Europe: 2011-12 Domestic League and Cup Review – Part 3 (+video)
In the third and final part of Stoppage Time’s European leagues review, the remaining domestic championships from Netherlands to Ukraine feature in our 2010-11 continental review.
There was an exciting tussle in both league and cup between Ajax Amsterdam and FC Twente Enschede. The former came out on top in the Eredivisie defeating the latter in a last day title decider to wrap up their 30th league title. Twente Enschede got their hands on the Dutch Cup for only the third time in their history after coming back from two goals down to beat Ajax 3-2 in the cup final. Both teams will play in the Champions League next season whereas PSV Eindhoven, AZ Alkmaar and ADO Den Haag, following an end of season play-off competition, will play in the Europa League. Willem II Tilburg finished bottom of the table and went down whilst VVV Venlo and Excelsior Rotterdam live to fight another day after overcoming second tier opposition in the play-offs.
Wisła Kraków won their third Ekstraklasa title in four years, and 13th overall, after overcoming a slow start to the season and finished seven points clear of both Śląsk Wrocław and Legia Warsaw. Capital club Legia took the honours in the Polish Cup, needing penalties to overcome the challenge of Lech Poznań. Legia and Śląsk Wrocław will play in the Europa League along with Jagiellonia Białystok whose title challenge faltered after a promising start. Polonia Bytom and Arka Gydnia are the unlucky teams who will play in the second tier of Polish football next season.
FC Porto had a tremendous season both at home and abroad. As well as winning their second UEFA Europa League title in an all-Portuguese final against Braga, the team from Portugal’s second city also won the domestic double. Porto finished unbeaten after 30 games and 21 points ahead of SL Benfica in the league whilst they easily overcame Vitória Guimarães in the Portuguese Cup final with a 6-2 victory. Benfica got their hands on the League Cup for the third successive year after beating Paços de Ferreira 2-1 in the final and will join FC Porto in the Champions League next season for finishing league runner-up. Sporting Lisbon, Braga and Nacional will join Guimarães in the Europa League but at the bottom of the table Naval and Portimonense SC must say their goodbyes as they finished in the bottom two.
WATCH PORTUGUESE CUP FINAL GOALS HERE:
The Romanian league has had a strange capacity to surprise in recent years and Oţelul Galaţi‘s maiden title win further enhanced this fact. Oţelul got the better of FC Timişoara by four points but for the latter the narrow title loss was to be the least of their worries. FC Timişoara, along with Gloria Bistriţa, have been forcibly demoted to the third division next season due to heavy debts and other financial issues. Among the teams who were relegated on merit the biggest surprise is Unirea Urziceni who, having won the league two years ago, find themselves preparing for second division football next term along with Victoria Brăneşti and Universitatea Craiova. Steaua Bucharest won the Romanian Cup for the 21st time in their history after defeating local rivals Dinamo 2-1 in the final.
Tre Fiori established themselves as the team to beat once again in San Marino winning the title for the third year in a row. Tre Fiori captured their seventh league championship by finishing top of their group during the regular season and then winning the play-offs by defeating Tre Penne 1-0 in the final. Tre Fiori will enter the UEFA Champions League at the first qualifying round stage. Tre Penne will join Juvenes/Dogana, who defeated SS Virtus 4-1 in the cup final, in the UEFA Europa League. There is no promotion/relegation structure in San Marino.
Partizan Belgrade are champions for the fourth time in a row after seeing off bitter rivals Crvena Zvezda with a six point margin separating the two giants of Serbian football. Partizan also claimed the Serbian Cup after their opponents Vojvodina Novi Sad walked off in protest after furiously disagreeing with the referee’s decisions and were awarded the game with a 3-0 scoreline. Crvena Zvezda, Vojvodina and FK Rad Belgrade will compete in the 2011-12 Europa League whilst FK Čukarički and FK Inđija will drop into the second division next season.
WATCH SERBIAN CUP FINAL HIGHLIGHTS HERE:
Slovan Bratislava celebrated their second title in three years (6th overall) after finishing seven points of runners-up FK Senica and completed the double after an exciting Slovak Cup final. Slovan and MŠK Žilina couldn’t be separated after 120 minutes of football, during which both teams shared six goals, and the game went to penalties which Slovan won 5-4 to claim the cup for the 12th time. MŠK Žilina join FK Senica and Spartak Trnava in the Europa League next season. MFK Dubnica were the unfortunate side to finish bottom and thus go down into the second division next season.
NK Maribor won their 9th title in Slovenia finishing eight points clear of second place NK Domžale but the latter got their own back in the Slovenian Cup final, winning 4-3 to claim the cup for the first time ever. With Maribor in the Champions League, NK Domžale will be joined in the Europa League by FC Koper and NK Olimpija Ljubljana. At the bottom NK Primorje went down automatically to the second division with the possibility of NK Nafta joining them depending on the outcome of the end of season promotion/relegation play-off with NK Interblock Ljubljana.
FC Barcelona continue to dominate football at home and abroad with title wins in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. Barça won a third domestic championship in a row with a four point advantage over Real Madrid who, in turn, deprived them of a domestic double by beating the Catalans 1-0 in the Spanish Cup final with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the goal which helped Los Blancos win their first Copa Del Rey since 1993. Barcelona and Real Madrid are joined in next season’s Champions League by Valencia CF and Villarreal CF whilst Sevilla FC, Athletic Bilbao and Atlético de Madrid will feature in the Europa League. At the bottom of the standings Deportivo La Coruña’s 20 year stay in the top flight came to an end and they will play in la Segunda along with UD Almería and Hércules CF.
SEE COPA DEL REY FINAL GOAL HERE:
FC Basel reclaimed the Swiss Super League title by pipping arch-rivals FC Zürich by a solitary point to claim their 14th championship and both sides will play in the UEFA Champions League next term. Two goals in the first six minutes decided the Swiss Cup final in FC Sion‘s favour as they overcame Neuchâtel Xamax 2-0 to win their 12th cup title. FC Sion will be joined in next season’s Europa League by Young Boys and FC Thun. St Gallen dropped straight into the second tier having finished bottom of the standings whilst Bellinzona will also face relegation having lost a two legged play-off to Servette FC.
Just four goals separated eventual champions Fenerbahçe from Trabzonspor as the race for the Turkish Super League went to the wire. With both teams locked on the same number of points Fenerbahce’s goal difference of +50 was superior to Trabzonspor’s +46 and that decided the title in the former’s favour. It was also tight in the Turkish Cup final as Beşiktaş needed penalties to get past Istanbul B.B. after the game had finished 2-2 after extra-time. Beşiktaş’ ninth cup victory means that they will be joined by Bursaspor and Gaziantepspor in next season’s Europa League. Kasımpaşa, Konyaspor and Bucaspor drop down into the second division.
Shakhtar Donetsk claimed the league and cup double as their dominance of Ukrainian football shows no signs of wilting just yet. The Miners got the better of arch-rivals Dynamo Kyiv in both league and cup, winning the league title by seven points and defeating the capital club 2-0 in the Ukrainian Cup final. Both teams will feature in next season’s Champions League while Ukraine will be well represented in the Europa League by Metalist Kharkiv, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Karpaty Lviv and Vorskla Poltava. At the other end of the standings Metalurh Zaporizhya and PFC Sevastopol finished in the bottom two and will go down into the second division next season.