La Liga, Week 34: Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao Grab Important Wins

Atlético Madrid, fresh off their triumphant--though not sentencing--win over Valencia in the Europa League seimfinals last week, grabbed an important three points in their push to make the Champions League today, defeating Espanyol 3-1 with goals from Arda Turan (two absolute stunners), and Diego Godín.

Didac scored Espanyol's lone goal, though the pericos probably didn't even deserve that: Barcelona's second team was pretty atrocious today, as they were outplayed by Atleti in almost every possible way.

Nevertheless, the score was locked at 1-1 until the 59th minute, when Arda Turan unleashed an absolute beast of a shot from distance. The Spanish announcers said that the ball had come "all the way from Turkey" to save Atleti's Liga campaign, if that gives you some perspective. The Turk would finish off the match only two minutes later, as he controlled a long ball from Godín in the area, turned and blasted it in with his left foot. He was a wonder to behold today, and Atleti are pretty lucky that he flew all the way from Turkey just to save their season.

Similarly, Athletic Bilbao breezed past a sorry, soulless Racing Santander 0-1 side to take another three points. The win will let Athletic, and Marcelo Bielsa, feel a bit more confident about their chances of remaining in the Champions League spots in la Liga, while simultaneously allowing them to main their focus on the Europa League. Bielsa chose to give Fernando Llorente and Iker Muniain the day off (though Llorente did come in in the middle of the second half), and blasted through the match with mostly substitutes.

Toquero scored the game's lone goal in the 12th minute, but the match was really over much before that: Racing, a side that has already booked their ticket for Segunda next season, couldn't even muster the energy to try to defend against Bilbao's second-stringers. It's sort of sad to see a team so despondent; even in front of a well-meaning home crowd, Racing couldn't find the energy to get up for this match.

Ultimately, this was a game whose outcome was all but predetermined: a talented Bilbao team would come in and easily breeze past a soulless, tired Racing squad. That's what we all predicted. But it's always soul-crushing to watch a team so clearly despondently playing out their last moments of glory, even if you know it's coming.

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