By JOEY SAMUEL
While the absence of Rangers FC may be hard to fathom, the Scottish Premier League nevertheless got underway on Saturday as all twelve teams were in action on the first weekend of the SPL season.
Celtic, now heavy favorites in Scotland with their rivals banished to the fourth division, opened their 2012-13 campaign with a win as a 79th minute goal from Kris Commons was enough for a 1-0 victory over Aberdeen.
The defending Scottish champions struggled through most of the match, and even their goal was in large part due to Aberdeen's goalkeeper Jamie Langfield, who mishandled a shot that he should have been able to save on Commons' goal. But Celtic came out winners regardless, and they begin their season with three points.
In other action, Motherwell slumped to a 0-0 draw with newly-promoted Ross County. Like Celtic, Motherwell are currently competing in UEFA Champions League qualifying, having occupied what was Rangers FC's spot in the tournament. But just like in the club's 2-0 loss to Panathinaikos in the first leg of their third-round qualifying tie this past week, Motherwell failed to produce anything in front of goal and suffered as a result.
Here are some other stories from around the globe this weekend:
MANCHESTER UNITED CLOSE TO SIGNING LUCAS MOURA
Reports out of England claim that Manchester United is close to securing the signature of Brazilian winger Lucas Moura. United has been chasing the young star for some time now, and were in competition with Inter Milan and Manchester City. But now it appears United are nearing a deal, which would reportedly cost some $47 million.
The Sao Paulo winger is currently in London competing for Brazil in the 2012 Olympics. He featured in the Selecao's 3-2 win over Honduras on Saturday. But while United appears close to signing him, the Brazilian soccer federation was quick to deny any rumors that Moura has left the Brazilian camp to have a medical in Manchester.
GOMEZ TO UNDERGO SURGERY
Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez suffered an ankle injury during a preseason match against Werder Bremen on Saturday, and the German will now have to undergo surgery.
Gomez suffered the injury in the 42nd minute of the game, which was the semifinal of the Liga Total! Cup. He was carried off the field with a stretcher and missed the rest of the match, which Bayern went on to lose in a penalty shootout.
Now Gomez is in danger of missing the start of the Bundesliga season due to the ankle surgery. Bayern Munich open their 2012-13 campaign with a road match against newly-promoted SpVgg Gruether Furth on August 25th. Gomez is all but certain to miss the German Super Cup, which is on August 12th and will see Munich face Borussia Dortmund.
What do you think of these developments? Do you see Celtic coasting to another SPL title? Will Manchester United end up sealing the deal with Lucas Moura? How will Gomez's absence affect Bayern if he isn't ready?
Share your thoughts below.