European Football Roundup 21/7/2020

With nothing to play for, Liverpool and Manchester City are both ambling towards the end of the season without purpose. The Reds lost to the Gunners, while City scraped past Bournemouth 2-1. Chelsea picked up a crucial win over relegated Norwich and could clinch a Champions League place with a win over Liverpool tomorrow. If that fails, they may have to beat Wolves on Sunday, who themselves are desperate to clinch Europa League football after a draw at Burnley and a win over Palace.

Manchester United also beat Palace and will be hoping a win over West Ham before they meet the Foxes on Sunday will set them up for a place at the European top table. Leicester’s fall from grace has been dramatic, but they did manage to take three points off the Blades before falling to a newly resilient Tottenham, who themselves had just taken all three points at Newcastle. Sheffield United also lost to Everton, meaning their European ambitions are over. They are now level with Burnley, who moved up the table after defeating the Canaries.

At the bottom, Bournemouth are all but down after an agonising home defeat to Southampton, who had two south coast “derbies” this week, drawing the other with Brighton. Aston Villa also suffered the heartbreak of a late Everton equaliser and will need something against both Arsenal and West Ham to escape. Watford are the target of both sides after falling to West Ham, Antonio on the scoresheet again. They end their season against Man City and Arsenal in two eminently losable games. The games will be made even tougher by the shock decision to sack their manager Nigel Pearson with immediate effect. Already safe Brighton and Newcastle played out a goalless draw in the week’s remaining fixture. (TABLE)

The two FA Cup semi-finals were also played this week, with London winning against Manchester on both occasions. Arteta put one over his former mentor as Arsenal defeated City and De Gea let another shot slip through his hands as United fell to Chelsea. The final will be a repeat of last year’s Europa League final, with much younger managers at the helm.

With Real cruising to the title and the remaining Champions League places already on their way to Barca, Atletico and Sevilla, last day drama was reserved for the race for the Europa League and the fight to avoid the drop. Celta had imploded after an excellent run of form had nearly cleared them of danger and as a result found themselves with a rejuvenated Leganes on their heels going into the final day. Lega had done magnificently under Javier Aguirre to take 10 points from 12, but needed a win at Real Madrid to overtake the Galicians. They twice went behind before equalising and on another day a handball in the box could easily have been given to afford them the chance of going up 3-2. As it was, the scores finished level and Celta stumbled over the finishing line in 17th for a second straight season. Higher up the table, newly-promoted Granada posted an excellent 4-0 win over Bilbao to surprisingly claim the final Europa League spot. They will be joined in next season’s competition by Villarreal and Sociedad, with Levante and Valencia missing out. Messi claimed a record-breaking seventh pichichi, as he took his tally of goals in La Liga to a whopping 444. Next season, Huesca and Cadiz will be joining the top flight party, with the third team to be determined via playoffs. (TABLE)

There are still four matchdays left this season, but nearly everything is already decided. After defeating Lazio 2-1, there is no way that Juve will be doing anything other than winning the scudetto. Inter, Atalanta and Lazio will be playing in the Champions League, as they are well clear of the next cluster of teams in 5th to 7th. Roma, Napoli and an AC Milan in their best form in years will take the Europa League spots unless one of them completely collapses and Sassuolo continue their excellent recent run. The most important game of the week saw 17th-placed Genoa scrape past 18th-placed Lecce 2-1 in rather fortuitous circumstances. Lecce missed a penalty and Genoa’s winner rebounded off the post, hit the goalkeeper and went in. The gap between them has now been extended to 4 points, meaning Lecce’s showdown with Brescia tomorrow is an absolute must-win for them to have any chance of avoiding relegation. Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score 50 goals in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A. 12 of his goals this season have come from the penalty spot, which is another record. No comment. (TABLE)

League finished. Winners: Bayern Munich / Champions League: Borussia Dortmund, Leipzig, Borussia Monchengladbach / Europa League : Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim / Relegated: Fortuna Dusseldorf, Paderborn / Promoted: Arminia Bielefeld, Stuttgart / Cup Winners: Bayern Munich (TABLE)

League finished. Winners: PSG / Champions League: Marseille, Rennes / Europa League: Lille, Nice, Reims / Relegated: Amiens, Toulouse / Promoted: Lens, Lorient / Cup Winners: Undetermined (TABLE)

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