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April 19, 2011

Around the first four of the big four X

The European football leagues reach their final stages and these are some of the headlines that the weekend left: Barcelona’s championship is imminent, after five years Italy will have a new champion as Inter is out of the race, Liverpool frustrates Arsenal and Bayern Munich gives Borussia Dortmund a hand.

By Andrew Hill

After Barcelona defeated them in the first half of the season by a humiliating 5-0, many were expecting a response from Real Madrid on Saturday at home during round 32 against them. But far from being an aggressive team, their Portuguese coach Mourinho came out with a defensive scheme, where the plan was to let Barcelona control the game and try to score through a counterattack.

The biggest rivalry in Spain experienced that poorest attitude ever seen from the Whites, and although the game was going to end up tied to one, the leaders and defending champions of the La Liga showed why they are considered the best team in the world.

Mourinho’s defensive scheme ruins El Clasico

Both goals came in the second half through a penalty kick and the franchise player on each side was responsible for scoring: Messi for Barcelona and later on Ronaldo for Madrid with the equalizer.

After this result Barcelona is the virtual champions as it enjoys an eight-point lead (85 points for the Catalonians against 77 from the Whites) over Real Madrid when there are just six more rounds to go.

With their 3-0 on the road victory against Almeria Valencia marches solid in third place with 63 points. The goals came in the second half through Soldado, Stankevicius and Alba.

And No. 4 Villareal handled their business at home against Zaragoza thanks to Rossi’s penalty kick goal in the second half, which helped the Yellow Submarine reach 57 points.

Inter’s empire comes to an end

In the last five seasons the Serie A hasn’t known any champion other than Inter, but with only 5 rounds left and eight points away from the leaders and city rival Milan it seems that the title will go to the other side of town.

With their 2-0 on the road loss to Parma Inter pretty much said goodbye to the title, as they remain in third place with 63 points. The goals form Giovinco and Amauri didn’t find response in the defending champions’ side that is undergoing a month of April to forget, since they were also eliminated from the UEFA Champions League.

Milan completed their duty at home against Sampdoria, defeating them 3-0 to secure even more their first place with 71 points. Seedorf, Cassano and Robinho scored the goals for the Rossoneri.

Like Inter, Napoli also suffered a setback this weekend with the slight difference that it was at home and against Udinese. Two second half goals from Inler and Denis gave the visitors the lead, and the reaction from the home team didn’t come until injury time for a final 1-2. Despite this they are still in second place with 65 points.

And No. 4 Lazio brought a resounding 1-4 victory from their visit to Catania, which represented three more points for a total of 60 that give them a one point lead over Udinese. Hernanes opened the score for the visitors, Catania tied through Schelotto, but then Mauri, Floccari and Zarate scored one goal each and Lazio won the game.

Arsenal fails to shorten distances with Man U once again

Arsenal received Liverpool during round 33 action in the Premier League with the possibility to reduce the 7 point gap with the solo leaders Manchester United to just four points. They came pretty close to doing so, as an injury time penalty kick scored by Van Persie gave them the 1-0 lead, but in the last minute Kuyt, through a penalty kick also, got the equalizer for the Reds.

With the tie the Gunners reached 63 points and failed once again shorten the gap with Manchester United that has 69, who did not see action this weekend.

A team that didn’t miss a chance to shorten distances was the defending champion Chelsea, that with their on the road 1-3 victory against West Bromwich placed themselves just two points away from Arsenal, which revives that chances of snatching No. 2 from them.

Chelsea was down in the score at minute 17 due to Odemwingie’s goal, but just nine minutes later Drogba and Kalou gave the Blues the lead, and Lampard added one more before halftime.

Manchester City took a bye this weekend as well as their city rivals the Red Devils, and continues in fourth place with 56 points.

Bayern Munich climbs to No. 3

Round 30 of the Bundesliga had in Bayern Munich its main character, as they snatch No. 3 from Hannover 96 by defeating Bayern Leverkusen they consequently helped Borussia Dortmund increase their lead to eight points.

Hannover tied to zero goals in their visit to Hamburg, reaching the 54 points that relegate them to the fourth place, since with Bayern Munich’s 5-1 victory against Bayern Leverkussen they reached 55 points, which was worth the third place.

An own goal from Rolfes at minute 7 put the visitors early against the ropes. Gomez added three more goals prior to halftime, leaving No. 2 Bayern Leverkusen knocked out 4-0. In the second half Derdiyok shorten distances for the visitors, buy Ribery didn’t give them chances to react by scoring the definite 5-1.

With goals from Gotze, Lewandowski and Grobkreutz the solo leaders imposed themselves 3-0 at home versus Freiburg, to reach 69 points, eight more that their closest contender Bayer Leverkussen when there are just 18 more points at stake.

About the Author
When it comes to sports, Andrew Hill is more than just a passionate fan. Despite being in the early years of his career as a journalist, which began in 2006, he has proven that he can translate that passion into truthful and objective information of interest for the sports betting industry. As of today he specializes in the coverage of European soccer and NCAA basketball for BetIAS’ website.