Arsenal’s French striker Olivier Giroud, (L), Arsenal’s French defender Laurent Koscielny (C) and Arsenal’s English defender Rob Holding celebrate victory after the FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley stadium in London on April 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLIS
It’s the business end of the major football leagues across Europe and the games are getting tougher and more intense. Some teams will celebrate this weekend, while for some others, it will be all doom and gloom as they will be bidding goodbye to their top-flight status. These are the fixtures showing this week and the likely scenarios that will play out.
The weekend hostilities in England will begin tonight when the most-in-form team in the league, Tottenham, makes a very short trip to the Olympic Stadium in the capital to face West Ham in a London derby and a potential title decider. Spurs are hanging on the coat-tails of Chelsea in the title race and anything short of a win here will most likely end their chase. Chelsea will not play until Monday and by then, they would have known if a win will all but guarantee them their second title in three years or will just help them keep Spurs at bay.
The marquee fixture this weekend will see Arsenal host Manchester United in what will be the London club’s final opportunity to seriously push for a top four finish. A loss will be fatal for their top-four hopes, while a draw will not do them much good either, whereas a win will keep them in the hunt.
The relegation battle intensifies as a win for Hull and Swansea, coupled with a loss for West Ham and Crystal Palace will mean that all four teams will be in the thick of the relegation battle in the final weeks of the season.
LA LIGA (Spain)
Barcelona will hope to keep the pressure on Real Madrid with a victory over Villarreal at the Nou Camp tomorrow, while Los Blancos will definitely want to reply that with a win at Granada later in the day. Atletico will hopefully confirm their participation in next season’s Champions League with a win over Eibar, while Sevilla will host Real Soceidad as they battle to clinch the final UCL spot. Sporting Gijon could join Granada and Osasuna in the lower leagues next season with a loss to Las Palmas tomorrow.
SERIE A (Italy)
The Turin derby will take place this weekend and its significance cannot be overstated as a Juve win over Torino will all but hand the title to the old lady of Italian football. A win for Juventus and anything short of a win for Roma against Milan will see Juventus officially win the title this weekend. Palermo will officially be relegated this weekend with anything short of a win against Chievo and even in the event that they do get a win, they will still go down if Empoli beats Bologna.
Bayern won the title last weekend and the UCL spots have already been decided so the only thing worth taking a peep into in the German Bundesliga for this weekend, is the relegation battle which happens to be heating up quite nicely. Darmstadt are down, while the other automatic relegation spot is still up for grabs and any of the teams from Bayer Leverkusen in twelfth position to second from bottom Ingolstadt could clinch it.
LIGUE 1 (France)
Monaco and PSG are in a tight battle for the title in France. Monaco will be away to relegation-threatened Nancy in a tricky tie, while PSG will host bottom-placed Bastia, who are also in the thick of the relegation battle. Nice have already sewn up third position and the final UCL place, while Lyon, Bordeaux and Marseille are all battling for the automatic Europa league spot. The relegation battle is very intense as any of the bottom eight sides could still possibly drop into Ligue 2.
OTHER LEAGUES and UCL
Feyernoord will clinch the Dutch title with a win tomorrow at Excelsior, while Benfica and Porto will continue their fight for the title this weekend in Portugal.
Juventus will host Monaco in the second leg of the UCL on Tuesday, with a comfortable 2-nil lead from the first leg in France. Atletico will have the uphill task of trying to overturn a 3-nil first leg deficit, when they host city rivals Real Madrid, at the Vicente Calderon in the second leg of their semi-final tie on Wednesday.