While Swiss Football League clubs have just voted to introduce play-offs to spice up the end of the season, the Super League and Challenge League championships saw an exciting final day for promotion and relegation. In the Super League, Sion, led by Servette 1:3, finally got a draw (3:3), which was enough for them to be eliminated from the play-offs. Sion finished seventh (41 points), Grasshopper eighth (40 points) and Lucerne ninth (40 points and less goal difference).
The Challenge League ended in a three-way tie for first place with Winterthur, Schaffhausen and Aarau with 65 points. Due to the better goal difference, Winterthur is promoted again under coach Alexander Frei for the first time since 1985 and Schaffhausen plays a play-off against Lucerne. Saturday morning’s leaders FC Aarau only needed a draw at home, but Aargau lost to Vaduz (1-2) and finished third. Two years ago, Aarau suffered a bitter disappointment when they lost in the play-off against Xamax after a 4-0 win in the first leg in Neuchâtel!
Abroad, two championships drew particular attention, the Premier League, where Manchester City finished just a point ahead of Liverpool, and Serie A, where AC Milan faced a return from their Inter cousin. If the matter was heard quickly in Italy, a first-half double from Olivier Giroud that quickly secured Milan a first coronation since 2011, the tension in England was all-out. Ten years after a legendary title acquired at the last second under the Manchester United beard, Manchester City won their eighth title as English champions by reversing a severely compromised situation.
Gündogan ten years after Agüero
The Citizens, led 2-0 by Aston Villa at the start of the last quarter on their turf, tipped the game in five minutes, scoring three goals between the 76th and 81st minutes. Villa manager Steven Gerrard was determined to offer the title he never won as a Liverpool player, but the arrival of doubles author Ilkay Gundogan changed everything. It is Pep Guardiola’s fourth national title in five years with Manchester City. At Norwich, Tottenham easily confirmed their fourth place in the final (Chelsea are third) and qualification for the Champions League. At the bottom of the table, Leeds secured their place in the Premier League by winning at Brentford, condemning Burnley.
In Germany, the season ended with RB Leipzig beating SC Freiburg on penalties (1-1, 4-2 on penalties). Reduced to ten an hour of play, Leipzig equalized before winning on penalties thanks to Frenchman Christopher Nkunku, who was voted Bundesliga player of the season. It is the first title for this club, founded in 2009 by the Red Bull Group and hated by large parts of Germany, which accuses it of sticking to the rules (hence “RB” does not mean Red Bull, because the company owns already Red Bull Salzburg, but RasenBallsport, “Rasenballsport”) and being a club without tradition whose only purpose is to sell sugary drinks.
SC Fribourg, a club wholly owned by its 35,000 members, had therefore refused to be associated with their opponent in terms of the souvenir products traditionally sold during the finals. After the game, Leipzig fans unfurled a banner urging their critics to whine, while Freiburg coach Christian Streich congratulated his opponents one by one.
Mbappé Transfer of the Year
In France, Olympique de Marseille snatched second place (behind PSG) on the final day of Ligue 1 thanks to a Lens goal against Monaco (2-2) in injury time and qualified directly for the Ligue des Champions. The Girondins de Bordeaux, who started the season with Vladimir Petkovic, are relegated to FC Metz. Saint-Etienne got the point in Nantes (1-1) that gives him hope of saving his place in the elite. The Greens meet AJ Auxerre in the play-offs on Thursday and Sunday amid an ideological row between the two coaches, pragmatic Pascal Dupraz (Saint-Etienne) and romantic Jean-Marc Furlan (Auxerre).
However, the highlight of the weekend in France was the signing of Kylian Mbappé at PSG on a new three-year deal. The league’s best player, scorer (28 goals) and passer (17 assists) has finally given up going to Real Madrid as planned. A very bad choice in Spain, where La Liga president Javier Tebas called it “an insult to football”. Is Mbappé’s choice purely financial? The Paris leadership’s desire to put him at the heart of the sporting project, much more than Lionel Messi or Neymar, weighed. The first consequence of this decision is the dismissal of sporting director Leonardo. Coach Mauricio Pochettino could follow.
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