All are champs in European soccer

Tariq Engineer

In a thrilling last day finish in Italy, Juventus won the ‘scudetto’ for a record 26th time. The season finale, however, was not without its usual share of drama and intrigue.Going into the last day of the season, Inter Milan was atop the standing with Juventus a point behind and defending champions AS Roma one more point behind.

Theoretically, any one of the three teams had a chance of winning the Italian championship but only Inter held their destiny in their own hands. A win against Lazio would assure them of their first title in 13 years.

For their part, Lazio needed a win and three points to secure a place in Europe for next year via the InterToto Cup.

Lazio and Roma however, are bitter rivals whose supporters hate each other. As a result before the game, the Lazio fans proclaimed that they were going to support Inter against their own team to try and ensure that the ‘scudetto’ did not fall into the Roma hands for a second straight year.

This raised questions about the integrity of the game itself. Lazio were accused of planning to throw the game and hand the title to Inter. The bickering and allegations grew so fierce that Juventus coach Marcello Lippi described them as ‘sickening’.

In the end, none of it mattered as Inter crashed to a 4-2 defeat at Lazio, despite the fans supporting the visiting team, and Juventus eased to a 2-0 win against Udinese to steal the title. Roma won their final game too, but had to settle for second place.

The Spanish Primera Liga crowned its champion too this past weekend. Valencia outlasted Real Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna down the stretch to claim its first title since 1971.

In doing so, Valencia earned a certain amount of redemption after losing the last two champion’s league finals to Real Madrid and Bayern Munch respectively.

In Holland, a third champion was crowned in Europe with Ajax winning the league for the 28th time. Lyon won the French Le Championnat on the final day outplaying Lens 3-1 decisively.

Victory was imperative for Lyon, as anything less would have handed Lens the trophy.

Celtic had already been crowned Scottish champions for the second straight year, having run away with the league once again. Rangers did manage to beat them in the Scottish Cup final on Saturday… merely a minor consolation.

All in all, it was another great season of competition.