Podcast 41: The Winners!

The leagues around Europe are reaching their climaxes and on this week’s show languagecaster takes a look at how three of the big leagues were decided. We also…

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Three of the big European league titles were decided last week as Inter Milan won in Italy, Barcelona in Spain and Manchester United in England. All three teams won before the season actually finished, suggesting it was relatively easy, however, they didn’t completely get it their own way.

Here’s a look back at how these three teams became champions of their respective domestic leagues.

Barcelona won their 19th Spanish title without even having to kick a ball as their nearest rivals Real Madrid lost for the third time in a row giving the Catalan side an unassailable lead. This was their first La Liga in three years and was thoroughly merited by a team that was universally regarded as the best in Spain from the word go. Actually, that’s not quite true as Barca began the season in poor form losing to Numancia in the first game under new manager and former midfield maestro, Pep Guardiola. Little did we know at the time that that would be one of only two small blips to their season that has seen them lose only 4 times. They moved top of the table in week 7 and have stayed there since and that’s despite an unbelievable 17 wins from 18 matches from second place Real Madrid, with at one stage a suggestion that they might catch Barcelona. However, the Catalan side inflicted a 6-2 thrashing on Madrid and that was that.

Barca have scored more goals than anyone else in Spain – 104 – with Henry, Messi and Eto’o accounting for 71 of those goals. They have also conceded fewer than any other team and have a goal difference of + 71. They have also played with a style that has left many wondering if this team is even better than the Dream Team of Cruyff. It certainly plays in a similar manner and of course, there may still be more to come as Guardiola’s team play manchester United in the Champions League final next week which could lead to an unprecedented treble for them.

Talking of trebles, Inter Milan had won the previous three Italian titles before this season started and with a new manager in the charismatic Jose Mourinho in charge it seemed there would be little doubt which side would be lifting the Scudetto title at the end of this season. And so it proved to be as the Nerazzurri won their 17th Italian championship with three games remaining.

They went top early in the season and like Barcelona they have been there since, thanks in part to their wonderful defensive consistency but also due to the poor performances of their rivals. Juventus, AC Milan and Roma were never in the title race and all three clubs will look to new faces – managerial and playing staff – next season.

Inter will also have fresh faces next year but one player who is staying is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedish striker, who yet again is the club’s top scorer, this time with 22 goals and with the talented Mario Balotelli alongside him Inter’s fans will be hoping for their fifth title next season along with a Champions League victory – their first in forty years.

Like Inter Milan, Manchester United also retained their title, in fact, they won the English Premier League for the third year in a row to give them a total of 18 domestic league titles. This number puts them alongside Liverpool as the two most successful teams in English football history.

Though they won the league with one game to spare, the title race was a close-run affair as their huge rivals Liverpool led for much of the early part of the season. Too many home draws for them and an amazingly consistent run of clean sheets for United after Christmas, meant that Ferguson’s men moved top in January and remained there till the end. Like Inter, much of their success has been built on sound defence rather than all-out-attack but it could also be argued that they have two of the best forwards in the Premier League in Wayne Rooney and 18-goal Cristiano Ronaldo.

They are already favourites to win the title again next year such is the strength in depth of the squad but of course, before all that, they have to defend their Champions League title against Barcelona next week.

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I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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