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European competition is almost over for another season after Braga and Porto booked their places in the Europa League final in Dublin.
Borussia Dortmund became the Bundesliga champions last weekend, and AC Milan need just a point against AS Roma to lift the Serie A title on Saturday.
In Spain, should Real Madrid lose at Sevilla on Saturday and Barcelona grab a point at home to Espanyol on Sunday, the Catalans will be La Liga champions.
Visitors to the Marriot Marquis Hotel in downtown Miami on Tuesday were greeted by a typical conference ‘Welcome Desk’ in the hotel’s spacious lobby area. Behind the desk was a banner declaring the 50th Congress of CONCACAF – the governing body for football in North and Central America and the Caribbean was gathering, along with FIFA president Sepp Blatter, to review the year, discuss key issues and – top of the agenda – to decide whether to back Blatter in June’s FIFA elections or to support his opponent, Asian soccer chief Mohamed Bin Hammam.
It was the first time I had seen the logo of the congress. There had been no promotion of the event on the Confederation’s website, no communiques from CONCACAF inviting the press to the gathering and, somewhat strangely, the three seats at the welcome desk were empty. A rather odd ‘welcome’ to what was, in world soccer governance, a crucial meeting.
Well it looks like being a Barcelona v Manchester United final in the Champions League on May 28 after the Catalans booked their Wembley tickets on Tuesday, though Schalke 04 will have something to say about that in the penultimate match of the 2010-11 competition.
Barcelona were simply too good for Real Madrid despite the 1-1 scoreline, and you get the feeling that in this sort of form they will be hard to stop.
In our latest Monday post on Spanish soccer, Iain Rogers in Barcelona muses on the ill-tempered Champions League clash between arch rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid and the possible repercussions for the Spanish national team and looks at the unrivalled brilliance of World Player of the Year Lionel Messi.
Bad Spanish blood boils over into Champions League “Clasico”
Last week’s Champions League semi-final first leg between Real Madrid and Barcelona made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The Premier League title race is reaching boiling point and Ferguson is hot under the collar that his team did not get a penalty in their 1-0 defeat to Arsenal.
The Champions League is the biggest club competition in the world and generally where players peak, so Wednesday’s semi-final first leg should be the best of the recent encounters between the Spanish rivals.
Olimpo, a modest team from the port city of Bahia Blanca on the windswept Atlantic coast in southern Buenos Aires province, are doing well in the Clausura championship. They are in fourth place three points behind leaders Velez Sarsfield.
Boca Juniors, one of the big clubs from the capital, are 14th — seven points off the pace.
They might be running away with the Premier League title and facing a side who are 10th in their own table (ok, those portents look pretty rosy), but they have come unstuck the last two times they have lined up against German rivals in the semi-finals.
The fixture is widely regarded as the most fiery and dangerous derby in world football but despite the game almost being a title decider, the sting was taken out of the occasion by Red Star ultras refusing to turn up at Partizan’s stadium.