No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Nor do they expect Atletico Madrid. Their weaponry is almost the same, fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency and nice red uniforms - with a bit of blue and white thrown in.
Real Madrid and Barcelona spent 10 years battling for the La Liga title while the other teams were there to make up the numbers.
Atletico’s La Liga win wasn’t in the script, the bunch of misfits should have been content with third place but the wonderful thing about football is that people like to improvise.
The season started off with Radamel Falcao departing the Vicente Calderon for the money soaked streets of Monaco in an all too familiar situation, the club had weathered the sales of Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero in the preceding years but this time no big name came in as a replacement, only David Villa but he was past his best.
Everybody loves an underdog and Atletico’s victory is our 12th most memorable moment of 2014 at GiveMeSport.
Article continues below
Across the city Real announced the signing of Gareth Bale for a world-record €100m, Atletico could only look on with envy as their city rivals splashed the cash. Los Colchoneros’ income is only €120m, €400m less than their neighbours.
Atletico’s entire squad cost just €79m in contrast Real and Barcelona both spent over €500m to assemble sides that failed on four attempts to take all three points against Los Rojiblancos last season.
The team started the season with eight wins in a row including a 1-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real’s first home loss in La Liga in 34 games and their first home league defeat to Atletico this millennium.
Barcelona had also started the season brightly and were nipping at Los Colchoneros’ heels but Diego Simeone’s men were greater than the sum of their parts and an unbeaten run beginning at the end of October lasted until February, taking in a 0-0 draw with Barca and a 7-0 demolition of Getafe.
That loss to Almeria in February proved to be nothing more than a blip, aside from a 2-2 draw at the Vicente Calderon against Real, they won every game up to the end of April, a 1-0 win in Valencia meant that two wins in their last three games would guarantee the title.
It wouldn’t be football without some late drama, a 2-0 loss away to Levante piled on the excitement, Barcelona had dropped two points against Getafe the day before.
The Blaugranas then handed Atletico a second chance after dropping two points against Elche. Toby Alderweireld became the hero, Los Colchoneros threw away several chances before the defender rescued an equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Malaga.
That result meant that the final game of the season was a mouth-watering clash against Barcelona that would see one of them crowned champions. Atletico were three points clear of their title rivals but a Barca win would see them take the title on the head-to-head record.
It didn’t look good, in less than 25 minutes Diego Costa and Arda Turan were substituted because of injury, the former - who had scored 36 goals in 51 games - broke down in tears as he sat on the sidelines.
Simeone though had built a team, not several individual players and Los Rojiblancos soldiered on. Alexis Sanchez gave Barcelona the lead with a stunning half-volley from just outside the box but Atletico were stronger than that, nearly 97,000 people had packed into the Nou Camp and the majority were about to be devastated.
Four minutes into the second half Diego Godin rose above Barca’s defence to nod Gabi’s corner home. Neymar was brought on after a month out injured and Lionel Messi gave Barcelona the lead, or so he thought, his effort was ruled offside and despite late pressure Atletico held on for their first league title in 18 years.