Friday Kickoff: Europa League final set, Chelsea-QPR handshake nixed & more

Friday Kickoff: Europa League final set, Chelsea-QPR handshake nixed & more

European Soccer

Friday Kickoff: Europa League final set, Chelsea-QPR handshake nixed & more


Llorente (Getty Images)

It might not be the one that most were expecting or even hoping for, but there will be an all-Spanish final for a European trophy.

Atheltic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid advanced to the UEFA Europa League final after second-leg semifinal triumphs on Thursday, with Madrid looking for its second tournament crown in three years.

Bilbao overturned a one-goal deficit to Sporting Lisbon after the first leg with a 3-1 second-leg victory and a 4-3 aggregate edge. Fernando Llorente was the hero, assisting on two goals before scoring the series-winner in the 88th minute as it appeared extra time would be needed. Oguchi Onyewu was on the matchday roster for Sporting, but did not play.

Madrid, meanwhile, added a 1-0 victory to their 4-2 first-leg win to end Valencia's run. Adrian scored the 60th-minute away goal that slammed the door shut at Estadio Mestalla. The final is set for May 9 in Bucharest, Romania.

Here are a few more stories to get your Friday going:


The Premiere League isn't taking any chances.

With John Terry's looming trial for an alleged racism incident involving Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand, the clubs will be skipping the traditional pre-game handshake when they meet on Sunday.

"The Premier League position on the pre-match handshake convention remains consistent," the Premier League wrote in a statement. "In all normal circumstances it must be observed. However, after discussions with both Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers about the potential and specific legal context in relation to John Terry and Anton Ferdinand the decision has been taken to suspend the handshake convention for Sunday's match."

This is the second time that the handshake between the two London sides will be avoided since the October incident. Chelsea and QPR met in the FA Cup in January and were steered clear of the handshake by the FA because of the lingering tension and legal complications.


Two of the top sides in the men's Olympic soccer tournament will tune up against each other in an intriguing friendly.

Team Great Britain and Brazil will play a pre-Olympic match on July 20 in Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium to prepare for the tournament, which commences a week later. The match is part of a doubleheader, with the Team GB women's side playing Sweden in anonther Olympic tune-up game prior to the men's match.


Borussia Dortmund have given sought-after Japanese attacker Shinji Kagawa a deadline of Monday to either accept a contract extension with the club or decide to move on. Kagawa's current deal with Dortmund runs through next season, but if he is not going to stay with the club, it wants the advance notice so it can attract maximum value on the transfer market.

Chelsea and Manchester United have both been speculated to be after Kagawa's services, with the Red Devils reportedly having a three-year, €18 million offer on the table for him. Dortmund's proposed extension would keep Kagawa there through 2016.


Who do you think will win the Europa League final? Think it's the right move to spare Terry and Ferdinand of the handshake? Think Brazil will take the men's Olympic tournament? What should Kagawa do, stay with the Bundesliga champions or head to the Premier League?

Share your thoughts below.

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