Tottenham – Manchester City, Burnley – Leicester, Schalke – Dortmund and Lazio – Roma highlight a bevy of interesting matches across Europe’s top 5 leagues this weekend.
Liverpool, Manchester United, Liverpool and now Tottenham. That’s Manchester City’s schedule over the last two weeks. The visit to Wembley will be a test of The Citizens’ resilience and ability to bounce back from a demoralizing Champions League exit. The Spurs are good enough to defeat City, especially with a healthy and hungry Harry Kane. We’ll see whether they’ll be able to prolong their opponent’s title celebration even further.
Manchester United and Liverpool shouldn’t have any problems versus West Bromwich and Bournemouth. Chelsea takes a trip to Southampton in a preview of the FA Cup semi-final coming up next weekend. The Blues are disappointed and The Saints are desperate. It’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top. Arsenal visits Newcastle, where it’ll face a team that’s playing its best football of the season at the moment. The Gunners have won the last 10 league encounters against The Magpies, a run that may come to an end on Sunday. With a Europa League spot at stake, the most influential match of the round is probably Burnley versus Leicester City.
How will Barcelona approach the game against Valencia? Will it release all its frustrations in a positive or negative manner? We’ll find out on Saturday at the Camp Nou. Levante’s 5-game undefeated run is likely going to come to a halt when it visits Atletico Madrid on Sunday, while the other Madrid team, Real, should record a convincing win at last-placed Malaga. Girona has stumbled during the last three games and now has a do-or-die home matchup against Betis. The Andalusians are on a 4-game winning streak and will take a big step towards European football with a win here. Sevilla – Villarreal is the most important fixture of this round in Spain. Neither of them has been at their best lately and will need to improve in order to ensure European qualification.
With the Bundesliga trophy secured, every next match for Bayern will be preparation for the Champions League. This meeting with Borussia Monchengladbach might not mean much for hosts, but it’s certainly important for the visitors, who need every point they can get in the chase for that coveted Europa League berth. Schalke and Borussia Dortmund will measure their strengths in a crucial head-to-head encounter between the main candidates for the 2nd position on the table. Bayer Leverkusen versus Eintracht Frankfurt is no less important and could have considerable long-term implications depending on the outcome. All Bayer needs to do is repeat last weekend’s excellent performance against Leipzig and it’ll separate itself from the pack.
Leipzig’s loss to Leverkusen was complemented with Europa League failure. Hassenhuttl will need to show his coaching prowess in order to pick up his players if he wants them to remain in contention for that last CL spot. A trip to unpredictable Werder Bremen is first on the cards. Hoffenheim hosts Hamburger SV and will try to seal their relegation faith.
Italy’s most intense derby takes place this weekend, as Lazio clashes with Roma. One is coming off a devastating Europa League loss in Austria and the other is coming off one of the greatest victories in club history. Logic dictates that Roma should win, but a derby like this one is never as simple as that, especially with so much to play for. I’m really looking forward to this game. Roma’s and Lazio’s challenger for Champions league football is Inter, and it also has a tough task at hand as it travels to Atalanta.
It’ll take a while for Juventus to get over what happened in Madrid on Wednesday. Sampdoria is coming to Turin at the worst possible time, as it might be exposed to the full wrath of The Old Lady. Napoli’s title hopes could end this weekend, as Sarri and his lads visit AC Milan. I highly doubt they’ll manage to win this encounter. Fiorentina will look to extend its 6-game winning streak by defeating Spal, who’s on a 6-game undefeated run of its own.
In France, we have a matchup of the top two teams PSG and Monaco. A win here and Les Parisiens will be celebrating their 5th title in the last 6 years (Monaco was league champion last season). Tied at 63 points, Lyon and Marseille are poised for a wild chase to the finish line. Genesio’s men welcome Amiens, while Rudi Garcia’s boys will travel to Troyes. Both clubs should win. Rennes should also record a routine victory over lowly Metz. Montpellier hosts Bordeaux, Nice visits Angers, Nantes welcomes Dijon and St. Etienne travels to Strasbourg.