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Chapecoense wins 1st title since November plane crash

The Brazilian club won their state championship this weekend just months after most of their team died in the accident.

Chapecoense v Nacional Uruguay - Copa Bridgestone Libertadores 2017 Photo by Cristiano Andujar/Getty Images

Six months ago, the majority of Chapecoense's players and coaches were killed in a plane crash. But this weekend, Chape won a title, capturing the Santa Catarina state championship ahead of the start of the Brasileirao season.

"We knew that Chape would have a lot of difficulties because of the rebuilding of the team," new manager Vagner Mancini said about his team's win, "but because of the work we reached the title, beating opponents who are rivals and difficult to beat."

Chape now faces a big step-up in competition in the national league. The Brazilian FA discussed making the team immune from relegation this season, but Chape rejected that idea, saying that they preferred to compete. Because it was nearly impossible to sign enough players of top division quality on such short notice, their squad is made up almost entirely of players on loan from other teams — 10 of the 14 players who got on the field in their last Copa Libertadores match are on loan.

But their state championship features another top flight team and two second-division clubs with recent top-division history. No matter now they fare in the Brasileirao and their remaining Copa Libertadores games, winning that title just months after the plane crash is an incredible accomplishment.

Goal of the day

Edin Dzeko's opener for Roma against Milan. (r/soccer)

In the news

The joint U.S.-Canada-Mexico World Cup bid is probably getting fast-tracked without a serious competitor. (ESPN FC)

N'Golo Kante has won the players' and writers' player of the year double. (Mirror)

Granit Xhaka on getting cards all the time: "It's my style of play and nobody can make me change it." (Guardian)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's agent is probably worried about his client not getting a contract this summer since he's talking about superhuman recovery and astounded doctors. (Independent)

The season is winding down, so we're getting into transfer speculation season. It looks like Real Madrid is going to sign left back Theo Hernandez from Atléti. (AS)

Bayern Munich is reportedly willing to pay €65 million for Alexis Sanchez. (Bild)

You should be reading

Matt Doyle on this weekend in MLS, plus a bunch of players who could hit 50 career league goals this year. (MLS)

Tom Payne on this weekend's battle between Dortmund and Hoffenheim for a Champions League spot. (Spielverlagerung)

Paolo Bandini on the weekend in Serie A and the aftermath of the Turin derby. (Guardian)

What happened this weekend

That Turin derby featured a late equalizer by Gonzalo Higuain. (Black and White and Read All Over)

Roma was at their best in a 4-1 win over AC Milan. (Chiesa Di Totti)

You can fight highlights of all this weekend's MLS games here. (MLS)

And highlights of the NWSL games are here. (NWSL)

Arsene Wenger finally beat Jose Mourinho. (The Busby Babe)

And they've got a small chance at top four after Liverpool dropped points. (The Liverpool Offside)

But Arsenal got no help from Manchester City, who crushed Crystal Palace. (Bitter and Blue)

There was no movement in the La Liga title race. Barcelona performed well in a win over Villarreal. (Barca Blaugranes)

And Real Madrid had no problem with Granada. (Managing Madrid)

What to watch on Monday (click for listings, all times ET)

EPL: Chelsea vs. Middlesbrough (3 p.m.) — Middlesbrough can be relegated on Monday, while Chelsea will feel like they have the title virtually secured with a win.