European soccer roundup

Tariq Engineer

In England, Manchester United won the Premiership title for the 8th time in 11 years on the strength of their unbeaten run in the New Year. Arsenal looked to have the League sown up back in April, but dropped crucial points over their last few games to hand United the crown. United showed the greater composure and a greater sense of urgency and deserved the championship, no matter Arsene Wenger’s insistence that Arsenal are the best side in the Premiership. Newcastle finished third with Chelsea fourth, the two teams qualifying for the lucrative Champions League next season. In Germany, Bayern Munich ran away with the Bundesliga. Unexpectedly knocked out of the Champions League in the early stages of that competition, Bayern were able to focus solely on the German League and were so dominant, they wrapped up the title back in April. They currently enjoy a 16-point lead at the top of the table with two matches still to be played.

In Italy Juventus won a record 27th Scudetto. Unlike the drama of the last few seasons, when the Italian championship has been decided on the last day, Juventus emerged Champions with two weeks to spare, giving Marcello Lippi’s side back-to-back titles. Juventus is also in the finals of the Champions League, the crown jewel of European soccer, having ousted holders Real Madrid in the semi-finals 4-3 on aggregate. Juventus will take on AC Milan in the first all-Italian final, proving that the death of Italian soccer is very premature.

In France, Lyon took the French Ligue 1 title ahead of Monaco, while in Portugal, Porto emerged triumphant.

In Holland, PSV Eindhoven has led the Dutch Eredivisie practically all season. They hold a six-point lead over Ajax with two games to go. A draw in either game will give PSV the title.

In Scotland, Celtic and Rangers are neck and neck, separated only by goal difference. Both sides have expressed how much a priority winning the SPL is and this is one race that is going to come down to the last game. Celtic is also due to contest the finals of the UEFA Cup against Portuguese champions Porto.

In Spain, Real Madrid has lost a plot a little bit and have slipped to third place behind Deportivo La Coruna and Real Sociedad. However, just one point separates the top three teams and this is another race that looks to go down to the wire.