Are we back in the swing of it yet?
As a number of high-profile European leagues begin to find a rhythm following the restart, one will be winding down this weekend after a congested calendar—the Bundesliga.
In it, the battle to stay alive in the division will take the focus this weekend, with a couple of teams seeking to give themselves the breathing room of a relegation playoff. Elsewhere, there are two selections from Spain featuring the title contenders and eye-catching matches from the Premier League and Serie A.
All kick offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Aston Villa vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
The opening selection of the weekend has connotations at both ends of the Premier League table, with a dash of local animosity tossed in.
Aston Villa picked up their first point of the restarted season this week when they equalised at Newcastle United and it was enough to keep them in touch with a number of sides seeking to stay afloat at the bottom of the table. Villa are in 19th, but Bournemouth and West Ham are alongside them on 27 points.
As for Wolves, a possible push for a top-four finish could be on the cards, as they’ve hit the ground running in their first two games back. Raul Jimenez has scored in both matches and currently looks like the most dangerous attacker in the division.
Nuno Santo’s side are in sixth spot and within touching distance of Chelsea and Manchester United. A win at their Midlands rivals would make it three victories in seven days and surely bonafide contenders for a Champions League berth.
Werder Bremen vs. FC Köln
Saturday, June 27, 9:30 a.m. ET, FOX Soccer Match Pass
Although Champions League places are still up for grabs on the final Bundesliga matchday of the season, the drama is poised to come at the bottom of the table on Saturday.
Werder Bremen have spent more time in the top flight than any team in the division, although that could come to an end this weekend. Even if they were to beat Köln, it wouldn’t necessarily guarantee their spot in the relegation playoff; they trail Dusseldorf, who visit Union Berlin, by two points.
Bremen appeared to give themselves hope a fortnight ago when they beat Paderborn 5-1, although successive losses to Bayern Munich and Mainz ensured they remain plunged in the mire.
As for Köln, having effectively secured safety weeks ago, their performances have tailed off and as such they are on a nine-game winless run. That may make them ideal opponents for Bremen in this scenario, albeit manager Florian Kohfeldt needs things to go his way in the capital too.
Celta Vigo vs. Barcelona
While the title race in Serie A looks as though it may fizzle out in the coming weeks, it’s very much on in La Liga with just seven games remaining.
Barcelona and Real Madrid are locked on 68 points each at the summit of the table. This weekend it will be the turn of the former to set the agenda, as they make the trip to Galicia to face Celta Vigo on Saturday.
As of yet, Barcelona haven’t quite hit their attacking straps since the restart. However, defensively they have looked as dependable at any point in the season, as they haven’t conceded a goal in their four matches since the return of La Liga football.
Celta are down in 16th place, although they have a seven-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone. Another couple of wins would almost certainly guarantee their safety and head coach Oscar Garcia would love one of those to come against the Blaugrana.
AC Milan vs. AS Roma
Sunday, June 28, 11:15 a.m. ET, ESPN+
In the past, matches between these two giants of Italian football would have been crucial to determining the outcome of the Serie A title. This weekend there’s much less on the line.
Nevertheless, there’s still an edge between the players when the Rossoneri and the Giallorossi go head-to-head at the San Siro, even if the quality of play doesn’t quite compare to yesteryear.
For the home side, a Europa League finish is the best they can hope for this season, as they go into the match down in seventh place. Supporters would have at least been encouraged by their competitive return on Monday, as Milan ran out 4-1 winners at Lecce with a number of attacking stars finding the net.
Roma had to wait until midweek to get their season up and running again, although it appears they will continue to be dependent on Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian’s brace saw them come from behind to beat Sampdoria and keep within six points of Atalanta, who are in fourth.
Espanyol vs. Real Madrid
There’s been a swagger to Real Madrid since they picked up their 2019-20 season, something that indicates they’ll have too much for bottom club Espanyol on Sunday.
Four wins in succession have allowed Zinedine Zidane’s team to close the gap to Barcelona at the top of the table. The manager would have been pleased with the way in which his team negotiated difficult assignments against Valencia and Real Sociedad, setting up what looks like a straightforward run-in for Los Blancos.
Espanyol increasingly appear as though they are in need of a miracle if they are to keep their top-flight status, as they continue to toil and sit five points clear of safety.
While Espanyol have performed well against some of the bigger sides this season—they have registered home draws against Barcelona and Atletico Madrid—as things stand it’s tough to see them laying a glove on Zidane’s Madrid.
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