Atlético Madrid may not have had much to play for by the time kickoff vs. Celta Vigo rolled around, but this Saturday evening tilt at the Vicente Calderón still had value. For one, it was important for Atlético to put in a consistent, spirited 90 minutes - especially after the debacle that was last week's 2-1 loss at Levante. Second, Atleti needed to make sure it got through this game healthy; any injuries, big or small, at this point of the season would be difficult to overcome. Third, there was a historical component to this game despite its relative lack of current importance. With a clean sheet, Jan Oblak would tie Francisco Liaño's 22-year-old record for fewest goals conceded over a 38-game season (Oblak mathematically won the Zamora weeks ago). What's more, his team would finish on 88 points with a win - the second-highest total in club history. Only in Spain would 88 points fail to guarantee a team the title, but such is life.
Atlético accomplished all three objectives, playing well, maintaining fitness and making a little history. Celta piled on the pressure towards the end of the first half but Atleti held firm and saw out an even first 45. Diego Godín rattled the upright with a header in what was the best chance for either side (as an aside, Godín ended the league season with just one goal after scoring seven the previous two seasons). The halftime break did Diego Simeone's team (and Mono Burgos') a world of good, as six minutes after play resumed, Fernando Torres did this for his 11th goal of the season:
Just three minutes later, Torres had the audacity to try another chilena...and he struck the crossbar. The ball bounced right to Antoine Griezmann though, and the Frenchman headed home to cap off the scoring in what eventually became an ill-tempered affair as Celta lost its cool during the latter stages.
Yannick Carrasco entered for Griezmann (who finished with 22 league goals for the second straight season) after 72 minutes and was the victim of a horror tackle by Hugo Mallo, but he appeared to shake it off during the final 20. Other than that, Atlético made it through Saturday with health intact and even welcomed back an old friend from an injury of his own - Tiago Mendes played the final 12 minutes in place of Torres, his first appearance since Nov. 28.
Finally, the history. Oblak kept the clean sheet to tie Liaño's record of 18 goals conceded. Atlético's haul of 88 points is a 10-point improvement on 2014-15 and the second-highest mark in the club's 113-year history. The team's 28 wins equal the 2013-14 team's mark and a side that had so many problems scoring goals a few months ago finished with 63 goals and a +45 goal difference, both good for third in La Liga. Overall, a very successful league campaign and another step forward as Atleti continue to grow into a perennial juggernaut.
All thoughts now turn to Milan, where two long weeks from now Atlético and Real Madrid will play a little thing called the Champions League final. We'll have plenty of coverage in the days ahead.