Titles, promotion, relegation and European football. It’s all on the line this weekend, as the European calendar nudges towards its curtain call.
In France and Spain, outsiders have the chance to secure the championship on the final days of their respective seasons and can each do so with a victory. Meanwhile, in Serie A and the Premier League the focus is on the top four. Starting us off is finely-poised Championship playoff tie.
All kick offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Brentford vs. Bournemouth
Saturday, May 22, 7:30 a.m. ET, ESPN+
Although the other playoff semi between Swansea City and Barnsley should be a cracker later in the day too, there was only room for one of the matches in our selections this week. Brentford welcoming Bournemouth to the Brentford Community Stadium should be a brilliant way to begin the weekend.
It’s Bournemouth who hold a slender 1-0 advantage going into this one. Arnaut Danjuma’s goal was enough for them to take the win at the Vitality Stadium in an absorbing contest and Cherries boss Jonathan Woodgate will be delighted with how his team performed on the night.
Still, it’ll take an almighty effort for them to hang on to that advantage. Brentford have been one of the standout sides in the Championship this season and although they weren’t quite on it from an attacking perspective earlier in the week on the south coast, in Ivan Toney they have the second tier’s top marksman.
For Brentford it’ll be a historic day regardless, as fans will be allowed into their new stadium for the first time. Manager Thomas Frank and his players will want to give supporters heading to their new home some positive memories to go with their first experiences.
Real Valladolid vs. Atletico Madrid
Despite some major stutters in the second half of the season, Atletico Madrid are just one win away from the La Liga title at Real Valladolid.
Last weekend it appeared as though their chances had gone, as they were 1-0 down to Osasuna after 83 minutes and with Real Madrid winning at Athletic Bilbao, relegated to second in the table. However, late goals from Renan Lodi and Luis Suarez sparked wild scenes at the Wanda Metropolitano, giving Atletico a huge advantage going into the final day.
Real Madrid are the only team who could catch Atletico this weekend and will kick off at the same time at Villarreal. With the latter in action in the Europa League final against Manchester United on Wednesday, they are expected to rest a number of key players.
Valladolid need to win if they’re to have any chance of staying in the division too, as they are vying for safety with Elche and Huesca. But given what’s up for grabs for Atletico, taking three points from this fixture feels like a huge task.
Leicester City vs. Tottenham
Leicester City’s chances of a Champions League place are fading fast late in the campaign and they must win against a toiling Tottenham Hotspur if they are to secure a top-four berth on the final day.
Although last weekend was a memorable one for Leicester after they beat Chelsea 1-0 in the FA Cup final, they were beaten by the Blues in the Premier League on Tuesday. It was a result that meant a top-four spot was out of their hands and Liverpool moved above them with a win at Burnley a day later.
While Liverpool and Leicester are on the same points, the former’s superior goal difference means the Foxes realistically need to better their result. The Reds will be big favorites when they take to the field against Crystal Palace at Anfield on Sunday though.
As for Tottenham, they need a win to secure European football next season. They are in seventh going into this one, but could be leapfrogged by both Arsenal and Everton if results were to go against them on Sunday.
Atalanta vs. Milan
Sunday, May 23, 2:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+
There’s a three-way fight for the final Champions League spot in Serie A and Milan have left themselves with a lot to do on the last day of the campaign, as they gear up for a trip to second-placed Atalanta.
Milan are in third going into this match in Bergamo, but if they were to drop points then both Napoli and Juventus could leapfrog them. There’ll be huge regret among Rossoneri supporters that they toiled to a 0-0 draw with strugglers Cagliari last weekend, as a win would’ve put Stefano Pioli’s team in an excellent position.
Even so, looking at things from a more positive perspective, a win over Atalanta would see Milan surge past them into second place in the table and that’d be fitting for a team that led the way for long spells of the campaign.
Atalanta have been excellent in recent weeks, but are likely to be a little leggy and a little weary on Sunday. On Wednesday they were beaten 2-1 by Juventus in the Coppa Italia final in a pulsating contest; in Serie A they’ve surged into second spot with a run of nine wins and two draws in their last 11 matches.
Angers vs. Lille
Lille have been the biggest surprise in European football this season and they are one win away from what would be a remarkable Ligue 1 title.
Paris Saint-Germain were once again expected to be the dominant force in French football, but an inconsistent campaign from them has left the door ajar. Lille have marched through it and are out to repeat the heroics of the 2010-11 side, who also scaled the summit of the table.
They could’ve made it a little easier for themselves going into the final weekend. Last time out they drew 0-0 at home to Saint-Etienne, meaning a win is imperative on the final day for Christophe Galtier’s side, assuming PSG win at Brest on the same day.
Angers are languishing down in 12th place and have lost six of their last seven games. While they will be keen to play the role of party poopers on the day, Lille couldn’t really ask for more ideal opposition to cap of what’s been a campaign to remember.
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