European soccer leagues Twenty two titles awarded
No less than 22 league championships throughout Europe have been resolved to date, including those in the countries where the competitions are played within a calendar year. League titles have been decided in France, Italy, Holland, Scotland and Greece, while dramatic outcomes are expected in Spain, Germany, Poland and Czechia.
The most dramatic finish occurred in Holland, where AZ Alkmaar under Louis van Gaal had all the trumps in their hands to win the league for the first time in 26 years. Of the three clubs going into the last day even on points, AZ had by far the Bandar Qiu Qiu Online best goal difference and needed any win away to lowly Excelsior to clinch the title. On the other hand, PSV were in the worst position having let slip an eight point advantage over AZ and ten points’ over Ajax in the past two months.
Miraculously, AZ were beaten by Excelsior, on their way to the play-offs to avoid relegation, while Ajax beat Willem II with an insufficient 2-0 in Tillburg. In the meantime, PSV thrashed Vitesse 5-1, edging Ajax by a single goal for their third successive title. In fact, if Ajax had won by three goals they would have been champions!
Armenia: Pyunik Erevan (for 2006)
Belarus: Bate Borisov (for 2006)
Cyprus: Apoel Nikosia
Estonia: Levadia Tallinn (for 2006)
Faroe Islands: Hb Torshavn (for 2006)
Finland: Tampere Utd. (for 2006)
Croatia: Dinamo Zagreb
Ireland: Shelbourne (for 2006)
Iceland: Hafnarfjordur (for 2006)
Kazakhstan: Astana (for 2006)
Latvia: Ventspils (for 2006)
Lithuania: Kaunas (for 2006)
Netherlands: PSV (by a single goal over Ajax)
Norway: Rosenborg (for 2006)
Romania: Dinamo Bucharest
Russia: CSKA (for 2006)
Sweden: Elfsborg (for 2006)
Races nearly resolved
Just a step separates FC Kobenhavn from the Danish title, since no team have ever dropped a 16 points’ advantage with six matches to go. Slovenia’s Domzale and Serbia’s Red Star have all but clinched their respective titles having ten points more than their immediate persuers.
Denmark: Kobenhavn +16 over Midtjylland
Luxembourg: Dudelange +11 over Etzella and Differdange
Hungary: Debrecen + 8 over MTK
Malta: Marsaxlokk +12 over Sliema
Moldavia: Sheriff +17 over Zimbru
Slovenia: Domzale +10 over Gorica
Serbia: Red Star +10 over Partizan
Drama in sight
In Germany, Schalke and Werder are competing at wasting chances of securing the title and Stuttgart’s bid is gaining momentum with three matches to go as two points separate three teams. In Portugal, champions Porto have already lost five games but neither Sporting nor Benfica have capitalized. Anderlecht look like a safe bet in Belgium in spite of just a two point lead over Racing Genk, while the Polish and Czech champions will not be known until the last day.
Belgium: Anderlecht +2 over Genk
Czechia: Slovan Liberec +1 over Sparta and +2 over Slavia
England: Manchester Utd. +5 over Chelsea
Germany: Schalke +1 over Stuttgart, +2 over Werder
Poland: Belchatow and Zaglebie (L) tied
Portugal: Porto +3 over Sporting:
Spain: Barcelona +1 over Sevilla, +2 over Real Madrid
Switzerland: Zurich +3 over Basel
Ukraine: Dinamo Kijev +3 over Shakhtar
Angelo Peruzzi bids farewell
Lazio goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi (37) announced the end of his playing career last Sunday after a goalless derby with Roma. The former Roma, Juventus and Inter keeper had planned to quit at the end of the season, but an injury to a finger sped up his decision with four matches to go. Peruzzi played 31 times for Italy and gained notoriety in 1990 when he was suspended for eight months due to a positive doping test.
Sepp Blatter: “South Africa is FIFA’s plan A and B”
FIFA’s threats to strip South Africa of the 2010 World Cup upset the whole African continent, prompting chairman Sepp Blatter to go back on his words criticizing the pace at which the designated hosts have been making progress with the infrastructure.
“Our plan A is South Africa, the plan B is also South Africa and there is no plan C,” said Blatter, who had previously warned that FIFA was eyeing other options such as Mexico and Spain which already have the facilities in place.
“Yes, there are certain difficulties over items like security, but I am fully convinced it will be a precious World Cup,” said Blatter.
It will be curious to note whether there will be similar concern within FIFA’s pals UEFA in two years time when the sensationally elected Euro 2012 hosts Poland and Ukraine present delays in all aspects regarding infrastructure.
Erwin Koeman quits Feyenoord
Erwin and Ronald Koeman used to win things simultaneously. In 1988 their clubs, KV Mechelen and PSV Eindhoven, respectively, collected the European Cup Winners’ Cup and the Champions’ Cup. The same year both of them starred in the Dutch squad that won the European Championship in Western Germany. This season Ronald won the Dutch league with PSV, but Erwin’s Feyenoord finished a dismal seventh, which prompted the elder brother to resign.
“After such a poor finish, I cannot be a hundred-percent motivated to coach the team in the playoffs for the UEFA Cup, which is of crucial significance for Feyenoord,” admitted Koeman, who had taken over from Ruud Gullit two years ago.