What is it with closely-fought leagues this year? Manchester City might have won the Premier League title through a 4-1 victory against Brighton but Liverpool ensured the Sky Blues couldn't take their foot off the pedal even on the final day, with a convincing 2-0 victory over Wolves.
Mo Salah watching his daughter score a goal I was not emotionally ready for this pic.twitter.com/LmCvjZveV0
— Michelle Ghoussoub (@MichelleGhsoub) May 12, 2019
Ajax Amsterdam also won 4-1 in the weekend that all but ensured another Eredivisie title for the Dutch giants after AZ Alkmaar beat PSV Eindhoven in the weekend by a solitary goal. Theoretically, PSV can still win the title but the goal difference between the top sides is too vast for that to be a possibility.
A spirited performance by Borussia Dortmund and an unexpected goalless draw for Bayern Munich meant even the German Bundesliga will be decided on the final day of the league.
Here are four talking points from a Gameweek that again showed the enormity of task Zinedine Zidane has in his hands at Real Madrid.
G.O.A.T Premier League
When the dust settles down and the knee-jerk reactions die down, football fans across the globe will look back at the Premier League the season that concluded and acknowledge the collective privilege of being part of a fantastic journey that saw two teams shatter almost all existing records in a bid to win the title. Manchester City came out successful, but only just, and certainly not for the lack of trying from Liverpool’s end.
One has to feel sorry for Liverpool, an incredible set of players who finished the season on 97 points – a tally that would have been enough to win most leagues across the world. The problem for Liverpool is that they play in arguably the toughest league against a Manchester City side managed by the insatiable Pep Guardiola. Sadly, the narratives dominating the final day are how City’s “Oil money bought the league” and how the former Barcelona manager had to assemble one of the costliest teams in world history to achieve this feat. Whilst it might be true, the project still required a brain the balance a set of players with big egos and get them to work together as a team.
The Liverpool versus Manchester City battle has just begun. The two teams are miles ahead of their chasing pack in the Premier League and their dominance is certain to continue for years to come.
Bridging the gap
Chelsea, third in the Premier League, finished a whopping 25 points behind Liverpool. That’s the gap the rest of the top six teams need to bridge in the upcoming season to ensure the league doesn't become a two-way battle like the LaLiga or the Bundesliga.
Chelsea might have third in the table but with a transfer ban almost certain, it remains to be seen how the Blues can upgrade the team. The likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, Willian, and Pedro need better competition for their spots while Eden Hazard is certain to leave for Real Madrid in the summer.
Tottenham, despite reaching the Champions League final, are crying out for squad depth. The team isn’t big enough to compete in so many competitions and it is about time their chairman Daniel Levy issued those cheques. With the stadium construction now complete, and coach Mauricio Pochettino issuing an ultimatum regarding the future of Spurs, Levy can have no excuses for digging deep to fund the transfers required to cement the club's position at the top.
Arsenal, at least on paper, seem the side that require the least number of tweaks. They have a lethal attack in place and therefore should focus on improving the defence, while Manchester United will need a squad overhaul and a better mentality to get a team ready for a title push.
The chaos in the top-six presents an opportunity for the likes of Leicester City or Wolverhampton Wanderers to make a push and break into the elite group of the league. The latter certainly have a team capable of challenging for trophies and should actively scout for talent to upgrade the team in the summer.
The German title race has another twist
The see-sawing Bundesliga had another twist in the weekend after title favourites, Bayern Munich were held to a goalless draw by RB Leipzig while Borussia Dortmund won 3-2 against Fortuna with departing star Christian Pulisic scoring in his last match at the Signal Iduna Park.
Christian Pulisic’s hame by numbers vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf:
88% pass accuracy
16/17 final third passes
7 successful take-ons
1 tackle won
Huge shift on his final home game for Dortmund. 🇺🇸🙌 pic.twitter.com/6N7hV6ySQU
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) May 11, 2019
The results mean Bayern are two points ahead of Dortmund with a match remaining in the league. Both sides have tough assignments in the last day though with Dortmund traveling to Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayern hosting Eintracht Frankfurt. The Bavarians will still be expected to wrap up the competition but it would be unwise to make any prediction considering how the season has panned out.
Atalanta’s dream run
Coach Gian Piero Gasperini deserves enormous praise for his work this season who turned around a modest squad with a modest budget into the league’s most attractive side to watch.
The unheralded side moved to third place in the table with a win over Genoa. The Bergamo side is on 65 points with two games remaining to be played and can all but guarantee their first-ever Champions League qualification with a win in their next match.
The club scored 73 goals in the league this season (champions Juventus have only scored 69) so far and this attacking football certainly has the potential to light up the Champions League next season, just like Ajax provided the fireworks this time around.
Roma reminded everyone their potential to shine on big match days with the side beating Juventus 2-0 in the weekend to remain in the hunt for Champions League qualification. The surge might have come a little too late for the Romans though who will now be hoping for a major collapse from the Milan clubs to find a way back in the top four. Inter Milan now occupies the fourth place in the league with 63 points, having played a match lesser than AC Milan (fifth with 62 points) and Roma (sixth with 62 points).
A Real Nightmare
There is no denying that problems at Real Madrid run really deep. Zidane's men lost 3-1 to Real Sociedad in the weekend and the Los Blancos were quite lucky the margin wasn't bigger with the home team hitting the post twice.
Brahim Diaz, the goal-scorer, and Vinicius provided the few positives that Real can take away from the result. But Casemiro, Dani Carvajal, Toni Kroos, and Marcelo had yet another shocker, which once again proves how much the team needs to change in the summer. There are rumours that club Florentino Perez has issued a $570 million transfer kitty but by the looks of it, even that might be a little too less.
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Updated Date: May 13, 2019 14:47:44 IST