By Quazi Zulquarnain Islam
The coming of May signals, for me, one of two very important things. First and most importantly, May signals the beginning of the semester break and thereby a near three week breather which I duly appreciate. Secondly May brings with it the end to a long hard season of European football, both in the Champions League and leagues across all of Europe.
At the time of writing, Chelsea in England and Bayern Munich in Germany have already wrapped up their respective league titles. Chelsea under the guidance of one Jose Mourinho, won the EPL for the first time and the Premier League for only the second time in their history. As one commentator so ably put it- when Chelsea last won the Premiership (1955) man had not yet walked on the moon. For Chelsea, the players of the season in the Premiership have been the English pair of John Terry and Frank Lampard. Terry who was voted PFA Player of the Year, has been simply outstanding in center-half, and his compatriot Lampard has been similarly inspirational in midfield from where he has notched twelve goals. Although, the mercurial talents of Dutch starlet Arjen Robben has been much lauded in the English press, his contribution has been minimal, due to a spate of injuries. All in all a well deserved triumph.
In Germany, Bayern Munich wrapped up their 19th Bundesliga title after they handed FC Kaiserslaurtern a thumping 4-0 defeat courtesy of a Roy Maakay hattrick. That win coupled with Schalke 04's enthralling 3-3 draw, meant that Bayern take an unassailable lead at the top of the standings. It also meant that the title chase, which looked likely to go down to the wire only weeks ago has been decided three rounds ahead of time. For Bayern, it has been a success based more on teamwork than individual flair. A team which comprises some twenty five internationals were molded into a thorough unit by coach Felix Magath, who replaced the legendary Ottomar Hitzfield. Lucio has been immense in defence, Ballack back to his best after a mean season with eleven league goals and Peruvian Claudio Pizzaro led the line well during Roy Maakay's absence.
In Italy and Spain however, the title chase looks to be hotting up even further. At the time of writing, Milan have won their Saturday game and take a three point lead over Juventus, who play on Sunday. In Italy it looks likely to be a photo finish as the two powerhouses are neck and neck come the home straight.
Similarly in Spain, Real Madrid bought the deficit down to three points after winning 2-0 at Basque club Real Sociedad. Ronaldo looks back to his best and with a tactical change that has meant that the triumvirate of Owen, Raul and Ronaldo plays together, Real look like a changed team. This looks likely to be one league title that will go right down to the wire.
Doing all these football wind-ups got me thinking. The English Premier League is undoubtedly the most watched league in this part of the world. That said it is therefore understandable that most people regard it to be the best league in the world. I, myself don't agree at all with that idea. I think that in terms of quality throughout the league and most importantly competitiveness, the Spanish Premiera Liga, the Italian Serie A and even the German Bundesliga are far ahead of their English counterparts. Don't believe me? Look at it yourself. In the EPL there are only three realistic title contenders, (with Chelsea only recently profiting from Roman's billions). Aside from Man U, Arsenal and Chelsea no other team can realistically lay claim to wining the league. All the others are there just to make up the numbers. True, you get the odd Norwich win over Man U, but on a whole the things that make football interesting are sorely lacking. Or else how can Arsenal go on a forty-nine match unbeaten run with a squad, wafer thin in terms of depth? That's not to take anything away from Arsenal's achievement. I thought that at times during that run, they played football from a different planet.
But I think I have managed to get me point across. There will doubtless be a lot of contention regarding my statement and that is just what I wanted!!!
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