Atletico Madrid have the “character and strength” to go to Barcelona this weekend, beat their only remaining title rivals and seal their first La Liga triumph since 1996, according to midfielder Jose Sosa.
Spain’s top flight has gone down to the wire after leaders Atletico (89 points) and second-placed Barca (86) were held to draws on Sunday by Malaga and Elche respectively and Real Madrid, in third on 84 points, dropped out of the race after losing 2-0 at Celta Vigo.
Saturday’s clash between Atletico and Barca at the Nou Camp will be only the third “winner takes all” match on the final day of the campaign in history and the first since 1951.
A win or a draw would be enough for Atletico, while Barca, who are chasing a fifth title in six years, need to beat the Madrid club to triumph by virtue of a superior head-to-head record, used to separate teams if they finish level on points.
“We have to keep fighting to the end,” Sosa, who provided the assist for Atletico’s equaliser in a 1-1 comeback draw against Malaga at the Calderon, told reporters.
“We will be full of energy and have our heads held high,” added the Argentine.
“The whole team is showing that we have the character and the strength for this season finale.
“We have two options but it would be a mistake to go there and try to hold on for a draw.”
Barca had written off their chances after they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Getafe on May 3 but a 2-0 defeat for Atletico at Levante the following day kept them in the hunt.
With Barca drawing 0-0 on Sunday, Atletico came close to the goal that would have sealed the title in the 94th minute against Malaga but Adrian’s curling effort was brilliantly tipped away by goalkeeper Willy Caballero.
“We have been given another chance to win the league and we have to find whatever is necessary to achieve that goal,” Barca fullback Dani Alves told reporters.
“It is very tough to achieve things, the fact that the three teams didn’t win gives achieving things even more value,” added the Brazil international.
“If we genuinely deserve the title we have to prove it by beating Atletico.”