Winners & Losers From the Best Night of European Football This Year

    Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat trick out of nothing, calming the stormy waters around Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho. Robert Lewandowski brings a title with a little flick, while Arjen Robben misses big once again. Alessandro Del Piero saves Antonio Conte once again. Alex Ferguson find time to complain about referees. Montpellier keep on shocking France. Ajax pushing through a crazy title race in Holland.

    Easter brought a tight and rigorous schedule along with it, but more joy to us, as all the big leagues played title-consequence matches in the space of hours, leaving our fingers aching from the zapping on the remote control. Somehow, my main conclusion from the night was that like everything, the Germans plan and build better than anyone. Seasons are perfect in the 34 match format, instead of frantic finished in the other big leagues, leaving players worn out before the Euro.

    Winner – Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Can you actually play badly and win 4-1? I’m probably exaggerating, Real weren’t bad. But they were far from impressive in their annual win over Atletico Madrid in the Vicente Calderon, coming out with their 4 point lead over Barcelona intact because of one man, Cristiano Ronaldo. Because his brilliance has nothing to do whether his teams plays well or not, unlike Messi, who might be the best player in the world but also needs a system to function. What’s better? I prefer the teamwork, but you can’t take away anything from Ronaldo, his hat-trick and another incredible season, with 52 goals in 47 matches.

    Loser – Jose Mourinho

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    Because he acts like a spoiled child. Because everyone is sick of his rants against referees and Barcelona and the world. Because Real’s three draws in the last six matches, giving Barcelona an opening to win the title, is mostly on him breathing in pressure to what should be a clam system. He still might come out with two huge titles this year, further broadening his legend.

    Atletico Madrid Fans

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    Because they didn’t deserve to lose 4-1. Because they haven’t won a derby in over 12 years, and have lost the last 8. Because they were behind their team the whole way, including when they were 1-4 down.

    Winners – Dortmund & Jurgen Klopp

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    Because Dortmund have no superstars, and Klopp has built the best team in Germany, taking the title away from Bayern Munich for the second straight season. Because it’s not only about winning the titles, but about style, and Dortmund are a fun team to watch, who attack and defend as one unit, with a lightning quick offense, incredible fitness and constant pressing. A nice run in the Champions League next season, if Klopp remains and isn’t snatched by bigger money, and we might have a new special one.

    Losers – Heynckes & Arjen Robben

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    Arjen Robben for failing to move forward and leave Robert Lewandowski offside. For missing the penalty, and that sitter a bit later. A great player, but comes up short too often in must win matches. Easier to remember than his great goals for Real Madrid, the Netherlands and Bayern’s champions league run in 2010. His coach because he played to come out with a draw. Dortmund are a better team, but he failed to recognize they weren’t at their best, keeping to his known guns, coming up with nothing. Replacing Mario Gomez was another reason Heynckes deserved to lose the match.

    Winners – Wigan & Roberto Martinez

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    Wigan have lost only once in their last six matches, with their run now including the club’s first ever win at Anfield and now this impressive win over Manchester United. It’s arguable, but Roberto Martinez probably has less to work with than anyone else in the league, and might conjure up a miraculous relegation escape once again. Because Manchester United haven’t lost a league match since January 4 at Newcastle. Because they breathed life into a dead title race.

    Loser – Alex Ferguson

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    Not because he lost, but because he’s a hypocrite, and lacks the class he demands from everyone around him. Complaining about Phil Dowd, about referees in general, when he’s the manager that has enjoyed, by far, from more referee mistakes than anyone else in recent history seems like a joke to me. I guess he forgot that Wigan should have gone up earlier but for no reason saw their goal disallowed, cancelling the Figueroa handball mistake by Dowd.

    Winner – Alessandro Del Piero

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    Another goal, only his second league goal of the season, helping Antonio Conte escape another draw result. A living legend wearing zebra stripes, Del Piero came off the bench to put Juventus deservedly ahead against Lazio, deservedly ahead in the Serie A table. Let’s hope that for his sake, because he deserves to win another title, they’ll stay there.

    Loser – Andrea Agnelli

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    I don’t know if Agnelli was the one who decided on not retaining Del Piero’s services for next season. Maybe there’s still time to change that. Maybe it was Giuseppe Marotta, maybe even Conte is in on it. Foolish decision.

    Winners – Montpellier

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    Because that when small teams beat big money, it’s always a nice story. Montpellier now have a 3 point lead over PSG. They won their first match ever at Marseille, with goals from their two biggest stars, who might not be there next season – Olivier Giroud and Younes Belhanda, scoring one of the best goals of the season.

    Winners – Ajax

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    Ajax are now three points in front of AZ, five from Twente, six from Feyenoord, seven from PSV and Heerenveen. They actually beat Heerenveen away 5-0, with a hat trick from the brilliant Siem de Jong, and the prospects of winning their first consecutive league titles since the mid 1990’s look closer than ever, with five matches left to play. Ajax were far from looking like capable of winning this season, but since their 2-0 home defeat against Utrecht on February 5, they’ve won nine straight matches and haven’t conceded in their last five, scoring 18.