Welcome to the merry month of May (if you support QPR, Norwich, Porto, Dortmund etc.)!! No mention of the UEFA Champions League or Premier League title race here. Instead we have a game suspended due to a bee attack, a squad for sale, a player banned for life and the worst Wednesday in Brazilian football’s history(?)
Last week’s stories
It was draw number 18 for Auxerre in the French league. Universidad Católica progressed against Grêmio and French officials have been suspended pending an investigation into their ethnic quota system reported here last week. ITURBEWATCH: I’ve brought it back for this week only to inform you that he came off the bench to win the Paraguayan clásico, more on that in my Goal.com article here.
This week’s stories
Bees attack Brazilian game
Bees nesting on a crossbar were given a nasty shock when 22 footballers descended on the pitch to play a State Championship game. The bees reacted angrily to being disturbed and the game between Goias and Vila Nova had to be held up for 20 minutes as hundreds stirred around the goal. The fire brigade had to be called in to get rid of the unwanted visitors at the Serra Dourada stadium in Goiana.
Flamengo find it easy
Staying with the Brazilian state championships and Ronaldinho’s Flamengo have won the Carioca crown for the 32nd time. It comes thanks to a 26-game unbeaten run by the team from Rio de Janeiro who beat Vasco de Gama on penalties after drawing 0-0 in the final. They did taste defeat yesterday though after losing in the Copa do Brasil to Ceará.
AFC Champions League approaching knockout stage
While Barcelona and Man Utd earned their places in the UEFA Champions League final the AFC equivalent is just reaching the end of the group stage and most of the places have already been decided. With a game to play J-League side Nagoya Grampus have booked their berth in the last 16. Fellow J-League team Kashima Antlers are also through as are 3 South Korean sides, FC Seoul, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Suwon Bluewings. From the middle-east the Saudi outfit Al-Itthiad have progressed along with Qatari’s Al-Sadd. Iranian team Zob Ahan have won their group and countrymen Sepahan will be in the next stage. Finally Tianjin Teda of China and Uzbek’s Bunyodkor complete the list of Second-Rounders.
Sergio Agüero may not find himself in the Copa America squad this July but he has made sure his name goes down in the Atletico Madrid history books. His winner against Deportivo La Coruña took him to 98 goals for Atletico and makes him the most prolific foreigner ever for Los Colchoneros. His nearest rival is Diego Forlan who is currently on 96 goals!
Brazilian nightmare Wednesday
A lot of Brazil this week but I’ve neglected them in the past so…Wednesday saw four Brazilian clubs in action in the Copa Libertadores and all four expected to progress to the Quarter Finals. Things started badly in Porto Alegre, Internacional saw their one goal lead overturned by Peñarol to exit the tournament. Then hot hot favourites Cruzeiro lost 2-0 at home to Colombians Once Caldas, while Libertad overturned a 3-1 1st leg reverse in Paraguay to knock out Fluminense. Finally Grêmio were unable to score against Universidad Católica who went through thanks to their surprise 1st leg win in Brazil. A disastrous night for Brazil. Santos are the only remaining representative from Pelé’s homeland – the first time since 1994 that only one Brazilian team has made the Quarter Finals!
Al-Hilal reign in kingdom
Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal won their 13th league title at the weekend after opening up an 11 point gap at the top with two games to play. They took the crown thanks to a win against Al Read who took the lead early on. Goals from Mirel Radoi and Al Shalhoub turned the game on its head and secured Al-Hilal’s 3rd title in four years.
Banned for life
It isn’t often you here of a foul so bad the player gets banned for life, but Kazakh player Arman Masimzhanov received that punishment for his part in the mass brawl on Wednesday. The FC Kairat player was on the sidelines but entered the melee with a flying kung fu kick to the back of Lokomotiv player Radmir Muksinova. The footage from the Kazakh 2nd Division match is here.
Squad for sale
Mexican club Pachuca, you may remember them in last year’s FIFA World Club Cup, decided to put their whole squad on the transfer list. A bizarre decision especially considering that the team were CONCACAF Champions League winners last season.
Stat of the Week
1 – Number of all-Portuguese European Finals thanks to Porto overcoming Villarreal. They face Braga of course in this month’s Europa League final.
Goal of the Week
We mentioned that Martin Palermo ended his drought for Boca Juniors last week – he has now got two in two and what a goal it was!
Top Tens of the Week
After seeing who was on the best run of league championships in Europe I thought it was worth digging through the history books to see which European side has the most league titles in total. Here are the results of the ten best, respect to the top teams!
10. Anderlecht (Belgium) – 30
= 8. Real Madrid (Spain ) – 31
= 8. CSKA Sofia (Bulgaria) – 31
= 6. Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg) – 32
= 6. Benfica (Portugal) – 32
5. Luxembourg City (Luxembourg) – 34
4. Olimpiakos (Greece) – 38
3. Celtic (Scotland) – 42
2. Linfield (Northern Ireland) – 50
1. Rangers (Scotland) – 53
So Britain dominates the top three and incredibly you need at least 30 league titles just to make the Top Ten. As far as I can see Rangers have the most titles of any club worldwide with the nearest challenger Peñarol of Uruguay. Unless you guys know of any more?
I also write for Goal.com as Paraguayan correspondent and will be writing for eurofootballzone.com as Chief South American correspondent as of next week! I occassionally contribute to inbedwithmaradona.com as well.