There’s that end-of-season feel to soccer at the moment, with night matches starting in a late-spring hue and every kick of ball feeling so vital to so many teams.
Across Europe there is still much to play for too. In Spain, four teams remain in contention for the title and they will each play one of the other across two games this weekend. In Germany and Italy the focus is all on the top four, while the Premier League title can be decided in a dress rehearsal for the upcoming Champions League final.
All kick offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Borussia Dortmund vs. RB Leipzig
Borussia Dortmund will be out to continue their recent revival in a crucial game on Saturday, with second-place RB Leipzig the visitors to the Westfalenstadion.
BVB were able to get the better of Wolfsburg a fortnight ago, putting them within touching distance of the top four again. They are in fifth, but just two points behind last week’s opponents who are in third and one off Eintracht Frankfurt, who also lost in their previous outing to put their hopes of Champions League qualification in some jeopardy.
Dortmund deserve credit for the way in which they’ve managed to thrust themselves back into the race for fourth, with four wins in succession in the Bundesliga. After a recent lean spell, Erling Haaland is back among the goals too, with four scored in the last three games.
It’ll be intriguing to see what kind of opposition Leipzig pose to Dortmund, as they are pretty secure in second place. The club have also had a significant month too, with confirmation coming that their current manager Julian Nagelsmann will take over as Bayern Munich manager at the end of the 2020-21 campaign.
Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid
For so long, this is the game in La Liga that so many have been looking forward to, as leaders Atletico Madrid take their two-point lead to Barcelona, who are one of their two nearest challengers for top spot.
Although Barcelona got back to winning ways last weekend with a 3-2 win over Valencia, they will still be lamenting their last outing at the Camp Nou. They were stunned by mid-table Granada, losing 2-1 and missing the chance to scale the summit in the process; it means the pressure is on them to win this weekend.
Atletico are stuttering to the finishing line and manager Diego Simeone will know just how significant a game this is for his team. While a draw would keep Barcelona at bay, Real Madrid are just two points behind them going into the weekend’s fixtures and could make up ground in a huge match of their own on Sunday.
Both teams will approach the game in an entirely different way from a stylistic perspective. But the need for each to win and seize the title initiative should make this an absorbing spectacle, especially given the game that follows in Madrid the following day.
Manchester City vs. Chelsea
After marvelous midweeks in which they both booked places in the Champions League final, Manchester City and Chelsea will attempt to realign their focus on the Premier League this weekend.
City were dominant against PSG on Tuesday, asserting their position as arguably the strongest team in European football this season. They’ve undoubtedly been the best team in England and a win at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday would be enough for them to clinch the Premier League, making it three in four years for Pep Guardiola’s team.
Chelsea have already beaten City in one competition recently, knocking them out of the FA Cup at the semi-final stage. That will give them confidence ahead of Saturday’s clash and the Champions League final, although for the moment their focus needs to be on finishing in the top four of the Premier League, with West Ham, Tottenham and Liverpool still not out of the fight.
Given the depth in their respective squads and verve with which both teams play their football, this will be an intriguing encounter and potentially an early chapter in what may develop into a fascinating rivalry in the coming years.
Real Madrid vs. Sevilla
Real Madrid and Sevilla will be hoping Atletico Madrid and Barcelona cancel one another out on Saturday, giving them the chance to make up ground on Sunday.
Sevilla felt like a serious part of this engrossing title battle until Monday, when they were shocked in the final minute by Athletic Club in a 1-0 loss. It means they are now six points back on Atletico with four games to play and realistically they will need to win them all if they’re to pull off a miracle.
They will fancy their chances against Real Madrid though. Zinedine Zidane’s side have been looking a little jaded lately and they were dominated on Wednesday by Chelsea in the Champions League. The team is looking in need of some refurbishment, albeit they are still in with a great shout of winning this season’s domestic title.
Zidane will be hoping some of the battle-hardened warriors in his team can go to the well again in the final weeks of the season. But based on their recent showings, Sevilla are in with a chance of getting a result in the capital.
Juventus vs. AC Milan
Sunday, May 9, 2:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The campaign has been one of disappointment for different reasons for AC Milan and Juventus, although both will want to secure a spot in the top four as a consolation prize.
If Milan were offered fourth spot, which they currently occupy, at the start of the season then they would’ve been content. However, having been in the title race for so long and limply faded away, there’s a sense that this season may fizzle out completely in the final weeks, with Napoli just one place and two points behind.
The disappointment for Juventus is that after nine years at the summit of Italian football, they haven’t even been in the title race this season. They are also on 69 points and while it’s unthinkable to ponder the Bianconeri not qualifying for the European Cup next term, a loss here would leave them in serious jeopardy.
With Inter’s title win confirmed, it’s been a challenging few days for their twi main rivals. If either were to slip out of the top four this weekend, you suspect it wouldn’t go down well with either set of supporters.
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