Europe: 2010-11 Domestic League and Cup Review – Part 2 (+video)
In the second part of three, Stoppage Time’s look around the European leagues focuses on twelve leagues from Georgia to Montenegro via Germany, Greece and Italy.
FC Zestaponi are looking forward to their first venture into the UEFA Champions League next season after winning their maiden Umaglesi Liga title with a six point margin over record champions Dinamo Tbilisi. Dinamo will play in the Europa League along with Olimpia Rustavi and Georgian Cup winners FC Gagra whose 1-0 extra-time victory over Torpedo Kutaisi saw them lift the trophy for the first time. Samtredia FC are relegated but Spartak Tskhinvali escaped via a play-off victory over Dila Gori and will remain in the top flight next season.
Borussia Dortmund took all the pundits by surprise with Jürgen Klopp’s men sealing a 7th German title with two matches to spare. They will feature in the Champions League next season along with eternal runners-up Bayer 04 Leverkusen and RekordmeisterFC Bayern München whilst German Cup winners Schalke 04, following their 5-0 drubbing of MSV Duisburg in the final, will play in the Europa League with surprise packages Hannover 96 and 1. FSV Mainz 05. At the bottom there are sad farewells for St Pauli and Eintracht Frankfurt whilst Borussia Mönchengladbach escaped thanks to a 2-1 aggregate play-off win over 2. Liga outfit VfL Bochum.
SEE BORUSSIA DORTMUND TITLE CELEBRATIONS HERE:
Olympiakos sealed a record extending 38th Greek league championship with a month of the campaign remaining, knocking reigning champions Panathinaikos off their perch. Both of those clubs will feature in the Champions League next season (the latter thanks to a post season play-off) whilst Greek Cup winners AEK Athens – who defeated Atromitos 3-0 in the final for their 14th cup title – PAOK Thessaloniki and Olympiakos Volou gain Europa League berths. At the bottom Iraklis, Panserraikos and Larissa go through the trapdoor into the second division.
Videoton FC claimed a maiden Hungarian league title after holding off the challenge of rank outsiders Paksi SE who gained some consolation by picking up the League Cup title with a 4-2 aggregate success over Debreceni VSC. Kecskeméti TE denied Videoton FC the double by winning the Hungarian Cup final 3-2 to pick up the club’s first major honour. At the bottom traditional powerhouse MTK Budapest, champions as recently as 2008, were surprisingly relegated along with Szolnoki FC.
Maccabi Haifa topped the table after the regular season and the Championship Play-Off group to secure a second title in three years (12th overall) with seven points separating them from Hapoel Tel Aviv. The league runners-up got their own back on the champions however with Hapoel denying Maccabi the double by defeating them 1-0 in the Isreali State Cup final. Ironi Kiryat Shmona won the League Cup title for the first time with a 1-0 win over Maccabi Petah Tikva but do not gain a place in the Europa League for their efforts. Hapoel Tel Aviv, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Bnei Yehuda will play in Europe’s second tier competition in 2011-12. Hapoel Ramat Gan and Hapoel Ashkelon drop into the second division after finishing in the bottom two of the relegation play-off group.
AC Milan finally stopped the dominance of their local rivals Internazionale by winning lo Scudetto for the 18th time – the same number as their rivals – winning the championship by six points. Inter at least kept up their winning streak in the Coppa Italia by defeating Palermo 3-1 in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico to take the honours for the second year in a row. The Milanese giants will play in next season’s Champions League along with surprise teams SS Napoli and Udinese Calcio whilst the teams from the capital, AS Roma and SS Lazio, will join Palermo in the Europa League. It proved to be a sad year for Sampdoria who, along with Bari and Brescia Calcio, finished in the bottom three and will play in Serie B next season.
SEE COPPA ITALIA GOAL HIGHLIGHTS HERE:
There is no domestic league in Liechtenstein but the national cup saw FC Vaduz crowned winners yet again. Their 5-0 mauling of hapless opponents USV Eschen/Mauren was their 14th cup win in a row, extending their record number of triumphs in this competition to 40 in total. They will play in the UEFA Europa League next season.
F91 Dudelange won the National Division title for the sixth time in seven years having dominated the league. They sealed their 8th overall league crown with five matches to spare and eventually won the title by twelve points from Fola Esch. The champions were denied the double however after FC Differdange beat them in the Luxembourg Cup final by two goals to nil to seal their 15th win in this competition and the cup winners will join Fola Esch and UN Käerjéng 97 in the Europa League next season. Jeunesse Canach and Etzelle Ettelbruck went down automatically whilst FC Wiltz 71 lost out to US Hostert in the promotion/relegation play-off on penalties and will also drop down next season.
FK Shkendija claimed the Macedonian championship for the very first time having cruised their way to an eleven point win over nearest challengers Metalurg Skopje. League runners-up Metalurg gained some consolation in the cup defeating Teteks FC 2-0 to win their very first cup title. They will compete in next season’s Europa League along with FK Renova and Rabotnički. Pelister and Vardar Skopje drop down automatically into the second division whilst FK Skopje and Napredok Kičevo could join them depending on the results of post-season play-offs which have yet to be decided.
Valletta FC are the champions of Malta for the 20th time having finished top of the table in both the regular season and Championship Pool finishing eight points ahead of Floriana. The latter got their own back in the Malta Cup final defeating the league champions with a 1-0 win, thus sealing their 19th victory in the competition. Birkirkara, as third placed team in the league, will join Floriana in the Europa League next season. Vittoriosa Stars were the one team to suffer relegation this season after finishing rock bottom of the Relegation Pool with a measly three wins in 24 games.
Watch out Tiraspol, there’s a new sheriff in town! Dacia Chişinău claimed their maiden Moldovan league title after deposing perennial champions Sheriff Tiraspol following a long 39-game campaign. The gap between the two teams at the top was nine points and leaves ten-time champions Sheriff with plenty of work to do to reclaim their dominant position. Iskra-Stal Rîbniţa won the cup for the first time with a 2-1 win over Olimpia FC and will join Sheriff and Milsam Orhei in the UEFA Europa League in 2011-12. With just one relegation place bottom club Dinamo Bender will see themselves drop down to the second tier next season.
There was a tight contest in Montenegro where FK Mogren clinched their 2nd league crown in three years by virtue of goal difference from runners-up FK Budućnost Podgorica. FK Rudar Pljevlja made sure that there would be no double celebrations as they took the Montenegrin Cup final to penalties and prevailed with a 5-4 shoot-out win following a 2-2 draw against FK Mogren. FK Budućnost, FK Rudar and FK Zeta will play in the Europa League next season. At the bottom end of the table OFK Bar are automatically relegated whilst FK Mornar and FK Sutjeska have yet to feature in end of season play-offs.