It is not easy to win a league title. The hardest part is probably the last few games where all the expectation is on you. That is what Liverpool and Manchester City had to deal with this weekend. They played at Anfield, with the winner to take a massive step towards winning the title. Liverpool started way stronger, and ran out to an early lead, but City replied after half time. In the end, it was a Vincent Kompany mistake that let Coutinho score the winner for Liverpool. If the Reds can beat Chelsea in a couple of weeks, then they should have their first league title for almost a quarter of a century!
Their job got a little easier with Manchester City only managing a draw with Sunderland this morning. In fact, it took a late equaliser just to get that. Sunderland are still way off in last place, but they have a chance to survive if they can start winning games, and this result must have been great for confidence. Chelsea beat Swansea on Monday, so they are still challenging Liverpool. They will need to beat them though if they are to overtake them, or hope for Liverpool to drop points against Norwich, Crystal Palace or Newcastle. Both of them, and Manchester City, still have the chance to win, and the way this season has gone, there may still be some surprises left in store!
The other big result today was Everton losing to Crystal Palace. That and Arsenal’s win over West Ham means the Gunners regain fourth place. Everton play Manchester United next, and United need that win to catch Spurs (and maybe even Everton too) before the end of the season. It is sure to be a great game. Fulham and Cardiff won their last games too, so even the relegation battle is headed for a thrilling finish.
What a terrible week for Barcelona! First they were knocked out of the Champions League, then they lost in La Liga, meaning they fall back to third place, and then they lost 2-1 to Real Madrid in the final of the Copa del Rey – the Spanish version of the FA Cup. Ronaldo was still injured for Madrid, but they did fine without him. Gareth Bale inspired the win with a brilliant goal with only five minutes to play. Neymar almost equalised in stoppage time, driving a shot against the post. It was Real Madrid though who won their first Copa del Rey since 2004.
La Liga is closer than it has been for years. Barcelona’s loss to Granada means that they need Atletico and Real to drop points against lesser teams too if they are to have any hope of regaining the league trophy. Both those teams won on the weekend. Real Madrid did it easy, winning 4-0 in another one sided domestic match for them. Atletico had a harder time, but eventually came away with a 2-0 win. Atletico remains in first place then for now. The deciding game will come in the last match of the season when they play Barcelona.
Germany, Italy and France
All three of these leagues are already decided or close to it. Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga in record time a few weeks back. They have now turned their focus to the Champions League, which has made them vulnerable in Germany. They lost again on the weekend, their second loss in a row after not losing before that in the Bundesliga since October 2012. The Italian Scudetto looks like it is headed for the trophy cabinet of Juventus once more. Both Inter Milan and AC Milan are having terrible seasons, and so Juve are now only a win or two away from the Serie A title. They have been inspired by the great Andrea Pirlo. Over in France, as you could probably guess, it is Paris Saint Germain’s to lose. PSG have stumbled a little bit with the injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and they lost to Lyon to cap off a shocking week after Chelsea sent them packing from the Champions League. The reigning French champs are still 10 points clear domestically though, and it is only a matter of time before that trophy is in their hands.
The A-League playoffs are set to start this weekend, though sadly the Wellington Phoenix won’t be there. The Nix released Steyn Huysegems and Leo Bertos this week after their contracts expired. To balance that out, they also brought in a highly rated 20 year old Spanish midfielder named Alejandro Gorrin. He is known as Alex, and he previously captained the Sunderland reserve team. Chris Greenacre used his connections to get that deal done.
Brisbane and Western Sydney get byes in the first round of the playoffs for coming in the top 2. They will play the winners of the elimination finals this weekend, which see Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC and Central Coast v Adelaide United. Who do you think is going to win it all?