It’s the end of the domestic football season but this year we’re not given the summer to reflect on it as the biggest international football event takes stage. The English Premier League’s photo finish already seems a distant memory. The FIFA World Cup begins in three weeks and all eyes have switched to Brazil just seconds after the honours were awarded.
Let’s start at home with the Scottish Cup: congratulations to St.Johnstone who defeated Dundee United at Celtic Park to claim their first Scottish Cup. Livingston, Forfar, Raith Rovers and Aberdeen fell victim to the Saints before they defeated United 2-0 in the final. It’s been a good season for the 130-year old club. Saints can take plaudits for appointing little known Tommy Wright as manager at the start of the season. His reputation has grown to the point many commentators have claimed they would have voted for him as manager of the year, ahead of Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes, who was given the award last month, if known the Scottish Cup would end up in the trophy cabinet at McDiarmaidPark. McInnes has done a magnificent job at Aberdeen in returning the Dons to the top half of the league and winning the League Cup. However a disappointing finish to the season has meant the significantly less supported and funded St.Johnstone have over exceeded. Added to that the sensational season of Scotland under-21 striker Stevie May who has scored 27 goals in all competitions. He has reiterated his commitment to the Saints stating he wants to remain at the club next season. It’s been a fantastic weekend for the Perth club and they deserve all the plaudits for their efficient Scottish Cup displays.
In England, Arsenal won their first trophy in 9 years coming from 2-0 down to beat Hull City 3-2. The final at Wembley was a nail-biting affair. Santi Cazorla’s stunning free-kick swung the momentum Arsenal’s way after a torrid start. It was fitting for Aaron Ramsay to clinch the winning goal on what has been a phenomenal season for the young Welshman. It was important too for Arsene Wenger who has received a lot of criticism on and off the field in the past few seasons as results weighed in below expectations.
Across the rest of Europe trophies were won and lost. Bundensliga champions Bayern Munich edged past a spirited Borussia Dortmund 2-0 after extra time in the German Cup. Dortmund are very underrated given the strength of their opponents. It is likely they’ll face more difficulty next season following the loss of talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski to their Bavarian rivals.
Juventus won their third consecutive Serie A title whilst Napoli claimed the Italian Cup. Both Inter and AC Milan experienced tough seasons with a transition needed to bring back success. Benfica won the Portuguese league and cup double and narrowly missed out on a treble after a penalty shoot-out loss in the Europa League final against Sevilla. PSG won their second successive French League title at the end of a season long battle with a resurgent Monaco. Manchester City took the English Premier League title after Liverpool slipped up in the closing hurdles. Celtic cruised to victory in the Scottish Premiership. However La Liga proved to be the most exciting in years as Athletico Madrid upset the odds in winning the title ahead of powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona. Athletico became the first non Real or Barcelona winner in 10 seasons. In an extrodinary penultimate weekend which saw Real drop out of the running and Athletico set up a mouth watering title decider with Barcelona at the Nou-Camp. To win the men from Madrid had to avoid defeat however a Barcelona win would have saw the title return to the Catalan giants. Barcelona are without a trophy for the first time since the 07/08 season. Real and Athletico will fight it out in Lisbon this weekend for the Champions League where one of the Madrid sides will cap off a magnificent double winning season.