Real Madrid v Villarreal, Valladolid v Atlético: La Liga title race finale – live!

Real Madrid v Villarreal, Valladolid v Atlético: La Liga title race finale – live!

22-May-2021 18:07:55 | The Guardian

Luis Suarez had the final word of an extraordinary season by scoring the title-winning goal in Atletico’s 2-1 victory at Valladolid

Suarez in tears on TV "Barca didn't value me and Atletico opened their doors for me. I will always be grateful to this club for trusting in me."

Sid Lowe has already filed his match report, class act that he is, so I’m going to leave you with that. Thanks for your company and emails. Goodnight!

Atlético Madrid’s captain Koke says they are destined to suffer, but they are champions of Spain. Some 5,000 fans gathered in the carpark outside the José Zorrilla stadium, while inside Diego Simeone’s side offered another exhibition in survival, coming from behind to win 2-1 at Valladolid and take the title at the end of a season that had twists to the last.

Related: Atlético Madrid clinch La Liga title after Luis Suárez seals win at Real Valladolid

Simeone walks over to embrace Kiko, the Valladolid sitting alone in tears, helping him to his feet before giving him a big hug. Now he’s strolling round the ground, taking it all in, smiling like an eejit. It’s almost impossible for those outside the Super League elite to win one title these days, never mind two. I doubt anything will top the 2013-14, given the level of competition, but this is still the most glorious achievement.

Atletico are champions of Spain again!

“Suarez and Simeone are proof that, sometimes, nice guys do finish first,” sniffs Niall Mullen.

Luis Suarez? Bloody hell. This is his fifth La Liga title, and the completion of an extraordinary story. I say ‘completion’, he’ll probably score the winner in the Champions League final against Liverpool next season.

Related: The story behind Barcelona's disastrous rejection of Luis Suárez

Late goals from Karim Benzema and Luka Modric gave Real victory, but it wasn’t enough. Atletico finish on 86 points, Real on 84, Barcelona on 79.

Some of the Valladolid players are in tears. They have been relegated along with Huesca, while the remaining European places go to Betis and Sociedad (both Europa League) and Villarreal (Europa Conference unless they win the Europa League final on Wednesday).

Diego Simeone can’t stop smiling as he embraces his staff, and the Atletico players are jumping around like the happiest idiots in the world. It was tighter than they thought it would be with 10 minutes remaining, but in a way that makes it sweeter - Real’s two late goals gives added value to those scored in the second half by Angel Correa and - of course - the extraordinary Luis Suarez. In the end, both were essential to Atletico’s title.

It’s all over!

90+3 min Trippier celebrates winning a throw-in! Simeone is bouncing around the technical area, telling his players to keep the ball in the corner.

Luka Modric smashes Real into the lead! Real have done their bit. Simeone waves his hands to signal to the players that they are one goal away from losing the title.

90+1 min Real break dangerously through the substitute Mariano, but his cross is too close to the keeper Rulli. That was another decent chance for Real.

90 min Three minutes added time in Valladolid, four in Madrid.

90 min: Chance for Valladolid! Sergi Guardiola, whose dreadful pass made Suarez’s goal, lashes a bouncing ball over the bar from 12 yards. He couldn’t get over the ball. But maybe he should have done etc?

89 min Simeone is growling at his players, making sure they realise this is far from a done deal.

The inevitable Karim Benzema gives Real a soupcon of hope with an expert finish from the edge of the area. Madrid need two goals to steal the title - one for them, one for Valladolid.

GOAL! Osasuna 0-1 Real Sociedad (Isak 86) A late twist in the Europa League race. Isak’s late goal means Socieded jump back into the top six, above Villarreal.

86 min Correa has a big goofy smile plastered all over his face as he walks to join the rest of the Atletico squad. Quite right too: his goal will go into Atletico folklore.

85 min Angel Correa, whose marvellous equaliser calmed Atletico down, is replaced by Hector Herrera.

83 min Modric shoots a few yards wide from the edge of the D. His face is not that of an expert poker player - he knows it’s over.

GOAL! Eibar 0-1 Barcelona (Griezmann 81)

79 min If it stays like this Atletico will win the league by five points, having been top since November, and the geeks of the future will look at the table and wonder why the old nerds are still talking about the drama of the 2020-21 season.

78 min Carrasco misses a half chance to clinch it, spanking high and wide on the run from Suarez’s clever pass.

77 min Johan Cruyff’s year at Feyenoord, superbly told in Andy Bollen’s new book, will always be my favourite revenge season. But sheesh, Suarez is running it close.

Related: 'Feyenoord forever, Cruyff never': when Ajax legend crossed the divide

75 min If there is to be a twist, Real Madrid need three goals: two for them, one for Valladolid. At the moment it looks highly unlikely.

GOALS! Elche 2-0 Bilbao, Celta 2-3 Betis

Betis have come from 2-0 down to lead at Celta, which means they jump above Sociedad into the Europa League places. Sociedad are drawing 0-0 at Osasuna. And Elche’s second goal means that Valladolid are down, and Huesca will join them unless they get a winner against Valencia.

71 min It’s now Celta 2-2 Betis. I’m still trying to process the events of the last few minutes, and trying to work out who writes Luis Suarez’s scripts.

“Hi Rob,” says Graeme Thorn. “I’ve seen a replay of that Benzema disallowed goal and it’s a lot closer than clearly offside - the Villareal #4 is possibly level with him as Casemiro plays it in. However, the replay I saw was from a camera level with the edge of the box, which might not be the view that the bods in the RFEF VAR bunker had to rule it out.”

69 min Just before that, Benzema missed a sitter for Real, dragging into the near post from 10 yards after a poor clearance from the keeper Rulli.

An abysmal pass from the substitute Guardiola went straight to Suarez on the edge of the centre circle. His first touch was superb, cushioning the ball into the space behind the defence, and he ran to the edge of the area before carefully guiding a low left-footed shot past Masip at the near post. For the second time in a week he is at the bottom of the most euphoric bundle, with players and substitutes charging over to celebrate.

Of course it’s him. Luis Suarez has put Atletico on the brink of the title!

66 min: What a miss from Benzema! Real should be level. But meanwhile...

66 min Villarreal make two changes: Francis Coquelin and Ruben Pena replace Bacca and Capoue.

65 min Real are getting more and more desperate, which probably isn’t the worst thing in the circumstances.

64 min At the moment Atletico are three points clear. But Real have the head-to-head advantage, so if they score twice at home to Villarreal they will go top.

63 min Changes galore. Valladolid bring on Sergio Guardiola for Marcos Andre, Atletico introduce Joao Felix and Renan Lodi in place of Saul and Hermoso.

62 min: Great chance for Valladolid! A stinging long-range shot from Olaza is pushed out but not away by Oblak, and the diving Weissmann heads the rebound over the bar from eight yards.

60 min Rodrygo and Isco are on for Real in place of Vinicius and Asensio.

Angel Correa has equalised for Atletico with a terrific goal! He twisted away from a couple of defenders on the edge of the D and improvised a sudden toebung that went through the legs of a defender and beat Masip to his left. That’s an outstanding goal, all his own work, and now Atletico are three points clear at the top.

Benzema was indeed offside, and all connected with Atletico are in love with VAR.


It’s still being checked. To the naked eye it looks clearly offside, but the longer this goes on...

VAR check Benzema heads in decisively from Casemiro’s floated cross - but he looks offside to me.

55 min I wonder if Atletico know the Real score. If I was Simeone I wouldn’t have told them. There’s no advantage in doing so, because the only thing it might do is make them subconsciously relax a bit. It’s better for them to think Real are 3-0 up.

54 min Vinicius’s chip from a tight angle is comfortably saved by Rulli.

GOAL! Celta 2-1 Betis (Iglesias 53) Betis are back in the hunt for fifth/sixth place.

52 min Odriozola’s cross from the right is headed just over by Eder Militao, a really good effort from the edge of the area. Real and Atletico have both made really strong starts to the second half.

It’s now Celta 2-0 Betis, which is good news for Villarreal in their hunt for a top-six place.

50 min: Chance for Gimenez! Llorente’s shot did hit the hand of a Valladolid player, but only after rebounding off another defender a yard away. Still, it’s been a very encouraging start to the half from Atletico, and moments later the leaping Gimenez heads over from six yards following a right-wing cross. That was another good chance, though he was straining to get over the ball.

50 min “Strange season all round,” says Mary Waltz. “Apart from Man City this is the season of, ‘It’s in your hands, take it’ followed by ‘Nah, I don’t want it, you can have it’.”

Rangers fans would disagree, but I know what you mean. Even Bayern were not quite as terrifying as usual; they only won the league by 13 points.

49 min Llorente has a snapshot blocked and appeals for handball, unsuccessfully.

47 min Atletico’s aggressive start to the half evokes that astonishing five minutes at the Nou Camp in 2014, when they could have scored four times in four minutes. They only got one, from Diego Godin, but that was enough to win the title.

46 min A flying start from Atletico, with Suarez having a diving header blocked from Llorente’s deflected cross. Atletico appeal for a penalty for a foul on Llorente after he put the cross in, but there was nothing in it.

Peep peep! And they’re off. This is it, no more time outs.

“It’s just occurred to me that both teams losing 1-0 is much better for Atletico than both winning 1-0, or both drawing,” says Nick Parish. “As it is there need to be two goals for Real to snatch the title, whereas in the other scenarios one goal would do it.”

That’s true. I’d still be very worried if I were an Atletico fan, though.

Half-time reading

Related: Lewandowski scores 41st Bundesliga goal of season to break Müller’s record

“It’s possible that I’ve mentioned this before,” says Matt Dony, “but I really dislike Barcelona. As such, I can not think of a single thing in the world of football that would be funnier than Luis Suarez winning the league for Atletico. And, I’d imagine, nor can he.”

And here’s what it all means. Elche’s goal is very bad news for Valladolid, who need Bilbao and Valencia to score if they are to have any chance of staying up.

Peep peep! Diego Simeone storms off the field, launching some spittle into the distance en route. Atletico have been poor - but so have Real, and that means Atletico still have a two-goal cushion across both games, for now.

Peep peep!

45 min Casemiro heads straight at Rulli from six yards. There wasn’t much pace on the ball, and he was under pressure, but it was still a presentable chance.

45 min We’ve just seen a replay of the Valladolid goal. It was beautifully done from the moment Weissman won a 50/50 on the right wing, 12 yards from his own goal. He played it up to Villa, who eased it back infield to Marcos Andre. He slid a lovely pass through to Plano, who had stormed into the space as soon as the ball went up to Villa.

42 min Both Atletico and Real are labouring. Villarreal, in particular, look very dangerous at Valdebebas. The lively left-back Pedraza cuts the ball back towards Bacca, whose shot has the sting taken out of it by a Real defender.

38 min The stretching Kiko makes a vital interception to stop Suarez’s pass putting Carrasco through on goal. At the other end, Weissman heads straight at Oblak from 12 yards.

37 min There’s a surprising lack of desperation from both Madrid teams, though I’m sure that will change if the scores stay like this.

34 min: Chance for Modric! Real almost equalise through Luka Modric, who drags a shot wide of the near post from 10 yards after a lucky rebound in the area. That’s Real’s first attempt on goal, I think.

GOAL! Celta 1-0 Betis (Aspas 32) That means, as things stand, Villarreal are up to fifth.

32 min In Valladolid, Suarez’s curling shot deflects behind off the head of Kiko. I don’t think it was going in. The resulting corner is headed over by Felipe, a decent chance even though he was under pressure.

31 min Villarreal almost grab a second when Pedraza’s low cross pinballs around the area.

30 min Between us, Atleti have been crap so far. Real haven’t been much better, but you know they’ll bring on Sergio Ramos to score twice in the last two minutes if needs be.

GOAL! Elche 1-0 Athletic Bilbao (Boye 28) A blow for Valladolid - Lucas Boye has put Elche ahead, which means Valladolid need favours in two games. As things stand, Huesca are now going down and Elche are staying up. I think. I DON’T KNOW THIS IS MY 48TH CLOCKWATCH OF THE WEEK AND I’M PERMUTATIONED OUT OKAY.

28 min That was Atleti’s first shot on target. They are losing, Real are losing. Nobody said it was easy.

27 min Trippier’s cross is headed into the side netting at the near post by Yamiq, who got into a real tangle. The resulting corner is headed straight at Masip by Gimenez (I think). Actually it came off his shoulder, not that it matters.

26 min Valladolid continue to look dangerous on the break. As things stand they are still going down, though that will change if Huesca concede at home to Valencia.

The teenager Yeremi Pino has put Villarreal ahead! He controlled Gerard Moreno’s short pass on the stretch, away from the last man Odriozola, and then flicked it nonchalantly past Courtois. There was a bit of fortune with the first touch, which wasn’t perfect but luckily wrongfooted Odriozola. But the finish was terrific.

And now Villarreal are ahead!

The goal came from an Atletico corner. Valladolid broke superbly, and Oscar Plano was played through on goal. He was inside his own half, which meant he was onside, and he ran to the edge oft he area before forcing the ball carefully past Oblak. That’s a terrific finish, not least as he was on his last legs with Gimenez right behind him. Simeone wags his finger to suggest it was offside; it wasn’t. Just one more thing: Plano grew up at Real Madrid.

Oh my goodness!

A reminder that you can follow the as-it-stands league table here. So far nothing has changed, because all the games are 0-0. But let me tell you, it’s pretty exciting watching nothing happen.

All seven La Liga games are 0-0. It’s too darn quiet.

12 min Saul’s header, from Trippier’s cross, is accidentally blocked by Suarez. It might have sneaked in, though there wasn’t much pace on it so Masip would probably have saved it. Either way, Atletico are starting to take control of the game. It’s still 0-0 in Madrid as well, though I’m not entirely sure what’s happening in that game because God only gave me two eyes.

11 min “I’ve just seen a shot of Simone - he’s gone for the Eraserhead hairstyle from the classic David Lynch film,” says Charles Antaki. “A brooding, aggressive but highly accomplished enigma - the film wasn’t bad either.”


10 min At the other end, Villa cuts inside and drives a low shot from 20 yards that is held at full stretch by Oblak. He made that look easier than it was.

9 min: Chance for Suarez! Carrasco’s cross from the left loops across the area to Suarez, who drags a volley back across the six-yard box. I think he was going for the goal, though the angle was prohibitively tight.

Valladolid 0-0 Atletico Apart from that half chance for Suarez, Atletico haven’t got going yet in Valladolid. We’ve had seven minutes.

Real Madrid 0-0 Villarreal Nothing much to report so far. You’re welcome.

Valladolid 0-0 Atletico After 40 seconds, Suarez rumbles through and has a shot blocked by Yamiq. The flag then went up, though it looked pretty close and would have been reviewed had he scored.

Peep peep! Atletico are under way ... and now, 20 seconds or so later, so are Real.

Five minutes to kick off. There are no more tomorrows: either Atletico will win their 11th league title, or Real will claim their 35th.

“Hola Roberto,” says Peter Oh. “How come Barry Glendenning and Jonathan Wilson aren’t doing a joint MBM of the Sunderland-Lincoln City League One promotion playoff semifinal second leg? As for La Liga, I would like to see the Yellow Submarine torpedo Real Madrid’s title hopes.”

I think they’re doing a live vlog. Here’s Baz reacting to the Lincoln goal.

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If Atletico do pull it off, it will be only the second time in 17 seasons that La Liga hasn’t been won by Real or Barcelona, and will enhance the already considerable legend of Diego Simeone. He was responsible for the miracle of 2014, when Atletico won the title on the final day at the Nou Camp after producing one of the best five-minute spells of football we have ever seen.

Related: Atlético Madrid celebrate La Liga title after draw at Barcelona | La Liga match report

Atleti fans already gathering outside the Estadio José Zorrilla in Valladolid to get as close as they can to what they hope will be a first title win in seven years #tsfpAtTheGames

For reasons of sanity, we’re going to focus on the two games at the top of the table. I’ll try to update you on the other scores, and will almost certainly fail. But you can keep up to speed here, or follow the as-it-stands league table here.

A reminder of the permutations

Two changes for Real: Raphael Varane and Marco Asensio come in for Nacho and Rodrygo.

✅ Our starting XI @Eng_Villarreal!#RealMadridVillarreal

#RealMadridVillarreal | Here is how the Yellows will line up on @LaLigaEN Matchday 38 against @realmadriden.

Let's go!

If this doesn’t put you in the mood, nothing will.

Related: Atlético and Real Madrid gear up for one final chapter in wild La Liga story

Atletico make one change from the team that squeaked to victory over Osasuna last weekend. Jose Gimenez replaces the suspended Stefan Savic in defence.

1️⃣1️⃣ INICIAL#RealValladolid | #RealValladolidAtleti | @MelendezPatatas


Hello. If Atletico Madrid win at Valladolid today, the line graph of their 2020-21 season will show that they went top of La Liga on 7 November and stayed there until the joyous end. A mathematical depiction of a glorious charge to an 11th Spanish title, right? Well, kind of, but it wouldn’t begin to tell the story of a title race that has been increasingly fraught.

Atletico were 11 points clear at the end of January, yet nobody really thought it was over. They dropped seven points in a fortnight in February and have had to fight tooth and nail ever since. It has been a flawed title race, and the champions’ points total will be the lowest since 2007-08, a pre-Pep world that we no longer recognise. Yet it has been all the more compelling for it, never more than so than last weekend, when Luis Suarez’s late winner against Osasuna kept the title in Atletico’s hands.

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