The Reuters global sports blog
Three weeks ago it seemed the Manchester derby would be little more than a dead rubber after City’s 1-0 defeat at Arsenal left champions United eight points clear at the top, in a commanding position to clinch their 20th league title and their fifth in the last six seasons.
But a rollercoaster Premier League title race produced yet another twist after United’s 1-0 loss at lowly Wigan, followed by a rip-roaring 4-4 home draw with Everton in which they threw away a two-goal lead late in the game, let City back into the title race after they had squandered a seven-point lead over United with their own dip in form.
Fans who will cram into City’s stadium on Monday and millions watching the showdown on television throughout the world could not have asked for a more thrilling finale, with local pride and bragging rights as well as the league title at stake.
United are three points clear of City with three games left. They will be almost assured of retaining their crown with a win and a draw would also leave them in the driving seat. City, on the other hand, will go top on goal difference if they win and that outcome would perhaps force their shrewd manager Roberto Mancini to concede the title race was wide open.
The inspiration for a team widely considered one of the best to grace the game, a thorn in the side of bitter rivals Real Madrid and a symbol of Catalan nationalism, Pep Guardiola has been all these things and more as a player and coach for Barcelona.
The spectacularly successful 41-year-old, who announced on Friday he was quitting at the end of the season, led Barca to a club-record 13 trophies in his four seasons in charge including two Champions League crowns and three straight La Liga titles.
from India Insight:
So it's just a matter of time, according to media reports, before Sachin Tendulkar swaps his India jersey for starched white and walks into the Rajya Sabha.
While the clamour was growing to honour him with the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award, few expected him to be nominated to the upper house.
On two nights when every football cliché went out the window, one remained true – in the end the only statistic that matters is the scoreline.
On Tuesday It didn’t matter that Barcelona owned the ball, or that they completed hundreds of passes over the two legs. When Chelsea got hold of it, they used it effectively – if we are to look at one stat other than the score, Chelsea’s four shots on goal and three goals in the tie tell their own story.
So Chelsea pulled off an amazing coup to dethrone Barcelona and reach the final. Real Madrid meet Bayern Munich on Wednesday for the right to meet Jose Mourinho’s former club on May 19.
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from India Insight:
Yuvraj Singh has finally found a way to make sure the hair gel lying unused in his cupboard is not completely wasted.
The Monte Carlo Master Series is a good indicator for who is in good clay court form early during the run up to the French Open. Rafael Nadal has won this event the last 7 years in a row, which has never happened before on the ATP Tour.
This year it looked like his streak could come to an end because World Number 1 Novak Djokovic, who missed last year’s event, was in the draw. The only player missing in the top 4 was Roger Federer who needed a little break this week.
A mouth-watering clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona in this season’s Champions League final in Munich appeared to be on the cards when the two Spanish giants were kept apart in the draw, but the prospect of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi watching the showpiece on television instead of taking centre stage on May 19 now looks just as likely.
While Barcelona missed a hatful of chances in their 1-0 defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in a pulsating first leg of their semi, Real were maybe fortunate to escape with only a 2-1 defeat at Bayern after they were undone by a stoppage-time winner from Mario Gomez.
Andy Carroll’s winner in the FA Cup semi-final against Everton might have put Liverpool on course for a second trophy, but even if they go on to win the competition it will still represent a poor return for the season.
In most major football nations, the national cup competition comes in a very distant second to the league in terms of importance, but for years England bucked that trend and the FA Cup retained huge prestige.
By Phil O’Connor
Unheralded and unpopular when he took over at Newcastle United, Alan Pardew has led them into the upper reaches of the English Premier League, and within touching distance of a Champions League place.
The question is whether he can beat Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Redknapp to fourth spot and the last Premier League place in football’s top club competition – and make himself a contender for the England manager’s job at the same time.