8 of the closest title races in recent European football history
In the next few weeks, we will see the winners of different leagues around Europe crowned. Some of the title races are effectively over due to the vast gap between the top sides like in the case of Bundesliga, Serie A and Premier League, while in some other leagues like the La Liga and Ligue 1, the gap between the teams battling for the title is so small that the fight could go down to the very last day of the season.Fans generally enjoy it when the race for the league goes to the wire as it adds more excitement to the games. For example, even the neutral fans would have enjoyed the epic climax to the 2011/12 Premier League season.Over the course of football history, there have been many incredibly close title races like the famous night at Anfield in 1988/99 when Arsenal stole the title from Liverpool on their own turf or the playoff match in 1963/64 between Bologna and Inter to decide the winner of the Serie A.Here is a look at 8 of the best finishes to a league season from around Europe in the 21st century:
#8 Bundesliga - 2001/02
The story of the 2001/02 season for Bayer Leverkusen is a hallmark of Michael Ballack’s extremely unlucky career.
With five games to go in the season, Leverkusen had extended their lead over Borussia Dortmund to four points. In a nerve-wracking match against Hamburg, the ghosts of the past came to haunt Leverkusen as two seasons ago, Ballack had put the ball into his own net and conceded the title to Bayern Munich.
Luckily for Leverkusen, Dortmund suffered a defeat to Kaiserslautern and that extended Leverkusen’s lead to five points despite their draw against Hamburg. Bayer were on the brink of securing a historic treble as they were already into the finals of the domestic Cup and the UEFA Champions League.
But things started to fall apart for Leverkusen. They lost two games back to back and gave away their 5 point lead and Dortmund won the league by a single point courtesy of a winning goal from Ewerthon in the 74th minute of the last game of the season.
Within the next 10 days, they also lost the German cup to Schalke and the Champions League to Zidane’s left foot.