Category Archives: Tuesday Roundup

European Football Roundup 4/8/2020

PREMIER LEAGUE (FA CUP FINAL HIGHLIGHTS)
The domestic season in England came to a close with an enjoyable FA Cup final between London heavyweights Chelsea and Arsenal, both sides with young former players at the helm.

Christian Pulisic got the match off to a great start for the Blues with an early goal, but after that everything that could go wrong for them went wrong. First, captain Azpilicueta was forced off injured, then scorer Pulisic pulled up with a hamstring injury when through on goal. His replacement, Pedro, later went off with a dislocated shoulder after Kovacic had picked up a highly controversial second yellow card, Xhaka making an absolute meal of a nothing challenge.

In the meantime, Aubameyang had added another brace to his two from the semi-final to once again be Arsenal’s saviour, securing a 14th FA Cup title for the Gunners and a place in Europe at Wolves’ expense. Nuno’s boys will have to win the Europa League if they want to be playing abroad next season.

Brentford and Fulham will face off today to see who will join Leeds and West Brom in the Premiership next season in the match dubbed the richest in football. It’s been nearly eighty years since Brentford last dined at the top table. (TABLE)

SERIE A (HIGHLIGHTS MATCHDAY 37 AND MATCHDAY 38)
If ever a scudetto was undeserved it was this one, Juve’s 36th. They ended the season with woeful losses to Cagliari and Lazio, as Inter finished just a point behind. Dreadful refereeing is the only reason they scraped home, and Sarri is unlikely to survive their poor end to the season, the bias of officials unable to blind Bianconeri spectators to the obvious deficiencies of their side.

Atalanta have been guilty of taking their eye off the ball after the scandal that was their win draw against Juventus and if they’d kept going to the end they may have caught them. Or maybe Ronaldo would have been given a few more penalties. Who knows? As it was, Inter swept them aside in their final game play-off for second, La Dea atypically unable to recover from an early goalkeeping howler.

Lazio ended up fourth after a defeat to Napoli, but not before Ciro Immobile had added a record-equalling 36th goal to his season’s tally to take the title of capocannoniere. Who says there are no goals in Italy? Certainly not Lecce. They scored 52 this season while shipping 85 as they slipped down a division after a battling 4-3 loss to Parma. Genoa maintained their Serie A status with a comfortable 3-0 win over Hellas.

Benevento and Crotone will be back in the top flight next season and will be joined by one of Spezia, Pordenone, Cittadella, Chievo, Empoli or Frosinone once the lengthy and complicated play-offs are done and dusted. (TABLE)

LIGUE 1
A largely forgettable season abandoned halfway through due to coronavirus came to a turgid end with the last ever Coupe de la Ligue final, contested by Lyon and PSG. Both sides looked flat due to a lack of football. Neither was able to muster much in the way of chances, meaning the match was decided on penalties after a very late red card for OL. Both sides scored their regulation five before Bertrand Traore saw his effort saved and Pablo Sarabia kept his cool to allow the Parisians to complete yet another domestic treble. Yawn. (TABLE)

LA LIGA
League finished. Winners: Real Madrid / Champions League: Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla / Europa League : Villarreal, Real Sociedad, Granada / Relegated: Leganes, Mallorca, Espanyol / Promoted: Huesca, Cadiz / Copa del Rey Winners: Undetermined / Top Scorer: Lionel Messi (TABLE)

BUNDESLIGA
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 / DFB Pokal Winners: Bayern Munich / Top Scorer: Robert Lewandowski (TABLE)

European Football Roundup 28/7/2020

PREMIER LEAGUE (HIGHLIGHTS IN THE TEXT)
Champions Liverpool went out on a scoring spree, netting eight goals against Chelsea and Newcastle to wrap up their season. City went one better with nine against hapless Watford and relegated Norwich, who made it eleven losses from eleven since lockdown. After being held by West Ham midweek, Manchester United claimed third and a return to the Champions League with a win at the Foxes, who will have to content themselves with a spot in the Europa League after being in the top four practically all season. Jamie Vardy did win the Golden Boot for the first time in his career, however, with 23 goals. In doing so, he became the oldest winner in Premier League history.

Chelsea grabbed the final Champions League berth with a comfortable victory over Wolves, who still have two possible routes into Europe next season. Should Chelsea win the FA Cup, their seventh place will suffice for the Europa League, but if they win the Europa League themselves this season, they could be in the Champions League next year as England’s fifth representative. Spurs claimed sixth spot with a tame 1-1 draw at Palace that summed up their dismal season.

Arsenal will hope to alleviate the disappointment of another year in Tottenham’s shadow with an FA Cup win, but they were hugely influential in the relegation battle as they lost to Villa (safe) before beating Watford (down). The Hornets rolled the managerial dice once too often, and the writing was on the wall once Pearson was given the boot last week. That midweek win for Villa was crucial as it meant a point was all they needed at the Hammers, as Bournemouth’s win at Everton proved too little too late.

The remaining matches were between sides who could all be very content with their season; Southampton defeated Sheffield United and Brighton picked up a surprise win at Turf Moor. (TABLE)

SERIE A (HIGHLIGHTS MATCHDAY 35 AND MATCHDAY 36)
It’s all over bar the shouting in Serie A with practically nothing to play for in the last two set of fixtures. It could be a good chance for the sides still in European competition to rest some key players, whilst others can try out some younger players or new systems with next season just around the corner.

Juventus officially claimed a record 36th (and ninth in a row) Serie A title by defeating Sampdoria at home following a shock last minute home defeat to Udinese. Maurizio Sarri has now got his hands on his first scudetto, but it has come whilst in charge of the “enemy”; he probably would have preferred to have taken it with Napoli. The “other Bianconeri” have had a strong end to the season after flirting with relegation for much of it.

Already relegated SPAL were given a 6-1 thumping at home by Roma, and they have been joined by Brescia, who registered another couple of losses. Lecce are all but down, but could still escape if they win their remaining fixtures at Udinese and at home to Parma and Genoa fail to take two points from theirs against Sassuolo and Hellas.

Any hopes Sassuolo had of catching their closest rivals for the Europa League spots have been extinguished by losses to Milan and Napoli. The Rossoneri continued their excellent recent run with a draw against Atalanta that handed the title to Juventus mathematically.

Four goals for Ciro Immobile this week took him to 34 in the race for the title of “capocannoniere”. Ronaldo lies three goals behind on 31 and missed a penalty this week. (TABLE)

LIGUE 1 (HIGHLIGHTS OF THE COUPE DE FRANCE FINAL)
Action returned to France this week as PSG took on Saint Etienne in a delayed Coupe de France final. A limited number of supporters were allowed into the ground in a first for the top 5 leagues since the coronavirus outbreak. On the pitch, Neymar scored an early goal that was enough to defeat les Verts after their captain, Loic Perrin, was sent off in his last ever match for the club . There didn’t seem to be much malice in the tackle, but it resulted in an injury to Kylian Mbappe, and that may have been why the original yellow became a red. It marked a record 13th Coupe de France for PSG and they’ll be aiming for the triple next week against Lyon, in a game which will also serve as a final warm-up for both before the Champions League gets back underway. (TABLE)

LA LIGA
League finished. Winners: Real Madrid / Champions League: Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla / Europa League : Villarreal, Real Sociedad, Granada / Relegated: Leganes, Mallorca, Espanyol / Promoted: Huesca, Cadiz / Copa del Rey Winners: Undetermined / Top Scorer: Lionel Messi (TABLE)

BUNDESLIGA
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 / DFB Pokal Winners: Bayern Munich / Top Scorer: Robert Lewandowski (TABLE)

European Football Roundup 21/7/2020

PREMIER LEAGUE (HIGHLIGHTS IN THE TEXT)
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.

LA LIGA (HIGHLIGHTS MATCHDAY 37 AND MATCHDAY 38)
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)

SERIE A (HIGHLIGHTS MATCHDAY 33 AND MATCHDAY 34)
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)

BUNDESLIGA
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)

LIGUE 1
League finished. Winners: PSG / Champions League: Marseille, Rennes / Europa League: Lille, Nice, Reims / Relegated: Amiens, Toulouse / Promoted: Lens, Lorient / Cup Winners: Undetermined (TABLE)

European Football Roundup 14/7/2020

PREMIER LEAGUE (HIGHLIGHTS IN THE TEXT)
It was a great week for Man City, who worked out which people they needed to bribe in order to be reinstated into European competition after 5-0 wins against Newcastle and Brighton. FFP is clearly just there to stop any upstarts threatening to challenge the hegemony of the elite. Liverpool are stuttering towards the end of the season, but managed to beat Brighton before being held by Burnley.

It’s now very tight for the third and fourth Champions League spots as Chelsea were soundly beaten by Sheffield United after a narrow win over Palace and Leicester fell to a shock thumping by Bournemouth after claiming a point against the Gunners. Manchester United could have taken third place, but their excellent run was brought to an end by a late equaliser against Southampton after they had comfortably dealt with Villa.

It was a great week for Sheffield United, who beat both Chelsea and Wolves; the latter bounced back to beat Everton. The Blades and Wolves are in prime position for the remaining Europa spots. Spurs played out an excruciating 0-0 with the Cherries before taking the North London derby thanks to yet another defensive howler from Arsenal.

Norwich have lost all eight of their fixtures since lockdown, falling to relegation rivals Watford and West Ham (Mikhail Antonio bagging all four goals) this week to confirm their return to the Championship. Villa’s win over Palace means neither the Hornets nor the Hammers are safe yet; the Hornets won their other match against Newcastle, but West Ham fell to Burnley. The week’s meaningless mid-table match ended in a draw between Everton and the Saints. (TABLE)

LA LIGA (HIGHLIGHTS MATCHDAY 35 AND MATCHDAY 36)
Two games remain in the season and Real just need to win one of theirs against Villarreal and Leganes to claim the title. Champions League spots for familiar faces Barca, Atletico and Sevilla are now a mathematical certainty. At the bottom, Espanyol were relegated by their city rivals Barcelona. Mallorca and Leganes are mathematically alive, and four points for either of them could be enough to save them with 17th placed Alaves facing a tricky trip to Betis before they host Barca. Six would be required to overhaul Celta and their goal difference, but that is assuming the Sky Blues fail to beat both already relegated Espanyol and Levante. (TABLE)

SERIE A (HIGHLIGHTS MATCHDAY 31 AND MATCHDAY 32)
Atalanta are the best team in Serie A and for me they have won the scudetto, no matter what the table says. Immobile’s dive started Lazio’s comeback for an undeserved point at the Olimpico before lockdown, and this time round the referees let them down again by gifting Juventus two penalties to remove the chance of anything interesting happening in the last six weeks of the competition. If De Ligt hadn’t been allowed to play basketball in the penalty area at the start of the season (compare his weekly handballs to the two given yesterday), La Dea would be runaway leaders, not the Old Lady. Sigh.

Lazio lost to both Sassuolo and strugglers Lecce this week to end their title challenge, but the shock win for the Giallorossi has not been enough to get out of the relegation playoff place following Genoa’s win over SPAL. The Ferrara club and Brescia are now all but down. Elsewhere, there was a fine win for Milan over Juve, which threatened to throw open the title race before the officials got in the way. And Udinese’s fantastically named Kevin Lasagna is on fire after six goals in the last five games. (TABLE)

BUNDESLIGA
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)

LIGUE 1
League finished. Winners: PSG / Champions League: Marseille, Rennes / Europa League: Lille, Nice, Reims / Relegated: Amiens, Toulouse / Promoted: Lens, Lorient / Cup Winners: Undetermined (TABLE)

European Football Roundup 7/7/2020

PREMIER LEAGUE (HIGHLIGHTS IN THE TEXT)
Man City thumped Liverpool 4-0 to lay down an early marker for next season, but then fell at St. Mary’s. The Reds responded to the defeat with a win over Villa. The Champions League race is wide open as Leicester lost to Everton before putting away Palace, and Chelsea slipped up against the Hammers before seeing off Watford. Big wins for United against Brighton and Bournemouth have put them right back in the mix, but Wolves slipped up to a revived Arsenal, who made it four wins from four on the back of a pasting of Norwich. The Canaries were also defeated by Brighton, who have all but secured safety. Elsewhere, Newcastle took 3 points off beleaguered Bournemouth before a draw with the Hammers, as Sheffield United racked up 4 points with a win against Spurs and draw against Burnley. Spurs managed to beat Everton in a drab encounter, but the only meaningful thing left in their season is the North London derby this weekend. (TABLE)

LA LIGA (HIGHLIGHTS MATCHDAY 33 AND MATCHDAY 34)
VAR CF Real Madrid will win La Liga this year, but the driving force behind their win has been the referees. Every time they’re struggling to get the 3 points with the clock running down, it’s almost guaranteed we’ll be getting an incident looked at in slow-mo followed by the now hirsute but still odious Sergio Ramos stroking in a penalty. The most recent one against Athletic was actually the right decision, but in the previous match it was galling for Getafe to see Carvajal get away with murder in his own box before winning a penalty the first time he went down in the other one. Barca and Atletico will be in the Champions League alongside Sevilla, who won both their games against lowly opposition to take advantage of the Yellow Submarine being sunk by the Blaugrana. At the other end, Leganes beat Espanyol but both will go down with Mallorca, who scored five past a normally miserly Celta defence; their first goal was perhaps the most absurd (reviewed) penalty decision in history. Albert Celades will no longer be looking like a sulky schoolboy on the touchline after Valencia relieved him of the reins. (TABLE)

SERIE A (HIGHLIGHTS MATCHDAY 29 AND MATCHDAY 30)
The title race is most likely run as Juventus opened up a 7 point gap on Lazio with a win in the Turin derby to capitalise on a defeat for the Biancocelesti at home to a revived Rossoneri and a shock home reverse for Inter against Bologna. Free-scoring Atalanta made it ten wins from ten in all competitions with a hard-fought victory against a combative Cagliari. Their sights are now trained on those above them as Roma’s defeat to Napoli means there are now 15 points between 4th and 5th. Time’s running out for bottom club SPAL, as the Ferrara outfit were cruelly denied a win over Milan by an injury time own goal, but 19th placed Brescia could have a lifeline after a win over Hellas. Lecce lost their sixth straight game (conceding 21 goals in the process) as they remain 18th, just behind Genoa. In mid-table, Boga is looking great for Sassuolo, while Ribery is rolling back the years with La Viola. (TABLE)

BUNDESLIGA
Bayern claimed yet another double as they defeated Bayer Leverkusen in the final of the DFB Pokal. After falling behind early on, Bayer had chances to get back into the game, but lacked composure in their finishing. Profligacy upfront was then compounded by a terrible goalkeeping error that got Lewandowski off the mark, with the Factory XI eventually going down 4-2. Lewandowski was named player of the season with Alphonso Davies the best newcomer, while Bremen’s club legend and record scorer Claudio Pizarro finally hung up his boots. He’ll have been happy to see his club save their Bundesliga status by the skin of their teeth as they edged the relegation playoff against minnows Heidenheim on away goals. Florian Kohfeldt succintly summed up his year managing Bremen as “sh#t season, good ending”. For Heidenheim, the opposite was true. (TABLE)

LIGUE 1
League finished. Winners: PSG / Champions League: Marseille, Rennes / Europa League: Lille, Nice, Reims / Relegated: Amiens, Toulouse / Promoted: Lens, Lorient (TABLE)

European Football Roundup 30/6/2020

PREMIER LEAGUE (HIGHLIGHTS IN THE TEXT)
The title is Liverpool’s for the first time in 30 years after a dazzling display against Crystal Palace was followed by City slipping up at the Bridge. The Blues closed the gap on third-placed Leicester, who could only draw with Brighton, to a single point. Wolves are now just two behind Chelsea after 1-0 wins over relegation-threatened Bournemouth and Villa, with Adama Traore in unstoppable form. An Anthony Martial hat-trick kept Manchester United in the hunt, and Spurs recorded their first win in 8 attempts in large part thanks to VAR missing a handball for their first goal. North London rivals Arsenal finally got some points on the board as well at Southampton, who bounced back to defeat Watford with Ings on target twice. The Hornets also lost to Burnley, who made it two wins from two against Palace. With Norwich going down to Everton at Carrow Road, Villa’s point at Newcastle was the only registered by the bottom five this week. (TABLE)

The FA Cup quarter-finals also took place, with the four traditional heavyweights of United, Arsenal, Chelsea and City booking their place in the last four.

LA LIGA (HIGHLIGHTS MATCHDAY 31 AND MATCHDAY 32)
A drop of the hat gets you a penalty these days in La Liga and it’s really ruining the spectacle. Spanish VAR needs to take a long hard look at itself. Wins over Mallorca and Espanyol kept Real firmly in top spot as Barca dropped another couple of points against a resurgent Celta, for whom club legend Iago Aspas netted his 150th strike. The Celeste would have taken all three but for a missed sitter at the death. Atletico got a couple of narrow victories to consolidate third as Sevilla dropped points at home to Valladolid. The Derbi de la Comunitat was won by the Yellow Submarine, who are now putting serious pressure on 4th spot along with Getafe. Valencia and Sociedad will have to settle for Europa at best. With Celta taking four from six and Eibar six from six this week, the bottom three are now eight points adrift. A win for Celta at Mallorca this evening would all but seal their fate. (TABLE)

SERIE A (HIGHLIGHTS MATCHDAY 27 AND MATCHDAY 28)
The Old Lady is pulling clear of the pack after two comfortable wins this week against weaker opposition. Lazio’s hopes of a scudetto were dented by an impressive three goal comeback by La Dea, who won both their matches this week 3-2 to give them a nine-point gap over fifth-placed Roma, who lost to Milan. Inter remain third after a win and a draw. Brescia and SPAL are marooned at the bottom, but a lot of teams are fighting it out to avoid 18th place, which Lecce currently occupy. Like La Liga, there were multiple highly questionable penalties this week, with Lazio and Genoa two of the undeserved beneficiaries.(TABLE)

BUNDESLIGA (MATCHDAY 34 HIGHLIGHTS)
The 34th and final matchday saw a whopping 34 goals, as Robert Lewandowski netted his 34th strike of the season to maintain his average of a goal a game. Bayern have won every single match since the restart and if they continue that run, the Pokal and Champions League will follow. Timo Werner ended his career at third-placed Leipzig with two strikes, which sets a target of 95 for whoever wishes to take over as RB’s record goal-scorer in the future. Dortmund finished second again, but seemed to already be on holiday as Andrej Kramaric scored all four of Hoffenheim’s goals at the Signal Iduna. Gladbach took the final Champions League place with a win over Hertha that rendered Bayer’s win over Mainz academic. If Bayern or Leipzig win the Champions League, Freiburg will join Wolfsburg and Hoffenheim in the Europa League thanks to a 4-0 thrashing of Schalke, who will be thankful the season is finally over. At the bottom, Fortuna were relegated after a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Union was capitalised on by Werder, who defeated Dusseldorf’s local rivals Koln 6-1. Yuya Osako was the star of the show and they will need him again this week in their relegation play-off with Heidenheim, who edged out Hamburg to rule out the possibility of a Nordderby. Paderborn went down 3-2 to Frankfurt in their final match of first tier football. Arminia Bielefeld and Stuttgart will both be back in the big time next season. (TABLE)

LIGUE 1
League finished. Winners: PSG / Champions League: Marseille, Rennes / Europa League: Lille, Nice, Reims / Relegated: Amiens, Toulouse / Promoted: Lens, Lorient (TABLE)

European Football Roundup 23/6/2020

PREMIER LEAGUE (HIGHLIGHTS IN THE TEXT)
Premier League players all had “Black Lives Matter” printed on the back of their shirts and took a knee prior to kick-off this week in a gesture that felt a lot more authentic than FIFA and UEFA’s half-hearted efforts of the past. An unbelievable mess ensued on the pitch once the action got underway as Sheffield United were denied a clear goal and three points first by Hawkeye and then by VAR. VAR did intervene correctly in the Spurs Man U game, however, to rule out a second penalty for the visitors, with the ref seemingly desperate to hand the Red Devils the spoils. The other big games of the week saw a classic David Luiz cameo, in which he gave away two goals before picking up a red card against City, whilst the Merseyside derby ended goalless, with Everton looking the more likely winners towards the end.

The Reds’ lead is now down to 20 points after City thrashed Burnley 5-0 with braces from Mahrez and Foden. Leicester remain third after a late Chilwell screamer was cancelled out by an even later Watford equaliser, whilst Chelsea came from behind to beat Villa to stay fourth. Wolves are looking good for Europe after winning at the London Stadium, but Sheffield United slipped to a surprise 3-0 defeat at Newcastle in which Joelinton finally ended his goal drought. Palace are level on points with Spurs after brushing aside the Cherries, who seem doomed to relegation with Fraser having played his last game for the club and a tough run-in ahead. The Canaries lost 3-0 at home to the Saints and for them it seems the drop is a case of when not if. Things are looking brighter for Brighton after they stunned the Gunners with a late comeback win, which prompted Guendouzi to grab Maupay by the throat. Inexplicably, the FA have opted not to take action. (TABLE)

LA LIGA (HIGHLIGHTS MATCHDAY 29 AND MATCHDAY 30)
Shockingly one-sided officiating handed Real top spot as the referee ruled time and time again in Madrid’s favour to gift them three points at the Anoeta, with Barca held by Sevilla. The Blaugrana’s Pique is in hot water for his comments on the official in question, but it’s hard to have much sympathy for a side that are so often given preferential treatment themselves. Getafe and Sociedad’s dramatic dip in form since the restart has allowed Atletico and Sevilla to move clear in the race for the Champions League. At the other end of the table, it’s looking increasingly likely that the bottom three now will be the three to go down with Espanyol, Leganes and Mallorca all looking woefully bereft of quality and form. Celta’s 6-0 demolition of Alaves after a battling point at Valladolid has allowed them to move four points clear of the drop and given them the insurance of an unassailable advantage in goal difference should their form drop off again. Elsewhere, Real Betis have already decided to part ways with their boss, “Rubi”, just three games after the restart. (TABLE)

SERIE A (COPPA ITALIA FINAL) (SERIE A CATCH-UP GAMES)
Napoli won their sixth Coppa Italia by defeating Juve on penalties. The Old Lady started the shootout disastrously with Dybala and Danilo both failing to convert, as Gattuso’s Napoli claimed a trophy from a season that seemed like it would best be forgotten a few months ago. In the Serie A catch-up games, Inter defeated Samp, La Dea picked up where they left off with a thrashing of Sassuolo, Torino and Parma drew, and Hellas kept their European ambitions alive with a win over Cagliari. (TABLE)

BUNDESLIGA (MATCHDAY 33 HIGHLIGHTS)
As expected, Paderborn were relegated in a defeat at Union Berlin, as the home side celebrated mathematical safety. Werder will probably join them in the 2. Bundesliga after a spirited defeat against Bayern was followed by a less than flattering loss to Mainz, who are now in the clear. To steal the relegation play-off place off Dusseldorf, who picked up an invaluable point with two late goals against Leipzig, Bremen will have to defeat Koln and hope the Flingeraner lose to Union. Unlikely. Dortmund made sure of second place by defeating Leipzig after a shock loss to Mainz. RB and the Foals look as though they will join them in the Champions League after Leverkusen fell to Hertha. Hoffenheim have booked their Europa place for next season after big wins over Augsburg and Union, as have Wolfsburg, who routed a sorry Schalke. It’s getting increasingly hard to imagine David Wagner in the Royal Blues’ dugout at the start of next season. (TABLE)

LIGUE 1
League finished. Winners: PSG / Champions League: Marseille, Rennes / Europa League: Lille, Nice, Reims / Relegated: Amiens, Toulouse / Promoted: Lens, Lorient (TABLE)

European Football Roundup 16/6/2020

BUNDESLIGA (MATCHDAY 31 HIGHLIGHTS)
The nails are nearly all in Paderborn’s coffin after a 4-1 loss to Bremen left them all but down. This put 17th placed Werder level on points with Dusseldorf, who suffered stoppage time Haland heartache in the form of a deft header, showing the big Norwegian is not just power and pace. The result keeps the title mathematically open, although there will be no catching Bayern after their own late winner at home to Gladbach. Leipzig are looking certain for Champions League football following their triumph in the battle of the “plastics”. Union will almost certainly remain a Bundesliga side thanks to victory in Cologne, and the same applies to Augsburg, who won away at Mainz; the carnival side remains at risk. Elsewhere, Hertha’s revival seems to be over as they were ripped apart by Eintracht at home, Wolfsburg are odds on for Europa League football despite Freiburg coming back from two goals down in their meeting, and Schalke seem to be turning a corner after a point against Bayer. The DFB Pokal final will be between Bayern, who edged out Frankfurt 2-1 midweek, and Bayer, who ended the fairy-tale run of fourth-tier Saarbrucken, which sadly had to take place in an empty stadium. (TABLE)

LA LIGA (MATCHDAY 28 HIGHLIGHTS)
Barca and Real both had comfortable restarts seeing off Mallorca and Eibar with minimum fuss, while Sevilla consolidated their grip on third with a comfortable win in El Gran Derbi. Fourth-placed Sociedad dropped 2 points at home to Osasuna, as Getafe’s Champions League ambitions were dented after their keeper had a nightmare at Los Carmenes. Atletico had to settle for a point in Bilbao, and there was late drama as a stoppage time penalty salvaged a point for Levante at Mestalla in the third city derby. At the bottom, Celta got back into their nasty habit of conceding late goals losing 1-0 to Villarreal, and Leganes were beaten at home by Valladolid. All this was music to Espanyol’s ears, who closed the gap on their nearest rivals by three points thanks to the Eibar keeper’s brain fade that left his team reduced to ten men early on. (TABLE)

SERIE A (JUVE VS MILAN / NAPOLI VS INTER)
The Coppa Italia semi-final second legs were played at the weekend. Juventus squeezed past Roma on away goals as their meeting in Turin ended goalless. The match’s key passage of play happened early on and saw Ronaldo miss a penalty, only for Anton Rebic to put his studs into Danilo’s chest moments later reducing Roma to ten men for most of the contest. In the other semi-final, a David Ospina pass set Insigne off on a run, leaving Inter goal-scorer Christian Eriksen in his wake, before squaring for Dries Mertens to become Napoli’s all-time record goal-scorer. The Belgian moved past Marek Hamsik to claim the pedestal all to himself on 122. Napoli will face the Old Lady in the final tomorrow. (TABLE)

PREMIER LEAGUE
Marcus Rashford’s efforts to secure lunches for out-of-school British children living in poverty over the summer holidays is a shining example of how a sportsperson can use their influence and their own experience growing up to do good. A massive well done to him! On the pitch, Liverpool have a rather comfortable 25 point cushion at the top of the table and could wrap up the title as early as this weekend’s Merseyside derby. Man City and Leicester look nailed on for the Champions League, but Chelsea (fresh from their coup of attracting Timo Werner to join) still have some work to do to fend off Man U, Wolves and Sheffield United for the lucrative final spot. Arsenal and Spurs look less likely to close the gap and will probably need to settle for the Europa at best. The bottom six are all in real danger of relegation, particularly the Canaries, but the Saints and Magpies would prefer to pick up the 4-6 points they’ll need to ensure safety sooner rather than later. (TABLE)

LIGUE 1
League finished. Winners: PSG / Champions League: Marseille, Rennes / Europa League: Lille, Nice, Reims / Relegated: Amiens, Toulouse / Promoted: Lens, Lorient / Legal Action: Lyon, Amiens (TABLE)

European Football Roundup 9/6/2020

BUNDESLIGA (MATCHDAY 30 HIGHLIGHTS)
Any Bayern doubters were silenced this week as they romped to a 4-2 win at rivals Leverkusen. Dortmund are looking secure in second after beating flying Hertha, with Gladbach losing in the Black Forest and Leipzig held by plucky Paderborn, who will be relegated in the next couple of weeks barring a miracle. That miracle would have to start with a win over Werder this weekend, who find themselves in deep, deep trouble after falling to both the Eagles and the Wolves. Eintracht did them a double disservice by losing to Mainz, who are now just one win from safety, like Augsburg and Union, who both managed draws. Both these teams will play Fortuna in the last two matchdays, with the Flingeraner stuck in the relegation play-off place after a draw with Hoffenheim. (TABLE)

LA LIGA
Just a couple of days until the Seville derby raises the curtain on the restart in Spain. There are not too many top of the table clashes early on, but Athletic will face Atletico and Valencia will host local rivals Levante. The battles for the title, Europe and survival are all very tight. (TABLE)

PREMIER LEAGUE
More detailed fixtures have now been published for the restart of the Premier League with football likely to be played every day, following the Spain model. Early highlights include Manchester City vs Arsenal (17th), Mourinho-led Spurs hosting Man U (19th) and the Merseyside derby (21st). (TABLE)

SERIE A
Serie A has announced its opening fixtures for June 20th and, like the Premier League, will begin by playing games in hand in case the season needs to be curtailed. Inter and Atalanta will both be in action, with the Nerazzurri of Milan looking to revive their fading title challenge as the Nerazzurri of Bergamo aim to put distance between themselves and fifth in the race for the Champions League. (TABLE)

LIGUE 1
League finished. Winners: PSG / Champions League: Marseille, Rennes / Europa League: Lille, Nice, Reims / Relegated: Amiens, Toulouse / Promoted: Lens, Lorient / Legal Action: Lyon, Amiens (TABLE)

European Football Roundup 2/6/2020

BUNDESLIGA (MATCHDAY 29 HIGHLIGHTS)
George Floyd’s death has, quite rightly, permeated every facet of society. In the Bundesliga, Jadon Sancho showed his solidarity by revealing a shirt calling for justice after scoring, Schalke’s Weston McKennie wore an armband with the same message, and Lilian Thuram took a Colin Kaepernick knee after netting for the Foals.

Although the league seems irrelevant in comparison, much was decided in an entertaining double game week in Germany. Bayern will stroll to the title after winning 1-0 at their closest rivals Dortmund, although they have VAR to thank for not flagging Jerome Boateng’s handball in the box. Bayern’s other rivals also dropped points midweek to end any uncertainty. All four managed to bounce back with big wins on the weekend, but it’s too little too late.

At the bottom, there’s now precious little hope for Paderborn, who were thumped by Dortmund after three creditable draws. Werder have found a new lease of life, however, taking 7 from the last 9 and could move out of the drop zone if they win their match in hand against Eintracht. It’s shaping up to be a titanic tussle at the bottom, as Dusseldorf’s good form up until their drubbing by Bayern has dragged Mainz, Union and Augsburg into real danger. Even the Eagles are not yet safe.

Union have been on a desperate run without the support of their fans, as have Koln, but neither have matched the plight of Schalke, who have lost four from four, leaving David Wagner under increasing pressure. At the other end of the spectrum are a Bruno Labbadia inspired Hertha, who are loving life without fans. They’ve taken 10 from 12 and, after Bayern, are the league’s form team. (TABLE)

LA LIGA
Fixtures have now been published for the first two rounds of fixtures. The Seville derby will get proceedings underway on the 11th, before Barca begin at Real Mallorca and Real host Eibar. League officials have promised there will be football every day until the planned end of the season on 19th July. (TABLE)

PREMIER LEAGUE
17th June is the restart date for the Premier League, although fixture details have not yet been announced. What is clear is that the make-up games (Man City vs Arsenal and Villa vs Sheff U) will be played first, which probably reflects the gamble that restarting represents. Should the season need to be called off, at least all clubs will have played the same number of games. (TABLE)

SERIE A
Serie A is slated to return 3 days later on the 20th, but there have been no announcements regarding fixtures. As Serie A was the first league to close down, they have the most fixtures to make up. There are concerns this could leave players exhausted with next year’s season just around the corner. (TABLE)

LIGUE 1
League finished. Winners: PSG / Champions League: Marseille, Rennes / Europa League: Lille, Nice, Reims / Relegated: Amiens, Toulouse / Promoted: Lens, Lorient / Legal Action: Lyon, Amiens (TABLE)