Talking Soccer: Action in Europe heating pp, MLS season set to begin

0
6

Munich’s Javi Martinez, bottom, and James Rodriguez celebrate their side’s opening goal during a German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayern Munich and Herha BSC Berlin in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb.23, 2019. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)

Chelsea FC picked up a huge 2-0 win yesterday afternoon over rival Tottenham in English Premier League play at Stamford Bridge keeping themselves strongly in the mix for a top four finish, which would earn them a spot in Champions League play next season. Tottenham remains in third place, but the loss marks a serious blow to their title hopes. Meanwhile, Liverpool cruised to a 5-0 win as FA Team of the Season candidates Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk each scored two goals to keep the Reds at the top of the table. Manchester City kept pace in second place, as Sergio Aguero scored a second half penalty and the defending champions held on for a 1-0 victory that allowed them to stay just a point behind Liverpool. In the battle for fourth place, Arsenal trounced Bournemouth 5-1 to stay in fourth and Manchester United remain just a point behind the Gunners after Romelu Lukaku’s brace led the Red Devils to a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace.

Across Europe, league play is reaching a crucial stretch as the final 10 weeks of the season approach for many top level leagues. In the German Bundesliga, six time reigning champions Bayern Munich have closed the gap on first-place Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund is struggling at the moment, having drawn three of its last four matches in league play and suffering a 3-0 setback to Tottenham in Champions league play two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Bayern has erased a slow start to the season and have won nine of their last 10 matches in league play to cut Dortmund’s lead at the top of the table to just three points with 10 matches to go.

FC Barcelona surged to a 3-0 win over rival Real Madrid thanks to two goals from star striker Luis Suarez in the Spanish Copa del Rey semifinals. Barcelona sit in the driver’s seat atop La Liga seven points clear of second place Atletico Madrid. Powerhouse squad Real Madrid is two points behind Atletico and have been somewhat inconsistent in their first season without superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo, but will have another shot at Barca in league play on Saturday. Perennial contender Sevilla currently sit in fifth and will look to break into the top four before the end of the season to qualify for Champions League play.

In Italy, Ronaldo is leading seven time defending Serie A champion Juventus to a likely eight straight title as they currently hold a comfortable 13-point lead atop the table. After a strong second place finish last season, Napoli has been able to hold a solid lead in second place again this season even after striker Gonzalo Higuain was sold to Chelsea in January. Inter Milan sit in third just two points ahead of rival AC Milan, and Roma is in fifth place only three points back of Inter. It will be a tight race down the finish and one of the three aforementioned squads will be left out of the top four.

Champions League play has reached the second-leg of the Round of 16. Matches will resume on Tuesday, as Real Madrid will look to hold on to a 2-1 aggregate lead against Dutch side Ajax at the Santiago Bernabeu and Dortmund face a 3-0 aggregate deficit when they take on Tottenham at Westfalenstadion.

In the United States, the MLS regular season is scheduled to start this Saturday. Newly added franchise FC Cincinnati will make its debut at Seattle and defending champions Atlanta United will open their campaign at D.C. United.


Story Salit is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at story.salit@uconn.edu.

Leave a Reply