We hear plenty of news about the big five European Leagues each week, but there’s plenty more quality football across the world that deserves some of the spotlight.
Let’s have a look at some of the more intriguing narratives emerging away from the bright lights of the big leagues.
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Reading net late on
The Championship relegation fight has taken many twists and turns this season with Derby’s off-field troubles keeping them in the bottom three for much of the campaign. Peterborough’s relegation looks almost inevitable at this point, but the tussle between Reading and Barnsley came to a head this weekend when the two struggling sides faced each other.
Barnsley, who sit just below Reading in the final relegation spot, took an early lead and looked as though they were going to hold on for a win that would’ve seen them cut the deficit between the two clubs to just two points. However, the Royals Josh Laurent struck a precious goal late on for the Royals, meaning Paul Ince’s men remain five points clear of the relegation zone. With both clubs having seven games remaining this season, it could prove to be a huge goal in the battle to avoid the drop to League One.
Liverpool Women achieve promotion
Liverpool Women beat their nearest rivals in the Women’s Championship, Bristol City Women, 4-2 at the weekend to be confirmed as champions and clinch promotion to the Women’s Super League. It’s been a turbulent few years for the side, but in Matt Beard’s first season back at the helm he has sealed their return to the top tier after two seasons away.
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Chicharito continues to fire in MLS
The MLS season is in full swing and the two Los Angeles-based clubs are proving to be the ones to beat in the Western Conference so far. LAFC are unbeaten in their opening five games and have scored 13 times so far, with ex-Arsenal forward Carlos Vela grabbing four.
LA Galaxy have their own striker on four goals too, with Javier Hernandez proving his worth to the west coast giants once again. ‘Chicharito’, as he’s affectionately known, netted twice this weekend, giving his side a 3-1 victory over a Portland Timbers side that has flattered to deceive so far this season.
In the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia Union lead the way having taken 13 points from a possible 15, but New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United are hot on their heels. David Beckham-backed Inter Miami are one of only two clubs to be winless at this point, losing four of their opening five matches.
PSV stage a late comeback
PSV looked dead and buried after just half an hour of their match with Twente on Saturday. The Tukkers raced into a 3-0 lead after 25 minutes, leaving PSV in their dust and at risk of falling five points behind leaders Ajax in the Eredivisie title hunt. The Dutch giants were able to snatch a goal back before half-time and swiftly reduced the deficit to one after the interval.
The revival looked in vain as a stubborn Twente defence stood firm until a 93rd-minute equaliser from Oscar Boscagli sent the visiting fans into raptures, securing a point that could prove to be vital come the end of the season.
Elsewhere, Ajax overcame Groningen and basement club PEC Zwolle were beaten by Go Ahead Eagles, increasing their chances of relegation to the Dutch second division.
Union SG on course for historic win
Move over Leicester City. In Belgium, Union SG are on the verge of creating history, leading the league heading into the title playoffs after only being promoted to the Belgian Pro League last season. The side are assured of finishing the regular season top of the league after beating Standard Liege 3-1 at the weekend and now enter the four-team playoff system as favourites to be crowned champions.
This is the first season that Union have spent in the top division in 48 years and they haven’t won the top tier crown since 1935.
Portuguese title race to go to the wire
There are just three points separating Porto and Sporting Lisbon in the Super Liga title race with just a handful of games left. Porto currently lead the way and have a game in hand, but have tough trips to Braga and Benfica to come before the end of the season. Sporting’s more favourable fixtures mean it’s a title race that could very well go all the way to the final day.
Sensational stat in Japan
Consadole Sapporo played their sixth game of the season at the weekend and drew their sixth game. The story of sixes goes deeper though, with the side scoring and conceding six goals too. Will they carry on this crazy stat with a seventh draw against Sagan Tosu on Wednesday?
Cartagena see red
LaLiga2 had a crazy weekend, with nine red cards shown across 10 games. At Municipal Stadium Cartagonova, Cartagena saw red three times in a 30-minute period in the second half. All three dismissals were straight red cards in a day to forget for the home side, who lost 2-1 to Oviedo.
Melbourne City’s stranglehold in Oz
Melbourne City moved one step closer to retaining their A-League title at the weekend with a comprehensive 6-0 away win over Wellington Phoenix. The side have been rampant at times this season, scoring an average of over two goals a game, and look like securing the championship once again.
The League Two promotion conundrum
League Two has given us one of the most exciting promotion races around this season, with the race to join League One wide open. Forest Green look assured of promotion, barring the most catastrophic of collapses, while Exeter are also well placed to join them in the third tier next season.
The third automatic spot and playoff places are up for grabs though, with just five points separating third place Port Vale and Sutton United, in 11th. With one automatic place available and four playoff places as a consolation, four teams will find themselves bitterly disappointed come the end of the season.
Mansfield have at least one game in hand over their promotion rivals in the race for a top-seven finish. It’s certainly a league to keep an eye on over the next few weeks!