Real Madrid win on final day to secure title in La Liga over Barcelona

Cristiano Ronaldo put Madrid on their way with a goal in just the second minute before Karim Benzema made the lead comfortable in the second half to give the visitors a first Spanish league trophy under manager Zinedine Zidane.

With a draw enough to win the title, Madrid grabbed their chance immediately as Isco played in Ronaldo, who stepped around goalkeeper Carlos Kameni to provide the opening goal, his 14th strike in his last nine games.

Ronaldo had a chance to add a second goal in the first half but shot straight at Kameni, then after the break suffered a scare following a late tackle from Federico Ricca, though he was OK to continue.

The title was all but sealed in the 55th minute following a corner. Sergio Ramos’ initial shot was saved but came back out to Raphael Varane, who fed Benzema to double the lead.

Madrid comfortably saw out the final minutes and lifted the trophy for the first time since 2011-12. They will have a chance to add to their haul this season when they defend their title as European champions against Juventus in the Champions League final on June 3.

Barcelona fought back from a two-goal deficit to beat Eibar 4-2 but ultimately fell three points adrift of Madrid in the title race.

Takashi Inui provided a shock lead for Eibar in the seventh minute and doubled the visitors’ advantage on the hour mark.

But Barca hit back immediately as Neymar’s shot came off the post into the path of David Junca, who redirected it over the line for an own goal.

Lionel Messi had a chance to equalise on 70 minutes only to see his penalty saved by Yoel Rodriguez, though Luis Suarez was able to level the score from close range three minutes later.

Two minutes after that, Ander Capa was sent off for bringing down Neymar in the box and this time Messi was on target from the spot to complete the comeback, before the Argentina star added another late on with a sliding shot from the middle of the box.

REAL MADRID FACE MALAGA IN LALIGA DECIDER, JUVENTUS AIMS TO RETAIN SERIE A TITLE AS ARSENAL HOPES FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE MIRACLE

By Toyin Akiode

Real Madrid needs just a point from their game against Malaga to secure their first LaLiga title in five years. Juventus must take the maximum points In Turin versus Cordone and burst the bubble of Roma who had put their aspirations for a sixth successive Serie A title in question.

The game in Malaga will hold a very interesting spectacle in Catalan as the outcome determines whether Barcelona retains the LaLliga or settle for the second spot.

There is no other possible outcome than a Real Madrid’s win. They have too much in the arsenal to let this slip having fought all season to be in this situation. The Whites have too many winners in the pack to choke at the La Rosaleda stadium in Malaga.

It could end up being a ‘massacre’ if Cristiano Ronaldo is in one of his moods and decides to hold the game by the scruff of the neck. He has done that severally in the past and nothing motivates him more than this type of situation!

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Roma stalled the progress of the Old Lady last week

Turin giants, Juventus have the small matter of Cordone to attend to and thereby ensure a successful defense of their Seria A title. They have the luxury and opportunity of doing it a home in front of their teeming fans.

Brimming with undeniable quality, Masimilliano Alegri has winners in this Old Lady group. They are battle hardened and don’t slip up too often. Down to the last two games of the season and needing just three points to scale the      hurdle – Juventus is backed to do it and win their sixth consecutive league title!

In England; Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City are all battling for Champions League qualification. Out of the three, it is only Arsenal that will be looking for a favour from another club against the other two in order to qualify for Europe’s elite competition.

Many fans of the North London club will be keeping one eye on the match between Liverpool and Middleborough at Anfield. They will be hoping that somehow the poor home form of Liverpool against weaker oppositions will continue in their final and arguably most important match of the season.

Watford hosts Manchester City at Vicarage Road in a game that will be both emotional as well as celebratory.

Walter Mazzarri is leaving the club after he successfully defended the Premiership status of Watford. However, the feeling at Vicarage Road is that the club could have done better.

The Italian will be looking forward to his players sending him off with a win against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and in so doing, ensure that he exited on a high note.

Meanwhile both Liverpool and Manchester City have their fates squarely in their hands. All they need to do is win their games and they will be in the Champions League.

Arsenal on the other hand must win at the Emirates against Everton. This in itself is not a forgone conclusion looking back at the belaboured win against Sunderland the last time.

Everton unlike Sunderland have a proven scorer in Romelu Luka who can hurt any team on his day. Arsenal must cope with him while looking to put at least three past the Merseysiders to boost their goals aggregate should Manchester City stalls at Watford and Liverpool triumphs at Anfield.

Too much permutations in the case of Arsenal!

The Gunners will be playing in the second cadre of European championship next season. Maybe that won’t be a bad thing after all!

Click on this link for the glossy pictures and more

http://9jafans.com/2017/05/21/real-madrid-face-malaga-laliga-decider-juventus-aims-retain-serie-title-arsenal-hopes-champions-league-miracle/

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL LEAGUES REACH BUSINESS ENDS

By Toyin Akiode

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Major European league titles have been decided. Some are almost wrapped up. The excitement is gradually waning as those who are winners have their hands full and those who haven’t won are chasing other goals.

Bayern Munich won their fifth consecutive Bundesliga title three weeks ago and have managed to create a new record with that feat. The Bavarians giants are so dominate in the league that it is quite difficult to see them dislodged for years to come.

The English Premier League has a new champion in Chelsea

 The London club won the title last Friday in a tense and scrappy match against West Brom Albion at the Hawthorns.

Portuguese league is known as the Primeira Liga. Although not very popular in major European cities and with fans all over the world, this league has produced some successful clubs in the past like FC Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon.

Noteworthy is the fact that Jose Mourinho, one of the most successful European coaches is from Portugal.

Everyone is aware of Cristiano Ronaldo! What many do not know is that he was groomed at Sporting before his move to Manchester United.

In Primeira Liga, Benfica have been crowned champions for the fourth time on the trot. They look good in terms of their pedigree and players depth for a proper Champions League appearance next season.

Ligue One is the competition’s name in the French league and free scoring AS Monaco are the champions. It went down to the wires!

Radamel Falcao and future football great, Kylian Mbappe had to wait till the penultimate game to define their achievement for the season. The Columbian did that in style Monaco is the Champions of France.

The league in Holland produced a pleasant surprise!

Feyenoord, who last won the league title 18 years ago edged much fancied Ajax and PSV Eindhoven to the title on the final day. It was both exhilarating and exciting at the same time.

Serie A looked decided in early April with usual suspect Juventus dictating pace both in Europe and in Italy. Now things are looking a bit shaky with Roma deciding that they won’t fall over for the Italian league perennial champions.

Click this link for detailed analysis

http://9jafans.com/2017/05/18/european-football-leagues-reach-business-ends/

Juventus still have the title firmly in their grasps. However, they must take minimum four points from their two remaining games to ensure their sixth consecutive Serie A title.

They have all it takes to ensure that. Only the reality that football is very unpredictable stalls the need to crown the Old Lady champions already!

Spanish LaLiga has been a ding dong affair between Barcelona and Real Madrid until the latter won their game in hand against Celta Vigo yesterday. It was the only acceptable result for  Los Blancos as any slip up would have resulted in perpetual regrets.

Real Madrid are scheduled to  visit Malaga for their last game of the season. They must ensure they get a least a point to secure their first league title in five years. Now, that’s unusually long for a trophy laden club!

Real Madrid white washes Celta Vigo (4-1)

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Cristiano Ronaldo broke Jimmy Greaves’ 46-year European scoring record as Real Madrid moved within a point of their first Spanish title since 2012.

Ronaldo, 31, fired Madrid ahead with his 367th goal in one of Europe’s top-five leagues, eclipsing the mark set by former England striker Greaves in 1971.

Ronaldo slotted in a second and, after John Guidetti gave 10-man Celta hope, Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos sealed it.

Real will clinch La Liga with a draw at mid-table Malaga on Sunday.

Rivals Barcelona must win their final game at home to Eibar and hope Zinedine Zidane’s side lose.

If the teams finish level on points then defending champions Barca will claim a third-straight title because of their superior head-to-head record.

“The most difficult part is still to come even though we’re getting closer to the title every day,” Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane said.

Record-breaking Ronaldo leads Madrid to victory

Ever since Madrid lost 3-2 in a dramatic El Clasico at the Nou Camp in April, this game has been seen as pivotal in the Spanish title race.

Up until Wednesday’s match, Barca had finished every game week top of La Liga following El Clasico, but knew Zinedine Zidane’s side would overhaul them with a positive result at mid-table Celta.

And it was unsurprising that Ronaldo was instrumental. His goals for both Manchester United and Madrid saw him pass ex-Chelsea, Tottenham, AC Milan and West Ham striker Greaves.

Even though the scoreline suggested a comfortable away win, the visitors were pushed by a home side who created chances without taking them.

Celta were punished by Ronaldo’s clinical finishing and when Iago Aspas was sent off for two bookings – the second, rather harshly, for diving – their chances looked over.

Guidetti’s fluky strike looped off Raphael Varane and over keeper Keylor Navas to give them hope, although that was dashed seconds later when Benzema converted Marcelo’s cross.

And, after Ronaldo missed a sitter for his hat-trick, Kroos made sure with a composed low finish.

Any hope for Barca?

Madrid have won six-straight games since their Nou Camp defeat, therefore keeping the title race in their own hands.

Barcelona have matched them every week with victories of their own, but Real’s relentless form means the Catalan club are now relying on Malaga to do them a favour on Sunday.

However, there is one result that gives Barca hope of their title rivals slipping up… their own defeat at Malaga on 8 April.

Neymar was sent off as a 2-0 defeat hampered Luis Enrique’s hopes of leaving the Nou Camp with another league title on his CV.

‘I don’t feel like we’re champions yet’ – reaction

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane

We have one game left but today was very important. We know what we need to do. We need to prepare well and recover from today as we gave so much.

The first half was end to end and that doesn’t suit us, we were much better with the ball in the second and we played a little better.

I don’t feel like we’re the champions yet, we still need to pick up more points and keep on with what we’re doing.

Credit Bbc sports

CELTA VIGO STANDS IN REAL MADRID’S WAY TO LALIGA TILE

By Toyin Akiode

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Real Madrid’s game at hand against Celta Vigo in the coast city of Vigo is of such importance to the Spanish giant’s quest to wrest the LaLiga title from the grasp of their eternal rivals, Barcelona.

Joint leaders on the table with Barcelona on 87 points each, this encounter with Celta Vigo is as crucial as a world cup final for Real Madrid.

Why?

Even though they are on the same points with Barcelona; the Catalans have a better head to head record against Real Madrid. If the two clubs end the season on the same points therefore, Barcelona will be crowned champions.

Celta Vigo represents the game at hand that could then lifts Real Madrid ahead of Barcelona on the table provided that they win tonight or draw tonight.

The final battle will then be played out on the final day of the season at the La Rosaleda Stadium in Malaga. Surely, Zidane and his Galacticos must fancy their chance of putting to bed any opposition with the prospect of LaLiga title almost secured!

Celta Vigo facts:

Celta have never won the league title nor Copa del Rey, although they have reached the final three times in the latter. One of the team’s best seasons was 1970–71, when they finished unbeaten at home and were known as the “giant-killers”.

Celta Vigo came sixth that season and qualified for the UEFA Cup for the first time. The club finished in their best-ever position of fourth in 2002–03, qualifying for the 2003–04 UEFA Champions League, where they were eliminated by Arsenal in the Round of 16.

Real Madrid facts:

Real Madrid established itself as a major force in both Spanish and European football during the 1950s, winning five consecutive European Cups and reaching the final seven times. This success was replicated in the league, where the club won five times in the space of seven years.

This team, which consisted of players such as Alfredo Di Stéfano, Ferenc Puskás, Francisco Gento and Raymond Kopa, is considered by some in the sport to be the greatest team of all time. In domestic football, the club has won a record 32 La Liga titles, 19 Copa del Rey, nine Supercopa de España, a Copa Eva Duarte, and a Copa de la Liga. In international football, the club has won a record 11 European Cup/UEFA Champions League titles, a joint record three Intercontinental Cups, two UEFA Cups, three UEFA Super Cups, and two FIFA Club World Cups.

Click this link for detailed analysis:

http://9jafans.com/2017/05/17/celta-vigo-stands-real-madrids-way-laliga-tile/

Real Madrid was recognized as the FIFA Club of the 20th Century on 11 December 2000 and received the FIFA Centennial Order of Merit on 20 May 2004. The club was also awarded Best European Club of the 20th Century by the IFFHS on 11 May 2010 and leads the current UEFA club rankings.

As they say in our clime; the difference is very clear.

The type of force and star power that Zinedine Zidane will bring to bear tonight will certainly be too much for Celta Vigo who just got knocked out of the EUROPA league against English tentative side, Manchester United.

There won’t be any surprise if the goals flow as it has been the norm with Real Madrid in the recent past. Particularly on away grounds!

List Of Nigerian Players Who Have Won The English Premier League

The Elite list of Nigerian players who have won the Premier League.

We take a look at all the Nigerian players that have won the Premier League titles and the role they played for their clubs.

Kanu Nwankwo (Arsenal, 2002 & 2004)

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Super Eagles great Kanu Nwankwo is the first Nigerian player to win the Premier League. Having joined Arsenal in February 1999, Kanu had to wait three years for his first league title.

Kanu played 23 league games, most of them as a substitute and scored three goals as Arsenal won the league title.

In 2004, the year of the invincibles, Kanu hardly got into the team and just managed just the required 10 games to get a Premier League medal. He scored just one league goal that season.

John Mikel Obi (Chelsea, 2010 & 2015)

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Having joined Chelsea in 2006, Mikel had to wait four years for his first league title. Under Carlo Ancelotti, Mikel played 25 games for Chelsea as they won the league. He didn’t score any goal.

Mikel Obi played 18 times for Chelsea as they won the league in 2015 (Getty Images )

In 2015, he won his second Premier League title, this time under Jose Mourinho, Mikel played 18 times and also scored no goal.

Victor Moses (Chelsea, 2017)

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Victor Moses made 33 league appearances in total for Chelsea, scoring three goals as they won the Premier League in 2017

Victor Moses just joined this elite list having helped Chelsea to a league title five years after joining them.

Moses was a very influential part of the Premier League title-winning Chelsea squad under Antonio Conte.

Moses made 22 consecutive Premier League starts, 28 league starts and 33 league appearances in total for Chelsea, scoring three goals.

He is the Nigerian player with the most Premier League appearances for a title winning team ever.

Credit Pulse

FIREWORKS EXPECTED AS REAL MADRID CONFRONTS JUVENTUS IN UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL

By Toyin Akiode

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Real Madrid surmounted an early scare against a charged atmosphere at the Vicente Calderon to progress to the final of the UEFA Champions League.

Billed to be a top clash, the game lived up to expectations. It was an end-to-end encounter that had fans and neutrals alike gripping the edges of their seats!

Atletico played with passion and belief. Nothing less was expected from a Diego Simeone side.

A ray of hope followed the superb header by Saul Niguez in the 12th minute placed beyond the despairing grasp of Keylor. A clumsy challenge by Casemiro earned in the eighteen earned a penalty for Fernando Torres.

Antoine Griezmann stepped up and had a fortunate end as Navas could have saved the centered placement in the 16thminute.

The deafening noise and roar of approval in the stadium signaled a dominant spell for the home side and they could have scored the third but for some brilliant saves by Navas.

Benzema had a great game

The tone however changed when Karim Benzema weaved his long forgotten magic.

The French took the ball on the lines and left Atletico rear guard glued before releasing a pass to Kroos whose shot was parried into the path of influential Isco.

Los Blancos celebrates Isco’s Goal

Alarcon wasted no time in cooling slotting the loose ball home to temporarily silence the loud noise from the home fans.

At that point, it became obvious that Atletico may have left themselves too much to do to proceed to the finals.

Real Madrid took control in the second half with Modric, Kroos, Isco and Marcelo running rings around Simeone’s men.

Los Blancos talisman, Christiano Ronaldo could have evened things out midway into the second half but he didn’t wrap his foot around the ball and scoffed the shot wide inches off the mark.

Madrid and Zidane held on to book a date with Turin giants, Juventus in the finals to be played in Wales on June 3rd. It promises to be a cracker!

We capture the crazy celebrative mood of Chelsea players inside the dressing room

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There was plenty of craziness going on inside the Chelsea dressing room after they clinched the Premier League title with a 1-0 win at West Brom

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Diego Costa undressed

A Premier League title-winning party SHOULD be a pretty lively affair.

If you have just won the league championship, confirming your status as the finest team in the land, you have clearly earned the right to let your hair down and go a little crazy.

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Anthony Joshua visits Man United headquarters to meet Jose Mourinho and train with squad ahead of Spurs clash (pics)

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There’s no shortage of big-hitting stars at the Manchester United training ground, but they had to share the spotlight with heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua when he strutted into Carrington.

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The boxing superstar is on top of the world after his victory over Wladimir Klitschko and checked in at Carrington ahead of United’s visit to White Hart Lane on Sunday.

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Joshua uploaded his trip to Manchester to his Instagram account, which showed him taking part in training drills and a penalty shootout with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard.

Joshua also met manager Jose Maurinho  who presented him with a signed United shirt with ‘Joshua 1’ on the back.

Anthony-Joshua

The British fighter was in town following an appearance at The Lowry on Friday evening, where he spoke about his life and career to date, including how he wrestled the WBA and IBO titles from Klitschko to add to his IBF title.

A number of United players documented Joshua’s visit to Carrington on their social media accounts and posted pictures with the popular boxer.

Credit Mirror Uk

COURAGEOUS AND DECISIVE ANTONIO CONTE GUIDES CHELSEA TO PREMIERSHIP TITLE

By Toyin Akiode

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It was a feat that no one could have predicted in October last year after Antonio Conte led Chelsea to two consecutive defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal.

Contrary to lofty expectations that brought the lively Italian to Stamford Bridge after the conclusion of EURO 2016 in France; things look gloomy for everyone at Chelsea and queries were raised on the wisdom to hire Conte.

But Antonio Conte is made of sterner stuff. When he discovered the lapses and inefficiency in his tactical structure; he switched altogether!

He changed when many would have been tentative, tinkering and hoping that things would take a positive turn. That decisiveness led to the successful title run everyone is celebrating today.

In the aftermath of the debacle at the Emirates; the tactical change masterminded by Conte propelled Chelsea to a record breaking thirteen consecutive wins. It became glaring that they were the most consistent and adaptable team in the league.

Long before Conte resumed at Stamford Bridge, he had requested for the signing of Ngolo Kante – the major key to Leicester City triumph a season past.

That singular addition to Chelsea was by far the greatest trigger of a dominant display that got questioned only five times prior to yesterday’s encore the Hawthorns.

Yet, the humane side of Antonio Conte is not in doubt.

Filled with almost maniac energy, Conte’s celebrations have brought a new excitement to the Stamford Bridge – nay the Premier League.

In record time, he became the fans favourite and had plenty time to bond with teaming adulators. This he did with his players getting on the pitch each time to hug and encourage them whatever the outcome.

Conte is also a winner!

His face and expression was a sight to behold when Chelsea lost at Old Trafford and the unexpected slip up at home to Crystal Palace. It was as if the whole world had come to an end for the Italian.

Antonio Conte is also a very hardworking Gaffer. His players attested to this after the win over West Brom.

Thibaut Courtois who lifted his manager high after the triumph joined Eden Hazard, Marcos Alonso to emphasize the hard work put in during training to adapt to the sudden change in tactics. The safe hands re-echoed what many already knew about Conte from his days in Turin –that he is very hard working, detailed and hands on.

Antonio Conte feared for his job. He could have been sacked. This fact he revealed in conversations with Tony Pulis.

However, the reverse is the case as courage and vision has led him to equal great records of first time managers who came to England and conquered.

Congratulations and appreciations; certainly are in order.