Over in the soccer world, championships were decisively won and lost this past weekend.
Beginning in Spain, only five points separated Barcelona and Madrid in their annual two-horse race at the start of Saturday morning. By day’s end, Madrid’s title challenge was effectively over. A mediocre-at-best Sporting Gijon team handed an injury-plagued Madrid a loss, the first home defeat for manager Jose Mourinho in nine years—stretching his stints with FC Porto in Portugal, Chelsea in England, and Internazionale in Italy. Barcelona, on the other hand, dispatched a prickly Villareal side, albeit barely. 0-1 in their favor, the same scoreline went against Madrid in their match.
Over in England, Manchester United pulled their usual routine: fall behind early, receive the hair-dryer treatment at halftime, and launch a swashbuckling second-half reversal. A hat trick from Rooney killed off West Ham and in the process, two other London teams: Arsenal and Chelsea, both of whom failed to win at the weekend and keep pace with United.
Finally, the top two teams in Italy (and Milan), AC and Inter squared off. The seeds of the next great Milan side are bearing fruit on the strength of their Brazilian nucleus as Alexandre Pato scored twice in a 3-0 result to extend AC’s lead in the standings. Thus, their only challengers are now an upstart side in Napoli, who last won Serie A in the days of Maradona.
In the domestic leagues, the dust is beginning to settle. However, the Champions League remains wide-open, resuming kickoff tomorrow.