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:

CHELSEA-QPR HANDSHAKE NIXED

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.

GREAT BRITAIN-BRAZIL PRE-OLYMPIC FRIENDLY SET

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.

DORTMUND GIVE KAGAWA DEADLINE

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.

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

  1. Rabid RBNY says:

    I hope Kagawa stays in Dortmund!

  2. Mig22 says:

    At the heights of happiness as a Chelsea fan, the presence of John Terry in the news continues to temper my joy. P.O.S.

  3. THomas says:

    Well at least two Spanish teams were able to get it done.

  4. Gnarls says:

    Right there with you, Mig. He’s the black cloud over an otherwise bright group of guys.

  5. fischy says:

    Kagawa should go to MLS.

    Heh heh.

  6. GSScasual says:

    foregoing the handshake seems counterproductive.

  7. Mig22 says:

    I want to agree but remember how poorly Suarez-Evra went? If Terry really did call Ferdinand something ugly (or even if Ferdinand mistakenly believes he did), then there will be no handshake and emotions could get even higher there.

    Plus, the FA really wants this crap to go away as it gives a black eye to English football so this is their solution I guess.

  8. CSD says:

    It is just a waste of time before every match. Get on with it.

  9. biff says:

    I like Kagawa also. But if he goes, which I would rate at better than 50-50 odds, then chances would increase for my dream transfer of the Century: Clint Dempsey to Dortmund. I know Dempsey to Dortmund would still be long shot, but after Dortmund’s dismal showing in the Championship League this season I think a strong argument could be made for Dortmund to sign a player like Dempsey with his USMNT and Premiere League experience.

  10. soccerroo says:

    Having Dempsey at Dortmund would be great as a Dortmund fan but I am not sure he is going to leave England. But maybe our dreams can come about!!!!!

  11. nic d "the TEXAS 2 stepper" says:

    The handshake is something that gentlemen do. Soccer (Football) is the gentlemen’s game.

    My Father In Law says the soccer is a gentleman’s game played by thugs. Not sure if he was thinking of John Terry when he told me that.

  12. ManicMessiah says:

    Completely understand why they would cancel this handshake, only because of the court case.

    As for the handshake in general, I just watched a Panthers team lose a heartbreaking 7th game in overtime and still manage to shake hands with the Devils after the game. The idea that its too much to ask of professionals in football is laughable.

  13. Charles says:

    Man, if I were in charge I would say great, not talk about handshake, or don’t play the game….no points for both sides.

    Rediculous.

  14. Ziko87ziko87 says:

    Atletico Madrid will play for it’s second europa league title, and Bilbao for the first, and for sure spain will win its 7th title.
    Europa league winners by club
    Europa league winners by nation
    Aslo after the previous edition, Radamel Falcao became the europa league’s best scorer in one season with 17 goal, and the 9th of all time scorers. He can go up and become the 8th, or maybe the 7th or even the 6th is he scores 3 goals today.
    Europa League top scorer by edition
    Europa league all time Top scorers

  15. Ziko87ziko87 says:

    Atletico Madrid will play for it’s second europa league title, and Bilbao for the first, and for sure spain will win its 7th title.
    link to sigmafoot.com
    link to sigmafoot.com
    Aslo after the previous edition, Radamel Falcao became the europa league’s best scorer in one season with 17 goal, and the 9th of all time scorers. He can go up and become the 8th, or maybe the 7th or even the 6th is he scores 3 goals today.
    link to sigmafoot.com
    link to sigmafoot.com