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Stewart Coggin

Deserving Champions

By May 16, 2011

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There can be little question that the new champions in England, Italy and Spain are deserving of their crown. On Saturday, Manchester United joined AC Milan and Barcelona in winning their domestic league, and on May 28 either the English or the Spanish side will complete a famous double by winning the Champions League at Wembley. I assess the three teams' league campaigns.

Manchester United

It is agreed that this is not a vintage United side, certainly not comparable to the one which won the treble in 1999. Sir Alex Ferguson's team lack quality in central midfield where the likes of Paul Scholes is showing his age and Michael Carrick has only hit form over the last two months. But United have made up for their defects with an unerring belief in their abilities, the resolve they have shown to grind out wins against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool at Old Trafford key to their success. Indeed, the league was undoubtedly won at the Theater of Dreams where Ferguson's men have dropped just two points all season.

Star Men: Edwin van der Sar, Nemanja Vidic, Javier Hernandez

AC Milan

The Rossoneri ended Inter Milan's domestic dominance with their first title since 2004. Serie A is an inferior product to yesteryear, with most of the world's elite players opting for England and Spain. This has made for a poor spectacle on the pitch, with the likes of Juventus a pale shadow of their former selves. But Milan could only beat what was put in front of them, and that they did, in comprehensive fashion. The loan signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Milan are set to make the deal permanent) was a masterstroke, and last summer's spending spree infused far more creativity into the team, with the likes of Robinho and Kevin-Prince Boateng both excelling. Coach Massimiliano Allegri deserves all the plaudits he gets after moving to the club only last summer.

Star Men: Thiago Silva, Robinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Barcelona

A 2-1 home defeat to Hercules in the second round of fixtures was the low point of the domestic season. Otherwise Barcelona's form was virtually impeccable as they demonstrated just how far ahead of the rest of La Liga they are. It is hard to escape the feeling that we are not watching soccer's best ever team in action, such is the manner they dismiss opponents, almost at will. Witness the 5-0 demolition of bitter rivals Real Madrid at Camp Nou and the 8-0 trouncing of Almeria in November. They wrapped up the title against Levante last Wednesday but they were Champions in all but name several weeks earlier. 

Star Men: Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Lionel Messi

Giuseppe Bellini / Getty Images

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