On a week when giants tumbled….
This week was not a good one for many of the biggest soccer teams in Europe. This kind of thing just happens from time to time, and it’s kind of unexplainable. One major team losing is not uncommon by any means, but for some reason, every year we see one week in which most of them perform poorly.
It was like this all across Europe this week: in England, Arsenal essentially lost all chances of upsetting Manchester United or Chelsea and winning the Premier League with a spectacular 3-2 loss to tiny Wigan Athletic. The amazing thing was that Arsenal was winning 0-2 in the 80th minute, but Wigan persevered and came back with three goals in 11 minutes.
On the other side of London, Chelsea lost its strong lead ahead of Man. U. by losing 2-1 against Tottenham. Manchester United responded by just barely getting past rival Manchester City 1-0 with a 90th minute goal from Paul Scholes.
In Italy, the league has been severely shaken up by a series of poor performances by, well, everybody. A few weeks ago, Inter Milan looked like it was a sure bet to win its fifth Serie A title in a row. Then when they started playing poorly, commentators suspected that this may be the year for AC Milan to finally come back. But Milan responded by playing even worse than their cross-town rival and have won only two of their last eight games. So all eyes would have turned to third place Juventus, but their poor form has sent them down all the way from third to seventh. And now, it’s AS Roma who is topping the league and looks to be on the way to winning their first Serie A in almost a decade.
In Spain, Barcelona has had a bit of an off week. They couldn’t score against Catalan rivals Espanyol, and ended the game 0-0, which narrowed their lead above Real Madrid to just one point. If that wasn’t bad enough, they let in three goals against Inter Milan in their Champions League semi-final match to end the game 3-1, which will make life difficult for the defending champions next week in the second leg.
In fact, the only teams which seem to be doing well this week are the underdogs: AS Roma, Manchester United and Real Madrid. Besides them, there is one team who is having a good week-Bayern Munich. Dutchman Arjen Robben is looking better than he ever did while at Chelsea or Real Madrid, and the rest of the team is matching. Four days after crushing Hannover 96 7-0 and moving to the top of the German Bundesliga, they won their first Champions League semi-final match in nearly a decade.
So, in conclusion: a bad week for some is a great week for others. Thus is the way of sports.
E-mail Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org.