It’s full steam ahead to the end of the domestic season in European football and there’s a fantastic slate of fixtures to get stuck into following its glorious return from the international break.
All kick offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Paris Saint-German vs. Lille
It’s the biggest game of the Ligue 1 season on Saturday, as Lille host Paris Saint-Germain with the two teams almost deadlocked at the summit of the table.
After an important win over Lyon before the international break, it’s PSG who have the advantage, with their superior goal difference giving them an edge over Lille. They’ve been inconsistent under new manager Mauricio Pochettino, but still have the firepower to get them out of trouble when it comes to Ligue 1 clashes.
Lille don’t have world-class talents like Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to rely upon. Instead, their surprise run to the top of the Ligue 1 table has been centered on a strong defense and astute in-game management. Manager Christophe Galtier has done a stellar job and will want to see his players bounce back from a disappointing loss to Nimes before the break.
The Parc des Princes represents a huge challenge for Lille though, especially as PSG will be sensing blood. If the defending champions can surge three points clear of Lille with a win here, it’s easy to see them putting distance between themselves and the chasing pack in the final eight games.
RB Leipzig vs. Bayern Munich
If RB Leipzig are to provide serious competition to Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga in the remaining weeks of the season, then it feels like a win over them is imperative on Saturday.
Bayern have hit form at the perfect time this term and have been able to build a four-point advantage over Leipzig at the top of the table. They flexed their muscles before the international break in spectacular fashion, racing into a 4-0 lead over Stuttgart despite seeing Alphonso Davies sent off early in the contest.
Leipzig have done well to keep pace for large parts of the season and have the tools to cause issues for Bayern. The one area of concern for manager Julian Nagelsmann will be finding the attacking formula to cause problems for a ropey Bayern defence; their top scorer in the league this season is on a meagre six goals.
Bayern’s top scorer has 35 by contrast, Robert Lewandowski. However, he will miss Saturday’s match with an injury issue and the league leaders will need to find a different route to goal as a result.
Arsenal vs. Liverpool
The most intriguing game of the Premier League weekend will come from the Emirates Stadium, with Arsenal and Liverpool looking to keep their respective European hopes alive.
The Gunners were able to salvage a positive result from a desperate situation before the international break, recovering from a 3-0 deficit to draw 3-3 with West Ham United. Although there are still clearly big issues to iron out for manager Mikel Arteta, the team does appear to be making important strides.
Liverpool were also winners in their last game, digging out a 1-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers. The man on the scoresheet that night was Diogo Jota and his return to the side has been welcomed by Reds supporters; he also netted three times for Portugal during the international break.
The Reds are in seventh spot going into the weekend fixtures, five points off the Champions League places. They’ll still be looking towards the top four, although a win for Arsenal on Saturday would move them to within a point of the defending Premier League champions.
Real Sociedad vs. Athletic Club
Saturday, April 3, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
After its suspension a year ago, the 2020 Copa del Rey final will be played on Saturday between Basque giants Real Sociedad and Athletic Club.
For both sets of supporters, the absence of a crowd represents a major shame, as each following brings a color and fervor to contests between these teams. However, the cities of Bilbao and San Sebastian are poised to come to a standstill on Saturday evening, with all watching on as the sides battle it out at La Cartuja in Seville.
Neither side comes into the game in the best form, with Sociedad losing their last two in La Liga and struggling for consistency after their excellent start to the season. Athletic are also without a win in three, although have shown an appetite for the big occasion already this year, beating Real Madrid and Barcelona on their way to the Spanish Super Cup.
The final of the 2021 edition of the competition will be played in two week’s time, with Athletic again involved against Barcelona. However, this showdown with their nearest and not-so-dearest is the one they’ll be desperate to emerge victorious from.
Sevilla vs. Atletico Madrid
The pressure was ramping up on Atletico before the international break and they’re straight back at it on Sunday, with a testing trip to Sevilla on the agenda for them in La Liga.
Having marched into a massive lead at the top earlier in the season, Atletico’s advantage has been slowly chipped away at in recent weeks. Going into the weekend’s matches, they now lead Barcelona by just four points and Real Madrid by six.
Atletico were 1-0 winners over Alaves in their last match before the international break, but they needed a brilliant late penalty save from Jan Oblak to keep them ahead. Manager Diego Simeone will hope the international break provided a chance for his players to refresh, as they were clearly feeling the effects of a long season beforehand.
If they are jaded then Sevilla have it in them to strike. Julen Lopetegui’s team are secure in fourth spot and subsequently the Champions League for next season, although they still have an outside chance of catching Real Madrid and finishing in the top three in the final 10 games.
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