David Villa in on goal against Willy Caballero :: AFP
Atlético Madrid were preparing for a fiesta and the possibility of being crowned league champions for the first time in 18 years. Malaga put a spanner in the works and walked away with the single point they needed to avoid relegation.
Many Atlético fans were glued to their radios listening to the result of the Elche-Barcelona match which also ended as a draw. The two results mean that the league will be decided on the final weekend of the season as Atlético travel to Barcelona, needing just a single point to win the league.
Schuster opted for a five man defence with Santa Cruz operating as a lone front man. Atlético were without their top goalscorer this season, Diego Costa, as he has been suffering from a muscle strain.
It was a fiery and tense atmosphere at the Vicente Calderón stadium and Malaga stood up to the test and showed defensive discipline. David Villa came closest to opening the scoring after 15 minutes but his shot was struck against the crossbar. Minutes later Arda had a penalty appeal turned down and was booked for diving.
Sergi Darder did well at retaining possession for Malaga, while Amrabat was often marked by two or three players limiting his amount of opportunities. Against the run of play the Blue and Whites went ahead following some confusion between Atlético defenders. Samu ran onto a long range pass, flicked the ball over the stranded Courtois and calmly headed home to stun the home fans into an eerie silence.
Just ten minutes later Atlético were level after Alderweireld’s headed goal. The home side had the momentum and continued to push for a second that would have won them the league. Willy made a vital save in the final stages meaning that the title race remains open.
Schuster was asked if he will be saying goodbye to Malaga at the end of the season. “It does seem that way. I have spoken to the club directors numerous times and they have told me more or less their thoughts. The most important thing has been to form a team and stay up as early as possible this season,” stated the manager. He did admit that he has had an offer from another club in Germany but he didn’t reveal anything for certain.
Atlético have two matches remaining in the season and two wins will see them crowned Spanish and European champions. “We have two finals that are incredibly important for the club, but it will not be easy,” said manager DiegoSimeone. They are looking to end their 18 year wait for a league title.
Malaga can now play their last game of the season at La Rosaleda against Levante without pressure knowing that they will play in La Liga for the seventh consecutive season.