ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A fiercely competitive and highly entertaining Euroleague season is headed for a fitting finale next weekend when Europe’s top four basketball teams lock horns for the title in Istanbul’s imposing Sinan Erdem Arena.
The continent’s premier club competition, featuring 24 teams, has produced a plethora of rip-roaring contests en route to the Final Four featuring holders Panathinaikos Athens, CSKA Moscow, Barcelona and Olympiakos Piraues.
BELGRADE, May 5 (Reuters) – Former European Cup winners Red
Star Belgrade beat champions and city rivals Partizan 1-0 after
substitute Cadu Mendes lit up a tepid derby with a superb
stoppage-time winner on Saturday.
The Brazilian forward unleashed a scorching shot from 20
metres into the bottom right corner to give Red Star their first
away league win over Partizan since 2007, but one which came
with only local pride and bragging rights at stake.
BELGRADE, May 3 (Reuters) – The Serbian FA (FSS) has called
Fiorentina’s sacked coach Delio Rossi a “disgrace to all
football professionals” for punching his own player Adem Ljajic
in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Novara.
“There is no excuse for Rossi’s reaction and it represents a
complete disgrace to everyone making a living from football,”
the FSS said on its website (www.fss.rs) on Thursday.
May 2 (Reuters) – Slaven Bilic has suffered many trials and
tribulations as Croatia coach, having gone close to reaching the
Euro 2008 semi-finals before a bumpy ride in the Euro 2012
qualifiers ended happily in the playoffs.
His roller-coaster experiences, however, can only have
intensified his resolve to steer the squad he has trained since
2006 into the knockout stages of this summer’s tournament.
May 2 (Reuters) – Croatian hopes of success at Euro 2012
will depend largely on the form of their most influential, and
creative, player midfielder Luka Modric.
The Tottenham Hotspur playmaker, who pulls all the strings
in Croatia’s attacking play, needs to regain his best form after
a sluggish couple of months for his club, if they are to emerge
successfully from a group that includes holders Spain, Italy and
May 2 (Reuters) – Croatia may have been just seconds away
from the last four at Euro 2008, but their chances of emulating
that success this summer in Poland and Ukraine look remote.
The Croatians face tough Euro 2012 group stage opposition in
holders and world chamnpions Spain, Italy and a newly resolute
If it was a last-gasp attempt by the wily and trophy-laden 70-year old Scot to outfox his Italian counterpart Roberto Mancini, it backfired spectacularly as United were second best throughout the contest and were lucky not to have lost by a bigger margin.
Still refusing to accept that his team are in the driving seat to win the title after overhauling an eight-point deficit to go top on goal difference with two games left, Mancini appears to have unnerved Ferguson with his pre-game rhetoric just as he emphatically won their tactical battle on the pitch.
BELGRADE, April 29 (Reuters) – Partizan Belgrade secured
their 24th league title and fifth in a row with Sunday’s 4-0 win
at Borac Cacak, finally giving coach Avram Grant success after
the Israeli suffered a series of setbacks in England.
The result gave Partizan an unassailable 12-point lead over
traditional city rivals Red Star, who they meet at home on
Saturday in a derby which is likely to draw a full house despite
amounting to a dead rubber.
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.
BELGRADE (Reuters) – Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant believes Lady Luck, who turned her back on the club four years ago, has finally smiled on the lion-hearted Londoners after they stormed into the Champions League final with an astonishing win over Barcelona.
Chelsea, seeking their first Champions League title, progressed on Tuesday and will meet four-time winners Bayern Munich in the German club’s own stadium on May 19 after the Bavarians knocked out Real Madrid on penalties on Wednesday.