From Barcelona's collapse to Titi's farewell to the amazing rise of the Chipolopolo, here are our six favorite soccer stories to start the week out with -- a forward-thinking "Front Six" of world soccer news, if you will.
1. Barca Bumped In Spain
A measly 10 points. Three wins and a draw. That's the gap that currently exists between Real Madrid in first place and FC Barcelona in second, thanks to Barca's 3-2 loss to Osasuna on Saturday and Real's 4-2 win over Levante on Sunday. With 16 weeks left to play, it might seem as though Barcelona -- unofficially known as "the world's greatest team" -- should have enough time to overtake the Galacticos, but given the fact that there's a huge talent drop-off in La Liga after Madrid and Barcelona, the 10-point cushion should effectively be insurmountable for the Blaugrana. Of course, if Madrid can't top Barcelona on the pitch head-to-head, then the league title will lose a good bit of its luster -- Real Madrid has beaten Barcelona just once in their last 14 meetings in all competitions. The two teams meet again on April 22.
2. We Will Attack In Red And Black
AC Milan, Italy's defending champs, have gone top of Serie A with an impressive 2-1 away win over Udinese on Saturday. But don't be fooled, the title is still Juvenuts' to lose, as the Old Lady has two matches in hand and are still undefeated on the season overall with 12 wins and 9 draws in 21 matches played. Still, if Juve even slip up a bit, the Rossoneri ("red and black") look poised to close the gap quickly. This could make for a thrilling sprint to the finish in Italy.
3. Borussia Glad To Be 'Bach Near The Top
Look at the top of the Bundesliga table and it's no surprise to see established powers Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich in first and second, respectively. But lingering just behind them in third place is Borussia Monchengladbach, a club that finished 16th last season and was barely able to stave off relegation to the second division. Borussia topped fourth-place Schalke 04 on the weekend, 3-0, and are currently positioned for a shock Champions League spot. The club is without a doubt already the biggest surprise in the Bundesliga, whether they capture their first title in 35 years or not.
4. Titi's Fine Farewell
What a way to say goodbye. With his loan stint coming to a close, Arsenal legend Thierry Henry slotted home a beautiful 91st minute match-winning goal for the Gunners at streaking Sunderland. The goal, a deft side-footed volley off a looping Andrei Arshavin cross, was vintage Henry and sent the traveling Arsenal fans in the away stand into absolute hysteria. The 2-1 win lifts Arsenal back into the Champions League places in England ahead of Chelsea, and should give the North London club some momentum heading into Wednesday's Champions League clash with AC Milan. The Milan tilt will be Henry's final game with Arsenal before he rejoins the New York Red Bulls of the MLS.
5. Wolves Boss Sent Wandering
Popular Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Mick McCarthy was fired by the club on Monday. McCarthy has a reputation as being one of the most entertaining personalities in all of soccer, yet his sterling sense of humor wasn't enough to offset the paltry 21 points earned by Wolves through 25 matches. The tipping point came with Wolves' 5-1 home loss to local rivals West Bromwich Albion on Sunday. McCarthy's club showed no fight after falling behind and the players' lifeless play -- especially on defense -- seemed to indicate that they'd genuinely given up on their manager; never a pretty sight to see.
6. All Hail Zambia
We saved the best for last this week. In 1993, the Zambian national team's plane crashed during take-off from an airport in Libreville, Gabon, killing 18 players. On Sunday, nearly two decades after that tragic event, Zambia captured its first-ever African Cup of Nations title over heavily-favored Ivory Coast (a team that features big European stars like Didier Drogba and Gervinho) at a stadium in, of all places, Libreville. Congratulations to the Chipolopolo, which means "the Copper-headed Bullets" (the nickname Zambia took on after the plane crash). Below are two videos of the Zambian underdogs celebrating their amazing achievement -- the first is of Zambian coach Herve Renard celebrating with his players, and the second is of Renard carrying the injured Joseph Musonda to celebrate the win with his teammates. Enjoy.
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