The football was secondary to the real main event on Sunday night at the Wanda Metropolitano, as Diego Godín played his final home game in red and white before he moves to pastures new in the summer.
Antoine Griezmann showed up wearing a Godín jersey with the number 2 on the back. His daughter — Godín’s goddaughter — wore a jersey that said “Padrino” (Godfather) on the back and all rojiblanco fans turned into honorary Uruguayans for the night. With Real Madrid capitulating up in San Sebastián, the point Atlético needed and would eventually get from the Sevilla game was unnecessary. They would have finished second in the league no matter what.
The Spanish for “glue” is Godín. Well, not really, but it might as well be as far as this dressing room and club are concerned. As Koke (in tears) and Griezmann and Juanfran stood next to their captain on the field after the game, there was a sense that this is the end of an era. Not just that Godín is moving on, but that someone else will have to step in to replace him — and that shift, as seismic as it needs to be to replace a player of his stature, will change the team’s entire dynamic.
“I hope they feel proud of what I have given on and off the field, transmitting the values of the team and the club,” he said after the game.
The match itself meant little — consider it the vehicle for which to carry out the homage to Godín. Koke scored after 30 minutes. It was a lovely counter started by Thomas Partey that went to Saúl and then Rodri, on to Koke, who carried the whole thing forward before striking, reluctantly, into the bottom corner of the net thanks to a wicked deflection. At least, it looked like a shot.
Pablo Sarabia scored the equaliser to keep Sevilla’s dreams of a fourth place finish alive when El Mudo Vazquez sent a cross deep to the back post. Sarabia placed the ball beyond Oblak — with a deflection’s help — for his 12th goal of the season.
The point ensures Atlético finish ahead of Real Madrid for the second straight year, and the goodbyes for Godin will last long in the memories of fans.
It also moves us one game closer to the summer, where Griezmann’s future hangs in the balance. Without Godin, the man who convinced the Frenchman to stay in the capital last summer, lots of questions remain unanswered.