Title races are the best, aren’t they?
Months of matches, so many ups and downs, goals scored and conceded, and yet it all can still be summed up in the best margins in the last minutes of the last day.
To paraphrase Homer Simpson, the winner is showered with praise; the loser is taunted and booed until my throat hurts.
With one matchday remaining, the Serie A and Premier League title races are played out in the final 90 minutes. Milan and Manchester City have their fates in their hands, but Inter and Liverpool respectively are looking to pounce on any stumble.
There is potential for exceptional drama in Italy and England, but can the Nerazzurri and Reds hope to pull off the improbable and snatch the respective title from their rivals?
Stats Perform looked at some of the most dramatic title races in recent history that show anything is possible.
Every goal counts
The Eredivisie provided about as tense a finish as you could imagine in 2006-07, with PSV Eindhoven and Ajax unsurprisingly the main characters.
A solid defense of Ronald Koeman’s PSV title began with 18 wins from 21 games and just one loss.
However, losing four and drawing four of their next 12 games, coupled with Ajax winning five out of six before the final day, meant they were neck and neck on points heading into the final game.
Despite trailing on goal difference, a massive effort from PSV saw them beat their rivals after an emphatic 5-1 victory over Vitesse, while Ajax could only secure a 2-0 win over Willem II , losing the title by just one goal.
When goals made no difference in La Liga
In the same season, Real Madrid made a disappointing start to La Liga, drawing 0-0 with Villarreal at home before losing seven of their first 21 league matches.
After drawing four games in a row between mid-February and mid-March, title hopes seemed over for Fabio Capello’s men, just nine wins from 11 games to send them level on the final day in points with Barcelona.
Barca beat Gimnastic 5-1 away to do their part, but Madrid secured a 3-1 win over Real Mallorca at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Blaugrana had a significantly better goal difference of +45 compared to Madrid +26, but that didn’t matter as the tiebreaker ended in a head-to-head record, which was in favor of Los Blancos after beating Barca 2-0 at home and drawing 3-3 at Camp Nou.
After Manchester City was taken over by Sheikh Mansour in 2008, the club had grown year by year and by the 2011-12 season felt ready for a challenge at the top of the Premier League.
Roberto Mancini’s side started well enough, winning 11 of their first 12 games, but three defeats in December and January sapped hopes, while two defeats and two draws in five games in March and April all but killed them.
That was until five straight wins coincided with Manchester United’s loss to Wigan Athletic and a 4-4 draw with Everton at Old Trafford.
City beating United on Matchday 36 tipped things in favor of the Sky Blues, and they went into the final day needing only a win against lowly QPR to seal it.
Typically, they worked hard for themselves, finding themselves trailing 2-1 around the 90th minute. United had won 1-0 at Sunderland which meant City needed two goals or they would have lost the title in agonizing fashion.
A header from Edin Dzeko made it 2-2, before Mario Balotelli slipped past Sergio Aguero for one of the most famous goals in English football history, giving City their first top-flight title since 1969.
The ultimate head-to-head on the last day
It was like something out of a Hollywood movie. The previous nine LaLiga titles had been won by Clasico giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, but in 2013-14 Atletico Madrid thought they could spoil the party.
Barca were the leaders, winning 13 of their first 14 games, while Real Madrid struggled after losing to Atletico and Barca.
Diego Simeone led his side to an incredible 16 wins in their opening 18 games, but a 0-0 draw with Barca made it look like the tightest of clashes.
Indeed, Real returned to the party after an 18-game unbeaten streak, although back-to-back defeats to Barca and Sevilla stopped them in their tracks.
Gerardo Martino’s Barca were also faltering, losing three out of seven games between February and March, then drawing with Getafe and Elche to give Atletico a chance on the final day.
As if it couldn’t have been more dramatic, Atletico entered the final game three points clear but needed one point to clinch the title, away to Barcelona.
Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring for the Blaugrana but Diego Godin’s header handed Atletico the crown.
When six weren’t on the beach
You may not be as familiar with this final day, but it is one of the most notable in the game’s history.
Never mind two or three, there were six clubs that could still claim the Ligue 2 title before the final round of fixtures in 2016-17.
Strasbourg, Amiens, Troyes, Lens, Brest and Nîmes face each other with one game remaining, all separated by a maximum of three points.
Technically, the drama wasn’t really with the title winner, but the other automatic promotion spot that was up for grabs, with Strasbourg able to retain top spot after a nervy 2-1 win over Bourg-Peronnas, but c It was a 96th-minute strike from Emmanuel Bourgaud sealing a 2-1 win at Stade Reims for Amiens that provided incredible drama, taking the aptly named Unicorns from sixth to second.
I didn’t think I was advising Inter and Liverpool to approach their matches with an “Amiens spirit”, but here we are.