Paris Saint-Germans victory meant that with the exception of Portugal,five of Europes top six leagues (as per the UEFA coefficient) have crowned their champions. It was a year where,unlike previous seasons,the leagues were won convincingly; we give you our view from the top
Spain: Barcelonas reaction to their dethroning as champions last season by Real Madrid has been brutal. Sure the infighting and theatrics (that make for great tabloid news) at Madrid did help but by the winter break,the Catalans had won all their games barring a draw to Madrid. The departure of Pep Guardiola last season did little to throw Barca of their quest to claim a fourth title in five years with the transition to Tito Vilanova appearing seamless. The La Liga is effectively a two-horse race and the fact that Barca were beaten by Madrid twice this season coupled with the 7-0 drubbing at the hands of the Bayern Munich in the Champions League,one gets the feeling that Barca are almost trying to convince themselves that this is a season to be celebrated in style; such has been the measure of their success. Headlines across various Catalan papers read: “this should be celebrated properly” and “this should be celebrated in style.” Since they couldnt beat them,maybe equaling Madrids record points tally (100) from last season will go some way in pacifying the doubters. Such is the view in Spain,sorry,Catalonia.
England: Sir Alex,made his intentions pretty clear at the start of this season when he signed last seasons top scorer and PFA player of the year Robin Van Persie. He sure was in no mood to concede the league a second year in a row especially after losing the previous one on the final day to goal difference. Former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini was spot on with his observation (admission of failure over transfer dealings) when he quipped “Robin Van Persie is an important player for them,it’s clear that the difference is this. He has changed the situation.” Indeed he has,Manchester United have scored 21 more goals than their neighbours this season with Van Persie finding the back of the net on 25 occasions. Yesterday,the champions paraded their 20th league trophy through the streets of Manchester,but not before an emotional Ferguson bid goodbye to,in his own words,”the best experience of my life” “football (retirement) bloody hell.”
Italy: Juventus won its 29th Scudetto this Sunday,with three games to spare,restoring the Old Lady (a name the club is fondly referred to as) to what many in Turin believe is her rightful place in Italian Football. After the Calciopoli scandals,that relegated the club to the second division,it has been a long road to the top. In 2011,the club took a leap of faith in appointing the former player and fan favorite Conte,notoriously banned for four months this season,a move that turned around the clubs fortunes. He rebuilt the team,implemented a new tactical formation and style of play. A view echoed by defender Chiellini,”Were in the thick of our cycle and Contes the main architect.” This was the first time in over a decade that the Old Lady has won back-to-back titles. Over come with emotion at what their club has been through,players and fans unveiled banners and placard baring the no. 31; a symbolic gesture to the two titles that were stripped from them due to the their involvement in the scandal.
France: Paris Saint-Germain (PSG),the wealthy Qatari owned outfit,ensured that the millions spent on transfers were not squandered as they secured the French league after a gap of 19 years. An influx of players notwithstanding,one must credit their manager,Carlo Ancelotti,for significantly improving their defensive set up. Last year when they finished second they had the fifth tightest defense but this year the Italian has ensured (as most Italians do; both Mancini and Conte had the best defense in their respective leagues) that their defense was number one in the country. A great man manager,Ancelotti has kept control of the dressing room and his catchment of stars while weeding out the unhappy players in the January transfer window,thereby strengthening the squad. With an exemplary showing (especially against Barcelona) in the Champions League this year,PSG could well be a force to reckon with in Europe next year.
Germany: We end our round up with the league that boasts of this seasons Champions League finalists (and in this writers opinion) the two best teams in Europe this year Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. After having ceded the title to Dortmund the previous two seasons,Munich has been ruthless this year with their high-tempo pressing game losing only once in the league. A gap of 22 points between second place Dortmund does not necessarily speak of the difference between the two sides,however it does go to show how dominant Munich have been during this seasons campaign. Munich players celebrated the Bundesliga title amidst a sea of beer; something that did not go down to well with star player (and devout Muslim) Frank Ribery who was “p***ed off” and promised to never speak to his teammate (Boateng) again for having doused him with their national beverage. If these celebrations are anything to go by,London better be stocked up on its ales and lagers as come the Champions League final at Wembley one is sure to witness a flood of beer (hopefully one of goals too).