Euro 2012 – Ukraine and Poland

September 15, 2003

Passion not pragmatism please

Filed under: EURO 2004 — Ivan @ 7:43 am

The News Review:

* Turkey and England fail to agree on peace mission
* Thoughts on the Formula 1 calendar
* The UN can’t do it. Nor can the Pope. Now it’s Sven and…
* Passion not pragmatism please
* – Soccer – Europe’s best kick off Champions League -…
* The back pages
* AC Milan remains unbeaten following win against Bologna
* Football in brief
* Delaney hungry to tackle Big Mac
* Rangers stroll reveals little for the Stuttgart spy
* ESPNsoccernet – England – Southampton v Wolverhampton Report
* Villa shareholders turn on Ellis
* FAI must act to end hard times for kids
* Added time spells trouble for ref
* Star Turn: Wesley Sneijder
* Leicester v Leeds: Preview
* Webster faces test of character, says boss
* SOCCER : Lambert Euro blow for Celtic
* – Soccer – Italy: AS Roma cruises in Totti’s return -…

Turkey and England fail to agree on peace mission – Sep 13, 2003
Officials at Soho Square had handed the Turks a number of possible dates to present Eriksson alongside his opposite number, Senol Gunes, for what would have been a joint public appeal for calm before the potentially explosive decider. Instead of the visit, which had been planned as a one-off assignment ahead of the official trip by the main England party, the FA, who have declined their allocation of tickets for the crucial qualifier, agreed to a joint press conference on Sept 25 between the respective coaches at UEFA headquarters in Switzerland… Meanwhile the British police chief in charge of security for the game in Turkey has described Eriksson’s warnings that travelling fans could be putting their lives at risk as “unhelpful”. David Swift, the deputy chief constable of Staffordshire Police, said: “It seems to me sensible in the circumstances to make every effort to make it publicly known that people should not travel. Whether or not you go one stage further and start talking about the likelihood of violence seems not to be helpful. “Chelsea have decided not to ban Besiktas fans from Stamford Bridge when the two clubs meet in the Champions League on Oct 1, 10 days before the England-Turkey game. A spokesman said: “We had no trouble five years ago when we played Galatasaray and we don’t expect any this time. We are treating Besiktas like any other European club.

Thoughts on the Formula 1 calendar
GrandPrix – Sep 15, 2003
There was not much discussion on the subject because, as Ron Dennis pointed out, “expressing an opinion is normally only worthwhile if it has some influence on something and as the calendar is not decided by the teams and as we aren’t asked to put forward an opinion there’s pretty much no point in putting forward one now”. On the face of it there will be 17 races next year but it is important to notice that four of the races are provisional. Bahrain and China should not have a problem because it is simply a question of the tracks being inspected for safety. The Belgian Grand Prix is subject to tobacco legislation being formalized. The French Grand Prix is the interesting one… Putting Canada back on the schedule might be possible in 2005 if other non-tobacco races join the World Championship, because the contracts between teams and tobacco companies which stipulate how many non-branded races will be allowed do not necessarily say which races these must be. With branding allowed in China, Belgium, Bahrain and Turkey having a non-branded race in Canada may be possible. The British Grand Prix on July 4 is not the race’s traditional weekend and one might interpret this as an attack on Silverstone because July 4 is the date of the final of the men’s competition at Wimbledon and the final of the Euro 2004 Football Championship in Portugal. This means that Silverstone is unlikely to pull in a big crowd and TV viewing figures will be down. The reason for the switch from July 11 would seem to be because that weekend is the British round of the MotoGP World Motorcycling Championship at Donington Park and because France wanted to steer clear of July 4 because in addition to Wimbledon and the Euro 2004 soccer, it is also the first day of the Tour de France bicycle race. The other big change is that Brazil goes to the end of the year. The weather will be much the same as it is in the Spring and the date change makes a lot of sense because the World Championship showdown will now be on a time zone which will allow it to be broadcast on prime time TV in Europe, still F1’s biggest TV markets.

The UN can’t do it. Nor can the Pope. Now it’s Sven and…
Guardian Unlimited – Sep 15, 2003
But then Sven-Goran Eriksson has never had much in common with most England football managers. So it is not a total surprise that in addition to focusing on England’s forthcoming fixture against Turkey – widely expected to threaten violence between the fans – Mr Eriksson is dedicating himself to a new cause: the pursuit of world peace… In 1930 there was the stoning of the Uruguayan embassy in Buenos Aires following Uruguay’s 4-2 victory over Argentina; in 1954, the game dubbed “the Battle of Berne” between Hungary and Brazil, which had to be stopped every five minutes because of brawling players; and in 1969 the “football war” between Honduras and El Salvador, following a World Cup qualifier, in which 3,000 people died. English football, too, has struggled, with mixed results, to shrug off a less than pacifist image. Last week Mr Eriksson warned England fans that they could die if they defied the footballing authorities and went to Turkey for next month’s Euro 2004 qualifier. But the sceptics should not reject the project out of hand, say its supporters. The UN, for one, is keen to use football as a force for peace. Its appeal during last year’s World Cup was at least partially successful – conflicts in Colombia, Mexico and Sri Lanka were called off for a day during the World Cup final. The initiative would echo the ancient Greek tradition of the Olympic truce, under which city-states would suspend fighting for the duration of the games – a plan which some world leaders are attempting to revive for the 2004 Olympics.

Passion not pragmatism please – Sep 13, 2003
” And as soon as the game had been effectively won, Beckham and Steven Gerrard, two of our most watchable players, were dragged off to prevent them getting yellow cards that would have ruled them out of next month’s final qualifier in Turkey. All very sensible and pragmatic. But genuine fans do not go to matches for pragmatism or even prawn sandwiches; they go for blood and thunder and could not have been amused by the ludicrous sight of Beckham, aware of his yellow peril, desperately trying to avoid contact with opposing players. Thankfully, Wayne Rooney is too young, keen and full of energy to consider bottling any of it. But his uncompromising display made it a certainty that he, too, would have to be brought off, lest Eriksson, desperately trying to keep club managers happy, incurred the wrath of Everton’s David Moyes. Interestingly, Rooney gave way to Joe Cole, the original enfant terrible of English football who, coming up to his 22nd birthday, is approaching sporting middle-age, with people questioning whether his smoke and mirrors trickery on the ball makes him the new David Beckham or the new David Blaine. Certainly, there could not have been a bigger contrast between the two players’ performances on Wednesday… While always looking for the opportunity to run at defenders, Rooney had a hawkish eye for colleagues taking up attacking space and even hunted down the ball. Cole, however, constantly lost possession with his attempts to dribble through the entire Liechtenstein back line. We can be sure that such indiscipline will rule Cole out of a starting slot in Turkey, where England need only a draw to rubber stamp their place in Euro 2004. But Eriksson faces a month of sweaty palms before deciding whether Rooney keeps his place. All we know for certain is that he will not occupy the position in the hole behind the main two strikers, where he was most effective on Wednesday and in the second half against Macedonia. That has become the sinecure of Paul Scholes, who should be fit by then, and in any case, playing Rooney there as a third attacker would be far too adventurous. Not that Eriksson, despite his claims to have Italian footballing blood coursing through his Swedish veins, is thinking of embracing catenacchio. – Soccer – Europe’s best kick off Champions League -… – Sep 14, 2003
But it has to improve its home record — last season Arsenal had four draws and a loss from six European games at Highbury. And Saturday, Arsenal was held to a 1-1 draw at home by promoted Portsmouth. Inter could be without striker Christian Vieri, who sustained an ankle injury in Italy’s Euro 2004 qualifier draw against Serbia and Montenegro. He missed Sunday’s match at Siena. "The game against Inter is vital for us," Wenger said. "We start with maybe the biggest opponents of the group, and to begin with a victory is crucial. " Dynamo Kiev hosts Lokomotiv Moscow in the other Group B match Wednesday.

The back pages
BBC News – Sep 14, 2003
Their form on the pitch has helped and Adrian Mutu’s face adorns many of the back pages after his brace sparked Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Tottenham. Off the pitch, Peter Kenyon’s defection from Old Trafford to Stamford Bridge comes under further scrutiny. The former United chief executive was apparently tempted by the offer of a ?3m signing-on fee, according to the Sunday Times. Happy days for Kenyon but his delight might be soured by the Sunday Mirror’s report that Abramovich originally targetted Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein for the role before he turned to Kenyon… But Ferguson remains in typically bullish mood despite goings-on at the Bridge and he tells the Sunday Express: “We’re not going to build them into a monster or we’ll be trembling in a minute. ”

October’s potentially explosive Euro 2004 qualifier between Turkey and England continues to cause concern. The Mail on Sunday report that David Beckham has even told his family not to travel to Istanbul for the game while the News of the World reveal that Turkey striker Hakan Sukur shunned the chance to act as a peacemaker between the two countries. The former Blackburn player apparently responded: “What’s the point?”

Away from football, Sebastian Coe’s impending appointment as vice-chairman of London’s 2012 Olympic bid receives plenty of attention. And the Sunday Times has a shock for David Beckham. Beckham does not even make the paper’s top ten sexiest sportsmen, which is surprisingly topped by snooker rebel Alex Higgins.

AC Milan remains unbeaten following win against Bologna
Taipei Times – Sep 15, 2003
Sampdoria supporters gave Mancini a standing ovation before the kickoff. Mancini did not exult when his players netted the two goals that contributed to a 4-1 victory in the season opener against Lecce two weeks ago. The Serie A did not play the previous weekend because of Euro 2004 qualifying. “I am pleased with the victory of my team, but also sorry for La Samp defeat,” Mancini said. “You can’t cancel 15 years all of a sudden. However, now I must look ahead to think of Lazio. We suffered a lot in the second half.

Football in brief – Sep 13, 2003
“Rangers remained top of the Scottish Premier League with a comfortable 4-0 win over Dunfermline yesterday. Celtic are still two points behind after Bobo Balde earned them a 1-0 win at Dundee, gained despite a red card for Didier Agathe. Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld is not a happy man. After seeing five of his key players injured in the midweek Euro 2004 qualifiers, he wants the international calendar to be revamped. “International matches must be finished by Tuesday at the latest. Not on Wednesday,” Hitzfeld ranted. “It is a nightmare for the clubs who do not get their players back until Friday, unable to train, and then play them on Saturday.

Delaney hungry to tackle Big Mac
ic – Sep 13, 2003
Marking McManaman is not one of football’s easiest jobs but Delaney will have to master it tomorrow if Villa are going to maintain their encouraging start. Delaney, a Liverpool supporter, was a youngster when McManaman used to strut his stuff at Anfield in the Nineties. It was after leaving Liverpool, as a more mature player with Real Madrid, that McManaman flourished… As a young lad, I played centre back and I do like it there. I feel comfortable there and would like to play there futher on in my career. “Despite a sterling performance from Delaney, Wales lost 4-0 to Italy and are likely to end up in a play-off place for Euro 2004. “The Italy game was difficult, no doubt,” Delaney said. “There were 80,000 there, it was at the San Siro and Italy knew what they needed to do. After the first half when it was goalless, we felt confident going out for the second. “Italy have Azerbaijan at home, so you would expect them to win.

Rangers stroll reveals little for the Stuttgart spy – Sep 14, 2003
By that stage Rangers were home free, with goals from Steven Thompson, Michael Mols – his fifth in five games – and Shota Arveladze against a Dunfermline team who had defended perilously deep from the start. To be fair to Jimmy Calderwood, he has used bold attacking formations against the Old Firm pair and he has thrown as many as five players into attack to the same effect as Kamikaze pilots at Leyte Gulf – spectacular but ultimately futile. Given that Dunfermline have not won at Ibrox for 31 years, they might be excused the odd retreat into a bunker mentality. However, by starting with only Steve Crawford in attack until the interval they conceded too much of the field to Rangers. They were asking for a slap and they got one. Calderwood did adjust his formation after the break, pushing Gary Dempsey forward to relieve Crawford of his solitude and Dunfermline conceded only one more goal, to Nuno Capucho, but that was more to do with Rangers preserving themselves with tomorrow night in mind – and the fact that Peter Lovenkrands did not take a couple of fine chances late on. With the game won so early McLeish was prudent with his resources and Arveladze and Henning Berg made way for Paolo Vanoli and Lovenkrands before the end… Lovenkrands’ appearance marked a welcome return from injury and, while it is too much to expect him to play a full match tomorrow night, his presence on the bench will be welcome. Berg went off because he felt a slight tightening of his hamstring but he should be available for Stuttgart’s visit, unlike Thompson, whose departure after only 18 minutes signalled a recurrence of his knee problem. Rangers’ meeting with Stuttgart and Celtic’s away encounter with Bayern Munich, taken along with last week’s Euro 2004 qualifier in Dortmund, will mean three collisions between Scottish and German teams in a week, so the question of what is acceptable behaviour on the field will continue to simmer. The Bayern Munich midfielder, Tobias Rau, was in Oscar form for Germany against Scotland last week and there will be more of the same this week, no doubt. This constitutes the recognised offence of simulation, but referees seem reluctant to enforce the prohibition against it. Anders Frisk was entitled to show at least one yellow card to Maurice Ross, the Rangers defender who was sent off in Dortmund after two brushes with Rau, but he would have been within the law had he also despatched the German for repeated simulation. There was no sign that the thought occurred to Frisk.

ESPNsoccernet – England – Southampton v Wolverhampton Report – Sep 13, 2003
13, 2003, 5:25 PM UKSouthampton 2-0 WolverhamptonPAJames Beattie scored two more goals to double his tally for the season as Southampton showed no mercy with a 2-0 win over struggling Wolves. Last season’s leading Premiership goalscorer missed at least two easy chances as well as being booked for dissent – but he is still making out a powerful case for inclusion in England’s vital Euro 2004 qualifier in Turkey next month. • Jones raps ‘useless’ ref RennieBeattie was in business after his new front-line sidekick Kevin Phillips had won a penalty for him on 37 minutes. He then shrugged off earlier misses to blast a memorable second strike past Michael Oakes early in the second half. It was too much for Wolves, who remain bottom of the table with only one point from five games since their promotion. Jody Craddock was the only one of their eight summer signings to start this match… And how the referee has ended up with eight bookingsI just don’t know. I couldn’t make sense of a lot of his decisions. ‘It’s not that I’m sick about not winning here especially. I’m not built thatway. I don’t like losing anywhere but I fully believed we had nothing to fearuntil the penalty. I thought we matched them midfield and attack. ‘But Beattie got a superb second goal and you could say he was the differencein the end.

Villa shareholders turn on Ellis – Sep 13, 2003
Ellis, who described the supporters’ reaction as “unpleasant”, confirmed he had received “approaches from intermediaries acting on behalf of parties interested in buying the club”. Sports lawyer Mel Goldberg said members of a South American consortium due to fly in for talks this weekend were not those referred to by Ellis’s statement. Hulak Ulusoy, president of the Turkish Football Federation, has again denied making inflammatory statements about the forthcoming Euro 2004 tie against England in Istanbul. On Monday Ulusoy said quotes attributed to him saying he would sell England fans tickets for the Oct 11 match were made up… Hulak Ulusoy, president of the Turkish Football Federation, has again denied making inflammatory statements about the forthcoming Euro 2004 tie against England in Istanbul. On Monday Ulusoy said quotes attributed to him saying he would sell England fans tickets for the Oct 11 match were made up. Yesterday Ulusoy claimed that the press “wrote the opposite of what I said” when he was quoted as saying, “I think England has forgotten the Heysel disaster”, and that Sven-Goran Eriksson did not want English supporters in Istanbul “because they’ll see a defeat and afterwards Eriksson will have no credibility and will only be fit to manage Patagonia”. Yesterday Ulusoy said: “I had said ‘there won’t be any incidents in Istanbul – do you think this place is Patagonia?’ I will send a report to UEFA and let them know what happened. “West Brom midfielder and Macedonia captain Artim Sakiri has issued a statement aimed at defusing the row surrounding an alleged death threat made to England captain David Beckham.

FAI must act to end hard times for kids
Irish Independent – Sep 15, 2003
Basically, these players are under-educated and too immature to cope with rejection. If Hand had proper structures to help him with his task, such as an academy to which youngsters were attached and could not be touched until they reached a certain age and education level, it would improve things dramatically. Hand has helped a lot of people over the past years, but it has not been done systematically in the way the Scandinavians do it. Like us, the Norwegians and Swedes feed players to the British professional game, but on a much different footing. For a start, they don’t allow them to go abroad at 16. Instead, they insist that a youngster is at least two-thirds of the way through a degree course before a club can take him on. Nobody fights this system and, when a player arrives in England in his late teens, he stands a far better chance to make it as a footballer.

Added time spells trouble for ref
BBC News – Sep 13, 2003
The witches have cursed Meier to turn him lame and make him lose his whistling power after their team’s Euro 2004 hopes were dashed against Denmark. Romania, who needed a win in Copenhagen to ensure at least a play-off place for the finals, conceded a goal in the fifth minute of injury time Meier added on. “Seven witches of the city of Craiova cursed Meier to lose his capacity to whistle, to be lame in his legs and feel pain in his soul,” Romanian media have reported. Newspapers quoted the witches as warning: “Romania will never feel pain and injustice from referees again after they see what has happened to Urs Meier. ”

The late goal for a 2-2 result means Romania need Luxembourg to get a good result against Norway and Bosnia to fail against Denmark in final matches next month if they are to qualify… Dutch soccer strugglers FC Twente is pleading with its fans to stop stealing stray balls during games. The cash-strapped first division side says each time a ball disappears it costs them 125 euros – around ?85. “It often happens that balls that end up in the stands are not given back to the ball boys,” a spokesman for the club said. “Support your club and make sure that all balls are returned. Make your fellow supporters do the same. ”

Twente, which had severe financial problems in the off-season, currently lies 15th in the 18-team Eredivisie with three points from three matches.

Star Turn: Wesley Sneijder – Sep 14, 2003
7 million, he can play in central defence or in either full-back position. Solid defensively, highly competitive and excellent going forward when used as a full-back, he has come on by leaps and bounds since signing for Sparta from the Drnovice club back in 2000. A member of the Czech Under 21 side which won the European title in 2002, he has been a regular for the seniors for the past year and was in magnficent form as the Czechs saw off the Dutch challenge to qualify directly for Euro 2004. One to Watch: Steven PienaarLast season was certainly one to remember for the young South African midfielder. Not only did he earn a regular place in the Ajax line-up; he was also a star in the Champions League, particularly impressive in games against Arsenal, Roma and Milan… A member of the Czech Under 21 side which won the European title in 2002, he has been a regular for the seniors for the past year and was in magnficent form as the Czechs saw off the Dutch challenge to qualify directly for Euro 2004. One to Watch: Steven PienaarLast season was certainly one to remember for the young South African midfielder. Not only did he earn a regular place in the Ajax line-up; he was also a star in the Champions League, particularly impressive in games against Arsenal, Roma and Milan.

Leicester v Leeds: Preview – Sep 14, 2003
Seven of the players might be on loan, with Jody Morris the only permanent deal, but finances have dictated Reid’s market moves. Roque Junior, a World Cup-winner with Brazil just over a year ago, is the pick of the bunch, joining Cameroon international Salomon Olembe along with French quartet Cyril Chapuis, Didier Domi, Zoumana Camara and Lamine Sakho. Arsenal winger Jermaine Pennant, on loan for two months with an option for a third, completes the so-called ‘magnificent seven’ who have given Reid and the other players hope this season will not be a lost cause. “When I first came to the club I said the players were feeling sorry for themselves and in certain ways I was right,” said Reid. “Putting myself in the situation of the players still here, and looking back at those who had left, they had lost good players and whether I liked it or not, it was bound to affect them. “Conversely with the players I’ve brought in, it’s brightened those here and kick-started them. “It’s pleasing we’ve managed to get them in… “Roque Junior should make his debut if he agrees to play after only flying in from international duty in South America late on Friday, while Olembe and Chapuis look set to be on the bench along with 18-year-old Scott Carson, now goalkeeper Paul Robinson’s understudy. Leicester boss Micky Adams will have to ring the changes after a flurry of early season red cards. Alan Rogers, Ricardo Scimeca and Les Ferdinand are all suspended and Northern Ireland winger Keith Gillespie is doubtful after sustaining an ankle injury in the midweek Euro 2004 qualifier with Armenia. Frank Sinclair, Matt Elliott and Callum Davidson are already ruled out, while John Curtis and Steve Howey (both hamstring) are battling to be fit.

Webster faces test of character, says boss
Edinburgh Evening News – Sep 13, 2003
However, despite having played in the 3-1 win over the Faroe Islands last weekend to keep the Scots’ qualification hopes very much alive, Webster found himself relegated to the substitutes’ bench in Dortmund and forced to wait for his sixth cap. With Pressley and Christian Dailly free of suspension after being forced to sit out the Faroes match, the Hearts stopper was forced to take a back seat as the Scots understandably relied on experience for the midweek showdown when victory would have seen Vogts’ men take a huge stride towards Portugal. As it was, a plucky display could not prevent Rudi Voller’s side chalking up a 2-1 triumph, with Webster being forced to look on from the sidelines for the entire 90 minutes. It was a blow for the Dundee-born defender but Webster returned to the Hearts first team for today’s SPL trip to Kilmarnock and Levein stressed it is up to the player himself to respond in the appropriate fashion. “Players suffer setbacks in their careers and this was a wee one for Andy,” he said. “He was a little bit disappointed to miss out on Wednesday night but Berti Vogts wanted to go with experience which was understandable. “This is a bit of a character test for Andy and first and foremost it is up to him how he responds for Hearts as it was his performances for us which got him into the Scotland team in the first place.

SOCCER : Lambert Euro blow for Celtic
Irish Independent – Sep 13, 2003
Lambert failed to reappear for the second half of Wednesday’s Euro 2004 qualifier in Germany and a hospital scan indicated that bruising to the bone would keep Lambert out for between four to six weeks. That means the 34-year-old midfielder will miss Celtic’s trip to Bayern Munich on Wednesday for their opening Champions League tie and the home match with Olympique Lyon a week later. Celtic are already without Danish defender Ulrik Laursen for the next two months, while Belgium’s Joos Valgaeren and Sweden captain Johan Mjallby are struggling to be ready for the match in Munich. “It’s a blow because Lambert has been a major part of this side for three years,” O’Neill told reporters on Friday. COVENTRY – The Sky Blues have pulled out of the deal to sign Italian striker Fabrizio Ravanelli, blaming stalling tactics by the Italian for the collapse of negotiations… “Ravanelli had agreed terms with the Sky Blues on Wednesday, prior to Dundee’s interest in the 34-year-old. “The player and his representatives confirmed today the veteran striker still wished to join Coventry on the original terms offered, only to continue to stall on signing the contract. “Therefore, the club has decided not to pursue its interest in the player. ” WIMBLEDON – Nigel Reo-Coker thinks Wimbledon must rediscover the fighting spirit of the old Crazy Gang if they are to avoid relegation this season. The Dons play their last home match at Selhurst Park before they relocate to Milton Keynes against Wigan today. But after five straight defeats, 19-year-old captain Reo-Coker fears they could be playing Second Division football in Buckinghamshire unless his young team-mates grow up quickly. He told the official club website, www. – Soccer – Italy: AS Roma cruises in Totti’s return -… – Sep 14, 2003
In injury time, Siena’s veteran striker Enrico Chiesa hit the crossbar as all Inter players retreated into their own midfield to defend the close win. "We suffered a lot in the last 15 minutes. We could not play better soccer today but we are progressing, with difficulty, but we are going on," Inter’s Argentine coach Hector Cuper said. Lazio won 2-1 at Sampdoria and AC Milan defeated Bologna by the same score at San Siro in early Round 2 matches Saturday. In Rome, Montella netted his second goal of the season after 11 minutes. Chivu, the Romanian defender who joined Roma in the off season and was playing his first Serie A match, made it two with a curling free kick five minutes later. Playmaker Totti, who had missed the season opener and Italy’s Euro 2004 qualifiers last week because of a badly bruised hip, made decisive moves and scored the third goal with a precise drive from the penalty area edge… In Rome, Montella netted his second goal of the season after 11 minutes. Chivu, the Romanian defender who joined Roma in the off season and was playing his first Serie A match, made it two with a curling free kick five minutes later. Playmaker Totti, who had missed the season opener and Italy’s Euro 2004 qualifiers last week because of a badly bruised hip, made decisive moves and scored the third goal with a precise drive from the penalty area edge. Totti’s second goal, in the 58th, was a soccer masterpiece — a beautiful lob past goalkeeper Luca Castellazzi from 12 meters (yards). Newly signed Norwegian striker Carew, a second-half substitute, made it five in the closing minutes, converting a penalty. Roma and Lazio were unbeaten and tied in first place for the first time ever after the initial rounds. Said Roma’s coach Fabio Capello: "We served notice to the [northern] teams that also the Roman squads are in the running for the title this season.

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