Underdog: Atletico Madrid
La Liga has always been a two-horse race dominated by Real Madrid and Barcelona FC. For the past 10 years, this this is how these two teams dominated La Liga:
2004-05 Barcelona (runners up: Real Madrid)
2005-06 Barcelona (runners up: Real Madrid)
2006-07 Real Madrid (runners up: Barcelona)
2007-08 Real Madrid (runners up: Villarreal)
2008-09 Barcelona (runners up: Real Madrid)
2009-10 Barcelona (runners up: Real Madrid)
2010-11 Barcelona (runners up: Real Madrid)
2011-12 Real Madrid (runners up: Barcelona)
2012-13 Barcelona (runners up: Real Madrid)
2013-14 Atletico Madrid (runners up: Barcelona)
Total number of league titles won by each club:
32 – Real Madrid
22 – Barcelona
10 – Atletico Madrid
8 – Athletic Bilbao
6 – Valencia
For the first time since 2004, a club not named Barcelona or Real Madrid has won La Liga. A decade after Valencia finished the season as champions of Spain, Atlético Madrid won the league for the 10th time in club history, holding off Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
Despite Atletico Madrid having broken up the big two in Spain, the rest of the clubs do not seem to have gotten the message.
When Barcelona or Real Madrid face off with Spanish opponents, they will either be greeted by extremely stiff competition or complete apathy. For the most part, opponents tend to step up their game when facing the big two (Barcelona and Real Madrid), making every game somewhat dangerous.
That isn’t the case for Atletico Madrid.
The rest of the clubs in Spain still do not seem to view Atletico Madrid as giants, and thus, they do not tend to step up their game to the same level as when they face one of the big two. This means that AtleticoMadrid play slightly easier matches for the most part.
At the same time, Atletico Madrid have an even bigger weapon on their side. No one expected them to win. Week in and week out, Barcelona and Real Madrid are analysed and scrutinised. Any mistake or dropped point will be magnified, whileAtletico Madrid are not held to the same standard.
With the big two having a certain level of expectation to live up to, Atletico Madrid were enjoying their time of not having that same burden put on their shoulders.
They won La Liga because no one expected them to, and that takes out a great deal of pressure.
When comparing Barcelona to Real Madrid, it is very easy to mention all of the world-class stars and incredible styles of play. But we must remember that Atletico Madrid have just as much to offer.
While Atletico Madrid are entering a golden age of success, it seems as though both Barcelona and Real Madrid are starting to slip up more than usual. This cannot be overlooked. The big two, though still immensely powerful, do not seem to be quite at the same level as they were a few years ago. Poor performances are more common than they used to be, and at times, Barcelona and Real Madrid have even looked human.
When it all comes down to it, Diego Simeone is the reason for the success of Atletico Madrid. The Argentinian coach knows how to inspire his players, and his expert tactics continue to yield incredible results.
When Simeone took over as manager, the club was struggling. In just a few years, he has turned things around and brought a winning attitude to a club that needed to return to their roots.
Every great team needs a great leader, and while Diego Costa (now playing for Chelsea), Gabi and Thibaut Courtois are leaders on the pitch, Simeone is the genius and mastermind behind the whole operation.
Leornard Ravenhill said “The opportunity of a lifetime has to be seized within the lifetime of the opportunity,”
Therefore opportunities have a deadline. Successful entrepreneurs have the agility to move at the speed of light to seize opportunities. Atletico saw an opportunity to win the league in 2013-14 and they took it.
The big do not always eat the small but the fast always eat the slow.
Atletico Madrid are not an outside shot, an underdog; they are a serious contender for big fish now. They managed to eat not one but two big fish to be 2013-14 La Liga champions.