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European Soccer Seasons Headed for Close Endings

Posted March. 04, 2009 07:43,   


The forecast for Manchester United of England is sunny, cloudy conditions for Inter Milan of Italy, and rain for FC Barcelona of Spain.

With European soccer leagues nearing the end of their seasons, teams are jockeying to finish higher.

○ England: United leads but Chelsea threatens

Manchester United is the master of its own destiny with a solid league lead. The defending league champion had trailed Liverpool until the middle of the season.

United leads with 62 points despite playing one fewer game, seven points ahead of second-place Chelsea and No. 3 Liverpool, both of which have 55 points.

KBS TV soccer commentator Han Joon-hee said, “United boasts a strong defense, with a shutout record of more than 1,000 minutes. The team knows how to manage its points, and it’ll be difficult for other teams to overtake it.”

Chelsea, however, is considered a threat to United. Under new coach Guus Hiddink, who spearheaded the Korean national team’s advance to the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup, the Blues have won successive matches in both the Premiership and the Champions League.

Hiddink told media that as long as there is a possibility, no one can know the result.

○ Italy: Inter Milan vs. Juventus

Inter Milan, led by former Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho, is leading Serie A after 26 rounds.

Inter (60 points), which is known to have the most agile team in the league, has dominated from early on in the season and is ahead of second-place Juventus by seven points.

Things have gotten tighter, however, as Inter drew with AS Roma Monday while Juventus won.

Injuries to striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and others are also causing headaches at Inter over the remainder of the season.

○ Spain: Unpredictable Primera Liga

The race to win the Primera Liga is so intense that predicting the result is tough. FC Barcelona has rallied to take the lead thanks to its trio of superstars Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto`o.

Barca, however, has stumbled with one draw and two losses in its past three games. Archrival Real Madrid is on a ten-game winning streak, narrowing the point difference from 12 to four.

Barcelona is struggling due to lackluster performance from its previously strong midfield and successive errors by its defenders.

MBC TV soccer commentator Seo Hyeong-wook said, “The insufficient experience of novice manager Josep Guardiola at FC Barcelona is being tested.”

“The upcoming two to three matches will be the watershed that determines the two teams’ performances this season.”