We are slightly widening our scope in this edition of the Elsewhere In Europe column as we will also head to North America to discuss Seattle Sounders’ success in the CONCACAF Champions League. Before that, though, we have three storylines from three countries in Europe where the 2021/22 season drew to a close in dramatic fashion.
🇹🇷 Turkey: Sivasspor lift their first-ever major trophy
It has been a memorable season in Turkish football, as the domination of the big three has truly been broken. Trabzonspor lifted their first league title in almost four decades, while Sivasspor won the cup and got their hands on their first-ever major trophy in their 55-year history.
They did so by defeating Kayserispor with the final score reading 3-2 after extra time. Sivasspor went behind just after 30 minutes but equalised at the hour mark. Ivory Coast international Max-Alain Gradel put them in front just five minutes into extra time, but Kayserispor equalised just over a minute after the second half of extra time kicked off. Dijon loanee Moussa Konaté decided the outcome of the match with his first-ever goal for Sivasspor, which came in the 113th minute.
Kayserispor will undoubtedly be very disappointed by the result as they had the chance to lift what would have been just their second major trophy, but they faltered in the final having eliminated big names such as Trabzonspor, Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe en route to it.
🇷🇺 Russia: Rubin Kazan relegated in a disastrous end to their season
Rubin Kazan’s season started with a Europa Conference League play-off against Polish side Raków Częstochowa but it has ended in the most disastrous way imaginable as they finished second-bottom in the Russian Premier League and have been directly relegated.
Rubin took the lead on the final matchday against Ufa from the penalty spot and looked to be keeping themselves in a relegation play-off spot at least, but the visitors turned the game on its head and took the lead in the 90th minute. 13 minutes after that, Rubin were awarded a penalty by VAR which they had to score to keep their survival hopes alive, but it hit the post and stayed out of the goal.
This is their first-ever relegation from the Premier League having spent about two decades in it and lifted two titles too, and it came on the back of a terrible second half of the season. At the midway point, they were eighth in the table and closer to the side in second than the relegation play-off spot in terms of points, but things went firmly downhill thereafter.
The main catalyst of their collapse was the mass exodus of foreign players in March after UEFA imposed major sanctions on Russian football following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Rubin lost their top-scorer Anders Dreyer, chief creator Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, winger Sead Hakšabanović, defensive midfielder In-Beom Hwang and centre-back Filip Uremović in March, after which their free-fall truly began.
For Ufa too, it was all for nothing in the end as they lost 3-4 on aggregate to Orenburg, so they too will be in the second tier of Russian football next season.
🇨🇭 Switzerland: Three sides tied on points at the top of the second-tier
We covered some tense promotion races in the last edition of Elsewhere In Europe, but nothing was quite as close as the second tier of Swiss football, where three sides finished level on points.
As you can see, there are only two promotion spots on offer in the Challenge League, so Aarau, who were at the top of the table heading into the final matchday and needed just one point to stay there, missed out entirely after their defeat to FC Vaduz. Winterthur, meanwhile, will make their Super League debut next season thanks to their superior goal difference.
Schaffhausen will also be back in the Challenge League, as they lost the promotion-relegation play-off against Luzern with the aggregate score reading 2-4.
🇺🇸 USA: CONCACAF history created in Seattle
Earlier on in May, Seattle Sounders became the first non-Mexican club be crowned champions of CONCACAF since 2005, and therefore also the first American side to lift the CONCACAF Champions League title since the new format was introduced in 2008.
They did so by beating Pumas 3-0 in the second leg of the final after a 2-2 tie in Mexico. The knockouts this season saw a real balance between MLS and Mexican clubs as there were four each in the quarter-finals, after which all-domestic semi-finals saw Cruz Azul and New York City FC eliminated.
Whether this is just a one-off win for an American club or a watershed moment in the CONCACAF Champions League which signals the end of the Mexican dominance only time can tell, but it is interesting to note that the Sounders’ league form has not been great in 2022 as they have never been in the top-seven of the Western Conference.
Stats courtesy Transfermarkt and FotMob.
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