Il Gladiatore isn’t a nickname given lightly. Thirty-four-year-old Francesco Totti justified why he has it again on Saturday. The Roma legend converted a penalty against Udinese in regulation and slotted home the winner, his sixth in his last four games, in the 94th minute. The three swiped points kept Roma’s Champions League qualification hopes alive. It was a great win for the Giallorossi in a back and forth match, though the result might have been different had Alexis Sanchez been fit.
Roma are two places and four points behind fourth-place Lazio, but among the three teams left fighting they have the easiest schedule. Viewing the remaining hurdles, Roma face AC Milan at home. Lazio and Udinese play each other. Lazio must also host Juventus and play Inter away. Udinese must travel to Napoli and Fiorentina and host AC Milan.
The Scudetto remains a two-team race. Napoli pressured AC Milan, beating Bologna 2-0, but the Rossoneri cruised to a 2-1 win at Fiorentina, despite going down to ten men. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, fresh off a three-match ban for violent conduct, earned an automatic suspension for cumulative yellow cards. He then was sent off with a second yellow for swearing at a linesman, forcing another three-match suspension. The way Ibra has played when he has been eligible lately, Milan may not consider that a bad thing.
Takeover: American businessman Stan Kroenke has bought out two prominent shareholders, assuming a majority shareholding in Arsenal FC. Kroenke – who owns the Nuggets, the Avalanche and MLS’ Colorado Rapids – increased his stake to 63 percent. By rule, he must bid for the rest of the shares, including the 27 percent owned by controversial Russian steel magnate Alisher Usmanov. The deal values the club at $1.2 billion.
The board had to choose Kroenke or Usmanov. They opted for the American. In practice, this should change little. No cash influx. Allegedly, no resources will be siphoned to pay off the debt. Though, Kroenke’s holdings are in Delaware, so no one really knows his financial situation. The club’s structure should remain intact. Arsenal are now the third of England’s “big four” in American hands.
Sacked: Bayern Munich fired testicle-exposing manager Louis Van Gaal, less than 12 months after he led them to the Champions League Final. He was already leaving at the end of the season, but with the Club’s Champions League qualification in doubt, they terminated him early. The players were through with him and they weren’t winning matches. The decision was an easy one.
Dive, Dive: Diving isn’t just for fiendish Mediterranean-types. Our boys do it as well. LA’s Omar Gonzalez might have breathed heavily in the general direction of Charlie Davies, sending him tumbling to the carpet. The blatant simulation earned DC United a penalty, allowing them to even the score at 1-1. I would have thrown in a barb here, but Landon Donovan already zinged him.
Goal of the Week: Dejan Stankovic (Inter Milan) vs. Schalke