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Across Europe, upstarts are making a run at big boys

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Joe Behan

The newest team on the European block is Chievo Verona, who went one point ahead of Inter Milan in the Serie A League last week. To make it even sweeter for the fairy tale, Verona beat Inter themselves — and in Milan’s daunting San Siro stadium, to boot. Massimo Marazzina secured the three points with the winner early in the second half. Not even the inclusion of Ronaldo and Christian Vieri could deny Chievo’s incredible return to the top of the Italian table.

The sheer belief that teamwork can make the difference is proving Verona’s trump card. Their pressure paid off to draw first blood when their hard work won a corner taken by Eriberto, yet another Brazalian winger. From the corner Bernardo Corradi managed to sneak the ball into the Inter net off a header. It was as if Verona had waved a magic wand over San Siro as the home crowd was silenced.

Milan responded within 10 minutes and matters were level at the break. Once Verona went in front 2-1, Christian Manfredini kept them ticking and tackling to the final whistle.

In eighth place is Hellas Verona, which is just around the corner hoping to hang with the high rollers of Serie A. Only six points separate the top eight teams and in between the Veronas are the old timers on the block: Roma, Juventus, Lazio, AC Milan and Bologna.

Across Europe there are many new teams kicking it with top flight in their respective leagues. Actually, some are new and others revived.

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In third place Livingston, who beat St. Johnstone 2-1, is doing a tremendous job in the Scottish Premier League, while Celtic take over from a dominating Rangers period. With Larsson, Sutton and Hartson all on the score sheet, there should be no stopping Celtic renewing their title.

Last Sunday’s results have taken the EPL right back to headline news as Celtic beat

Dundee, 3-1, and Rangers failed miserably, 2-2 with Motherwell, under new coach Alex McLeish.

EPL shocker

If Chelsea are to give it a go in the EPL, they certainly made claim to just that by beating Liverpool 4-nil. Unbelievable stuff from the Blues and Claudio Ranieri. Chelsea’s three points takes them right into the league summit as Leicester stole two huge points from Leeds in a 2-all draw.

Arsenal, meanwhile, was held to a 1-all draw with West Ham United to help matters for Manchester United, who must be in disbelief with the early gifts their closest rivals have offered.

In not the greatest of games, Man U. beat Boro 1-0. As the table-toppers fall here and there, it is Newcastle United who have remained steady enough in top flight.

Spurs, 4-0 winners over Fulham, are picking up the pace and join Newcastle as new EPL high-risers. Gary Speed scored the winner for Newcastle against Blackburn.

Eircom League, etc.

Back home, it’s good to see Shamrock Rovers and Derry back in title chasing territory after quite a long absence from the top of the Eircom League. Recently, Derry managed only a draw, while Rovers beat league leaders Shels 1-0 at Tolka Park.

In Spain, a mere seven points separate the top nine teams in La Liga. While Alaves are nearest rivals to Real Madrid it is Betis Sevilla in fourth place who are new on the scene and only two points behind Real.

In Germany, it’s the half dozen that separate the top six in the Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin shocking league leaders Bayer Leverkusen with a 2-1 victory. Hertha

are now in sixth place after taking points from Bayern and Schalke making it seven points from three games for Berlin.

C.L. upstarts

While Chieva Verona get the vote for newest team on the block in the European Leagues it is Boavista who get the call for newest team on the illustrious avenues of Champions League.

Galatasaray, Bayer Leverkusen, Sparta Prague, Panathinaikos and Nantes do get some props and it’s worth keeping an eye on their progress.

However, Boavista, the Portuguese champions, were somewhat of an unknown when they began their C.L. adventure in the elite company of Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and FC Dynamo Kyiv. Boavista’s 1-0 opener against Liverpool made it very clear that attacking football was to be their game plan based on individual strength and flair on the ball.

For Boavista it was two points lost on the road, but beating Dynamo and Dortmund at home put them deservedly on top of their group. he going got tougher, but they scraped into the C.L. last 16 as the lowest qualifier, with only eight points.

After getting off to a flying start with a win over FC Nantes Atlantique, while Man. U. and Bayern tied, Boavista hit a stumbling block at Old Trafford in a 3-0 defeat. It does seem that they are up

against the joint forces of Bayern and United, but Boavista will continue to attack under the influence of Coach Jaime Pacheco. While they made it to the C.L. in ’99, it is their desire to take on anybody and everybody that makes them so exciting to watch this time around.

Silva and Duda are the Brazilian duo that lead the way for Boavista to reach the

quarterfinals. Pacheco’s novel team should not be written off as they also top the Portuguese league. Silva joins super strikers del Piero and Raul as leading goal scores with four apiece.

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