Napoli ends Serie A title drought, Messi’s PSG future clouded by desert visit

While Spalletti’s men kept Maradona’s legacy alive by clinching the top honour in Italian top-flight football, a ruthless Manchester City continued to breath down Arsenal’s neck in the Premier League.

Published : May 10, 2023 13:32 IST - 6 MINS READ

One for the ages: Napoli players celebrate their latest Serie A title at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in Naples, Italy.
One for the ages: Napoli players celebrate their latest Serie A title at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in Naples, Italy. | Photo Credit: AP

One for the ages: Napoli players celebrate their latest Serie A title at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in Naples, Italy. | Photo Credit: AP

Serie A

Fireworks went up in unison. The streets were adorned in Blue and White. There were tears of elation and shrieks of joy. Thirty-three years after Diego Maradona’s fabled era, the city of Naples had reason to celebrate. The South had broken the dominance of the North. Napoli was the champion of Italian top-­flight football, and no team in the land deserved the title more than Luciano Spalletti’s men.

The equation was simple for Napoli — one point against Udinese, and the title was there for the taking. After passing up on an opportunity earlier to clinch the title at home after a 1­-1 draw with Salernitana, celebrations were put on hold. The wait could have been prolonged after Sandi Lovric scored early for Udinese in the 13th minute. But Victor Osimhen scored the equaliser in the 52nd minute­, a strike that ended a city’s patient wait for the Scudetto. Fans invaded the pitch at the Dacia Arena, and the Napoli faithful back home celebrated like there was no tomorrow.

Let the celebrations begin: Thirty-three years after Diego Maradona’s fabled era, the city of Naples had reason to celebrate. 

Let the celebrations begin: Thirty-three years after Diego Maradona’s fabled era, the city of Naples had reason to celebrate.  | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Despite the title picture being done and dusted, Serie A still has a lot to offer in terms of Champions League qualification. Juventus, after its recent lifeline — temporary restoration of its 15 points, which were deducted due to financial irregularities in transfer dealings — is well on its way to securing a place in Europe’s most prestigious club competition and strengthened its position with a 2-­0 win against Atalanta, which still has a chance of qualifying for the UCL.

It was a good week for the Nerazzurris and the Rossenaris. While Inter secured a comfortable 2-­0 win against Jose Mourinho’s Roma, Milan won against Lazio with the same scoreline. And, lest one should think Napoli would put its foot off the pedal, having already clinched the league, it continued its dominating season with a 1­-0 win against Fiorentina in its latest fixture.

After matchday 34, champion Napoli enjoys a 17-­point lead at the top. Juventus, Lazio and Inter are second, third and fourth with 66, 64 and 63 points, respectively. Milan is breathing down Inter’s neck in fifth with 61 points, with Atalanta and Roma in sixth and seventh — both teams having 58 points.

Premier League

Manchester City is well on course to win three back­-to-­back Premier League titles with a 2-­1 win against Leeds United, which brought Sam Allardyce on board to save itself from relegation.

It is unlikely Arsenal would win the title, considering how ruthless City is at the moment, but Mikel Arteta’s men kept themselves in the race with a 2-­0 win against Newcastle United, which is itself looking to qualify for the UCL.

Talking about Champions League spots, Erik Ten Hag’s Manchester United failed to capitalise on Newcastle’s loss and suffered a 1­-0 defeat against West Ham United, which played with swagger at home.

Earlier in the week, the Red Devils conceded a late penalty against Brighton and Hove Albion courtesy of a handball by Luke Shaw, which saw them succumb to a 1­-0 defeat as well. Meanwhile, Liverpool, which has recovered well in a season that seemed like a lost cause, is inching closer to dethroning United at fourth with a 1­-0 win against Brentford. Tottenham Hotspur also kept its hopes alive with a 1-­0 win against Crystal Palace.

After six­ straight defeats in all competitions, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea officially saved itself from relegation after beating Bournemouth 3-­1. The win keeps the Blues in 11th position with 42 points.

After matchday 35, Manchester City enjoys a one­-point lead at the top of the table with 82 points over second­-placed Arsenal, with an extra game in hand. Newcastle and Manchester United occupy third and fourth with 65 and 63 points, respectively. Liverpool is fifth with 62 points, having played one more game than its arch­rival. Spurs are in sixth with 57 points.

La Liga

Barcelona is on course to win its first La Liga title since Lionel Messi’s departure after a narrow 1­-0 win against 10-­man Osasuna. Jordi Alba scored a late goal in the 85th minute, sealing all three points for the Blaugranas.

Pulsating: Jordi Alba’s match-winner takes Barcelona one step closer to La Liga glory. 

Pulsating: Jordi Alba’s match-winner takes Barcelona one step closer to La Liga glory.  | Photo Credit: AFP

Real Madrid lost 2­-0 to Real Sociedad, but the Los Blancos had reason to celebrate after clinching the Copa del Rey for the first time since 2014. With league hopes nearly extinguished, it could be a nice morale booster for Carlo Ancelotti’s men, with a crucial UCL semifinal tie coming up against Pep Guardiola’s well-­oiled City.

Atletico Madrid maintained its stellar form with a 5-­1 win against Cadiz, stretching its unbeaten run at home to nine games in the league. 

After matchday 33, Barcelona is top with 82 points. Atletico’s recent form has put Diego Simeone’s club in second in his last season at the club. Real Madrid is third with 68 points, and Sociedad occupies the last UCL spot in fourth with 61 points.


Defending champion Bayern Munich has not been at its clinical best over the past few matches, but Thomas Tuchel’s men did enough to clinch a 2­-1 win against Werder Bremen to maintain its narrow lead at the top of the table. 

Borussia Dortmund gave a 6-­0 thrashing to VfL Wolfsburg, with Karim Adeyemi and Jude Bellingham scoring a brace each for the Ruhr side. Sebastien Haller continued his inspirational comeback with a goal, and Donyell Malen also bagged one. 

RB Leipzig did enough to eke out a 1-­0 win, while Union Berlin suffered a disappointing 1­-0 loss against Augsburg. 

After matchday 31, Bayern is top with 65 points. Dortmund is second with just a point behind. RB Leipzig and Union Berlin are in third and fourth with 57 and 56 points, respectively. Freiburg also has 56 points, but Berlin is above due to a better goal­-difference.

Ligue 1

There was drama inside the house of defending champion Paris Saint-­Germain, and Lionel Messi was at the centre of it. After the club suffered a 1­-3 loss against Lorient, the Argentine took an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia with his family, which irked the club management and resulted in a two-­week suspension for Messi. Since then, Messi has issued an apology video, stating his point of view, and despite his absence, PSG managed a 3­-1 win against Troyes in its latest match. 

Lens has enjoyed a great season, and it showed why it is in UCL contention with its latest 2-­1 win against Marseille. Monaco also kept its UCL hopes alive with a 2-­1 win against Angers.

Lyon played a thriller of a match in its 5­-4 win against Montpellier. With the score level at 4-­4, Alexandre Lacazette scored a penalty in the 10th minute of second­-half additional time to win three points for Lyon.

After matchday 34, PSG enjoys a six­-point lead at the top with 78 points. Lens is second with 72 points, with Marseille and Monaco in third and fourth, with 70 and 64 points, respectively. 


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