day.
1 point makes the difference
By gameweek 37, only a point separated Lille (80) and PSG (79). It was going down to the final day! It was a win or nothing for both teams in their respective games, and that exactly was what both got. With only one point, LOSC Lille gobbled the Ligue 1 title for the first time in a decade! It’s the 4th in the club’s history. What makes the story even more intriguing is the ascendancy of LOSC Lille FC to this point. 3 seasons ago, Lille were seriously struggling and only escaped relegation by 1 point. They reorganized and incredibly finished 2nd in the season that followed. Last season they finished 4th, and now they are champions of France.
A touching moment while the players celebrated the victory is seen in a video where Lille left full back Reinildo says to his teammate, Timothy Weah in disbelief: “C’est vrai Tim ? Dis-moi que c’est vrai!” meaning “Is it for real Tim? Tell me that it’s true!”
Yes it is real Reini’! Your team has really won the French Ligue title, and we are all happy for you guys. Well deserved!
As the curtain closes down on what has been an eventful football season across Europe, fans of the beautiful game now look forward to the remaining two big games of the season. The UEFA Champions League final between England’s Manchester City FC and Chelsea, and the Europa Cup final between Manchester United and Villareal. Not forgetting also that the EURO 2021 will be taking center stage from June.