Levski Sofia top European defences
There is no doubt now: the best soccer is played in countries where attack rules over defence. Only one club from the top-leagues – Chelsea – feature among the best defending teams in a list ruled by Bulgarian, Czech, Ukrainian, Romanian and Serbian squads.
By far the best defence this season is that of Levski Andar Qiu Qiu Sofia, who have conceded just 7 goals in 26 games, 0.27 goals per game. The Bulgarian leaders also head the best goals difference chart with an amazing 79-7 (+72!) ratio.
Team Goals/games Per game
- Levski 7/26 0,27
- CSKA Sofija 11/26 0,42
- Sporting Lisbon 15/28 0,54
4.-5. Slovan Liberec 15/26 0,58
Shakhtiar Donetsk 15/26 0,58
- Salzburg 19/32 0,59
- Dinamo Bucharest 18/30 0,60
- Vojvodina Novi Sad 18/29 0,62
- Chelsea 23/63 0,63
10.-11. Hajduk Split 20/31 0,64
Porto 18/28 0,64
Joey Barton could leave England, and he should
Manchester City’s Joey Barton may be offloaded to a foreign club in the summer as a consequence of the series of incidents perpetrated by the one-time capped midfielder. It is just as well and perhaps Barton should search a country without an extradition treaty with the UK.
His teammate Ousmane Dabo is considering pressing charges against Barton for causing him severe injuries to his eye, nose and lip during an altercation at City’s training ground last week.
“I thought it was over and when I wanted to turn away he hit me with a terrible punch that knocked me out. He acted like a coward, it wasn’t a fair fight.”
Dabo’s left eye has been taped closed and he has swellings and facial marks following hospital treatment.
“When I woke up this morning I looked at myself in the mirror with my face all swollen up and I looked like the Elephant Man,” he told The Sun.
City suspended Barton, an experienced troublemaker who has been fined a couple of times over incidents like putting out a cigar in a teammate Jamie Tandy’s eye during the 2004 Christmas party or fighting with a teenage Everton fan in Bangkok and then with his teammate Richard Dunne who tried to intervene. Last march he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a taxi driver.
According to Barton’s agent, there are plenty of teams interested in his client, whose price is set at 5.5 million pounds, not including insurance policies for his future teammates.
No double for Inter Milan
Roma hope to clinch its first trophy in its fourth successive Cup final against Inter Milan. Francesco Totti’s team thrashed the reigning champions, a resounding 6-2, edging closer to their eight Italian Cup, and first since 1991.
In the return leg next Wednesday Inter hope to repeat their own performance against the same rival in last summer’s Supercup, when they overturned a 0-3 deficit with four second half goals. Since 2005 Inter and Roma have met in two Coppa Italia finals and in a Supercup, with Inter winning every time. Inter’s coach Roberto Mancini holds the nickname of “King of Cups” having won six Italian Cups as a player and other four coaching Fiorentina, Lazio and Inter.
Sevilla: a treble or a collapse?
After Chelsea and Manchester United dropped out of the race for a treble, Sevilla is the only European team that retains the possibility of winning three trophies. In spite of losing 2-3 to Real Madrid in last Sunday’s big match in Madrid, Sevilla is within four points of a faltering Barcelona at the top of the league, while in both cups they have reached the finals. In the UEFA Cup, Juande Ramos’s team will defend the trophy against Espanyol on May 16th in Glasgow, while in the Spanish Cup they will meet Getafe on June 23th at Santiago Bernabeu. The remaining schedule for Sevilla is gruesome, as the Andalusians will have to play two games a week until the end of May.
Eto’o closer to leaving Barcelona
Samuel Eto’o has only a 40% chance of staying in Barcelona and just as much for joining Milan, claim the Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport. The same source believe that Arsenal have the remaining 20% of snatching the Cameroonian striker.
Although his playing contribution is doubtlessly enormous, Eto’o has become a liability in the dressing room after making several enemies. Barca, who is reportedly attempting to sign Thierry Henry and the Brazilian Alfonso Alves from Heerenveen, may be willing to sell Eto’o dear, although at a lower price than the 150 million euros, the amount of the player’s buy-out clause. After recovering from knee injury, Eto’o has been scoring at the rate of a goal every 102 minutes and shares second place among Barcelona’s scorers this season with a total of 12 goals, behind Ronaldinho with 20.
For Deschamps, Juve’s title dream is a “utopia”
Juventus are on their way to the Italian Division 1, but they are not going to win the league right away, says their coach Didier Deschamps.
“I’m an ambitious person, but it is important not to lose a sense of reality. Much will be down to next summer’s reinforcements, but for now I think that dreaming of an immediate scudetto is a utopia,” said the Frenchman.
As far as Inter’s championship win, Deschamps has been fair:
“Good for them, they won fair and square, but we’ll meet next season.”
Inter are the team that were awarded Juventus’s 2006 title after the exposure that Juve’s directors had maintained illegal contacts with match referees.
Nantes go down after 44 years
One of the French greats, Nantes Atlantique, have been mathematically relegated with two games to go in spite of beating Bordeaux away 1-0. Wins by Nice and Valenciennes have made it certain that the Canaries could not be saved, alongside Sedan, level on 36 points.
Nantes have won eight championships, the last time in 2001, just before Lyon’s six-year winning run. One of the traditional French powerhouses, Nantes have had a chaotic season, having used four coaches and continuously shuffling the starting lineup. Not even the legendary keeper Fabien Barthez, brought as a saviour in December, could help extricate the team from their plight. In fact, with his erratic behaviour and less-than-convincing displays, the former World and European champion contributed to Nantes’s downfall.
Dinamo Zagreb break all records
Dinamo Zagreb have retained the Croatian title ahead of Hajduk Split in a season marked by several new records which will be tremendously difficult to break in the future.
Coached by Josip Kuze until the 13th round and by Branko Ivankovic since the end of October, the Zagreb Lions have registered 28 wins in 31 matches played so far, including 18 consecutive wins, all of them under Ivankovic’s guidance.
If they collect four or more points in the remaining two games, Dinamo will also establish a new record regarding the percentage of points won, which currently stands at 90.9% and has been held by the same team since the 1996/97 season.
The team’s top player, the naturalized Brazilian Eduardo da Silva, has scored 29 goals, equaling Goran Vlaovic’s mark from 14 seasons ago.
How high Dinamo’s standards are is reflected by the fact that the board of directors dismissed Kuze despite losing only a single league game in the first 13 rounds.