Talking points from La Liga weekend action: Atleti does it the hard way
The last time Atletico won the La Liga title in 2014, things went until the last day – and it was no different seven years later. Knowing that a win would secure them the title, Atleti started nervously against relegation-threatened Valladolid – slipping behind Oscar Plano’s early strike and looking like the opportunity might come to them as they struggled in front of goal.
Angel Correa’s equalizer did little to ease nerves as they offered a golden chance that Valladolid striker Shon Weissmann managed to miss before Luis Suarez put them in charge. There was still a lot of nerves for the fans towards the end. With Real Madrid beating Villarreal in their game, it would have been enough of an equalizer at Valladolid for the title to head to the other half of the Spanish capital.
Changing of the guard in Madrid and Barça? The two Spanish soccer giants have had disappointing campaigns that could mark a guard change, with their aging teams in need of overhauls.
Real club captain Sergio Ramos and his Barca counterpart Lionel Messi both see their contracts expire next month, while doubts also surround coaches Zinedine Zidane and Ronald Koeman. Likewise, there are questions to be answered for several star players as both sides seek to rebuild themselves to compete both domestically and on the continent.
Betis’ remarkable 2021 award in Europe With all eyes on the clubs vying for the title, Real Betis could claim to have been the league team in 2021.
They have lost only twice in the calendar year, including a spectacular 2-0 comeback to beat Celta Vigo on the final day, to secure Europa League football next season. This represents a remarkable turnaround for coach Manuel Pellegrini, who oversaw nine losses in the first half of the campaign, which at one point saw them 15th in the league and in danger of having to fight in relegation.
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