Pitchside

  • Euro 2012: predictions and previews

    TEAM PROFILES

    Group A

    Czech Republic
    Team profile
    Player to watch: Tomas Rosicky
    Coach profile: Michal Bilek
    Squad profiles
    Qualifying and recent results

    Greece
    Team profile: Greece
    Player to watch: Sotiris Ninis
    Coach profile: Fernando Santos
    Squad profiles: Greece
    Qualifying and recent results

    Poland

    Bartosz Rainka, eurosport.pl: "Borussia Dortmund's striker is in his top form. There is a very successful Bundesliga season behind him (22 goals). During a friendly game against Andorra last Saturday he scored a wonderful overhead kick, one of the best goals ever for the national team. Poland are lucky

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  • European Team of the Season

    As the dust slowly begins to settle on a momentous 2011-12 campaign, Pitchside Europe selects a team of the season composed of players who ply their trade outside the Premier League.

    (Formation: 4-1-3-2)

    Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)

    After making only 16 appearances due to injury in the previous campaign, Buffon rediscovered his best form to provide the foundation upon which Juventus built their Serie A success. There was one high-profile blunder, in the 1-1 draw with Lecce that allowed Milan back into the title race, but in the main he was outstanding, conceding just 16 goals in 35

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  • Clasico fever hits town again

    Lionel Messi and Cristiano RonaldoIt is testament to the status of Barcelona and Real Madrid that even the English are making a special effort for this weekend's latest episode of the Clasico series.

    In one of Europe's more myopic football nations, only the more die-hard football fans (not to be confused with die-hard club fans) usually bother with foreign football, but anyone with the slightest interest in the beautiful game gets excited about arguably the biggest club rivalry in the world.

    La Liga does get the most coverage of the offshore leagues, but the circus comes to every town when Real and Barca are involved.

    The 7pm

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  • Ajax’s spring surge brings title into sight

    Theo Janssen celebrates with Siem de Jong

    When Pitchside Europe last looked at Ajax, in mid-February, the Netherlands' most successful club were in crisis. Johan Cruyff had gone to court to block the appointment of Louis van Gaal as chief executive, the supervisory board had agreed to step down en masse, and Ajax were eight points behind Eredivisie leaders PSV in sixth place, having won just one game in five in all competitions since the beginning of the year.

    Two months on, they are six points clear at the top of the table with four matches of the season remaining and their 3-1 victory over De Graafschap on Sunday was their 10th

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  • European Match of the Weekend: Schalke v Dortmund

    Schalke celebrate another Raul goal

    Borussia Dortmund are in pole position to retain the Bundesliga, but boss Juergen Klopp is worried that goal-hungry Schalke are possible party-poopers in this weekend's big European match.

    Dortmund's free-scoring young team are six points clear of second-placed Bayern Munich with four games remaining after a 1-0 win over the Bavarians last weekend.

    But Schalke also like a goal or three and, despite a 4-1 loss to Nuremburg, their recent streak has put them third and all-but qualified for next season's Champions League.

    "In terms of the table, we are in the lead, but on Saturday we expect

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  • Europe awaits ‘German Clasico’

    In excess of 450,000 Borussia Dortmund fans applied for tickets for what has been dubbed "Germany's Clasico" as Bayern Munich arrive at Signal Iduna Park for Wednesday's clash between the Bundesliga's top two clubs.

    Though Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal are all in action in the Premier League, Spain boasts the Madrid derby between Atletico and Real and title-challengers Juventus take on Lazio in Serie A, Germany hosts the most highly-anticipated match of midweek with a potential title decider.

    The match in Dortmund will be broadcast to over 200 countries and, with the hosts

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  • PSG cling on in French title race

    When the time comes for European football fans to reflect on the 2011-12 title races in their respective countries, the Easter weekend may well come to be seen as a key staging post. It saw Manchester United establish what is likely to be an unassailable eight-point lead in England, while Juventus leapfrogged Milan to the top of the Serie A table and Barcelona closed to within four points of Real Madrid in Spain after José Mourinho's side were held to a 0-0 draw by Valencia.

    In France, however, the identity of this season's champions remains no clearer. Montpellier's 2-1 defeat of Sochaux on

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  • European Match of the Weekend: Real Madrid v Valencia

    Under-fire Valencia coach Unai Emery should have a clearer idea of his future prospects at the club after they have played La Liga leaders Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Sunday.

    Though they secured a place in the semi-finals of the Europa League on Thursday night, Valencia could be shoved out of third place and La Liga's last Champions League automatic qualification slot.

    Valencia have seen fans whistle them off in their last few home games, while their flagging league form has seen them notch only three wins in their last 14 outings.

    A surprise victory at the Bernabeu, however, could boost

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  • Olympiacos celebrate almost-title

    Fans of Greek football awoke on Monday morning to find their country's national championship, the Super League, in a curious state of suspended animation. Those of an Olympiacos persuasion may well have rolled out of bed nursing sore heads after a night spent toasting their club's 39th league title success but — officially at least — nothing has been decided yet.

    Olympiacos' 1-0 victory at Panaitolikos on Sunday left them four points clear of second-placed Panathinaikos with three matches of the season remaining. However, the gap is effectively an unassailable 10 points because Panathinaikos

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  • European Match of the Weekend: Benfica v Braga

    Battling Braga have climbed their way up to the top of the Portuguese Premier League and are ready to shake up the decades-old dominance of Benfica, Porto and Sporting.

    Braga, whose distinctive "Quarry" stadium only holds 30,000, are first after beating Academica 2-1 on Monday and have the championship within their grasp with only six games left.

    Coach Leonardo Jardim can no longer hide his aspirations for the title.

    "Our first goal was to be amongst the top four, next to be on the podium among the best three, but now we want to be first. We want to conquer our own space," he told reporters

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