Sunday, April 30, 2017
In France: OGC is the acronym for Olympique Gymnaste Club, the formal title of the soccer club of Nice, along the Riviera in southern France. It is currently the third best football club in France. This year the club has been successful beyond normal expectation. The club will take at least third place in the final league table, and with that earn a shot at an unprecedented spot in the group phase of the next UEFA Champions League. Today they face off against Paris Saint-Germain, title-holders and second in Ligue 1, and if they do they will advance even further in the final standings of the year. One of their heroes, Mario Balotelli, formerly of Inter Milan, Man City, AC Milan, and Liverpool, had a slogan, "Why Always Me?" He once had the words printed on a T-shirt he wore, very publicly, as headlines kept being generated around him while he was in England. Although he has suffered some injuries and red cards, he has stayed strong, to come back alive, helping OGC to their current place.
In Germany, meanwhile, Bayern Munich has set a new record by clinching a fifth straight Bundesliga title, winning 6-0 against hosts Wolfsburg, who are at the bottom of the table and thus risk demotion to a lower league for next season. Ingolstadt, at risk of relegation was able to play to a draw, but that most likely will not save their next season. Augsburg, while possible risking relegation, is ahead of Darmstadt, suprisingly likely to be demoted this Spring. Borussia Dortmund failed to take a firm grip on third place as they were held to a goalless home draw by Cologne. Hoffenheim, two points behind them in fourth, can take advantage with victory over Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday. This draw, however, did guarantee a top-four finish for Dortmund.
In Spain, several of the late games on Saturday leave things too close to call. As Saturday dawned, Barcelona, who cleaned Real Madrid's clocks last weekend, was moving up on the Vikings on the table. The royals responded convincingly, though with a 2-1 win over powerhouses Valencia. Madrid then opened up a three-point lead on Barcelona. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring, heading home a Dani Carvajal cross on 27 minutes with Madrid's only shot on target of the first half. In a late game, Barҫa beat local rivals Espanyol 3-0 with the return of Neymar from his three game suspension.
The chief excitement in the European Soccer world, as the season winds down throughout the old continent is felt in Italy, where two great competitions, and other good games, will be contested today! The semi annual Derby between the powerhouses of the capital city pits Roma against local rivals Lazio. For several decades they have both used the same stadium, Rome's Olympic stadium as their home stadium, and although that may change in a few years, they both still feel very much at home in the neo fascist confines. Roma thrashed Serie B bound Pescara on Monday night 4-1. In the Copa Italia semifinals, earlier in the year, Lazio ensured Roma's elimination. A loss on Sunday could put Roma in the nightmarish situation of not having a direct promotion to the champions league, and they are not always successful in winning such spots through playoffs. After the derby, Roma have to travel to the San Siro to take on AC Milan and then host champions-elect Juventus. They need this win or Napoli, who are four points behind second-placed Roma, may overtake them. The other major game of the weekend is the game between Napoli and hosts Inter Milan on Sunday night. Napoli's only challenging team after tomorrow evening are Fiorentina, so the games today could determine a lot in the standings.
In the USA, in professional basketball: seven of eight teams to play in round 2 of the NBA playoffs have been determined. One more game will be played to determine the eighth team, before the cagers move onto round two. Tied at three games a piece are the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers took a close game on Friday evening to force game seven of the series, which takes place this afternoon at Los Angeles.