After the events of the previous few days in football, it only seems appropriate to take the focus away from the dirty dozen who sought to destroy the ethos and values of the game for a weekend. They’ve had enough attention, haven’t they?
We have a cosmopolitan lineup nonetheless, with a vital game in English football’s second tier followed by eye-catching clashes in Germany, Spain, Italy and France.
All kick offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Bournemouth vs. Brentford
Saturday, April 14, 7:30 a.m. ET, ESPN+
The Championship regular season is rattling towards a thrilling conclusion, with the fight for Playoff spots set to take centre stage in the final three games.
This showdown between Bournemouth, who are seeking to return to the Premier League after their relegation last term, and Brentford, who missed out on promotion to Fulham in last year’s Playoff final, should be a thriller, with the two top-scoring teams in the league coming head to head.
A draw for Reading on Wednesday night at Luton allowed both of these teams a little more breathing room going into this one. The Royals are in seventh and seven points behind Brentford, who sit in fifth. The Bees have a game in hand on their rivals, including Bournemouth who are two points ahead of them in third.
While both teams should have enough to qualify for the Playoffs, a win here would guarantee as much. It would allow their respective coaches to rotate their squads in the final weeks of the campaign, which could give them a crucial advantage in their push for Premier League football.
Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Dortmund
Saturday, April 14, 9:30 a.m. ET, ESPN+
The race for Champions League football is beginning to heat up in the Bundesliga. Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund are set to play a huge part in what promises to be a fascinating battle.
Wolfsburg have arguably been the biggest surprise in the German top flight this season. They have surged up to third place in the table and have looked every inch a team worthy of playing in Europe’s top competition next term.
There were some smalls signs of a wobble when they suffered consecutive losses recently, although they got back to winning ways on Wednesday with a comfortable 3-1 win at Wolfsburg. It leaves them on 57 points going into the weekend, five points ahead of their upcoming opponents Dortmund, who are in fifth.
Three wins in succession have pushed Dortmund back into the fight for the top four, as they now trail Frankfurt in fourth by just four points. Although they’ve not been consistent this term, they remain a ferocious attacking force on their day and they can set up a gripping finale to the German season with three points on the road here.
Sevilla vs. Granada
Sevilla are La Liga’s in-form team at the moment and can fuel late-season hopes of a possible title charge with another three points against Granada on Sunday.
For long spells of the Spanish top-flight season, it looked as thought the title race was going to be a one-horse race and in recent weeks it’s developed into a three-team tussle. With six wins and a draw from their previous seven games, the Andalusian outfit have forced their way into contention with six games to go.
On Wednesday, Sevilla churned out the kind of result required to get over the line in these title races, with Youssef En-Nesyri netting in the second half to see them earn a narrow win. The Moroccan has not been a guaranteed starter for Julen Lopetegui’s team this term, although he still has an impressive 17 goals to his name.
Granada have had a season to remember, including a remarkable run to the Europa League quarter-finals. They have an outside chance of qualifying for that competition again this season and that carrot should be enough to make this an awkward assignment for the title chasers.
Atalanta vs. Bologna
Sunday, April 25, 2:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+
After a memorable win over the Serie A champions last weekend, Atalanta have managed to put themselves in an excellent position to qualify for the Champions League and they will want to cement that place with victory on Sunday at home to Bologna.
While it took them a while to get up to speed this season, La Dea have emerged yet again as one of the strongest teams in Serie A, as well as one of the most entertaining outfits in all of European football.
That being said, a draw at Roma on Wednesday opened the door for some of the teams chasing them down for a top-four berth. Napoli’s win over Lazio on Thursday means they’re now in fifth spot, just two places and two points behind Atalanta in third.
Atalanta will be confident of taking another positive step forward this weekend though. Bologna are stuck in mid-table, have little to play for and if they find themselves on the back foot early on, may well wilt against the tides of black and blue attacking pressure.
Lyon vs. Lille
Arguably the biggest game of the weekend comes from the most exciting title race in European football, as Lyon and Lille both hold hopes of being crowned champions this term.
At the moment, it’s Lille who lead the way, although there’s only three points separating them and Lyon, who are in fourth. It means the connotations from this weekend’s match are enormous for the destination of the French crown.
For Lille to be top at this point in the season represents a remarkable achievement on their part, although having got this far so close the end of the campaign, it’ll be devastating for Christophe Galtier’s team if they don’t get the job done.
Lyon are not to be written off either though. While they’ve been outsiders in this race in the main, a win on the road at the league leaders would inject huge impetus into their hopes of coming out on top in this four-team scuffle.
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