2013/14 was the year in the La Liga that a team finally broke through the dominance of Barcelona and Real Madrid. After several seasons of steady improvement, solid transfers and patience, Atletico Madrid had to get just a draw against 2nd place Barcelona on the final game of the season to seal a magnificent season, which was to be followed by a Champions League final against their city rivals, Real.
It was a case of they won the battle, but lost the war. They secured the required result and won the title, but fell in extra time against Real Madrid. Either way, a brilliant achievement for Simeone and co. Here’s how things went in the league:
Champions – At Madrid (CL)
2nd – Barcelona, 3rd – Real Madrid, 4th – At Bilbao (All Champions League)
5th – Sevilla, 6th – Villarreal, 7th – Sociedad (All Europa League)
Promoted – Eibar, Deportivo, Cordoba
Relegated – Betis, Osasuna, Valladolid
It was an entertaining season – but nobody really expected Atletico to be there come the end of the season (at the top that is). The likes of Bilbao, Sociedad and Valencia in the past have always fallen away. It was no fluke either – they have won the Europa League twice the past 3/4 seasons, as well as the Copa del Rey. Simeone has gradually built a strong team, adding one or two a season, not changing too much.
Real and Barcelona struggled all season – Messi wasn’t quite himself, and Ronaldo looked like he had his nose out of joint with Gareth Bale getting most of the attention, although both Messi and Ronaldo scored 28 and 31 goals respectively. Tata Martino struggled to assert himself on the Barcelona squad, while Carlo Ancellotti seemed more interested in winning the Champions League, which he did in the end.
Further down, Sevilla – winners of the Europa League, prospered with the likes of Rakitic and Gameiro, although the former has departed for Barcelona. Carlos Bacca was another key man, scoring plenty of goals in all competitions. Sociedad managed 7th, a season after getting into the Champions League spots. Illaramendi could return after a disappointing spell at Real Madrid, but star man Antoine Griezmann seems set for Atletico. Villarreal, in their first season back up managed 6th, and a European place to go with it. Deserved – they had the better of the likes of Real Madrid and other big guns all year round, Gio dos Santos instrumental, alongside Matteo Musacchio, who was vital in defence.
Valencia struggled this season after losing Roberto Soldado, nobody seemed able to produce his scoring numbers, even Jonas. They had to contend with the Europa League too, so not surprising they slipped down the table.
At the bottom, Betis were relegated. They too were in the Europa League, and got past the groups. Perhaps an explanation for their shocking league form? Osasuna and Valladolid joined them, both struggling all season. Replacing them are Deportivo, who need no introducing, and two relative new boys.
Eibar followed up promotion to the Segunda league with a stunning season that saw them win the title. There was controversy, as to be promoted they must have a certain amount of money in capital, which they did not for a while. After campaigns to raise the money, they are in the league for their debut season. The team to win the playoffs was Cordoba – set for a return to the top flight for the first time in 42 years. Good luck to all three!
An interesting stat – Albert Botia or Elche collected 15 yellows cards this season, meaning he missed the best part of 10 games through suspension. Incredible, has he been watching Lee Cattermole?
In terms of Goals and Assists – here are how the charts finished:
- Cristiano Ronaldo – 31 Goals (9 Assists)
- Lionel Messi – 28 Goals (11 Assists))
- Diego Costa – 27 Goals
- Angel Di Maria – 17 Assists
- Koke/Cesc Fabregas – 13 Assists
- Gareth Bale, Carlos Vela, Susaeta – 12 Assists
Bale and Vela also chipped in with 15 and 16 goals respectively. Since the end of the season, Martino has resigned from his role at Barcelona, with ex-player Luis Enrique taking over. Suarez, Ter Stegen, Jeremy Matheiu and a few more have been signed up, as well as some younger players from the B team have been given a chance. Diego Costa, Felipe Luis and Tiago have all left Atletico for Chelsea, as well as Thibaut Courtois returning from loan. Benfica keeper Jon Oblak has replaced him. David Villa has left too, going to the franchise in America – New York City. If rumours are to be believed, Xavi could be following him there, with Frank Lampard also going. James Rodriguez has joined Real Madrid for £60m – the World Cup star earning himself the biggest move possible! Antoine Griezmann impressed greatly for Sociedad, and has finally secured a move to Atletico Madrid for around £24m.
Another fabulous season, with an underdog winning the title – just what everyone likes to see. Having lost the best part of 5 players they will struggle to retain this title, but if Griezmann comes in they will do well. Very much looking forward to seeing Deportivo back in the league, with Eibar making their debut and Cordoba returning after years away. Promises to be a great season, and a little bite has been added by Luis Suarez joining Barcelona. Should be a classic!