Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Germany: Bayern top table at winter break

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 17, 2011
FC Bayern

Mario Gomez (left) is the top scorer in the Bundesliga this season

FC Bayern München secured the tag of Herbstmeister (autumn champions) in Germany last night. Despite going down to ten men following Franck Ribéry’s red card on the half hour mark, FC Bayern were seldom troubled by visiting 1.FC Köln as they strolled to a 3-0 victory. The win leaves Bayern with a six point lead at the top of the Bundesliga standings with everybody else left to play the 17th round of matches this weekend before the league undertakes its customary winter break.

FC Bayern started off the season with a shocking defeat at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach, a team who scraped their way out of relegation trouble at the end of last season, but soon recovered to win their next six games in a row including a 7-0 hammering of SC Freiburg to top the table. A minor blip on matchday 8 saw a goalless draw away at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim before the Bavarians got back to winning ways with a 4-0 rout of Hertha BSC. Just when things looked good for Bayern, however, they began to suffer some inconsistency in form with wins in the Bavarian derby to 1. FC Nürnberg and an expected win over 1.FC Augsburg coupled with defeats such as the top of the table clash against defending champions Borussia Dortmund as well as succumbing to the challenge of a struggling 1.FSV Mainz 05 side on Matchday 14, a game which saw Bayern lose their leadership of the standings. But such is life in the Bundesliga that one can never write Bayern off and they came back to win their last three matches in the first half of the league season. Impressive victories at home to Werder Bremen and away in the “Derby of the South” against VfB Stuttgart were complimented by last night’s win over 1. FC Köln.

French international Franck Ribéry got himself in a spot of bother when getting involved in a petty squabble with Portuguese forward Henrique Sereno in the 33rd minute. Following a yellow card for the initial altercation Ribéry then appeared to put his hands on Sereno’s throat, a move which gained him an instant dismissal. Despite this FC Bayern came out fighting in the second half and went ahead just three minutes after the break with league top scorer Mario Gomez helping himself to his 16th goal of the season. Further goals from David Alaba and Toni Kroos helped the Rekordmeister (record champions) seal a 3-0 win and the top spot at the winter break.

Traditionally the team who leads the table at the halfway point of the season will go on to win the league trophy in Germany. This has happened 32 times in the Bundesliga’s 48 year history so far but FC Bayern do face some stiff competition this season with the likes of Dortmund, Schalke 04, Werder Bremen and surprise package Mönchengladbach all ready to pounce in the event of a rare slip from the Münchener.

Tagged with: , ,

UEFA: Manchester duo dumped out of Champions League

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 7, 2011

UEFA Champions League trophyThe two Manchester clubs have been sensationally dumped out of the UEFA Champions League following the final round of matches this evening.

Three-time European champions Manchester United are out of this year’s tournament having suffered a 2-1 defeat away to Swiss champions FC Basle 1893. United only needed a point to progress but found themselves two goals down with ten minutes of the match remaining, with Basle’s Marco Streller and Alexander Frei getting the goals, before Phil Jones pulled one back to make it an anxious finish for the Swiss side. United finished third in Group C behind Basle and group winners Benfica SL, who finished their campaign with a 1-0 win over Romanian champions Otelul Galati, and must now contend themselves with a place in the UEFA Europa League early next year.

Manchester City, meanwhile, needed a win against FC Bayern München and hope that Spanish side Villarreal CF would do them a favour by taking points from Italians Napoli SSC. Despite getting the win they needed, a 2-0 victory thanks to David Silva and Yaya Toure, City had to be satisfied with a third place finish in Group A finishing one point behind the Italians and three behind Bayern after the Neapolitans won by the same score line away in Spain. For all the money spent, City are still a work in progress and will hope to have learnt some of the lessons by the time the UEFA Europa League comes round again. City went out of that competition last season at the hands of Ukrainian side Dynamo Kyiv.

Poll: Are FC Barcelona really the greatest?

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 29, 2011

Following their fourth UEFA Champions League triumph on Saturday virtually every superlative has been used to describe Pep Guardiola’s current crop of FC Barcelona stars. The Catalans’ 3-1 triumph over Manchester United meant that Guardiola, in only his third full season in charge at the Camp Nou, has won ten major trophies including the amazing Sextuple triumph from the 2008-09 season. Are they, in your opinion, the best side ever? Or is there really a team that came before who deserve the accolade of the best ever? Decide from the following choices:

Real Madrid 7-3 Eintracht Frankfurt

Alfredo Di Stefano scores for Real Madrid in the 1959-60 European Cup final

REAL MADRID 1956-60

The team who took to the concept of the European Cup more than any other, the great Real Madrid side from the mid 50’s were European champions in the first five years of the competition. As well as winning two La Liga titles at home los Blancos had one of the greatest forward lines in the history of football including the likes of Alfredo Di Stéfano and Ferenc Puskás who scored all seven goals between them in the club’s most famous win of the famous five, the 1959-60 European Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt which they won 7-3 in front of a record 127,000 crowd at Hampden Park, Glasgow. The club also became the first unofficial world champions in 1960 after defeating South American champions Peñarol in the inaugural Intercontinental Cup match.

Internazionale 1964-65

Internazionale were Italian, European and World champions in 1965

INTERNAZIONALE 1964-65

The Italians were never also easy on the eye with their defensive brand of football, widely known as Catenaccio, winning few friends amongst their opponents. However the team known affectionately amongst all Nerazzurri supporters as La Grande Inter won back-to-back European Cups in 1964 and 1965 defeating Real Madrid and Benfica respectively. As well as the 1964-65 Scudetto, Inter also became the first European team to win successive Intercontinental Cups beating Argentinians Independiente on both occasions.

Ajax Amsterdam 1972

Ajax Amsterdam with the 1972 European Cup

AJAX AMSTERDAM 1971-73

Dutch football came to prominence in the early 1970’s with Feyenoord Rotterdam winning the European Cup in 1970 before their arch-rivals Ajax Amsterdam took their brand of Total Football to the international stage and won three successive European Cups. Players such as Johan Cruijff, Johnny Rep and Arie Haan took centre stage with final victories over Panathinaikos (1971), Internazionale (1972) and Juventus FC (1973), the latter as part of an historic treble, helping write the club’s name into the history books. Ajax also won the 1972 Intercontinental Cup against Independiente and were the inaugural UEFA Super Cup winners defeating Cup Winners’ Cup holders AC Milan in 1973.

FC Bayern 1975 European Cup

FC Bayern with the second of their European Cups in 1975

FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN 1974-76

In a manner similar to the Ajax team that preceded them, FC Bayern won the European Cup three times in a row from 1974-76 with a team full of international greats such as Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller and Uli Hoeneß. Their maiden European Cup win against Atlético de Madrid was achieved in a replay, the first and only such occasion this occurred, before going on to beat Leeds United and Saint-Étienne in the following two years. The Bavarians also won the 1973-74 Bundesliga title and their first world title with a 1976 Intercontinental Cup win over Brazilians Cruzeiro.

Liverpool FC 1977

Liverpool FC won their first European Cup in 1977

LIVERPOOL FC 1977-81

Liverpool, under the astute guidance of Bob Paisley, won the European Cup three times in the space of five years, thus assuring the reluctant successor to Bill Shankly his place in football history as the first, and so far only coach, to have won the trophy on so many occasions. Liverpool were dominant at home during this time with three league championship wins in 1977, 1979 and 1980 complemented by European triumphs over Borussia Mönchengladbach (1977), Club Brugge (1978) and Real Madrid (1981) which were won with a dynamic team including the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Phil Neal.

AC Milan

AC Milan were European champions in 1989-90

AC MILAN 1988-90

Just three years after the acquisition of the club by controversial figure Silvio Berlusconi, AC Milan started to make a mark on the European scene once again with back-to-back European Cup wins over Steaua Bucharest (1989) and Benfica (1990). Having won the 1988 Scudetto the Rossoneri, led by coach Arrigo Sacchi along with his team of superstars including the Dutch trio of Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit as well as Italian legends such as Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini, began a spell of domination which also led to successive triumphs in the UEFA Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup.

Manchester United 1999

Manchester United won the UEFA Champions League in 1999

MANCHESTER UNITED 1998-99

It is difficult to pinpoint any team over the last two decades which could stand out for Manchester United, such is the amount of success they’ve come to enjoy under the leadership of Sir Alex Ferguson. However the team which won the Treble in the 1998-99 season deserves special praise for their sheer will-to-win and ability to turn things around when all seemed lost. A team including most of the “Class of 92” such as Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Gary Neville went on to claim the English league and cup double before winning an unlikely UEFA Champions League triumph over FC Bayern München as the Red Devils, who were a goal down as the game went into the 90th minute, somehow scored two goals deep into stoppage time to claim the club’s second European Cup. Six months later Roy Keane scored the winner for United as they claimed the Intercontinental Cup with a 1-0 win over Palmeiras.

FC Barcelona 2011

FC Barcelona with the 2010-11 UEFA Champions League trophy

FC BARCELONA 2008-11

The Catalan giants have enjoyed considerable success at home and abroad over time but the club underachieved in the European Cup for many years. Having only ever been champions of Europe twice before Pep Guardiola took the coaching job in 2008, FC Barcelona have finally started to realize their potential under the current coach who has guided the club to two UEFA Champions League finals and a semi-final in three years as well as winning a host of other trophies including a grand slam of Spanish League, Spanish Cup, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup in 2009. With the likes of FIFA World Cup winners Xavi, Carles Puyol and Andres Iniesta as well as superstar Lionel Messi many predict that their dominance could continue for some time yet.

SO WHO GETS YOUR VOTE AS THE BEST?

Team of the Year 2010 (+poll)

Posted in Uncategorized by peterbein on December 24, 2010
FC Bayern München

Are FC Bayern München your team of the year?

Here is Stoppage Time – International Football Blog’s Team of the Year 2010 shortlist

FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN: Secured their 22nd championsip title in the 2009-10 season after seeing off nearest challengers Schalke 04 to the Meisterschale by five points. Also secured the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) by hammering Werder Bremen 4-0 in the final in Berlin’s Olympiastadion, securing the club’s sixth such ‘double’ in the last decade. However their fortune ran out in Madrid where they lost out to Internazionale FC in the final of the UEFA Champions League.

SC Internacional

Are SC Internacional your team of the year?

SC INTERNACIONAL: The Porto Alegre based side won their second Copa Libertadores (South American Champions League) title in four years topping a group with Deportivo Quito, CA Cerro and CS Emelec before getting past CA Banfield, previous champions Estudiantes de La Plata and São Paulo in the knockout rounds before beating Chivas Guadalajara 5-3 in the two-legged final. Finished 7th in the Brazilian domestic championship and a losing semi-finalist in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Internazionale FC

Are Internazionale FC your team of the year?

FC INTERNAZIONALE: After seeing many titles winging their way to their bitter enemies AC Milan over the years it was finally time for the Nerazzurri to have some glory of their own. Jose Mourinho led the club to an unprecedented treble with success in Serie A (pipping AS Roma to the title on the final day), Coppa Italia (also beating AS Roma) and UEFA Champions League (beating FC Bayern 2-0) whilst Rafa Benítez has led the club to further glory with wins in the Italian Super Cup (again AS Roma) and FIFA Club World Cup (3-0 v TP Mazembe).

Spain national team

Is Spain your team of the year?

SPAIN: The Spanish national team is riding on the crest of a wave after winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Following a less than impressive start against Switzerland, against whom La Selección lost 1-0, the Spaniards went on to defeat Honduras and Chile in the group stage before getting past Portugal, Paraguay, Germany and the Netherlands to lift football’s biggest prize for the very first time. This meant that Spain are the third team after West Germany and France to hold the European and world titles at the same time. Spain also top the FIFA World Rankings at the end of the year.

TP Mazembe

Are TP Mazembe your team of the year?

TP MAZEMBE: The Congolese side were desperately unlucky not to win their domestic title, losing the championship to rivals AS Vita Club only on the back of goal difference. But it’s for the club’s international exploits that they reach our shortlist; a second consecutive CAF African Champions’ League beating Esperance ST 6-1 on aggregate followed by a maiden appearance in the FIFA Club World Cup final becoming the first non-European/South American team to reach that stage of the competition.

Bundesliga: Mainz maintain perfect record in Munich

Posted in European Football by peterbein on September 25, 2010
Adam Szalai

Ádám Szalai scored the winner in Mainz's 2-1 victory away at FC Bayern

The German Bundesliga saw an intriging clash between champions FC Bayern München and top of the table 1. FSV Mainz 05 this afternoon at the former’s Allianz Arena home. The away team came to Munich as the only side with a perfect 100% record after five games in the 2010-11 campaign and was the biggest test yet for the club who had previously beaten VfB Stuttgart, VfL Wolfsburg, 1.FC Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen and 1.FC Köln.

FC Bayern, the Rekordmeister, are favourites going into every game in Germany but it was the table toppers who showed that they had no respect for their hosts by having the first major chances of the game through Ádám Szalai and Lewis Holtby before the latter’s 15th minute cross was turned home skillfully by Sami Allagui to put the Rheinlanders in front. The game continued with both teams making good chances and it seemed that Mainz were going in with a one goal advantage at the break before an unfortunate Bo Svensson own goal restored parity for the home team in first half stoppage time.

At this point many people would’ve predicted the champions to do what they always do and put the young pretenders to the sword but the misfortune that Mainz suffered at the end of the first half did not affect their game after the pause and it was they who continued to take the attack to FC Bayern. They got their reward in the 77th minute after substitute André Schürrle crossed the ball from the right and it arrived at the feet of forward Ádám Szalai who had his back to goal but was able to hit the ball on the turn into the top right hand corner of the goal from 14 yards out. The Hungarian, who was signed from Real Madrid after last season’s loan period, scored his third goal in Mainz colours and it was without doubt his most spectacular and important.

FC Bayern did have a couple of chances towards the end of the game but coach Louis van Gaal and his players would be left shell-shocked at the sight of the scoreboard at the end of the match. Mainz had preserved their 100% record and for coach Thomas Tuchel, who has only held the job since August 2009, it is just reward for what he has done for the team in such a short space of time. Having led the club to a respectable ninth place in 2009-10, it is fantastic to see an under-rated coach achieve early success with a young team who have defied all expectations. Mainz lead the table with 18 points, ten ahead of FC Bayern who lie in an unfamiliar 8th place. Now, of course, the tough job is only just beginning: how long can they stay there?

UEFA Champions League – Final Preview

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 21, 2010

The UEFA Champions League final will be played on a Saturday night for the first time in the competition’s history this year when Internazionale FC and FC Bayern München fight it out not just for continental glory but to complete the third and final leg of a Treble winning season. Italian champions Inter have won both league and cup honours domestically ahead of the tough challenge of AS Roma whilst FC Bayern managed to stave off the threat of FC Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga and thrashed Werder Bremen 4-0 in the cup final last weekend in Berlin. The game will also have another edge to it as the teams are fighting it out to allow their country the right to have four places in the UEFA Champions League from the 2011-12 season. Italy currently has that right but a win for FC Bayern would mean that Germany takes Italy’s place in the top three of UEFA’s Co-Efficient table which determines European placings. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” looks back at how both teams reached the final:

Internazionale FC logoINTERNAZIONALE FC (Italy)

Group Stage (FC Barcelona 6 games/11 points; Internazionale 6/9; Rubin Kazan 6/6; Dynamo Kyiv 6/5)

Internazionale’s group stage campaign got off to a quiet start when Jose Mourinho’s troops were involved in a Matchday 1 goalless stalemate against defending European champions FC Barcelona. Matchday 2 saw another game fail to be decided as Dejan Stanković cancelled out Alejandro Domínguez’s 11th minute opener to ensure a draw for the Nerazzurri against Russian champions Rubin Kazan. A third consecutive draw followed against Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kyiv as Inter came from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw. Finally the first win came on Matchday 4 in dramatic fashion as Andriy Shevchenko’s goal for Dynamo was overturned in the final four minutes of the game with goals in quick succession from Diego Milito and Wesley Sneijder. A trip to the Camp Nou cauldron awaited on Matchday 5 and the Italians were disappointing in their 2-0 defeat to the Catalans which meant that progression to the Round of 16 was hanging by a thread going into their final group game at home to Rubin. However goals from Samuel Eto’o and Mario Balotelli gave Inter the three points which meant second place in the group and a tough encounter with Mourinho’s old club Chelsea FC.

Round of 16 (v Chelsea FC 3-1 on aggregate)

Inter had failed in each of the previous two campaigns to progress from this stage of the tournament against English opposition and weren’t going to make it three in a row. In the first leg, played at San Siro, a tough contest was ultimately decided by an Esteban Cambiasso strike to give Inter a slender one goal advantage to take to London as the Italian champions won 2-1. For the second leg all the attention turned to coach Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge but it was Samuel Eto’o who would grab all the headlines as he scored the only goal of the second leg late on to allow Inter to advance to the quarter-finals with a 3-1 aggregate victory.

Quarter-Final (v CSKA Moscow 2-0 on aggregate)

CSKA Moscow had done well to reach the quarter-finals having qualified in second place from Manchester United’s group as well as defeating Sevilla in the Round of 16. Sadly for the Russian side their adventure would end in the last eight as a pair of 1-0 victories were enough for Inter to go through. The first leg was decided by Diego Milito whilst Wesley Sneijder was the goal hero in the return leg. The 2-0 aggregate victory gave Inter a dream semi-final and, more importantly for Mourinho, the chance to get one over FC Barcelona.

Semi-Final (v FC Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate)

Jose Mourinho once again took the plaudits as he learnt the lessons of defeat during the group stage and knocked-out tournament favourites FC Barcelona. Mourinho’s claim that the Catalans, where he once famously worked as Sir Bobby Robson’s interpreter, were “obsessed with [winning in] Madrid” was used as a psychological ploy to get at his opponents. The first leg saw Inter come from behind to claim a 3-1 first leg adavantage. The return leg saw an early setback when Thiago Motta was sent-off for raising his arm on Sergio Busquets who clearly went down too easily. Despite Gerard Piqué’s cool finish in the 84th minute Inter were able to survive any further Barça attacks to go through to their first European final since winning the UEFA Cup in 1998 and will hope to bury 45 years of hurt by winning a third European Cup.

FC Bayern logoFC BAYERN MÜNCHEN (Germany)

Group Stage (FC Girondins 6 games/16 points; FC Bayern 6/10; Juventus FC 6/8; Maccabi Haifa 6/0)

FC Bayern eventually squeezed through this group but it started off comfortably enough with an easy 3-0 win over Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa on Matchday 1 with Daniel Van Buyten and a double strike from Thomas Müller proving the difference. A goalless draw at home to Juventus FC was not what the Bayern fans expected after the opening game but that was what they got and it got worse for the Bavarians as they suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of French champions FC Girondins de Bordeaux. The pressure was on coach Louis Van Gaal to get the team into the Round of 16 and, in order to do that, he had to win both remaining group games. Matchday 5 settled Bayern nerves even if they were far from convincing in beating group whipping boys Maccabi Haifa by an Ivica Olić goal to nil. Matchday 6, however, was when Van Gaal’s men showed their mettle by going to Turin and coming from behind to defeat Juventus 4-1 thanks to goals from (goalkeeper) Hans-Jörg Butt, Ivica Olić, Mario Gómez and Anatoliy Tymoschuk.

Round of 16 (v AC Fiorentina 4-4 on aggregate – FC Bayern win on away goals)

There were two exciting ties in the Round of 16 clash between FC Bayern and their Italian opponents with Arjen Robben proving a crucial influence in both legs. He scored the goal to give Bayern the lead in the first leg but Fiorentina equalized early in the second half thanks to Per Krøldrup. A controversial Miroslav Klose winner in the last minute allowed the German Rekordmeister to take a 2-1 advantage to Florence but they were soon playing catch-up in the return leg. The Viola were two goals up early in the second half before the aggregate score was level through Mark Van Bommel in the 60th minute. Stevan Jovetić scored again on the 64th minute to restore Fiorentina’s lead but Italian hearts were broken by Arjen Robben whose beautifully curled strike sixty seconds later gave FC Bayern the away goals advantage from which they would qualify to meet Manchester United.

Quarter-Finals (v Manchester United 4-4 on aggregate – FC Bayern win on away goals)

In what was a pulsating contest FC Bayern qualified for the semi-finals in the same manner from which they got through the Round of 16. In the first leg at Allianz Arena Wayne Rooney’s second minute opener for United was cancelled out by Franck Ribéry in the 77th minute. Just as it looked like United would go to the return leg the most satisfied Ivica Olić capitalized on a very late defensive lapse from the English champions to secure a 2-1 win to take to Manchester. The second leg proved every bit, if not more, dramatic as United were cruising after 40 minutes having taken a 3-0 lead on the night. Ivica Olić’s goal late in the first half gave FC Bayern hope of staying in the game and their chances were helped when United’s Rafael was sent-off. With fourteen minutes to go a corner found its way on to Arjen Robben’s left foot and he struck with great aplomb into the bottom corner to secure yet another away goals victory and a semi-final date with seven times French champions Olympique Lyonnais.

Semi-Finals (v Olympique Lyonnais 4-0 on aggregate)

Arjen Robben and Ivica Olić again proved the decisive figures for FC Bayern as they eased their way into the final with a healthy 4-0 aggregate win over a disappointing Olympique Lyonnais. Dutch wizard Robben scored the only goal in the first leg when he struck again from distance to give die Roten a slender first leg advantage. The second leg proved much more comfortable with Croatian Olić scoring all three goals to give the Bavarians a safe passage through to their first UEFA Champions League final since their last triumph in the competition in 2000-01.

Europe: Weekend Review (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 17, 2010
DFB Pokal

FC Bayern have won the DFB Pokal this weekend defeating Werder Bremen in Berlin

There have been various domestic league and cup titles decided in Europe all weekend and “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” reports on the winners and losers across the continent:

Ahead of the Champions League final in Madrid on Saturday both Internazionale FC and FC Bayern München had doubles (and trebles) on their mind as they finished their domestic league and cup seasons respectively. Inter needed to beat Siena to claim an 18th Scudetto which would allow the Nerazzurri to overtake city rivals AC Milan in league titles won and, although it was a narrow win, it proved to be so when Diego Milito scored just before the hour mark. Nearest title challengers AS Roma did what they had to do when defeating Chievo 2-0 with two goals just before half-time from Mirko Vučinić and Daniele de Rossi but it proved not to be enough for the Giallorossi who will rue their Matchday 35 defeat to Sampdoria as the one that lost them the title. In Germany FC Bayern made easy work of the DFB Pokal final against Werder Bremen, who had been in very good form recently, by beating the northern side 4-0 to claim their 15th domestic cup triumph and their sixth Double in the last decade. Goals from Arjen Robben, Ivica Olić, Franck Ribéry and Bastien Schweinsteiger gave the Bavarian giants the cup defeating the defending holders in the process. Louis van Gaal’s men now face a Treble showdown with Inter in Madrid to see which one can create history by following another Treble winning side, FC Barcelona, as European champions.

Speaking of FC Barcelona they claimed their 20th La Liga title after defeating Valladolid 4-0, with a brace from Lionel Messi amongst the highlights, to get one over arch-rivals Real Madrid in the title race. Los Blancos, who spent up to £300 million on a new squad of players at the start of the season, finish empty-handed after they could only draw 1-1 away at Malaga, although a win for Madrid would’ve made no difference anyway. In England Chelsea FC secured a domestic league and cup triumph by defeating Portsmouth FC 1-0 in a tense affair thanks to yet another Didier Drogba strike at Wembley. The Ivorian has scored on his every visit to England’s national stadium and his free-kick in the 58th minute maintained his perfect record to help the Stamford Bridge outfit win the Double for the first time in the club’s history just a week after securing the Premier League title with that famous 8-0 rout of Wigan Athletic. Another Double winner was FC Basle in Switzerland who, having won the Swiss Cup one week ago, followed it up with a 2-0 victory over Young Boys Berne in what was, in effect, a title play-off to secure their thirteeth league championship crown. In Turkey there was an historic first championship win for Bursaspor who took advantage of a final day slip up by Fenerbahçe to claim the title in dramatic fashion. Fener were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw at home to Trabzonspor whilst Bursaspor defeated outgoing Süper Lig champions Beşiktaş by two goals to one to claim the title by a single point and, thus, gain automatic entry into next season’s UEFA Champions League. Watch match highlights and title celebrations here:

Other league champions crowned this weekend were Sparta Prague who won their first title since 2006-07 when beating FK Teplice 1-0 to pip nearest challengers Jablonec by a single point to seal the championship while in Poland Lech Poznań won their sixth Ekstraklasa title after defeating Zagłębie Lubin 2-0 which gave Lech their first league championship in seventeen years. In cup competitions Dundee United won only their second Scottish Cup after beating minnows Ross County 3-0 at Hampden Park (for a full report go to the “Away Days” section of the blog) whilst Zenit Saint Petersburg claimed the Russian Cup with a narrow 1-0 victory over Sibir Novosibirsk thanks to a penalty from Roman Shirokov.

European Leagues Round-Up

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 9, 2010
Meisterschale

FC Bayern have won the Bundesliga title for a record-extending 22nd time

FC Bayern and Chelsea were amongst the teams crowned national champions in Europe this weekend whilst Italy’s champions-elect FC Internazionale have been taken to the wire by AS Roma who will complete the Serie A season next weekend. In other leagues Real Madrid and FC Barcelona also will fight it out on the last day in Spain after both teams won their Saturday night matches against Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla CF respectively.

FC Bayern München had pretty much sealed the title after the penultimate round of games after they had beaten VfL Bochum at the same time their only title challengers FC Schalke 04 were going down to home defeat against Werder Bremen. On the last day FC Bayern travelled to the German capital to face a Hertha BSC side who were already facing up to the prospect of Second League football next season. This game proved to be a stroll for the Bavarians with goals from Ivica Olić and a brace from Dutch sensation Arjen Robben sealing a 3-1 win in the Olympiastadion where FC Bayern have the chance to complete a domestic double against Werder Bremen in next weekend’s DFB Pokal (German Cup final). Schalke 04 could only draw 0-0 away at 1.FSV Mainz 05 to put a disappointing end to their campaign whilst Werder Bremen gave themselves a boost before the cup final by gaining a point at home to bitter local northern rivals Hamburger SV and clinch the third UEFA Champions League place. Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund and a rejuvenated VfB Stuttgart will take their places in the UEFA Europa League next season. As well as Hertha BSC the 2.Liga will be joined by VfL Bochum next season with the possibility of 1.FC Nürnberg joining them should they lose a promotion/relegation play-off to FC Augsburg.

In England it was a topsy-turvy campaign in the Premier League with the leadership changing hands on no fewer than twenty two occasions during the campaign. Thankfully for the Blues of Chelsea FC it didn’t turn out to be twenty three as the Stamford Bridge side won with considerable ease against Wigan Athletic by eight goals to nil. A hat-trick for Didier Drogba and a brace for Nicolas Anelka was supplemented by solitary strikes by Frank Lampard, Solomon Kalou and Ashley Cole to give Chelsea their fourth English championship, their first since the days of Jose Mourinho in 2006. Present Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti has a real chance to win the Double in his first season in charge should the Blues do, as expected, win next weekend’s FA Cup final against Portsmouth FC at Wembley Stadium. Chelsea’s title rivals Manchester United saw off Stoke City 4-0 at Old Trafford but the Red Devils only have the League Cup to show for their efforts in the 2009-10 campaign. The top two will be joined by Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspur in next season’s UEFA Champions League while Manchester City, Aston Villa and a very disappointing Liverpool FC will be playing UEFA Europa League football next term. At the bottom of the table Portsmouth FC’s relegation was confirmed some time ago and they will be joined in the Championship (second tier) by Hull City and Burnley FC who go straight back down after their maiden Premier League appearance.

SL Benfica sealed their 32nd championship title in Portugal’s Liga Sagres thansk to an Oscar Cardozo double which gave the Eagles a 2-1 home win over Rio Ave. At the same time their only title rivals Sporting Braga could only muster a 1-1 draw on the island of Madeira against a determined Nacional side who ensured that the league title would’ve gone to Benfica even had the league leaders had surprisingly lost at home as Braga needed all three points coupled with a Benfica defeat to win the title. In any case Sporting Braga can be very proud of their efforts as they finished second and, thus, qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season. Deposed champions FC Porto finished three points further back in third and will only play in UEFA Europa League next season along with Sporting Lisbon and Marítimo. At the bottom last season’s surprise package SC Leixões were relegated along with Os Belenenses, both of whom will play in the Liga de Honra next season.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi was amongst the scorers in FC Barcelona's 3-2 win at Sevilla CF.

Title races in Spain and Italy must be sorted out on the final day of the season as both the main challengers in both countries won their penultimate fixtures this weekend. On Saturday in Spain both defending champions FC Barcelona and arch-rivals Real Madrid won tough fixtures against Sevilla CF (3-2) and Athletic Bilbao (5-1) respectively. Pep Guardiola’s FC Barcelona side were coasting to a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Messi, Bojan and Pedro before they allowed the Andalucians back into the game with two goals in the space of sixty seconds from Fredi Kanouté and Luis Fabiano to give the Blaugrana a real scare but the visitors held out for three very important points. Real Madrid were being held at one all with a little under twenty minutes to go before Gonzalo Higuaín opened the floodgates for los Blancos who went on to record a 5-1 win and keep up the pressure on the Catalans. Next week sees FC Barcelona at home to Valladolid and Real Madrid away at Malaga FC on what should be an exciting final day’s action.

In Italy FC Internazionale, who won the Coppa Italia final against AS Roma earlier in the week, thought that they were going to celebrate their fifth straight Scudetto as they were beating Chievo 4-1 with goals from Mantovani (own goal), Cambiasso, Milito and Balotelli, giving the Nerazzurri a healthy advantage whilst nearest challengers AS Roma were losing 1-0 at home to Cagliari Calcio. But in the last twenty minutes Chievo pulled two goals back to give Inter a scare and AS Roma’s talismanic captain Francesco Totti scored twice to give the Giallorossi hope of winning the title with one game left. Next Sunday’s action sees Inter away to already relegated Siena and AS Roma away at Chievo and many will fancy the Nerazzurri to do the domestic Double before meeting up with FC Bayern in the UEFA Champions League on Saturday, May 22nd.