The first champions of one of the big five leagues in Europe was decided this weekend. Borussia Dortmund retained their Bundesliga title after a 2-0 win against Borussia Monchengladbach left them 8 points ahead of Bayern Munich. With only two games remaining Bayern has simply run out of games.
The fans who woke up in order to watch the Arsenal Chelsea scoreless draw might have been better served staying in bed. The game was a wasteland as far as creative, attacking football was concerned with poor passing and terrible finishing. Chelsea played as if they were just happy to get the game over and done with while Arsenal missed the drive and cohesion that Arteta normally brings to the side.
Even after a point deduction Rangers look set to finish second in the Scottish Premier League. But they are not going to receive a UEFA license for next season and the club (if they survive a laboring administration process) will not be permitted to play in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League.
That means that whoever finishes third will get the place instead. Dundee United overtook St Johnstone on Saturday beating the home side 2-0. With a one point lead on St. Johnstone, United now sit fourth with four games remaining. Motherwell currently sits third and United is scheduled to travel to play them on the final day of the Scottish league season.
The rise-rise-fall-fall-fall and now rise again of Alan Pardew is one of the most fascinating stories of this Premier League season. His well-drilled Newcastle side rolled over visitors Stoke on Saturday. Cabaye was terrific with an assist and a couple of goals but the team overall moved like a well oiled machine. Not sitting too deep and allowing Stoke to pump balls into the penalty area for Crouch to fed on or too high that would have allowed the tricky Etherington to exploit safe behind the back four. Stoke finished the match without a shot on goal. Six successive wins and clean sheets in five of the wins.
Spurs’ fans must be apoplectic after another weekend brought more dropped points. Playing in the late game on Saturday they already knew they had a chance to pick up points on both Arsenal and Chelsea and needed a win to keep pace with Newcastle who had beaten Stoke earlier. What seemed a few weeks ago to be a stroll for 3rd has now turned into a nervous scramble for a top 4 finish. Spurs are now at the stage where no game looks easy and now they can only make the top four with help from other teams. Anything less than top four is going to lead to some soul searching by all connected with the club.
Not mathematically done yet but Real Madrid will not allow a seven point lead with four games remaining to slip through their fingers. For the first time since 2008 the Liga title is heading to the Bernabeu. The 2-1 win over Barcelona at the Camp Nou was well deserved and a just reward. Madrid was disciplined in defence and dangerous on the counter-attack.
If QPR does stay in the Premier League no doubt the January transfer window signings made by Mark Hughes will receive a lot of the credit for the London club’s run to survival. But after watching QPR over the last few weeks there is no Rangers’ player who has worked harder or has committed more to the cause than Jamie Mackie. He was at it again when QPR beat Spurs on Saturday. He was aggressive in attack and defense and there was one memorable tackle late in the first half with Scott Parker. Parker came off second best.
Lecce continued their fine form in which they have lost just one in their last 12 matches. This time it was a 1-1 draw away to Lazio. When you consider that they are still in a relegation it emphasizes how unlikely their run of form actually is. Up until the New Year Lecce had only won twice and they had collected just 9 points from 16 games. Since the start of 2012 they have added 26 more points in 17 games. Two teams’ just above them (Parma and Fiorentina) are on their schedule before the end of the season along with Juventus, Napoli and Chievo on the last day.
Porto consolidated their lead at the top of the Portuguese Liga and enjoy a four point advantage with three games remaining. On Saturday Porto beat Beira Mar 3-0. Porto’s league record over the last two seasons has been remarkable. They have only lost once in that time and it came in January against Gil Vicente. Prior to that loss the last defeat had come away to Sporting Lisbon in February 2010. Even more astounding is that you have to go back to October 25, 2008 to find the last time Porto lost at home – it was against Leixoes.
Everton rolled over last weekend against Liverpool in their FA Cup semi final but it was very different on Sunday at Old Trafford. After trailing 3-1 and 4-2 Everton breathed more life into the chase for the Premier League title with a fight-back that left Manchester ruing defensive miscues. Jelavic scored two but Everton’s rally was sparked by Steven Pienaar and an intimidating Marouane Fellaini. Goals from Fellaini and Pienaar book-ended Jelavic’s second and the result had many of the Old Trafford leaving with furrowed brows.
Any that stand out either way for you this past weekend?
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