PARIS, France, May 6 – Ajax warmed up for their Champions League semi-final return against Tottenham Hotspur by lifting their first silverware of the campaign, while some surprise names remain in the running to qualify for Europe’s elite club competition next season.
Here, AFP Sport takes a look at five main talking points from the weekend in European football:
– Treble still on for Ajax –
Ajax take a 1-0 lead into the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Tottenham on Wednesday as they eye a first final in that competition since 1996.
They warmed up for that game by brushing aside Willem II 4-0 in the Dutch Cup final in Rotterdam on Sunday, with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scoring twice and Daley Blind and Rasmus Kristensen also on target.
A dream treble remains a possibility for Erik ten Hag’s team, then. They are currently level on points with PSV Eindhoven at the top of the league with two games left.
Ajax have only done the treble once before, in 1972 during Johan Cruyff’s days as a player.
– Getafe might actually do it –
While Barcelona have wrapped up another La Liga title, and Atletico Madrid look set to finish second ahead of Real Madrid, the identity of the fourth Spanish qualifier for next season’s Champions League has still to be decided.
However, it looks like Getafe, the small and unfashionable club from a nondescript Madrid satellite town, might just pip two more illustrious names to fourth place.
Jose Bordalas’s team beat Girona 2-0 on Sunday and are three points clear of Valencia and Sevilla with two games remaining.
The ‘Azulones’ will definitely be in Europe next season, and for the top four they would beat Sevilla on head-to-head if the teams ended level on points, but would lose out in a tie with Valencia. Getafe’s next game, though, is at Barcelona.
“It was unthinkable that Getafe would be in the fight for Europe. We need to enjoy this,” said Bordalas.
– Title race nearly over for Dortmund –
Borussia Dortmund fans rebuked coach Lucien Favre with a banner reading “It’s only over when it’s over” ahead of their side’s game in Bremen on Saturday.
Favre had openly given up on the title race after last weekend’s derby defeat against Schalke, only to be granted a reprieve when leaders Bayern Munich dropped points in Nuremberg.
Yet Dortmund capitulated again against Werder, throwing away a two-goal lead in the space of five minutes in the second half.
A goalkeeping howler from Roman Buerki and an equaliser from Claudio Pizarro saw Dortmund slip four points behind Bayern with two games left.
It was the fourth time Dortmund had thrown away a lead since December, when they held a nine-point lead. Bayern can now win a seventh successive title by beating RB Leipzig next Saturday.
– Saint-Etienne still dreaming –
Saint-Etienne famously claim the square goal-posts at Hampden Park were responsible for them losing the 1976 European Cup final to Bayern Munich.
The 10-time French champions have not graced Europe’s leading club competition since 1981, and have had to watch their great rivals Lyon become regulars in the Champions League in the last two decades.
Yet there remains a real chance that they will pip Lyon to third place in Ligue 1 this season, thereby clearing the path for a return to the big time.
Les Verts came from behind to win 3-2 at Monaco on Sunday, making it six wins and a draw in their last seven games. Meanwhile, third-placed Lyon were held 2-2 at home by Lille and are now just a point above Saint-Etienne with three games left.
– Insigne committed to Napoli –
Lorenzo Insigne insisted he was committed to Napoli after his 98th-minute penalty snatched a 2-1 win over Cagliari to seal second place in Serie A.
“I’m waiting for the president. I gave the maximum willingness to continue, I hope the signing will come soon,” said the 27-year-old.
“I’m the captain and it’s an important responsibility for me. I really care about this shirt and I will do everything I can to hold it high.”
Insigne has scored 14 goals this season for his boyhood club, who he joined as a 15-year-old in 2006. He has made 300 appearances and scored 76 goals since moving up to the first team in 2009.