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Sizing Up Europe

Soccer columnist Paul Gardner takes a breather from Beckham and MLS and has a look at the European game. In the past few weeks the English Premier League has made itself the world's richest, securing a TV deal worth $1.2 billion for live rights to its games in 208 countries and territories. Gardner contends that many of the Premiership's games are quite banal despite its claims to being the world's best league.

Well, regardless of Gardner's assertions, the EPL was far more watchable this past weekend than Spain's La Liga, in which 20 teams only managed to score nine total goals (three of which came from leader Barcelona). The Spanish First Division is shaping up to be the tighter title race, however, as the top six are all within seven points of one another.

Italy, however, looks to be a wash. Inter gained two more points on second-place AS Roma over the weekend with another convincing performance against Fiorentina, extending its lead at the top to 11 points. For a little added perspective, the Milan club is a whopping 26 points ahead of fourth-place Empoli.

Back in Spain, benched superstars continue to dominate headlines about Real Madrid, while the situation at first-place Barcelona couldn't be more different. The form of Ronaldinho and the progress of the team's injured stars have taken a back seat to the form of Javier Saviola, whose goal-scoring is all but carrying the Catalan club at the moment. A virtual outcast at the beginning of the season, the diminutive Argentine has hit seven goals in his last four games.

Read the whole story at New York Sun »

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