We’re into the home stretch across European soccer’s domestic campaigns now, with thoughts set to turn to the UEFA Champions League final and the World Cup after this weekend.
There’s a lot to enjoy over the coming days. In Germany and England, there are intriguing domestic cup finals to savor. Elsewhere, there are crucial games at the bottom in France and Italy. In the latter, there’s also what is essentially a playoff for a Champions League berth.
All kick offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Supporters of both of these teams may have had higher hopes for this season, but the FA Cup could potentially salvage their 2017-18 terms.
For Chelsea there are rumors swirling that this may well prove to be Antonio Conte’s final game in charge. If he is to sign off in style, then the Blues will need to improve on the performances they’ve put in as of late. A 0-0 draw against Huddersfield and the 3-0 loss to Newcastle are both poor results to end their Premier League season.
United haven’t been sweeping aside all who are in front of them. There’s a sense with Jose Mourinho’s team that they can move through the gears in the big games. They did exactly that in the semi-final of the competition, eventually coming through in a comfortable 2-1 win over Tottenham.
There are also strong personalities in the United squad. Like Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku who will be relishing this occasion. Chelsea, formerly so full of big-game pedigree, will need some players who have struggled as of late to make major improvements.
BAYERN MUNICH VS. EINTRACHT FRANKFURT
Saturday, May 19, 2 p.m. ET, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3 and Sling Orange
Bayern have the chance to clinch a domestic double once again when they face Frankfurt on Saturday. In the opposite dugout will be the man who takes charge of them next season, Niko Kovac.
For Jupp Heynckes it’ll be a moment to savor, as he’ll surely take charge of Bayern for the final time. He’s steered the team to the Bundesliga title in style and a DFB-Pokal win would cap a tremendous job done. Bayern, naturally, are the big favorites to do exactly that.
Since the approach from Munich for Kovac, Frankfurt’s season has unravelled. While they’ve done enough to get this far in the cup competition, in the league they let an excellent chance of a top-four finish slip. They failed to find any consistency during the run-in, eventually finishing up in eighth spot.
Kovac will hope the players that have been such a crucial part of his time at Frankfurt can muster one last big performance to end things on a high note. But Bayern have ended the season strongly and it’d be a massive upset if Heynckes didn’t add another piece of silverware to his distinguished list of honors.
As we enter the final day of the Ligue 1 season, Caen, who sit one place above the relegation zone, know their fate is in their own hands. They welcome PSG on Saturday.
It’s been nine games since the strugglers picked up a victory and a 4-1 defeat to Nice put them in real trouble, with Strasbourg and Lille both winning to secure their safety. Toulouse are in the relegation playoff spot. Just three points behind Caen, with a much better goal difference.
It means a win for Toulouse at home to Guingamp would give them guaranteed survival if Caen slipped to defeat against the champions. In any other week, such a set of results will be feasible. Caen may just fancy their chances of avoiding defeat against a PSG team that have switched off lately.
Having already won the three domestic titles and with Unai Emery set to depart after this game, it’d be no surprise if PSG weren’t on form again here.
If they can muster something, they’ll be too good for their toiling hosts. Then all eyes will turn to whether or not Toulouse can get the job done in their final match.
The final game of the season for Napoli won’t end in a coronation as champions at the San Paolo. Instead, the focus will be on Crotone as they seek to avoid relegation.
With Hellas Verona and Benevento already down, Crotone currently occupy 18th. However, there are four teams—SPAL, Cagliari, Udinese, Chievo—above them who could yet be sucked into the drop zone on the final day if results were to go against them.
It’s a potentially enthralling scenario. However, there’ll be no drama for neutrals to enjoy if Crotone do fall to a defeat at the home of the runners-up. The other four teams in danger all have home fixtures on the last day as well, meaning the odds are stacked against the visitors.
Maurizio Sarri and his players will want to finish off what has been a season of immense performances with one final flourish.
Given the speculation about the manager and a number of key players in the Napoli side, it may be the last time we see this extraordinary unit take to the field as a collective.
Both Lazio and Inter suffered shock results in the penultimate week of the season, failing to capitalize on Roma’s draw with Juventus. It means only one of the two sides will earn a Champions League berth next season.
The situation is straightforward. Lazio need to avoid defeat to preserve fourth spot, whereas Inter require a victory at the Stadio Olimpico.
A nervy afternoon is surely in store in the capital on Sunday.
Lazio will be delighted with how their campaign has gone to this point. Simone Inzaghi has once again managed to improve players in his squad and get the team functioning in a fluid setup. They’ve been so entertaining to watch too, with 87 goals the best haul of any team in the division this season.
Inter, by contrast, have been inconsistent as of late under Luciano Spalletti and the loss at home to Sassuolo last time out will have been a huge dent to the confidence of the team.
If they don’t manage to finish in the top four this season, keeping the likes of Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic around this summer may be a challenge.