European Football Wrap-Up… Historic Ending to 09/10

With just two weeks left to play, the 2009-2010 footy season comes to a crescendo. In just a short while title races across the continent will wrap up. The past few months have shown us some of the biggest ups and downs, as well as some of the closest title races in years.

In the English Premier League it looked to be all over as Drogba’s second half goal sunk Manchester United on April 3rd. But a dramatic United win in the Manchester Derby and a Spurs shock victory over the Blues last week has kept the title race alive. Chelsea lead Man United by a solitary point going into a weekend where Sunderland looks to steal points from United for the second time this season, while Chelsea travel to Anfield, hoping to hang onto their slim margin atop the table.

Arsenal may have fallen off the pace, but have to consider this season a good sign of things to come. Despite losing Arshavin, Fabregas, and Van Persie for months at a time, the Gunners were in the title race through mid-April. They’ve obviously secured a Champions League spot, while the race for the #4 spot seems to see no end… The May 5th clash between Spurs and City is a huge one, with the coveted final CL spot possibly hanging in the balance. To make things even more interesting, Aston Villa and Liverpool are still contenders as well.

Although the relegation battle has already been decided, it is fair to say that the true “bottom three” teams are going down. Best wishes to the Tigers, Clarets, and financially cursed Pompey.

Over in the La Liga, it seemed like El Classico had wrapped things up, but a Barca draw last weekend, and a comeback win by Madrid has kept things interesting. The two Spanish giants are also separated by just a point, and the advantage looks to be with Barcelona, thanks to their easier remaining schedule and existing lead in the table.

In the Serie A, I was disappointed to see AC Milan drop out of Scudetto contention, for a three horse race would have been sensational, but nonetheless, the events of this past weekend were enough to satisfy fans of late season drama. AS Roma fell to Sampdoria, while Inter grabbed all three points and went back atop the table.

Over in the German Bundesliga, Schalke notched a win and capitalized on Bayern Munich’s 0-0 result, to draw even on points for first in the standings. Bayern may have an easier league schedule, but they’ve also got that extra Champions league fixture to worry about…

Things may be all said in done in Ligue 1, what was once a 5 team battle just 1 month ago has turned into a runaway. Lyon dropped points in 5 of its last 7 games, while Marseille has earned 3 points in each of its last 7 fixtures. Most teams still have 4 or 5 games remaining, but l’OM’s 5 point lead looks like it should hold up, especially due to their recent form

In terms of the Champions League, some have said there could be an anticlimactic end to an exciting year in European contests. Teams like Liverpool and Juventus were bounced early from the group stages. Others surprised the masses, as in Lyon and Fiorentina. But the finale comes down to Bayern Munich vs Lyon, and Barcelona vs Inter Milan, where the Nerazzurri hold a first leg lead. The Spanish giants were basically handed the title after Messi’s stellar dismissal of Arsenal, but Jose Mourinho has coached up his Italian side, and Barca will have to overcome a 2 goal deficit back at Camp Nou to have a shot at defending their title. Bayern may have grabbed a goal advantage in their first fixture, but Lyon has shown that they are fully capable of late game magic before. No matter who ends up advancing, this years final will surely be fit to wrap up a stellar year in European Football.

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