WHAT WE LEARNED: Delightful derbies and Lionel Messi misery

Barcelona's Lionel Messi looks dejected as Real Betis' Sergio Canales celebrates scoring their fourth goal with team mates. (Reuters)
Updated 13 November 2018

WHAT WE LEARNED: Delightful derbies and Lionel Messi misery

LONDON: It was a weekend of derbies and big clashes across Europe’s top leagues, and a genuine shock result in Spain has thrown the La Liga title race wide open. Here is what we learned from the latest round of matches.

The gulf in class between City and United was there for all to see in Sunday’s Manchester derby. Jose Mourinho has bemoaned the difference in levels of investment in the two clubs in the past, but that does not wash when you note that United will struggle to get into the top four this season, let alone challenge for the title. City completely outclassed their rivals, and 3-1 flattered the visitors — it could have been a lot worse.

This was a pulsating game of football, which the hosts Dortmund edged 3-2, and one that forced Bayern Munich to acknowledge that this is a young, talented and dynamic Dortmund side who must be favorites to clinch the title now. Lucien Favre scoffed at that suggestion post-match and insisted the title race is still open — but in the Bundesliga seven points is a monumental gap, even for a club such as Bayern to overhaul.

AC Milan’s defeat to runaway leaders Juventus showed another gulf in class — mainly due to Juventus having Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks rather than the disappointing Gonzalo Higuain. But Milan’s other club, Inter, had an even worse weekend with Atalanta resoundingly ending their seven-match winning streak. All hopes for a title race in Italy seem to rest on Napoli once again, with the Milanese and Roman clubs fading fast.

With the exception of a hopeful few in the city of Seville, nobody foresaw Real Betis’ 4-3 victory over Barcelona at the Nou Camp, in the biggest La Liga shock for months. Lionel Messi managed a brace, but even that was not enough to deny victory for a very attractive Betis side — whose performance belied their 12th place in the table. It was the first time Messi had scored two goals and ended up on the losing side. He has made a stuttering start, by his own standards. It seems, sometimes, he needs his teammates to step up to the plate.

Princess becomes first Saudi woman to head sports club

Updated 22 July 2019

Princess becomes first Saudi woman to head sports club

  • Princess Nourah thanked her hosts for the hospitality and outlined her ambitions for the team’s future

RIYADH: Princess Nourah bint Saad has officially become the first Saudi woman to be president of a sports club. Italian news outlet Corriere Della Sera reported recently that the princess had successfully acquired the Umbrian football club Spoleto.

Speaking at a press conference, the princess thanked her hosts for the hospitality and outlined her ambitions for the team’s future. 

“Football is a family passion, and Italian football is followed all over the world. This is why I chose to invest in Umbria,” she said. 

Princess Nourah chose the team after considering several aspects. “Spoleto is a small, amateur football organization where it is possible to work with the aim of growing and aiming for promotion. But we cannot fail to consider the value and beauty of the city of Spoleto, which is famous throughout the world.” Spoleto is a member of Serie D of the Italian non-professional football association, Lega Nazionale Dilettanti.  The association represents more than 12,000 football players and 400 football teams across Italy and is considered the fourth-ranked league in the country. Under the princess’s presidency, the team aims to ascend to Serie C in the near future, and further in the long term.

Spoleto announced that they have formally registered for the Excellence Umbria 2019/2020 championship and the Regional Junior Championship 2019/2020.

This purchase marks the Saudi royal family’s second venture into sports club ownership. Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad co-owns English Premier League football club Sheffield United.