Well, soccer fans, this is turning out to be one hell of a competitive year in the major European Leagues. For the first time in recent memory, there is no clear favorite in ANY of the top European leagues. In Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid are neck and neck with 74 points each. In Italy, a recent string of poor performances have left former favorites and defending champions for four years in a row, Inter Milan, vulnerable with just 63 points. Roma and AC Milan are both close with 62 and 60 respectively. In England, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are all within 4 points of each other with 72, 71 and 68 respectively.
Meanwhile, in sixth place, Liverpool is struggling just to remain qualified for the UEFA Europa League next year. However, all of these look meek compared to the competition in France — the top six teams are all within 3 points of each other and the top three are all tied at 56 points.
Although the leagues are competitive, they’re not nearly as exciting as the Champions League. The first leg of the Quarterfinals took place this week, the most built-up match of which was Arsenal-Barcelona.
Barcelona started out strong, with six shots on target in the first half, but they were unable to score until minute 46. They scored again 13 minutes later to bring the match to 0-2. Although Barcelona maintained 60 percent possession for the rest of the game, their defense started to let its guards down after that. By minute 85 they’d let two goals in and the captain Carles Puyol had been sent off with a red card. The game ended 2-2, with neither teams’ captain able to play in the next leg (Cesc Fabregas got a yellow card).
Inter Milan struggled against CSKA Moscow, but Diego Milito managed to score in the 65th minute and give his team a 1-0 win. Lyon also defeated Bordeaux 3-1 after an exciting game filled with chances for both teams.
Bayern Munich shocked Manchester United fans with a 2-1 victory at home. United got a goal in the first 64 seconds of the game, but despite other clear chances, were unable to find the net again. Franck Ribery had an amazing performance and kept the pressure high for the Manchester United defense throughout the game, but it wasn’t until the 79th minute that he scored the equalizer with a lucky free kick. Just 10 minutes later, Ivan Olic brought the crowd to their feet with a goal that put Bayern ahead for the win.