After a season of thrills, La Liga is all set for an epic finale. Out of the entire ensemble of clubs fighting for the title, only two remain in the ring; Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. In a coincidence of mammoth repercussions, the last match of these two clubs happens to be against each other. The climax to the La Liga season could not have been any more invigorating.
The Madrid club comes into the match as the favourites, having enjoyed a successful season under coach Simeone’s stolid ideologies. Their brand of football has taken Spain and Europe by storm; the club have deservedly earned themselves a place in the Champions League Final. With star players like Costa and Turan, the form and work rate has been sky high. Atletico’s incredible chemistry, understanding and sheer determination has been a formidable force this season.
The Blaugrana on the other hand, have had a rather turbulent season owing to several on-field and off-field problems. In the last 5 games, Barcelona have won only two. Quite frankly, the Catalans should have been out of the title race but thanks to last minute debacles at Madrid, they have been handed a lifeline.
Meanwhile, problems at the club have been rampant this season. Apart from the usual mix of injuries and drops in form, Barca have been hit with incongruity in the management. Manager Martinho’s team selection has alienated him from the fans and some players, most notably Messi has been ‘unhappy’ with the change in gameplay being forced upon him.
However, according to reports the blame falls on the club’s board who have apparently influenced the starting 11. But despite the numerous chinks, Barcelona have largely managed to stay on even keel and this weekend they have a chance at redemption.
While only a draw will suffice for Atletico Madrid, Barcelona will need to come with all guns blazing to salvage something from their shipwrecked season. It is not improbable that Simeone will field a defensive side and try to come out with a draw.
On the other hand, the former will need their players at their best to break down the formidable Atletico midfield. Neymar and Iniesta’s threat on the left has been their major strength and if that wing is efficiently closed down by their opponents, the going will get tough. The midfield of the Catalans’ will have to outshine themselves to stop the Atletico workhorses from getting through.
Atletico Madrid will draw inspiration from their win of Barcelona in the Champions League last month. Their energy and perseverance won them that fixture. But with much more at stake here, it could be a whole new ball game.
Despite the many gambits, the fixture is evenly balanced. Either side could win the game. One thing is sure though : it’s going to be one hell of an ending to a season.
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