We’re edging ever closer to a thrilling climax in a clutch of European leagues, with much to play for at the top and bottom in various high-profile divisions.
There are some wonderful rivalries to sample this weekend too, with the top two sides in England and Portugal set to battle it out in the race to finish top of the pile. In addition, there is clash between two local rivals in Spain, two of Serie A’s biggest names going head-to-head and to kickstart the weekend, a vital game in the race for the Premier League.
All kickoffs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy your games!
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Watford
Saturday April 25, 7:15AM, beIN SPORTS and fuboTV
The top end of the Championship has made for encapsulating viewing this season and with just two matches to go in the campaign, Watford have a wonderful chance to take a massive step towards the Premier League when they face Brighton & Hove Albion.
Slavisa Jokanovic has done a superb job with the Hornets. After a start to the season which saw the club go through two managers in quick succession, the Serbian has steadied the ship before guiding Watford to the summit of the second tier. With Troy Deeney, Odion Ighalo and Matej Vydra leading the charge with goals aplenty, they’re one of the most enthralling sides in the division.
Brighton are probably there for the taking too. After Millwall’s loss to Blackburn Rovers, the South coast club are clear of relegation troubles and although they have a superior goal difference to the other sides down at the bottom, they can absolutely guarantee their status as a Championship side with a positive result here.
Playing early on Saturday, Watford have a brilliant opportunity to put some pressure on the clutch of chasing sides. But with Bournemouth and Middlesbrough just one point behind and Norwich City three back, there is absolutely no room to slip up in this tricky fixture.
Espanyol vs. Barcelona
Saturday April 25, 10:00AM, beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS Espanol and fuboTV
The Derbi Barcelona will see mid-table Espanyol host their local rivals Barcelona at the Estadio Cornella-El Prat in what remains one of the most fiercely contested rivalries in Spanish football.
While Espanyol have typically been the underdogs in this fixture, they’re coming into this game on the back of a good run of form. Sergio has steered this team away from relegation problems with a string of six games without losing. They also have a sprinkling of attacking class, with men like Lucas Vazquez, Sergio Garcia and Felipe Caicedo capable of causing any defense problems.
The Blaugrana just look a little too good at the moment, though. On the back of another superb performance against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, Barcelona will be bouncing into this encounter. After winning this game 5-1 at the Nou Camp back in December, they won’t have anything to fear coming into this one either.
Espanyol will be desperate to put a dent in Barca’s title hopes and while they have little to play for in terms of league position, that’ll be incentive in itself. For the league leaders, three points here would be another significant milestone checked off on their charge towards domestic glory.
Internazionale vs. Roma
Saturday April 25, 2:45PM, beIN SPORTS and fuboTV
With Juventus running away with the Serie A title, the source of intrigue in the division comes in the race to avoid the drop and secure European football. For Roma, things haven’t quite panned out as they may have wanted, but they can virtually cement their Champions League status for next season if they can get one over Internazionale at the San Siro.
The Giallorossi have been overhauled by local rivals Lazio in the race for second place, and although the latter lost to the champions elect last weekend, Roma were unable to take full advantage. Indeed, this team’s influx of drawn games has really cost them in 2015, but a win in Milan is a must.
Especially when you consider Inter have very little to play for at this juncture. Roberto Mancini’s team are marooned in mid-table and despite a minor surge after the winter break, have struggled for any kind of consistency despite the amount of quality individuals available to them.
The former City boss will be hoping that the visit of an illustrious side like Roma will stir something within his players and the Nerazzurri faithful. But it’s the visitors who have much more to play for in terms of tangible gains and as such, we should see a revitalised performance from the capital club.
Arsenal vs. Chelsea
Sunday April 26, 11:00AM, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra
There was festering talk of a potential late charge to the summit of the Premier League for Arsenal not too long ago, but the continued ruthlessness of Chelsea seems to have abated any lingering hopes. Nonetheless, the Gunners will be desperate to postpone the Blues’ championship celebrations when the two sides meet at the Emirates this weekend.
Chelsea come into this one on the back of a 1-0 win over Manchester United that was bristling with Jose Mourinho-esque traits. The Blues were happy to surrender possession, kept their opponents at arm’s length and were ruthless when a moment of inspiration carved through the Red Devils’ defense. It’s a win that all-but guaranteed them the title.
The template implemented against the Old Trafford outfit is one Chelsea will probably look to adhere to at the Emirates too. After all, Arsene Wenger has never beaten a Mourinho team, with the latter knowing exactly what’s required to nullify the Gunners’ plethora of intricate talents. This current Arsenal team could be a different proposition, though.
Indeed, the Gunners have shown renewed steel at times this season that should stand them in fair stead for this match. With Wenger surely plotting a title charge of sterner conviction next season, the chance to secure a win over the Chelsea juggernaut would lay down an encouraging marker for challenges to come.
Benfica vs. Porto
Sunday April 26, Noon, fuboTV
It’s no surprise to see Benfica and Porto battling it out at the top of the Portuguese top flight, but as the climax of the campaign draws increasingly near, this match between the two—dubbed as “O Classico”—will have a massive say in determining the eventual champions.
Benfica are currently in the box seat. With a three-point lead over their great rivals and with this encounter set to be played out before a raucous Estadio da Luz crowd, there’s a brilliant chance for them to all-but secure the championship with a win here. On home soil they’re pretty formidable too, having won 13 and drawn one of their 14 league matches there.
As such, Porto face a massive challenge. But Julen Lopetegui’s team certainly boast the requisite quality to go to Lisbon and pick up the points that are so desperately needed. Given Benfica beat them 2-0 in the return fixture earlier in the campaign, a win is vital to not only reduce the deficit, but the eradicate the head-to-head advantage the league leaders have at this juncture.
The major question for Porto is whether they can rally themselves following that humbling 6-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in midweek. Lopetegui’s side seemed so focused on the Champions League this season and you just wonder whether or not they’ve had the time to appropriately recuperate ahead of the intimidating task they face domestically this weekend.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
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