The domestic soccer calendar is beginning to wind down across Europe. Though the end of the season brings an inevitable injection of drama.
It should come in so many different forms over the course of the next few days. There are playoffs to get into the top flight, relegation and title deciders, derby showdowns and matches that’ll be vital in determining which teams pick up a Champions League windfall next term.
It’s all here! As chance would have it, the matches selected are all perfectly spread out over the course of the weekend too.
All kick-offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy the weekend and enjoy the games!
DERBY COUNTY VS. FULHAM
Friday, May 11, 2:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+
We could’ve easily included both of the Championship playoffs this week. But, of the two encounters, the meeting between Derby and Fulham stands out.
It’s a tie between two of the division’s most entertaining outfits. Both sides tout an impressive 149 goals between them. Fulham missed out on automatic promotion on the final day of the season. Whereas a 4-1 win for Derby ensured they were safe in sixth spot.
That all plays into the mentality of the playoffs. The Rams will be buoyed by a strong run to snaffle sixth spot. Playing under Gary Rowett has showcased different sides of their game. Of the two sides, they’ll feel as though they have little to lose. That can count for a lot in high-pressure contests.
Still, Fulham have been outstanding for the majority of the campaign and arguably play the best football in the division. Under Slavisa Jokanovic with Aleksandar Mitrovic leading the line, Ryan Sessegnon on the left and Tom Cairney pulling the strings in midfield, they’ll be tough for any side to contain.
While the fight to beat the drop in Germany is still on, the standout encounter of the weekend will see Hoffenheim host Dortmund. Both sides are seeking to cling to a spot in the top four.
Last weekend a win for either of the two sides would’ve essentially secured their Champions League status for next season. However, they each slipped to shock losses and with Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig still within striking distance, there’s a lot to play for still on the final day on Saturday.
Dortmund only need a draw from this one, as they sit in third spot on 55 points, three clear of Hoffenheim. Leverkusen, who play Hannover 96 this weekend at home, and Hoffenheim are both on 52 points; they each have a poorer goal difference than BVB, but given the form of Julian Nagelsmann’s side, a big defeat isn’t totally out of the question.
Assuming Leverkusen get the job done against Hannover, only a win will do here for Hoffenheim if they’re to get into the top four for the second season running. Prior to last week’s loss to Stuttgart they’d been playing superbly; it’ll be interesting to see how easily they can shake that one off.
Although there’s little riding on this one in terms of league position, earlier in the campaign Betis and Sevilla, two huge Andalusian rivals, produced arguably the match of the season so far.
In that encounter Betis were the victors in an exhilarating 5-3 victory. It was a result that set them up for a tremendous campaign, in which they’ve showcased flair and fortitude under manager Quique Setien. They head into the penultimate round of fixtures in an impressive fifth position.
Sevilla have endured a turbulent season, with Vincenzo Montella sacked recently following the club’s wildly inconsistent displays. The 3-2 win over a below-strength Real Madrid side summed up what this team are all about in midweek; it they perform to their best they can match anyone on any given day.
Betis have secured European football for next season and they could cap a fine campaign in front of their own supporters with a vibrant performance here. It’s set to be a special football occasion at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
The battle to stay in Ligue 1 remains on a knife-edge with two games to go. Strasbourg, who sit just outside it in 17th, will have to overcome the division’s in-form side in Lyon if they’re to propel themselves out of trouble.
The going has been tough for Strasbourg in recent weeks, as 11 games without a win has seen them plunge right into the mire. Although the sides below them—Toulouse are in the playoff spot and a point back, Troyes are in 19th three points behind—are struggling too, one win for either could easily see them lurch into the relegation zone.
It’s difficult to see their winless run coming to an end this weekend either, as Lyon are on the charge in their pursuit of second place. They’ve been playing some mesmerising stuff as of late and have won their last eight games, with Nabil Fekir and Memphis Depay pulling many defences apart.
Lyon’s run has taken them two points above Marseille and one clear of Monaco into second position. Staying there is significant for Bruno Genesio’s team, as the runner-up in Ligue 1 is guaranteed a spot in the Champions League group stages
There’s certainly a sense of what might have been when it comes to this fixture, although for Roma this meeting with champions elect Juventus is so important.
It looked as though it was going to be vital for the Bianconeri a fortnight ago too, as their loss to Napoli meant the title race was wide open. However, Juve have taken six points from the two games since, whereas their rivals for the prize have only been able to muster one.
It means barring a remarkable swing in goal difference the Scudetto race is over. However, Roma are in a big battle for a Champions League spot. The Gialorossi are in third currently, although Lazio—two points back—and Inter—four points back—could yet oust Eusebio di Francesco’s side.
Juve will want to win this title in style, and in midweek they were in exceptional form, brushing aside AC Milan 4-0 in the Coppa Italia final to clinch what should be a fourth domestic double in succession.