Friday, June 1, 2007

World Soccer News 06/01/2007

World Soccer News 06/01/2007

Twelve Retain Crown in Europe

In twelve of the more important European leagues this season's champions are identical to last season's title winners. In some countries the reign of one club has lasted for quite a long time; Olympique Lyon have won their sixth successive title while Olympiacos have collected their third title in a row and ninth in the last ten years. PSV have also made it three in a row in a most unlikely fashion, clinching the win on the final day.

Country Team Successive titles

Belgium Anderlecht 2
Bulgaria Levski 2
Croatia Dinamo 2
Denmark FC Kobenhavn 2
France Lyon 6
Greece Olympiacos 3
Hungary Debrecen 3
Italy Inter 2
Netherlands PSV 3
Portugal Porto 2
Scotland Celtic 2
Serbia Red Star 2



Celtic and Linfield among Double Winners

Celtic and Linfield have joined Dinamo Zagreb, Dynamo Kiev, Levski and Red Star Belgrade as double winners in the 2006/07 season. Only six teams have succeeded in winning both the league and Cup titles with Sevilla as the only remaining candidate for such an achievement.

Several clubs have come close to the double, notably German champions Stuttgart, who lost to Nürnberg 2-3 in the German Cup final. The runaway Italian champions Inter failed dismally in the Coppa Italia losing to Roma 4-7 on aggregate, while the Hungarian champs Debrecen lost on penalties to Honved.

Country Double winners (score and rival in the finals)

Bulgaria Levski (1-0 Liteks)
Hrvatska Dinamo Zagreb (1-0 and 1-1 Slaven)
Northern Ireland Linfield (2-2, 3-2 pen. Dungannon)
Scotland Celtic (1-0 Dunfermline)
Serbia: Red Star (2-0 Vojvodina)
Ukraine: Dynamo Kiev (2-1 Shakhtar)


Deschamps "had a need for peace"

Just days after his team secured a return to top flight soccer, Juventus' coach Didier Deschamps has quit, quoting pressure and lack of communication with the directors as his motives for resigning.
"A coach needs a tranquil atmosphere and I lacked that at Juventus. It is not that I wanted to have a say on everything, but just to find out how we would be organized next season," the Frenchman told Radio Montecarlo.

As for his successor, Juventus's chairman Jean-Claude Blanc revealed Marcello Lippi would be his pick.
"We would like to have him back as soon as possible. Let him choose what he would like to do."

The former Juve and Italy coach claims he is nowhere close to returning to the bench vacated by Deschamps.
"I said I wanted to have a rest for a couple more months. If Juventus want me, I trust they will ask me personally. For now, there is no truth in that."

Robbie Keane renews with Spurs

The Irish forward Robbie Keane renewed his contract with Tottenham Hotspurs for the next five years after completing his best season yet with the club. Keane scored 22 goals this season, raising his tally to 84 goals since joining Spurs from Leeds United in 2002.

The 26-year old international also collected his 200th cap in the Premier League for the White Hart Lane outfit on the last day of the competition against Manchester City.

FIFA at War with South America over Altitude

FIFA's ban on playing international games above 2500 meters has infuriated Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, for whom the altitude had always been a chief factor of superiority over Brazil or Argentina.

"FIFA tells us that the countries from the Andes should not play soccer any longer. Important cities such as Bogota, La Paz and Quito will lose the games of their national teams," says the Colombian national team coach Jorge Luis Pinto with a tad of exaggeration, since the ban refers exclusively to matches under FIFA's jurisdiction.

The Bolivian president Evo Morales has stepped up and said that "those who want us to play at a lower level are themselves at a low level". Bolivian media have invited the citizens to send one million letters to FIFA in an attempt to make the world's soccer bosses reconsider.

Pelé Concurs with FIFA's Decision

"We the Brazilians have always been hurt (by having to play at high altitudes). I am surprised that FIFA has waited so long. Let the mountain nations play in cities at lower altitudes."

Even though Argentina should also be grateful for not having to endure the rarified air any more, their World Cup winning coach Carlos Bilardo believes the ban is an error.
"It would be justified if a player had died at such heights. But I have never heard of such a case. They are worse things for a soccer player. When I coached Libya, we had to play at 50 degrees Celsius.


Ribas Bundesliga's Best

The Brazilian Diego Ribas has been elected the best player in the German Bundesliga in the traditional end-of-season poll conducted by Kicker magazine. The Werder midfielder received 50.7% of the vote ahead of the league's top scorer Theofanis Gekas from Bochum at 10.7% and another forward, Mario Gómez from Stuttgart at 6.3%.

In the same poll, Gómez was voted the most promising player in the Bundesliga with 14.8% of the vote, just ahead of Schalke's keeper Manuel Neuer

Raúl, Real's Second Top Scorer

Real Madrid's captain Raúl González reached second spot on the team's all-time league championship scoring list with 187 goals. By scoring against Deportivo, Raúl overtook Carlos Santillana by one goal and now trails only Alfredo Di Stéfano, still far ahead on 216.

Raúl has also equalled Francisco Gento's number of appearances for the club at 605. Only Di Stefano (712) and Santillana (643) are ahead of the 29-year-old who still has a couple of good seasons before him. And a couple of records to break.


Rivaldo Joins Olympiacos' Rivals AEK

The Brazilian 2002 World Cup star Rivaldo has signed a two-year contract with AEK of Athens, where he will rejoin Spanish coach Lorenzo Serra Ferrer, whom he met at Barcelona.

Rivaldo wanted to stay with Olympiacos, with whom he won three titles in a row between 2004 and 2007, but the Piraeus squad failed to meet his salary expectations.
AEK, last season's runners-up, have stepped in and went off with a big prize.
Rivaldo, though 35, is still an asset for any squad, and believes he can help AEK reconquer the Greek championship for the first time since 1994.

"I want to win another league here and go as far as possible in the Champions' League. I left one big club for another," said Rivaldo, who will earn in the neighbourhood of 1.3 million euros per season.

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