All four UEFA Champions League semi-finalists slumped to defeats over the weekend, with Tuesday's opponents FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF beaten in the same round of matches for the first time in two years and Manchester United FC following up a setback for rivals FC Schalke 04 with their own damaging reverse at Arsenal FC. The celebrations were able to begin for Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, as Jürgen Klopp's men captured the Bundesliga crown.
There was a rare sight in the Liga on Saturday as both Barcelona and Real Madrid lost on the same weekend for the first time since May 2009. With Tuesday's UEFA Champions League semi-final decider prominent in the minds of both squads, Barcelona went down 2-1 at Real Sociedad de Fútbol and Madrid were beaten 3-2 at home by Real Zaragoza – also the first time Merengues coach José Mourinho had lost back-to-back home league encounters since 2001/02. "What happened was a big lesson for us," said Barça coach Josep Guardiola, whose side nonetheless enjoy an eight-point advantage at the Liga summit. "There's just four more points needed and we'll go and try to get them wherever we can."
All eyes will be on Old Trafford next Sunday after the Premier League title equation took on a fresh complexion in the wake of Manchester United's 1-0 loss at Arsenal. With second-placed Chelsea FC having downed Tottenham Hotspur FC 2-1, Carlo Ancelotti's men can now go top on goal difference if they emerge triumphant away against United next time out. "We have a big week ahead," said Red Devils manager Sir Alex Ferguson, whose side will complete their UEFA Champions League semi-final tie against Schalke on Wednesday. "We will regroup and freshen it up."
Dortmund clinched their first Bundesliga crown in nine seasons on Saturday thanks to a 2-0 home win against 1. FC Nürnberg combined with a 2-0 reverse at 1. FC Köln for challengers Bayer 04 Leverkusen. "This is a beautiful thing," said left-back Dede, one of two survivors from the squad which last won the title. "It is not easy to become Bundesliga champions, but it's deserved." Further back, FC Bayern München leapfrogged Hannover 96 into Germany's third and final UEFA Champions League place by seeing off continental semi-finalists Schalke 4-1, after Hannover had lost 1-0 to VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach.
AC Milan now require just one more point to wrap up their 18th Scudetto after maintaining their eight-point lead over FC Internazionale Milano by edging Bologna FC 1-0. Champions Inter had kept the race alive by prevailing 2-1 at AC Cesena thanks to a pair of added-time Giampaolo Pazzini strikes, but their inferior head-to-head record means Milan need only draw at AS Roma on Saturday to end any lingering suspense. "Things are looking very good," commented Rossoneri coach Massimiliano Allegri. "We want to secure the Scudetto as soon as possible." At the bottom, UC Sampdoria stayed a point clear of danger after drawing 3-3 with fellow strugglers Brescia Calcio.
LOSC Lille Métropole are back at the head of the class despite losing their way in recent weeks, Rudi Garcia's men surging back into form by sweeping aside AC Arles-Avignon 5-0 on Saturday. That took the northern outfit two points clear of Olympique de Marseille and the titleholders could only respond with a 1-1 draw against visitors AJ Auxerre. "We played some good stuff without being rewarded and it's cruel," said OM coach Didier Deschamps. "We now have five battles ahead of us." Third-placed Olympique Lyonnais were left similarly disappointed after they lost 2-0 at Toulouse FC, meaning they lie ahead of Paris Saint-Germain FC on goal difference alone.
Silverware was won and lost across the continent as Bangor City FC became Welsh champions for the third time by defeating The New Saints FC 1-0. Neville Powell's charges were able to bask in triumph along with AEK Athens FC, who lifted the Greek Cup for the first time in nine years by overcoming Atromitos FC 3-0, and AC Juvenes-Dogana, who secured the Coppa Titano in San Marino. Neftçi PFK were similarly elated after they laid their hands on the Azerbaijani title, but frustration reigned for FC Shakhtar Donetsk as a 3-0 reverse at traditional rivals FC Dynamo Kyiv delayed their coronation.
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