Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Thu 5 July 2007

European League Round-Up (Part 3)

We're back once again exploring all four footballing corners of Europe, asking various countries the simple question "How did it go last season?" If we get the answer back "We haven't finished yet", we follow up with the secondary question "How's it going this season?"

Here's a round-up of our findings...


ROMANIA

Champions of Romania 2007 are Dinamo Bucharest who finished six points ahead of previous title holders Steaua Bucharest. Both teams won 14 out of their 17 home games, but Steaua were less convincing away from home so they enter next season's Champions League in the second qualifying round while Dinamo join the action a round later.

Rapid Bucharest won the Romanian Cup for a second successive year after a 1-0 win in the Final against Politehnica Timişoara. The win, along with a fourth place finish in the league, gains them entry to the UEFA Cup next season along with CFR Cluj who finished third.

Oţelul Galaţi and Gloria Bistriţa (finishing fifth and sixth respectively) earned their place in the Intertoto Cup and will be in action this Saturday when the Second Round of the competition takes place. Both teams travel away for the first leg of their ties - Gloria taking on a tough Maccabi Haifa side while Oţelul go to Bosnia & Herzegovina to play Slavija.

At the other end of the achievement scale are Ceahlăul Piatra Neamţ, Argeş, Naţional and Jiul Petroşani who all finished in the bottom four of Liga I and are duly relegated. Taking their place will be Delta Tulcea and Gloria Buzău - Liga II winners and runners-up respectively.

Top goalscorer in the Romanian top flight this season was Claudiu Niculescu of Dinamo Bucharest with 18 goals. He finished two goals ahead of Ionel Ganea of Rapid Steaua Bucharest on 16.

SWEDEN

Things kicked off in the land of the Volvo back in April as far as the 2007 season's concerned, and leading the way so far are Kalmar, level on points with last season's champions Elfsborg but two goals ahead on goal difference. Elfsborg, however, have a game in hand on the leaders.

The chasing pack aren't far away and are lead by Halmstads in third on 21 points, followed by Djurgardens on 20, Malmo on 19 and Hammarby on 18 points. Bringing up the rear are Brommapojkarna with nine points from a possible 36.

Kalmar's next opponents are Hammarby at home next Wednesday while Elfsborg have an easier tie away to 10th-place AIK on Monday. Malmo travel to Djurgardens in a battle of 5th versus 4th on Saturday while Halmstads travel to struggling Orebro the following day.

Last year's Swedish Cup winners Helsingborgs were knocked out of the 2007 edition last week when they suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat to 2nd-tier Landskrona in Round 4. That leaves the smart money to go on Kalmar or Halmstads as the biggest teams remaining when the last eight do battle next month.

Finally, at the top of the goalscoring tree back in the Allsvenskan is Marcus Berg of Gothenburg on eight goals, closely followed by Anders Svensson of Elfsborg and Kalmar's Brazilian César Sántin, both of whom have six goals.

SWITZERLAND

You've gotta love Switzerland. They're a harmless little country whose top football division contains just ten teams - none of whom have made an impact recently on the international stage - and they call it the 'Super League'. How's that for ambition!

And who was the superest of all that's super in the Super League this season? Why that's Zurich of course, edging out Basel by a single point. Sion were third, a full fourteen points further behind on 60 with Young Boys taking fourth on 59.

Zurich's prize is a place in the second qualifying round of the Champions League 2007/08 while Basel and Sion have the consolation of playing in next season's UEFA Cup. Young Boys take their place in the first qualifying round of the same competition.

At the bottom, Schaffhausen were relegated with 25 points, one less than Aarau who entered a play-off with Bellinzona who finished second in the Challenge League behind champions Neuchatel Xamax. After a two-legged match, Aarau kept their place in the Super League thanks to a 5-2 aggregate victory.

Top goalscorer this season was Mladen Petrić with 19 for Swiss Cup winners Basel, three ahead of St. Gallen's Argentinian star Francisco Aguirre who in turn was two goals ahead of Brazilian Rafael of Zurich.

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