How often do we hear that old cliche in soccer, “this is our cup final”? A vital game, in which winning is the only option; nothing else will do.
As we approach the final knockings of the European domestic campaign, the calendar is packed with these “cup final” clashes in the league, not to mention some actual, proper finals to cap off the season.
So as you might expect, our five selections this week include some critical, season-defining games. In La Liga, there are two games that have enormous ramifications at both ends of the table, with a title decider and a relegation eliminator both on the cards. We also have the domestic cup finals in both Germany and England to look forward to.
With the season coming to an end and the World Cup about to hog the spotlight, we’ve also picked a classic final from eight years ago that’ll certainly whet the appetite for the Brazil showpiece.
All kick offs are in Eastern Time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Italy vs. France, World Cup Final 2006
Friday, 4:00PM, ESPN Classic
Not quite in the World Cup spirit yet? ESPN have done their utmost to get you well prepared for the Brazil spectacle, and are showing a host of classic games from the tournament from years gone by this weekend.
The 2006 final will be broadcast on Friday afternoon, giving you the chance to relive one of the most dramatic finals in recent memory. Italy and France locked horns in this one to cap off a wonderful World Cup in Germany.
The Italians had made it to the final two after a thrilling extra-time win over Germany. Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero netted late on in the last four, and spurred on by their inspirational skipper Fabio Cannavaro, the Azzuri were looking in great shape to notch their fourth world triumph.
France progressed after some inspirational showings from their veteran skipper Zinedine Zidane and were hoping to make it two World Cup wins in eight years after their triumph in 1998. With players like Zidane, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, they had every chance of toppling the Italians and bagging their second world crown.
A brilliant final rife with iconic moments, and a wonderful way to start off a scintilating weekend of soccer.
Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid
Saturday, Noon, beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS Espanol and DishWorld
For a long time, this final day clash has been cited as a potential title decider, with La Liga enthusiasts desperate for a fascinating spectacle to cap off the season. In truth, it couldn’t really have worked out much better. If Barcelona win, the title is theirs. If they don’t, the glory will be Atletico’s.
These two have already met on five occasions this season, with Atletico Madrid unbeaten in every contest. Granted, they’ve only managed to beat Barcelona once—in the second-leg of the Champions League semi-final—but all other results would have been enough to see Atletico finish top of the La Liga standings.