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European football talking points: Premier League title race goes into final day; Bayern Munich's 'Robbery' era comes to an end

What do we say to the God of title deciders? Not today!

The greatest Premier League title battle in the history will go into the final day as Liverpool (94 points), trailing by a point, will hope Manchester City (95 points) do not get their full quota of points in the final weekend. The Reds won a tough outing against Newcastle to regain the top spot in the table for a short duration but Manchester City, powered by captain Vincent Kompany, had other ideas.

All this means Mohamed Salah’s record-equalling tally of 54 goals in two seasons (Luis Suarez scored the exact same number) might go in vain. Jurgen Klopp’s previous team, Borussia Dortmund, also had a weekend to forget after they drew Wolfsburg 2-2 to all but kill their chances of winning the Bundesliga.

This and other talking points from a fascinating Gameweek that also saw Chelsea’s Eden Hazard become the first player since Thierry Henry (2002/03) to register 15 assists and 15 goals in a season.

A long summer for United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might be at the wheel for Manchester United, but he certainly seems to have no control over where the United ship is headed. The Red Devils could only manage a 1-1 draw against 20th-placed Huddersfield Town in the weekend that killed their chances of qualifying for the Champions League next season.

The former Premier League champions are in dire need for someone to steady their directionless ship and Solskjaer’s troubles as the manager have only further highlighted the need for United to have a mass squad overhaul in the summer. Ashley Young, Romelu Lukaku, David De Gea, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have come under scrutiny for their performances in the past few months while the likes of Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, and Matteo Darmian are expected to leave in search of better opportunities. A long summer awaits the Red Devils.

The ‘Robbery’ comes to an end

With Bayern Munich clinching an important victory against Hannover 96 in the weekend and Borussia Dortmund were held to a 2-2 draw against Wolfsburg, it is fair to say the Munich side have one hand on the Bundesliga trophy. Just two games remain in the German top division and the defending champions have a four-point lead over their nearest rival. The title would be fitting to end to now what is officially that last season for wingers Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben in Munich. The duo first played together in 2009 under manager Louis van Gaal and has tormented opposition defenders ever since.

The wing wizards, popularly known as ‘Robbery’, have racked up 266 goals and 284 assists in 728 games in all competitions for the Munich side. They have also contributed to an astonishing 18 pieces of silverware in that time and could still add more with Bundesliga and German Cup still to be decided. English prodigy Callum Hudson-Odoi is a favourite to replace the two at Bayern though they already have the likes of Kingsley Coman, Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry in their ranks.

An Eredivisie for the ages

A closely contested Dutch Eredivisie between PSV Eindhoven and Ajax Amsterdam isn’t a new story. But the rivalry has scaled new heights this season with both clubs playing a near-perfect season. With two rounds to go, both the teams are tied on points (80) and one should not be surprised if the title would be finally decided on goal difference. Ajax have a far superior goal-difference thanks to their Total Football that has caught everyone’s eye in the Champions League but PSV, under coach Mark van Bommel, have crafted their own style of playing football. The team has a more pragmatic approach and have relied heavily on the brilliance of Hirving Lozano in the wings, who, if the rumours are true, will be headed to Napoli in the summer. Striker and captain Luuk de Jong has had somewhat of a breakthrough season too, scoring 28 goals in 32 appearances. PSV will be fancying their chances of still winning the league with Ajax occupied with their Champions League commitments. Unfortunately for Bommel, Lozano looks to be out for the season due to the injury he picked up in PSV’s match against Willem II.

Barca’s Bogey

How will it be a complete LaLiga season without Celta Vigo winning against Barcelona? The final scores (2-0) was much better than in 2016 when Barcelona lost 6-1. The result, however, did nothing to their unassailable lead at the top of the league with second-placed Atletico Madrid losing 3-0 to Espanyol. The result won’t worry manager Ernesto Valverde too much though as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto were all given the day off with a Champions League date against Liverpool in mind.

Real Madrid turned their fortunes around with a hard-fought 3-2 victory against Villarreal while the weekend’s biggest winners were Valencia who beat Huesca 6-2 to climb to fifth in the table – a remarkable turnaround for a team that was troubled by their proximity to the relegation cut off at the half-way mark during the season.

Bragging rights in Turin

Neither Juventus now Torino won the bragging rights in the Turin derby in the weekend but there will be songs of praise for Cristiano Ronaldo still in the air after the mercurial forward scored another goal to move ahead of Lionel Messi in the race for the most number of club goals. The main argument in the Messi versus Ronaldo battle over the years has been both players’ versatility – Ronaldo, according to many, offered more threat such as headers. While the point might not be true, the Portuguese superstar showed everyone what he can do with his head when he climbed on a cross from Leonardo Spinazzola to head in the equaliser. The goal was Ronaldo’s 100th headed goal of his career.

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Updated Date: May 07, 2019 09:42:07 IST