Last week was very anticlimactic as most league titles had been sorted well before the games kicked off. So here are some winners.
Ligue 1 – Congrats to Monaco, who in addition to a deep Champions League run, held off Paris Saint-Germain for their first title in three years.
Bundesliga – The Bundesliga was another one wrapped up a while ago, but there was some drama left to play on Saturday. Bobby Wood’s Hamburg took it to the wire, scoring an 88th minute winner. This pushed Hamburg out of the relegation playoff and forced in the team they beat, Wolfsburg.
On the other end of the table, BVB Dortmund secured third place and a spot in the Champions League group stage. This put Hoffenheim in fourth, who now must enter Champions League in the playoff round. BVB securing third also means that Liverpool will be one of the seeded teams in the Champions League playoff.
Serie A – There is one more week left in Serie A but nothing topside to play for — except between second and third place. What’s the big difference? Well, second place is guaranteed into the Champions League group stage, while third must enter in the playoff round. Second-place Roma hold a one point lead over Napoli, and they host 16th place Genoa on Sunday. Napoli has to go to tenth-place Sampdoria.
At the bottom, Palermo and Pescara are already relegated to Serie B. However, only one point separate Empoli (32 points) and Crotone (31 points) for the last relegation spot.
La Liga – Real Madrid secured their 33rd La Liga title by handling Málaga 0-2. Barcelona had a scare at the Camp Nou, going down 0-2 to Eibar, before rallying to score 4 straight goals. Messi even missed a penalty during the comeback. Barça finished comfortably in second but just three points shy of Madrid.
Barça play in the Copa del Rey final this weekend against Deportivo Alavés. Real Madrid probably doesn’t care about losing in the quarterfinals of the Copa as they are preparing for Juve and the Champions League final.
EPL – Most of the drama for the weekend was reserved for the English Premier League. The top two spots have been locked up by Chelsea and Tottenham, but any of Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool could have gone anywhere from 3rd – 5th. City struck first on the way to putting five past Watford and secured third place.
Prior to the last matchday, Liverpool sat 1 point ahead of Arsenal in fourth. To the dismay of all the Liverpool fans, Arsenal got two goals before the break against Everton at the Emirates. However, in Liverpool versus Middlesbrough, a 45th minute Gini Wijnaldum score right before the half allowed the Kop end at Anfield to loosen up it’s collective sphincter. Coutinho had a helluva a free kick six minutes after the restart, and Adam Lallana added the insurance five minutes later. The Liverpool win and the three points meant that no matter what, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal would finish in fifth, doomed to the toilet bowl of European competitions, Europa League, for the first time in his tenure of 20 years.
Coming up this weekend
Is this a hockey dressing room, because all I can see is cups! (I’ll see myself out.) But seriously, we have a lot of domestic cups this weekend, as well as the most expensive match in football!
Up first at 9 AM it’s the Scottish FA Cup, Celtic v Aberdeen – Fucking Brendan Rogers! [Editor’s Note of sarcasm: Why this writer, as a Liverpool fan, holds contempt for Brendan Rogers is beyond me.] Rogers and Celtic managed not to lose a match in the Scottish Premiership this year, finishing with 106 points (34-4-0). Aberdeen came in second a full 30 points, or 10 wins, behind Celtic. So, this match should be no contest, but one-off Cup matches are always weird! Find a Scottish person who has GolTV to watch this match, paging David Smith. Wait, will Rangers fans watch this?
Next up at 11:30 AM is the FA Cup Final, Arsenal v Chelsea. These are actually the two most in-form teams in the EPL. But, it’s gonna be a sad day when Arsenal wins the FA Cup and Arsene Wenger’s shown the door at Arsenal. The bigger question here is “Will manager Antonio Conte be back for a second season at Chelsea?” There are plenty of rumors out there about him going back to Italy.
At 1 PM we get Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Pokal. Dortmund has been on a good run, and Frankfurt limped to the end of the Bundesliga season in 11th place. Dortmund disappointed this year both on the Champions League front and in the domestic league, so some silverware before Aubemayang jets would be good.
If that game turns into a rout, why not flip over to BeIN at 2 PM for the Coupe de France with PSG v Angers SCO. Angers finished 12th in Ligue 1. PSG finished in a disappointing 2nd place, which just goes to show how massive the Zlatan hole is in Paris.
At 2:30 PM Barcelona v Deportivo Alavés clash in the Copa Del Rey. Alavés did manage to beat Barcelona earlier in the year, at the Camp Nou even, but that was back in September. Their other meeting in February, at Alavés, did not go well for the home team as Barça rolled 6-0. I’d expect Barça to want at least one trophy, but as with last week if they are not on top of their game, they can go down early.
Finally, on Sunday 9 AM will be the English Football League playoff finals, the most valuable match in soccer. The winner goes to the Premiership, and the loser stays in the EFL Championship, a difference of approximately £60 million. This year it’s Reading v Huddersfield Town at Wembley. In case the Yanks reading this want a rooting interest, Huddersfield Town gaffer David Wagner is Jurgen Klopp’s best friend and is also technically American. This is the best chance for the United States to have a manager in the EPL. Reading, on the other hand, has midfield stalwart Danny Williams. So either way, another American is coming back to the EPL.
The Puppy Rumor Mill
In a new recurring segment, at least for the summer, we will take a look at some of the transfer rumors circling the continent and throw cold water on them to ease that super hard erection you are currently sporting over Mbappé.
ESPNFC confirms the mass exodus happening at Manchester City. Bacary Sagna, Gaël Clichy, Jesús Navas, and Willy Caballero are all out the door, along with Pablo Zabaleta. The other rumor circling Man City is Alexis Sánchez moving from Arsenal to Manchester, or to Chelsea, or to Munich.
Also reported at ESPN FC Jürgen Klopp mentioned that he has opened discussions with Daniel Sturridge about the fragile strikers future at Liverpool. LFC is going to (or theoretically should) spend a lot of money this off-season, bulking up it’s roster with a Champions-League-level back or four. Fans saw how paper thin LFC’s roster was last year when they lost Mané. While Sturridge hasn’t been the picture of health, he has gotten goals in opportune times and is still a thinker on the field, knowing how and when to pounce.