In a Premier League season that has swayed one way and then the other, this upcoming weekend is likely to be looked back upon as one that was vital in determining the eventual winners.
Both of the top two have seven games remaining and both have testing contests to come against teams who are well in the hunt for a European push. Elsewhere, the world’s biggest club soccer match will be played in Spain, while bookending the weekend will be tussles in the Bundesliga and Major League Soccer. If you are in Barcelona for the weekeend, tickets for the Clasico will be almost impossible to get, but you can read more on how to get soccer tickets here.
For everyone else, there’s always a bar nearby. All kick-offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Wolfsburg
Friday, April 1, 2:30PM, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Soccer 2GO
Both Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg are a long way back from the title challengers in the Bundesliga, but the could each do with the points as they seek to preserve their place in the Champions League next season.
At the moment, trailing Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are surprise package Hertha Berlin, in third position, and Schalke 04 in fourth. Leverkusen are still within touching distance of the top four, trailing fourth place by just a couple of points, while Wolfsburg are clinging on in eighth, a further four points back.
Looking at the talent that’s in both of these squads, they each should have been more competitive this season. Leverkusen seem to have gotten their act together again with two wins in their last two outings and having been eliminated from the Europa League, can now focus squarely on the Bundesliga in the weeks to come.
Wolfsburg have been hugely inconsistent and while they’ve shone in the Champions League—they’ll face Real Madrid in the quarter-finals—Dieter Hecking will be aware that his team need to get their act together domestically if they’re play a part in the competition again next season too. A win here is imperative in that case.
Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Saturday, April 2, 12:30PM, NBC, NBC Universo and NBC Sports Live Extra
Just as Leicester have a difficult task ahead of them this weekend, so too do their nearest rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who head to Anfield on Saturday evening to take on Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp may have been happy the international break came when it did, as the Reds have had some time to take in their surrender on the south coast. In that contest Liverpool were magnificent in the first half and should have lead by more than two goals; the collapse in the second period will leave the German with some significant concerns.
Especially against opposition like Spurs, who continue to impress under Mauricio Pochettino. The manager has cultivated a tremendous spirit within the Tottenham players, who work extremely hard and are led by the superb Harry Kane at the point of the attack; he’s a striker who will fancy his chances of causing some chaos in this ropey Reds back line.
It’s tough to know exactly what type of Liverpool team will turn up, though. At times under Klopp they’ve been tremendous and are one of a few sides in the division capable of matching Spurs’ work-rate; whether they can match them for quality is very much a toss of a coin at this juncture. A high intensity game of football which has so much at stake awaits.
Barcelona vs. Real Madrid
The biggest game in world football is the Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid, and while this one may mean little in terms of the league title, don’t expect any lack of intensity when these two lock horns at the Camp Nou.
The reason there’s little too substantial on this one is because Barcelona are streaking away with the league title. Luis Enrique’s side are unbeaten for 39 games in all competitions, winning the overwhelming majority, and the result of this sequence is a 10-point lead at the top of La Liga. Another win over their big rivals here would be the icing on the cake of a brilliant domestic term.
Real will be keen to avenge the loss to Barca earlier in the season, when they were humiliated by Neymar and Luis Suarez on home soil. Much has changed in the Los Blancos set-up since that embarrassing evening and you can bet Zinedine Zidane will not approach this one in the same cavalier style his predecessor did.
Still, even with a more pragmatic approach to this contest, Real will find it difficult to nullify the efforts of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Suarez. With the Blaugrana set to pay tribute to their former manager Johan Cruyff, who passed away last week, expect a very special atmosphere for what is always a wonderful occasion.
FC Dallas vs. Columbus Crew
Saturday, April 2, 9:00PM, MLS LIVE, TWCSC-OH, CW Columbus, TXA-21
Columbus Crew will head to FC Dallas on Saturday evening as they seek to secure their first win of the Major League Soccer season.
At the moment Columbus don’t look as though they’ve quite recovered from the heartbreaking end to the 2015 campaign. After Gregg Berhalter’s team lost out in the final of the MLS Cup to the Portland Timbers last term, they’ve lacked spark, including a loss to their final conquerers on Day 1; a defeat to Philadelphia Union and a draw against Chicago Fire have followed.
Dallas will do them no favors on Saturday evening, neither. After they were humbled 5-0 on the opening day in the Texas derby by the Houston Dynamos, Dallas have responded well, with no goals conceded and five netted in wins over Montreal Impact and DC United. On home soil against winless opposition, Oscar Pareja will want to see his side make that three in succession.
Everyone seems to be waiting for Columbus to click into gear, although there’s been little sign of that yet. Dallas are one of the most entertaining teams in the division and will give the Crew chances, but whether they can keep out a vibrant attacking set-up will be a big challenge.
Leicester City vs. Southampton
Sunday, April 3, 8:30AM, NBCSN, NBC Universo and NBC Sports Live Extra
Leicester City may no longer be the outsiders for the Premier League title, but they still have some testing opponents to overcome if they’re to complete a stunning triumph. This fixture, against a very handy Southampton team, is one of them.
Leicester’s last four wins in the top flight have been by a 1-0 scoreline, which tells you plenty about the approach this team are taking as they edge closer and closer to the finish line. Claudio Ranieri has placed an emphasis on added defensive structure, knowing that the brilliance of players like Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy can swing tight contests the way of his team.
Southampton are side in fine form too. Ronald Koeman’s team did brilliantly to recover from two goals down to beat Liverpool 3-2 at St. Mary’s. They’re a team that are wonderfully balanced in all areas of the pitch and the attacking spark that was prevalent in their last outing from Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane is enough to pose problems for even the very best defenses.
They’ll be savvy too. Saints will not allow Leicester space to launch their devastating breaks forward and are a team who very rarely get overrun in the middle of the park. Expect another tight contest involving the league leaders, but another fascinating watch.
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