Brendan Rodgers' fighting talk set the scene for what would be a dramatic game against Crystal Palace. So, Liverpool drew away to Crystal Palace. It wasn't pretty and nobody affiliated with Liverpool FC can be happy with blowing a three goal lead. However, Liverpool have lost two goal leads only to triumph eventually. Swansea City, Stoke City, and Manchester City. Liverpool travelled to Norwich and were winning 2 nil before hanging on for a 3-2 victory. This was coming.
A three goal lead evaporating in around ten minutes is astounding. One could call it pressure, choking, poor management, indiscipline, or the mischief of the Football Gods. It's not something that's uncharacteristic of this wonderful attacking Liverpool side. Everything is not the worst, the players aren't (insert critical adjective here), Rodgers is not a managerial novice, Liverpool aren't chokers, and this wasn't Liverpool's only opportunity to win the title for many years.
As for next season, a side doesn't score 99 goals by accident. A team that is close to three figures in goalscoring numbers is dangerous. Quite dangerous indeed. Other sides can strengthen but only Man City have come close to figuring out how to score as many goals. What Liverpool need apart from more quality and depth is striking a better balance defensively. Liverpool's goal difference indicates that Brendan Rodgers is on the right path to finding a title winning formula and this summer will provide the opportunity to make the necessary modifications to this current one.
Hamburger SV, Germany's oldest professional football club with city riches and a large fan base, could be staring at relegation from the Bundesliga. Pep's Bayern rolled into town and left with a 4-1 victory that leaves Hamburger SV in the relegation play-off spot but the side are only one point and two points above the bottom two respectively with one game to go. Nurnberg and Braunschweig have tough trips to Schalke 04 and Hoffenheim while Hamburger SV travel to Mainz 05. One team will need to pull off quite the victory to secure a relegation play-off spot and the chance to continue to fight for Bundesliga survival.
It was a big weekend in Italy. Juventus won the title, Napoli won the Coppa Italia, and AC Milan made a late dash for Europe under the maligned Clarence Seedorf against fierce rivals Internazionale. A word of praise for Seedorf who has not been given much support from Adriano Galliani (he wants Pippo Inzaghi instead) and won his first derby as AC Milan manager. The Milan squad is in need of an overhaul but the situation is far too much like Game of Thrones with whispers, shadows, plots, and battles for power. Rafael Benítez continues to finish in third and secure an important trophy to banish the memories of a rotten spell at Inter. He did it last season at Chelsea and he's done it at Napoli. The man knows what he's doing. Pirlo's thoughts on Conte from his autobiography I Think Therefore I Play, were detailed in this intriguing piece on the man who has brought three scuddetti in a row for the Bianconeri.
Spare a thought for the three Napoli fans injured in Rome by gunshots before the Coppa Italia final. Football will always be only a game.
The La Liga title race continues to provide those much vaunted "twists and turns" that make a league the best in the world to its own myopic acolytes. All three sides chasing the title dropped points. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid drew in dramatic circumstances. One side rescued a draw while another lost three points at the end of the match. Atlético Madrid lost away to a Levante side that apparently had nothing to play for and that was the result that makes the title race a little more interesting as Diego Simeone's side looked to be on a streak for the title. The UK Guardian's Sid Lowe details how crazy the permutations could get with two teams contesting against a Real Madrid side they ardently despise.
André Villas-Boas has been experiencing a renaissance at FC Zenit Saint Petersburg. He's already achieved a record streak and recently drew away to Zenit's closest rivals for the title, Lokomotiv Moscow. AVB has got the best out of Hulk and with two games to go in the Russian Premier League, the task is to simply win those games and achieve something a bit superior to mortality. It is the Russian Premier League so AVB's bid for coaching immortality will have to wait for now but it looks like a clever managerial move to restore his reputation. If Zenit can keep their stars then they could be an intriguing Champions League prospect with an ambitious and young coach in charge.
There's been another issue of racism in Spain as Levante's Senegal midfielder Papakouly Diop was endured lovely monkey chants in the victory over Atlético Madrid. It is unfortunate but is it really if it is something that is to be expected?Authorities need to clamp down on it within the ground. Education and exposure can help but some people will think what they think. Only stringent punishments will ensure that players can play without being humiliated. Fans often do whatever it takes to put off opposing players and this veers into the reprehensible at times. Once clubs have more to lose then it will simply stop. Will Spain's footballing authorities take greater steps to combat the problem?