Just like ten years ago, Girondins de Bordeaux lifted the French championship ahead of Olympique Marseille, still cursed by that 1993 match-rigging scandal.
On the last day of the championship, Marseille still had a fighting chance, in spite of lagging three points behind Bordeaux. The leaders had to visit the endangered Caen, who were certain to avoid relegation by winning all three points, and Marseille knew they Situs Judi Online would be the champions if Bordeaux lose and they defeat Valenciennes at home.
Motivated as they certainly were, Caen could not avoid defeat the 0-1 defeat to Laurent Blanc’s squad, making Marseille’s 4-0 win futile. Caen, for sure, were punished by relegation alongside Nantes and Le Havre, while the Olympique Lyon, after seven consecutive titles, had to settle for the third spot and another place in the Champions League.
Exactly ten years ago, Marselle’s previous effort to win Ligue 1 was also thwarted by Bordeaux, who won at Paris SG by 3-2 in the last minute to snatch the title from the southerners. The OM are still trophyless ever since they were caught fixing the match against Valenciennes in the 1992/93 season, for which they had their title revoked by the FA.
Chelsea and Werder collect consolation prizes
Two big European teams frustrated in UEFA’s competitions found significant consolation this weekend in the national cup competitions.
Chelsea managed to overcome Everton’s early lead with goals from Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard and crown their difficult season with their fifth FA win. Everton went ahead in the 25th second through Louis Saha, but Guus Hiddink’s magic worked this time and made sure the Blues were the on the winning side.
“This is one of the greatest moments in my career. The European Cup that I won with PSV (in 1988) was great too, but it is special to win the FA Cup in the cradle of football,” said the Dutchman, who will sadly honour his promise to leave the club at the end of the season.
The skipper John Terry and Lampard dedicated the win to Hidding as a farewell gift, as he is set to return to coaching Russia. The forthcoming competition to fill the vacancy at Stamford Bridge is certain to be exciting.
Just ten days after succumbing to Shahtar Donetsk in the UEFA Cup finals in Istambul, Werder regained some of their pride by beating Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 in the German DFB finals.
In front of 73,000 spectators, Werder won 1-0 thanks to a goal by Mesut Ozil in the 58th minute. The Turk’s shot deflected off Manuel Friedrich, deceiving the keeper and reinforcing Bayer’s reputation of perennial losers.
This is Werder’s sixth DFB trophy and the first after 2004. The Greens are the second most successful team in this competition, behind Bayern Munich with 14 titles.
Niko Kovac calls it a day
The former Croatia skipper Niko Kovac (37) said goodbye to soccer after 18 years of distinguished career.
“I had planned to play another season, but I have changed my mind after consulting the people from the club,” said Kovac, who spent the last three seasons in Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian League.
Previously, Kovac played in Hertha, Bayer Leverkusen, Hamburger SV and Bayern, claiming 83 full caps with Croatia. Red Bull and Bayern will stage a farewell game for their former player on July 10th. Croatia coach Slaven Bilic said he was saddened by Kovac’s decision.
“Niko was heart and soul of our national team, an out-and-out professional, with whom I have been tremendously honoured to work.”
Born in Berlin, like his younger brother Robert, Niko Kovac was one of the several internationals recruited for the Croatia service from the large emmigration. Other players born abroad who have worn Croatia’s chequered shirt are Joe Simunic, Anthony Seric and Joe Didulica (Australia), Ivan Rakitic and Mladen Petric (Switzerland) and Ivan Klasnic (Germany). The next could be Bordeaux’s 19-year-old midfielder Gregory Sertic, who recently said he preferred his father’s country Croatia to his native France.
Zico believes Zhirkov will carve himself a spot at Chelsea
CSKA Moscow’s coach, the legendary Brazilian Zico, trusts his former player Yuri Zhirkov will be an important reinforcement for Chelsea.
“He is a player of a high-level play. He will show all of his potential in the powerful league like the Premiership,” said Zico on the occasion of Zhirkov’s announced transfer to Stamford Bridge.
“I’m sure he will win easily a place in the first eleven. I am not happy to lose such a player, but I cannot prevent his departure,” added Zico, after the Russian daily Tvoi den (Your Day) broke the news of Zhirkov’s imminent signing by Chelsea.
Leonardo Araujo takes over Milan
The former Brazilian international, Leonardo Nascimento de Araujo, is tipped to be the next coach to AC Milan, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. The 1994 World Cup winner and one-time Milan star has been working as sports director in Silvio Berlusconi’s club and will now move from upstairs to the bench. Other former Milan’s player, Mauro Tassotti, will act as Leonardo’s assistant, claims Gazzetta.
This means Carlo Ancelotti’s tenure at San Siro has come to an end, mostly due to not having won a trophy after the World Club Cup in December of 2007. Ancelotti had a wonderful career at Milan both as a player and as a coach, as he became the first coach ever to win two European Cups (now Champions Leagu) both in the playing (1989 and 1990) and in the coaching role (2003 and 2007).
Nicknamed Carletto, Ancelotti has been very popular with the fans, but lately a bit less so with the owner Berlusconi, whose recent harsh statements about the coach were not merely accidental.
UEFA u21: Group B deciders
The second semi-finalist will be decided today, with England already through to the knock-out stages. After a two-day hiatus to coincide with Sweden’s national midsummer holiday, the football begins again in earnest.
Stuart Pearce’s men face Germany in Halmstad, scene of their opening win over Finland, with nothing but pride and no injuries or bookings to play for. A draw will be enough for the Germans to qualify, but a defeat may just let in Spain, who tackle the eliminated Finns in Gothenburg. Spain trail the Germans by three points and four goals at start of play.
Group A, which concludes tomorrow, is much more open, with any of Sweden, Italy, Serbia and Belarus in contention for the last four.
FIFA Confederations Cup: USA are shock semi-finalists
In an extraordinary reversal of fortune the USA made it through to the Confederations Cup semi-finals after defeating Egypt 3-0 in Rustenberg.
Italy’s 0-3 reverse to Brazil in the coinciding match meant the Americans advanced on goals scored with three teams left on three points at the end of the group stage. Strikes from Charlie Davies, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey sent the US through to the knock-out stages of the Confederations Cup for the first time.
But after losing 3-1 to Italy and 3-0 to Brazil, only the brave expect the Yanks to top the Spanish in the semi-finals