The European leagues are beginning to draw to their various conclusions, with some divisions set for a processional finale while others continue to pulsate and encapsulate.
While Spanish soccer may be subject to a suspension beginning next weekend, the race for the title in La Liga remains fascinating and this weekend will feature two games that will be critical in determining its eventual destination.
In addition, we’ve two matches from England to sample from two separate divisions, plus a local derby in Major League Soccer with a twist.
All kickoffs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Ipswich Town vs. Norwich City
Saturday May 9, 7:15AM, beIN SPORTS and fuboTV
The Championship Playoffs are engrossing enough in isolation, but when you factor in rivalries between some of the teams involved, they become even more fascinating. As such, this encounter featuring East Anglia enemies Ipswich Town and Norwich City is an unmissable clash.
The mindset of teams coming into this unique end-of-season competition can be so important and Norwich will be disappointed not to have secured automatic promotion. Alex Neil’s men went on a storming run in the second half of the season, but ultimately came up just short in their promotion bid; it remains to be seen what mentality they will take into this encounter.
By contrast, Ipswich only secured their spot in the Playoffs on the final day of the season. However, Mick McCarthy’s men did stutter over the line, finishing in sixth position after a 3-2 loss to Blackburn Rovers and only finishing in sixth on goal difference at the expense of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
So neither team is quite at their free-flowing best coming into this one and the result could be a nervy first-leg at Portman Road. But the drama this competition has seen down the years in addition to the raucous backdrop the Ipswich faithful will conjure makes this an occasion that must be savored.
Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad
Saturday May, Noon, beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS Espańol and fuboTV
The race for the La Liga title continues to make intriguing viewing and Barcelona will be hoping to take a big step towards lifting the trophy when they host Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou this weekend.
It’s worth remembering David Moyes’ side actually beat Barcelona earlier in the season. At the Anoeta, the Basque outfit were cohesive and dynamic in their defending, shutting off the space for the Blaugrana’s illustrious stars to work within. They picked up their first win in six games last time out too and given they’re languishing in mid-table, should play without fear.
But Barca are a completely different proposition to the side that were toppled by Moyes’ men back in January. Indeed, that loss was the catalyst for them finding some formidable form, which was on show in earnest when the Catalonians romped to an 8-0 win over Cordoba last time out in La Liga.
It was also there in abundance when a Lionel Messi masterclass helped down Bayern Munich 3-0 in midweek. With the genial Argentina star, Luis Suarez and Neymar all in sensational form at the moment, Barcelona are a must-watch. As such, you fear for Moyes and his team here.
Real Madrid vs. Valencia
Saturday May 9, 2:00PM, beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS Espańol and fuboTV
After edging out Sevilla 3-2 in a thrilling game at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium last weekend, Real Madrid’s quest to stay in the title race will face another test, as they welcome an excellent Valencia team to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Great credit must go to Carlo Ancelotti’s team. They’ve had to cope with a host of injuries to key players, but on the domestic front they’ve tackled a very testing run of fixtures—including trips to Sevilla and Celta Vigo—with a lot of class. If they can get through this one, with Barcelona scheduled to face Atletico Madrid away from home next, their chances will be very much alive.
However, Valencia are certainly no pushovers. Indeed, Nuno Santo has enjoyed a superb season with Los Che, balancing attacking finesse with defensive ferocity throughout the campaign. In addition, Valencia have already sampled victory over Real this season too; they were the side that ended Los Blancos’ 22-game winning run.
The visitors will feel confident of taking something from this match. Real were involved in an extremely draining clash with Juventus in midweek and with the squad a little debilitated by fitness concerns, the hosts could feel the after effects of that tie. However, Ancelotti will be acutely aware that there is no room for slip-ups here.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool
Sunday May 10, 11:00AM, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra
Liverpool will be tasked with spoiling Chelsea’s title celebrations this weekend, as Brendan Rodgers’ team bid to keep their slender chances of a top-four finish alive.
After Manchester United’s loss to West Bromwich Albion last weekend, the Reds are just four points back on the Red Devils with three games to play. In addition, Louis van Gaal’s men face a tricky game away at Crystal Palace this time round and have lost their last three games in a row without scoring a goal.
SEE ALSO — Join World Soccer Talk’s Nate Abaurrea and Amadi Tidane this Sunday at 11am ET for their audio broadcast of Chelsea-Liverpool on Rabble.tv.
Going to Stamford Bridge and taking three points would be a major ask for the Reds, however. Granted, Chelsea may subconsciously let their impeccable standards slip after securing the title, but Jose Mourinho is a manager that will surely drill in to his players the importance of finishing the season strong. Especially against a rival.
It will be galling for Liverpool to give these Chelsea players the customary guard of honor reserved for new champions after coming so close last season. But the Reds must ensure they keep their focus and if United do slip up at Selhurst Park, this will represent a massive opportunity to salvage something from what’s been a tough season.
New York Red Bulls vs. New York City
Sunday May 10, 7:00PM, FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes
Soccer will be the talk of the Big Apple come Sunday evening, as Major League Soccer gets set for what should be a thrilling clash between New York Red Bulls and New York City in the city’s inaugural derby game.
The Red Bulls are the big favorites coming into this clash. Ali Curtis’ side have began the campaign well, playing some eye-catching football and picking up results to match. Coming into the weekend they sit in third position in the Eastern Conference and they’ll be confident of reigning in DC United and New England Revolution at the summit sooner rather than later if they win here.
New York City are finding things very tough in their very first MLS season. Jason Kreis’ side have only sampled one victory in their nine games so far and come into this local derby having lost five of their last six matches. A win at the Red Bull Arena would subsequently be a major shock, but could potentially spark their season into life.
The people of New York will surely relish this unique sporting occasion. There should be a special atmosphere conjured by those from the area attending and you can bet the Red Bulls supporters will be absolutely desperate to get one over the city’s new upstarts.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
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