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The league that eluded Cristiano and Messi

Logotipo de AS AS 20/05/2014 Alfredo Relaño

The league campaign is over. We have got the Champions League final to come of course – and that will only underline what a fabulous campaign it has been (as last week’s Europa League final did) and what better way to toast one of the best league campaigns in recent memory. Despite the fuss about the inconvenient kick-off times, the lopsided distribution of television broadcast rights; it has been a great league – one with almost 10 million spectators watching from the stands, and one which yielded three of the four finalists in this year’s major European tournaments – two of them going on to win the trophy. It’s been a campaign in which both Real Madrid and Barça suffered five defeats and drew six.

For some time I have been concerned that the league looked to be heading towards a point where both Madrid and Barça would win all of their games, home and away, and the title would be decided in the meetings between them. With their power, their money while everyone else has been forced to sell their best players - Falcao, Negredo, Navas, Javi Martínez, Llorente, Soldado... The gulf between the rest of the clubs seemed to be getting bigger. Yet this season, it has been reduced. After breaching the 100-point barrier, the top two fell short of reaching 90 – a figure only Atlético managed to make.

Atlético de Madrid have been the leaders of this revolution, with Simeone at the helm, closing Sunday’s victory party with these words: “With belief and hard work, anything is possible”. Uplifting words but it hasn’t just been him alone. Sevilla, in spite of selling off a number of their star players last summer, won the Europa League. And the distance between those who made the drop to the Liga Adelante two days ago and the champions is much less than in other leagues. What we witnessed wasn’t a two-horse contest between Madrid and Barça, or Cristiano and Messi as many of us had feared – this league campaign has been defined by the hard work put in by the rest. It’s been a thrilling campaign, congratulations and thank you to all involved.

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