The final day of the season is almost upon us and for many players and managers it will merely be a prelude to a more significant event, such as a cup final or a summer holiday. However for those involved at Newcastle United, Hull City and Sunderland it could represent the most important moment of their careers.
Inevitably, this contrast in attitudes causes significant problems. Almost every season a relegated side complains about a supposed lack of effort from a team they had hoped would do them a favour. Yet there are two sides to every story and how Situs Judi Qq can Manchester United possibly justify fielding a full strength side against Hull, with a Champions League final to play just 3 days later?
The fact of the matter is that for United and Chelsea (who play Sunderland a few days before the FA Cup final) this is a no-win situation. If they play their first choice 11 they risk injuries to key players but if they play a weakened side and lose they will not only be heavily criticised but could even face legal action according to some reports.
Paragraph E20 of the Premier League rules states: “in every league match each participating club should field a full strength team”. However this rule has never been used as the basis for a legal battle before and spokespeople for Newcastle and Middlesbrough have since denied the claims.
Whilst it is clear that certain final day fixtures may be more favourable than others, one game does not relegate a team. With current points totals of 34, 35 and 36, the team that is relegated on Sunday will undoubtedly be the team that deserves to go. To acknowledge that point would ensure that, if nothing else, whoever goes down can leave the Premier League with their dignity intact.
FIFA threatens to expel Bosnia and Poland from World Cup
The international football governing body has threatened Bosnia and Herzegovina and Poland with the expulsion from the current World Cup qualifiers because of their fans’ ill conduct.
FIFA has fined Bosnia with 45,000 USD and Poland with half as much, saying it has no intentions to tolerate hooliganism. Next time, the football bosses warn, both teams will have points deducted or will be immediately disqualified.
On March 28th Bosnian fans staged an eight-minute break by throwing torches on the pitch during the match against Belgium). The Polish fans committed the same offense on the same date during their game in Northern Ireland.
It’s official: Juventus kick out Ranieri, hire Ferrara
Juventus of Turin, whose Champions League place is threatened, have replaced their coach Claudio Ranieri by their former star stopper Ciro Ferrara.
“Ciro Ferrara is new Juventus’ coach. We confirm that Claudio Ranieri has been given notice,” said the club last Monday in a communique.
“We thank him for the job he has done in the past two seasons. Ciro Ferrara is taking over the team and will continue to manage it until the end of the season.”
The final straw for the club’s bosses was the seventh winless game in the row for Juventus, the 2-2 draw against Atalanta in Serie A.
It is also said that the former Zebras’ defender may be confirmed as Juve’s coach for the next season, depending on his showing in the last two games of the current campaign.
Ranieri, formerly of Chelsea and Valencia, took over Juventus in 2007 after their return from Serie B, where they were banished for tampering with referees.
Dzeko vows to stay at Wolfsburg if they win Bundesliga
One of the hottest properties in European soccer, the Bosnian international striker Edin Dzeko (pronounced approximately as Jacko) says he is wary of various offers that have been coming his way thanks to his sensational scoring form both for Wolfsburg and his country.
Since August, Dzeko has scored 25 Bundesliga goals, four in the UEFA Cup and seven in the WC qualifiers, which is a magnificent tally by any standards.
The last team mentioned in association with Dzeko are none other than Chelsea.
“I am very reticent about any existing offer that appears in the media. If Chelsea are after me, I am highly honoured but I am not certain how serious it all is,” says the 23-year-old Bosnian.
“My primary task is winning the League with Wolfsburg. Everything else is immaterial. We have a great chance, a wonderful team and it would be marvellous to crown all this with the title. I said I would stay at Wolfsburg if we are champions. And I have not changed my mind,” concluded one half of the best European striking tandem, Dzeko-Grafite, responsible for 51 goals in Bundesliga this season.
Diego promises to be “new Zidane” for Juventus
The Brazilian Diego Ribas has put an end to all speculations regarding his future club by coming to an agreement with Juventus. Werder’s attacking midfielder had been related to Bayern, but he opted for not reinforcing his current team’s big Bundesliga rivals. Instead, he accepted Juve’s offer which will guarantee him a five-year contract at five million euros per season.
The Italians will also pay 24,5 million euros to Werder for the remainder of Diego’s contract. On a sadder note, Diego’s final weeks at Werder could not have been more tragic. He was ruled out of the UEFA Cup finals against Shahtar Donetsk in Istambul because of the second yellow card, but he also suffered an ankle injury which will prevent him from taking part in the German DFB Cup finals against Bayer Leverkusen. What a dismal way to go for the player most responsible for taking Werder this far…
Still, Diego is brimming with confidence regarding his future in Serie A.
“Zinedine Zidane and his play set the framework in which I want to move as a football player. I want to became Juve’s new Zidane and give my all for this club’s successes.”
Barcelona collect the double on the way to Rome
Barcelona have crowned their magnificent season with the League and Cup double and are now counting the days before the clash with Manchester United in Rome on May 27th.
Ironically, in spite of having won 27 games in Primera división this season, Barcelona secured their 19th Spanish league title thanks to Villarreal’s win over Real Madrid on the 36th day of the competition. A day before Barca themselves were to play at Real Mallorca, Villarreal defeated Madrid by 3-2, even though a draw would have been enough to settle the championship race.
Three days earlier, Barcelona hammered Athletic of Bilbao 4-1 in Valencia to claim their 25th King’s Cup in a game marred by the crowd’s display of hostility toward the Spanish anthem. The Catalonian and Bask fans, who do not consider themselves to be part of the Spanish multiethnic state booed the national anthem from the stands of Mestalla stadium in spite of (or precisely because of) the King Juan Carlos’ presence in the box of honour.
The Spanish national television (TVE) reacted clumsily, interrupting the transmission apparently to hide the events from its audience. TVE later showed the footage of the anthem during the half-time break with the jeering from the terraces erased.
The TVE directors proceeded to sack the director of sports for this unfortunate censorship decision, claiming that the Spanish audience is mature enough to take whatever reaction the national anthem may provoke among some citizens.
Inter and Lazio carry away the prizes in Italy
Much like Barcelona in Spain, Inter Milan also retained their supremacy thanks to a third party. When AC Milan succumbed to Udinese 2-1 away from home on Saturday, Inter knew they were champions for the fourth year in the row. On Sunday, they still found the motivation to treat their fans at San Siro to a 3-0 win over Siena.
The Italian Cup was resolved in a surprising fashion: without Inter or Roma in the finals. Amazingly, the two were the rivals in four previous finals, Inter winning the 2005 and 2006 editions and Roma the following two. Inter and Roma kept their appointment this season as well, but this time around it was the quarterfinals. Inter went through but only to fall to Sampdoria in the semis. Lazio, on the other hand, had the better of Juventus in the other semifinal clash, setting the stage for a Lazio-Sampdoria final match in Rome.
The Roman team took advantage of what is essentially their home soil and collected the trophy on penalties after 1-1 in the 120 minutes. The hero was Lazio’s keeper Muslera who stopped Campagnaro’s shot in the seventh series, before Dabo beat Castellazi giving the fifth Cup to the sky-blues.