A very important vote took place in Italy this week when the top football teams voted on giving an emergency fund to help a club finish the season. For the last couple weeks, Parma has not been playing. They have had their last two matches postponed indefinitely since the club has no money. Parma has been sold twice this season. They are currently set for a bankruptcy hearing to take place in a couple of weeks. The players have not been paid in months. These have been very sad scenes. Parma currently sits on the bottom of the table. They have been deducted 1 point so far this season and are 13 points from safety. In a strong decision, the Serie A teams voted in favor of giving Parma an emergency fund. 16 teams voted in favor of the measure, while Roma, Napoli, and Sassuolo abstained. Only Cesena voted against the move. At times we forget that these clubs do have a finite amount of money, and that some of them are barely getting by from year to year. While I do not see how Parma can survive this and stay up in the top flight, I do hope that they can survive as a club in the future.
During the midweek round of EPL games, all of the teams at the top found a way to win. On Tuesday, Southampton got a late goal by Mane to beat Crystal Palace. Manchester City had goals from Silva and Milner to win 2-0 over last place Leicester. Tottenham held on to win 3-2 over the Swans. Arsenal won 2-1 at Loftus Road over QPR. Man United won 1-0 on a gift from Tim Krul. Liverpool got goals from Henderson and Sturridge to beat Burnley 2-0. The leaders, Chelsea, got a goal from Eden Hazard to win 1-0. Aston Villa finally won a game with their 2-1 win over West Brom. That win sent them out of the bottom 3. Everton struggles have continued as they have now gone five games in the EPL without a victory. They continue to slide into the bottom half of the table.
The Copa del Rey final is set. Barcelona was the first team to secure their seat at the final with their 3-1 win over Villarreal. Neymar opened the scoring just 3 minutes into the game. This goal made the aggregate score 4-1 in favor of Barcelona. Jonathan dos Santos scored a tiny lifeline goal for Villarreal against his former club. Villarreal’s hopes were dashed when Pina was sent off in the 65th minute for his tackle from behind on Neymar. Suarez then made the score 2-1 and Neymar put the game and the match out of sight when he scored his second goal. Barcelona advanced to the final winning 6-2 on aggregate. In the other semi-final, Athletic Bilbao punched their ticket with two first half goals from Adritz Aduriz and Xabier Etxeita. This will set up a great clash for the Copa del Rey final.
In the Coppa Italia, Lazio and Napoli played out to a 1-1 draw in Rome. Napoli are defending champions and will be looking to make it back to the final in April when the second leg takes place. Miroslav Klose opened the scoring for Lazio, but Manolo Gabbiadini leveled the match just before the hour mark. This may be a vital away goal for Napoli. In the other Semi-final, Fiorentina took a huge step towards the final when they won 2-1 over Juventus in Turin. Salah scored both of the goals as he continues his fantastic form following his move from Chelsea.
In the Pokal Cup, Bayern Munich won easily over Braunschweig. If you get a chance check out the David Alaba goal. It was simply beautiful. Borussia Dortmund won again as they beat Dynamo 2-0. The draw for the Quarter-finals will take place on Sunday. The other teams that join the big two are Wolfsburg, Monchengladback, Freiburg, and Arminia. Arminia upset Werder Bremen to advance. Arminia are currently in the third tier of German football. Can they keep on winning in this competition?
In the Coupe de France, St. Etienne needed penalties to beat Boulogne. St. Etienne fell behind after 80 minutes when they gave away a penalty kick. The lead didn’t last long, as Corgnet scored just 5 minutes later. Paris St. Germain beat Monaco 2-0 with goals from David Luiz and Cavani. Auxerre is the only team not from the top tier as they won their penalty shootout with Stade Bretois. In the last quarterfinal matchup, defending champions Guingamp won 2-1. They took the early lead when Mandanne found the back of the net in the third minute. Concarneau leveled the score in the 22nd minute. The match stayed level from then on until Beauvue scored in the second minute of stoppage time at the end of the game. The draw will be made for the semi-finals on March 8th.
In France this weekend, Marseille kicks us off today as they travel to Toulouse. They currently sit just 4 points behind the leaders, Lyon. Marseille could cut their lead to just a single point ahead of the weekend. Marseille have only won 1 game in their last 6 games. PSG host second bottom Lens as they will look to temporarily take top spot in the league. Both Marseille and PSG are facing teams that are heavily involved in the relegation dog fight. The leaders, Lyon, have to wait until Sunday when they travel to Montpellier. Montpellier have lost just one of their last ten matches. Lacazette is slowly coming back into form as he returns from injury. His return to scoring could be just the catalyst Lyon need to win the title.
The leaders in Spain travel to the Basque Country to face Athletic Bilbao. Bilbao have won their last two games and have kept clean sheets in their last 4 domestic matches. They have been vulnerable to the attack, though, as they have conceded 16 goals in four games against the top 3 clubs in La Liga. Real Madrid now sit just 2 points ahead of Barcelona so the leaders are in need of 3 points. On Sunday, Barcelona hosts Rayo Vallecano. This has been a very lopsided affair in the pact with Barcelona winning the last 4 games by a combined score of 16 to 1. This should be a fairly easy match for the Blaugrana. The biggest match of the weekend takes place in Madrid in what is becoming a heated race for third place. Valencia has quietly climbed up the table to sit just 1 point behind Atletico. Madrid has had a sensational home record this season, winning 11 of their 13 fixtures. Valencia comes in on better form, having won 4 in a row. Will we see a reshuffling of the top 4 this weekend?
In Germany, Hertha Berlin travels to Stuttgart in a huge bottom of the table clash. Stuttgart has only won 2 points in their last 6 matches. Augsburg will look to jump into the top four as they take on Wolfsburg this weekend. Wolfsburg sit just 8 points behind the leaders, Munich. Meanwhile, Augsburg sit just 1 point from a Champions League place. Augsburg will need to stop Das Bost if they want to have any chance of winning. The Leaders travel to Hannover as they look to win their fourth match in a row. Leverkusen travels to Paderborn as they look to keep their place in the Champions League. Schalke will look to finally get 3 points and keep pace with the other teams in the race for the Champions League places when they host Hoffenheim.
In Italy, we may finally see Parma in action when they travel to Atalanta. Leaders, Juventus, will look to rebound after their Coppa Italia loss when they host Sassuolo. Juventus have not lost a game at home all season. Napoli host Inter Milan this weekend as they look to close the gap on Roma. Roma travels to Chievo. Roma have drawn seven of their last 8 Serie A fixtures, and they will look to keep their Champions League place as the title seems to be out of sight. Lazio and Fiorentina face off on Monday in a match with two teams chasing Champions League qualification. A win for either club will go a long way in keeping them in the battle for the Champions League Spots.
The EPL takes a break this weekend as the Quarterfinals of the FA Cup take place. The matches start on Saturday when Bradford host Reading. Bradford have been the giant killers in the tournament. Can their magic run continue? The other match on Saturday sees Aston Villa host West Brom. Aston Villa got a vital win over West Brom on Tuesday. The question is can they now repeat the result in the FA Cup. On Sunday, Liverpool host Blackburn. Liverpool are one of the favorites to take home the prize now, and they should advance against the Championship side. The last quarterfinal takes place on Monday when Arsenal travels to Manchester United. This is a heavyweight clash that will see one of the two teams be instant favorites for the FA Cup. It will be a great match to end a great weekend.
There is one EPL game this weekend, as QPR hosts Tottenham on Saturday. Tottenham can jump ahead of Southampton in the table with a win.
EPL Pick Em
My Pick – Tottenham 2-1
Buzz’s Pick – Tottenham 2-0