Exciting title races may not have surfaced in major European leagues like many of us hoped, but as the clock begins to tick down on the domestic seasons there is still plenty of action to savour this weekend.
The selections come exclusively from England—where Premier League survival and the FA Cup are on the line—and Italy.
All kick offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Regardless of the result at the London Stadium on Friday, both West Ham and Watford will feel as though they have enough to stay up. The winners here will almost be guaranteed a spot in the top flight next season though.
A small upturn in form from both sides has propelled them out of the relegation scrap for the time being, with Aston Villa and Bournemouth looking like the most likely sides to join Norwich City in the Championship.
As the home side, West Ham will view this as a big opportunity and confidence will be high after their 4-0 win at Norwich, with Michail Antonio on the scoresheet an incredible four times. For manager David Moyes, having a forward in that kind of groove will be invaluable in the remaining matches.
Watford aren’t done yet either, as they fought back from a goal down to beat Newcastle United last time out, giving themselves a three-point advantage over Bournemouth. Any kind of result here would help manager Nigel Pearson complete the remarkable job of keeping them in the Premier League; they were rock bottom when he took over.
Arsenal vs. Manchester City
Saturday, July 18, 2:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The first of the two semi-finals in the FA Cup comes on Saturday night at Wembley. It promises to be an eerie occasion between Arsenal and competition holders Manchester City.
The Gunners will be in high spirits for this fixture after their 2-1 win over champions Liverpool on Wednesday. Manager Mikel Arteta saw the team rally from a goal down to snatch victory and was also able to rest star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for much of the match in the process.
City were 2-1 winners on the same night, albeit they were far from convincing against a struggling Bournemouth team. The defensive frailties on display then will give Arsenal some confidence that they can cause an upset.
Even so, City’s own attacking firepower is likely to prove too much for the Gunners defence. Although Arteta’s shift to a back three has helped shore up some issues, but holes remain that City’s quality can exploit.
Manchester United vs. Chelsea
Sunday, July 19, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The second semi-final is another high-class one, as United and Chelsea meet in a repeat of the 2018 competition.
While both Chelsea and United are chasing Champions League football via a top-four finish in the Premier League, their respective manages Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are also on the hunt for their first pieces of silverware as managers.
With United in action on Thursday at Crystal Palace, the Blues have had an extra 48 hours to prepare for this encounter, potentially giving them the edge. Lampard was also able to rotate his options on Tuesday, as Chelsea fought to a 1-0 win over bottom club Norwich.
The Red Devils have been one of the best teams in the country since the return of domestic football though and as of yet not many sides have been able to find a way of containing Bruno Fernandes, not to mention their red-hot front three. Should both teams attack from the off in this one, the match should be a spectacle to savour.
Roma vs. Inter Milan
Sunday, July 19, 3:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Neither Roma nor Inter Milan have much left to play for in the remaining weeks of the season. Hopefully that lack of pressure will produce a fixture to savour at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.
Like Lazio, Inter’s early-season challenge to Juventus has faded away and they’ve had to make do with consolidating their spot in the top four. Antonio Conte’s side have not yet found consistency since returning too; they had to fight back from a one-goal deficit to beat Torino on Monday.
By contrast, Roma have won three in a row and appear to be gathering momentum ahead of next season under manager Paulo Fonseca. The manager will be pleased with the manner in which his team have fought back, having stuttered out of the blocks since the restart.
Juventus vs. Lazio
Monday, July 20, 3:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+
When the Serie A season got back up and running, Juventus and Lazio looked set to fight it out for the Scudetto.
But as the two gear up to meet in Turin on Monday, Lazio have actually slipped back behind Atalanta into third position, while Juventus have done enough to grind out results needed to build up a sizeable lead at the top of the table. If there’s to be any late drama in this campaign, Lazio need to win on Monday.
Juventus haven’t been at their free-flowing best as of late—they’ve taken just two points from their last two outings—although they still have a seven-point lead over Atalanta and eight points between themselves and Lazio. It’s in these crucial matches in which the team has tended to stand up this season though.
Lazio need a big result to reignite their campaign, having earned just one point from their last four matches. Should they pull off a surprise here, then we may yet get some fireworks to finish the 2019-20 Serie A season.
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