The richest league in the world just found out who two of its new members will be. Bournemouth has been crowned the champions of the English League Championship and will be joined by Watford. Bournemouth won the title thanks to a last minute equalizer from Sheffield Wednesday. The only two questions remaining now is who will join them up, and who is going down? Norwich City, Middlesbourgh, Brentford, and Ipswich Town will all play in the playoffs and will now battle for the third and final spot in the Premier League. The clubs will earn at least 130 million pounds for getting promoted, so it will be interesting to see who earns that money.
Champions League Preview
This week is the first legs of the Champions League semifinals. The first match is Tuesday in Turin, where the champions of Italy host Real Madrid. Real Madrid look to continue their title defense and get back to the final. Juventus will try to be the first Italian side to make it to the final since Internazionale won the trophy in 2010. Juventus has not been to the final since they lost the final in 2003 to AC Milan. Real Madrid hope to be the first team since the European Cup became the Champions League to repeat as champions. Many teams have gone to back to back finals games, but none have won it. Bayern Munich (2012 & 2013), Manchester United (2008 & 2009), Valencia (2000 & 2001), Juventus (1996, 1997, & 1998), and Ajax (1995 & 1996) have all gone to back to back finals. Real Madrid are trying to become the first team since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990 to repeat as champions of Europe.
The other match sees the return of Pep Guardiola to Barcelona. He brings his Bayern Munich team to Barcelona on Wednesday. Barcelona is looking to return to the final for the first time since Pep led them to the title in 2011. They have won the trophy 4 times and twice under then manager Pep Guardiola in 2009 and 2011. Bayern Munich won the trophy in 2013 and will look to make it 4 finals appearances since 2010. Barcelona had appeared in the semifinals in 8 out of the last 10 years. Will we see an El Clasico final? It has never happened before. We have had the chance for this to occur but never seen it play out, although they did face off in the semifinals during the 2010-11 season.
Europa League Preview
With a spot in next year’s Champions League on the line, four teams will fight it out. Of the four teams, only Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk sit in a Champions League place in their league, but that is not guaranteed. The first legs will take place this week with Napoli hosting Dnipro and Sevilla hosting Fiorentina. Sevilla will work to become the only club to win this trophy in back to back years twice. They won the trophy in 2006 and 2007. The only other team to repeat as Champions is Real Madrid, who won the trophy in 1985 and 1986. This year it means more than it ever did before with a spot in the big tournament on the line for the first time. It should be interesting to see how hard they go for the title.
In England, Chelsea has won the title. They have won it with 3 games to go as they are now 13 points clear at the top. The accomplished this by beating Crystal Palace 1-0. Manchester City locked up the Champions League for next year when they ended Tottenham’s top 4 dream with a 1-0 win. Manchester United slipped up this weekend and could give Liverpool a chance to make it a race as the gap is now 4 points. West Brom beat United 1-0 and Liverpool got a winner from their Captain Steven Gerrard, to beat QPR 2-1.
In Italy, Juventus has won the title. They accomplished this feat with a 1-0 win over Sampdoria. Roma was able to jump into second place when they beat Genoa 2-0. This was in part due to Atalanta drawing 1-1 with Lazio. Napoli remains four points off the pace as they beat Milan 3-0. The question over the next three weeks will be can Napoli close the gap to under 3 points before the final week of the season when Lazio must travel to Naples.
In Germany, Bayern Munich lost 2-0 in their first match since clinching the title. The victors were Bayer Leverkusen. Wolfsburg now continued to slide and have seen what was at one point a 10 point lead over Monchengladbach slip to only 2 points following Wolfsburg’s draw with Hannover. Monchengladbach beat Hertha 2-1. Schalke won 3-2 over Stuttgart thanks to a last minute own goal. That could have been a massive goal for Stuttgart.
In France, PSG remain on top following their 2-0 win over Nantes. Lyon was able to keep the pressure on them with a 2-0 win over Evian. In what will be a race to the finish line, both teams look set to take all 9 points the rest of the way. Goal difference will be the tie breaker should they end level on points. Despite the fact that Marseille was able to get 3 points, Monaco maintained their 5 point lead in third place with a 4-1 win over Toulouse. St. Etienne failed to keep pace as they lost 1-0 at Bastia. Marseille beat Metz 2-0.
In Spain, Barcelona pushed Cordoba aside and won easily in Southern Spain 8-0. Real Madrid were able to keep pace thanks to Ronaldo and his hat trick giving them a 3-2 win over Sevilla. With just 3 games remaining, the lead is still just 2 points and each team needs to continue to win their games. Atletico Madrid drew 0-0 with Athletic Bilbao. They remain comfortably in third place. Valencia has a bit of breathing room in fourth place since Real beat Sevilla and Valencia beat Eibar 3-1.