Ajax and Twente look to pick up where they left off last weekend. After 120 minutes of pulsating Cup Final action Twente finally won 3-2 after trailing 2-1.
This Sunday the destination of the Eredivisie will be a stake and the situation provides Twente with a decided edge. This is the final round of play and Twente sits top with 71 points while Ajax is a point behind.
Goal difference cannot come into the equation – simply put Ajax needs to win to take the title. Any other outcome and Twente will retain the Dutch title.
But there is also another possible outcome that puts both Ajax and Twente in a precarious situation. PSV sits third and cannot take the title but a win against Groningen will guarantee them a spot in next season’s Champions League qualifying group.
So a win for Twente or Ajax gives the respective winner the title – the loser a Europa League spot if PSV wins. A draw gives the title to Twente and Ajax would have to look to PSV to drop points in order to qualify for the Champions League.
PSV’s situation is no cake walk either. Groningen needs to win, AZ to lose and a swing of three in Groningen’s favour in order to gain direct access to next season’s Europa League. A combination less than that and Groningen will be involved in a Dutch play off in order to decide the Netherlands final Europa League entrant.
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The end is coming into sight for the European leagues and it looks as if we may have a good number of new Champions.
Here is a run-down of some of the more high profile league races.
Premier League – Chelsea find themselves in fourth spot and 10 points behind leaders Manchester United. These two sides have swapped titles since Arsenal won in 2004 and still have to play each other twice.
The way things look at the moment Chelsea will have to win both encounters the first of which comes at the beginning of March.
La Liga – With sixteen games left in the schedule, a lead of 7points on nearest challengers Real Madrid and having won their last 16 league matches and set a new Spanish record there are few sane folk who would lay money against Barcelona retaining their Spanish title.
Nevertheless, if Real Madrid are going to lose out for another year you can be sure that the least they will settle for is a win when Barcelona comes to the Bernabeu on April 17.
There is also a Copa del Rey between these two in April to say nothing of a possible Champions League encounter.
Serie A – At the holiday break Inter were 13 points behind leaders Milan but with two games in hand. A win at the FIFA Club World Cup and a change of management has sparked the champions and Milan’s lead is down to 5 points and Inter still has a game in hand.
Milan still hold the advantage but both clubs will already be eyeing the next Milan derby set for early April.
Bundesliga – The fighting qualities of Bayern Munich are well known but they seem to have lapsed somewhere between last season’s domestic double and now.
Bayern led Cologne 2-0 on Saturday but lost 3-2 and although 5th in the league they also trail Borussia Dortmund by a massive 15 points with only 13 rounds of play remaining.
Dortmund’s nearest challengers are Bayer Leverkusen but the gap is an intimidating 12 points.
All signals point to Borussia Dortmund being confirmed as champions of the Bundesliga for the first time since 2002 early in spring.
Dortmund plays Bayern on the last weekend in February.
Liga Sagres – It looks like it is will be a case of normal service being resumed in Portugal as Porto enjoy an 11 point advantage on last season’s champions Benfica (currently 2nd) with Porto having played a game more.
Should they win the title it will be Porto’s 7th in the last 9 seasons.
Porto have played 19 games and with 11 games remaining they have only conceded 7 goals, are unbeaten having drawn only twice and have scored the most goals.
Porto has to play Benfica in Lisbon on April 3rd and it could also be the game that wins the league for Porto.
Ligue 1 – Olympique Marseille fans are not happy but nonetheless their team is still within striking distance of leaders Lille.
Lille leads PSG and Rennes by 5 points and Marseille by six with 16 rounds of play left. Whether or not Marseille can retain their title may well be decided during two weeks next month.
Marseille are at home to Lille on March 5th, then away to Rennes and on March 19th are at home to PSG.
It is also worth mentioning that Marseille also have a couple of Champions league matches against Manchester United on February 23 and March 15. That is some schedule.
Russia Premier League – The winner was decided back in November when Zenit St Petersburg brought to an end consecutive title wins by Rubin Kazan.
An interesting side note is that the league will shortly start up again and will last until the summer of 2012. This coming “season” is a transitional one designed to bridge the difference until the league moves to a fall/spring league for 2012/13 season.
Eredivisie – Reigning champions Twente Enshede and PSV Eindhoven are level on points with PSV ahead on account of a better goal differential.
Both have 47 points and should PSV win it will be their 8th title in the last 12 seasons.
With 12 rounds of play left there is lots of opportunity for slippage but PSV do have to travel to Arke Stadion to play Twente on April 2.
Written by Bobby McMahon on October 4, 2010 | No Comments »
Posted in Arsenal, Aston Villa, Bari, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea, English Premier League, Eredivisie, FC Dallas, Fiorentina, Genoa, Houston Dynamo, Internazionale, Juventus, Ligue 1, Manchester City, Milan, MLS, Napoli, Newcastle United, Olympique Marseille, Palermo, Parma, Philadelphia Union, Saint-Etienne, Serie A, Stade Rennes, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur, Twente, West Bromwich Albion, Wigan Athletic, Wolverhampton Wanderers
Raphael Van der Vaart had a “memorable” match against Twente in midweek Champions League action and he was at it again against Aston Villa on Saturday. The bonus was that this time he stayed on the field. His confidence on the ball even when under intense pressure is something to behold and his ability to ghost into the penalty box is to be marvelled at.
There were a couple of cracking free kicks this weekend in the Premier League. There was little wrong with Wolves goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann positioning but he was simply overpowered by the strike from Jordi Gomez. And talking of powerful strikes the one that sealed Chelsea’s win against Arsenal was a thunderous effort. We have seen Alex strike some wonderful free kicks but Sunday’s must rank with his best.
New signing Josip Ilicic continues to make a very favourable impression with his Serie A side Palermo. The former Maribor midfielder scored his third league goal of season with a wonderful left foot strike against Fiorentina. Another long range effort came from Milan’s Andrea Pirlo. We are used to seeing Pirlo drop 50 to 60 yards passes to feet and against Parma he hit a 40 yarder into the top corner – unstoppable.
A goal that was about touch rather than power came from Sebastien Le Toux for the Philadelphia Union against the Houston Dynamo. A great run, a wonderful piece of instant control and a clinical finish from a player who was made available in the expansion draft. Le Toux, as of a couple of months ago, is holder of a Green Card and as such he may well find himself called into the US squad in the near future.
A mini-compilation of some of the best articles and blog postings from the last week.
Gabriele Marcotti explains the simplicity but necessity of the recently announced FIFA transfer matching system. It also makes you think of why such simple matching process took so long to be implimented.
The Globe and Mail looks at the money spinning sport organisation MLSE that owns the Raptors, the Maple Leafs and Toronto FC. Three sports, three teams and two things in common – the owner and sporting ineptitude.
The Swiss Rambler does it again with a terrific analysis of Arsenal’s financial position.
Steve McManaman was a great player and he is a good studio analyst. But he is going to have to up his game considerably if he is going to become a top rate colour commentator. Paired with Ian Darke who always reminds me of Eric Idle’s “nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more” character the two of them could not or would not shut up. A colour commentator’s job is not to conduct a conversation with the play-by-play man but to be focussed and pointed in his remarks. McManaman failed and the mute button was hit after 22 minutes.
Michelle Lissel returns to the Fox Soccer Report this week after an absence of four years. Great to have you back Michelle.
Alan Curbishley on the Premier League produced show made a great point about the tackle by Nigel de Jong on Hatem Ben Arfa. Curbishley’s stated that in many cases it is the scissor-action by the tackler that is causing the damage. The first leg may well be getting the ball but the second leg is swinging through and taking anything that remains standing.
Based on recent history between the two sides Everton’s 2-0 win at Birmingham can’t be classified as a surprise. Birmingham have now only beaten Everton once in their last thirteen meetings. However, the loss brought an unbeaten run of 18 matches at St Andrews to an end as well.
Going into Saturday’s matches the West Brom and Bolton game had the look of a banker draw and so it turned out. The 1-1 draw was the seventh stalemate in nine Premier League meetings.
Luca Toni’s 95th minute winner for Genoa against Bari broke of few streaks. Genoa had gone five games without beating Bari in Serie A and had also gone six games without beating Bari at home. It also broke of nine straight Serie A matches in which Genoa had failed to score more than a goal in a game.
In drawing 0-0 with Juventus Inter dropped two valuable points and lost their place at top of Serie A. However, they did extend their unbeaten run at home in league play to 44 games. The last team to leave the Giuseppe Meazza with three Serie A points were Juventus in March 2008.
Andre-Pierre Gignac finally broke his duck and scored for his new club Marseille on Saturday against league leaders St. Etienne. The French international striker went into the match having attempted 20 shots on net so far this season but had failed to find the mark. A second-half equalizer to secure a point for St. Etienne but it was enough to hang on to the Ligue 1 lead – Rennes moved above them.
Player of the Weekend nominees
Raphael Van der Vaart (Tottenham Hotspur)
Charles N’Zogbia (Wigan)
Jordan Henderson (Sunderland)
Cheick Tioté (Newcastle)
John Obi Mikel (Chelsea)
Milton Rodriguez (FC Dallas)
Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli)
Samuel Eto’o (Inter)
The winner will be announced on Monday’s Fox Soccer Report.