Was it the shock result of the Champions League on Wednesday? In what certainly will not be a forgotten night in Porto, the Portuguese side came out of the gate storming and jumped to an early 2-0 lead. Before people’s tea had time to set, the game looked over and the world was shocked. Within 10 minutes, Quaresma scored two goals one from the spot and one from a terrible play from Dante. Thiago gave Bayern a lifeline when he scored later in the first half. A 2-1 score line would have not been the worst result, but then Jackson Martinez scored a third goal to make the final 3-1. The tie is not over yet, as a 2-0 win at home will send Bayern to the semifinals. They have work to do, but I think this will be a great comeback and Bayern will barely survive.
In Paris, it was a night to forget for David Luis. He came on for the injured Thiago Silve after 21 minutes with his team down 1-0. Neymar scored the first goal of the game after a series of beautiful passes. Then Suarez started his personal embarrassment of David Luiz in the second half. Suarez added a brace to what should all but end the tie. En route to scoring both of his goals, he nutmegged David Luiz. There was a late lifeline of sorts for PSG, as Van der Wiel’s shot deflected massively off Mathieu and into the net. The tie ended 3-1. PSG will need to score 3 goals in Barcelona next week to advance. It looks all but done and dusted for Barcelona, but nothing is set in stone.
The Tuesday games combined for just 1 goal scored by Vidal from the penalty spot. This goal was all Juventus could score at home against Monaco. It will be all to play for in Monaco with Juventus favorites to advance, but if Monaco can score an early goal it could get nervy for Juve. In the Madrid Derby, it is truly all to play for as the match in the Vicente Calderon finished 0-0. With the next leg in the Bernabeu, you would expect Real to advance to the semifinals, but any goal scored for Atleti will carry extra weight as it will be a road goal.
I expect the 4 big boys: Juventus, Bayern, Barcelona, and Real Madrid to advance which would set up a tasty semifinals. However, I would not be shocked to see Porto or Atletico Madrid advance.
Europa League Recap
The quarterfinals of the Europa League took place on Thursday. In what I described on Monday as the tie of the round, Napoli did not disappoint. They took the early lead and never looked back, scoring 4 goals in the match. Nicklas Bendtner scored a late goal to give Wolfsburg some hope, but the tie looks over with Napoli coming home next Thursday. Sevilla needed another late comeback to take the lead in their tie after giving up the early goal. Denis Suarez scored the winner on an incredible volley. Club Brugge and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk played to a 0-0 draw in Bruges. The last match was a 1-1 draw between Dynamo Kyiv and Fiorentina that needed a extra time goal for Fiorentina to earn the draw. It was also a vital away goal. These matches look much more difficult to predict but here goes nothing. I think Sevilla and Napoli should advance fairly easily. In the other two games, I can see it go either way, but I will say Dnipro and Fiorentina will advance next week.
This weekend Spain has some big matches. The weekend starts with 1st place Barcelona hosting 4th place Valencia. Then Real Madrid host Malaga. Can Real Madrid have a chance to take top spot when they play? The lead is just 2 points now and these two matches will go a long way in deciding the Champion. In the race for fourth, Atletico Madrid travel to Deportivo and Sevilla will make the short journey to Granada. Madrid in third is just 4 points ahead of Sevilla and just 1 point ahead of Valencia.
In Germany, the races at the top look all but done with just 6 games left and the distance between 4th and 5th is 10 points. Bayern Munich will be crowned champions shortly with Wolfsburg, Monchengladbach, and Bayer getting the Champions League places. The attention in Germany should probably turn to the bottom of the table as the bottom five teams are separated by just 4 points. Hamburg sits on the bottom with a big away game against Werder. Stuttgart have slowly climbed off the bottom spot and will to continue this climb when they travel to Augsburg. Paderborn will attempt to get out of the 16th place with a win at Dortmund. Freiburg and Mainz play each other in what will be a big 6 pointer at the bottom of the table.
In France, the race for the title is back on as Lyon jumped back to the top of the table with their win on Wednesday over Bastia. This week they host St. Etienne on Sunday. They would love to be on the top of the table when their game starts since PSG travels to Nice on Saturday. PSG will need to respond to their defeat to the Catalana side during the week. A win can send them 1 point ahead of Lyon. At the end of the weekend they will still have a game in hand. Monaco has jumped Marseille in the table. Marseille plays tonight as they will look to jump back into top 3. This should be a fascinating race for the third and final Champions League spot. Monaco host Rennes on Saturday.
In Italy, there is a heavy weight clash on Saturday when Juventus host Lazio. While a defeat will not do much in terms of the title, it is 1st versus 2nd. The lead for Juventus is currently 12 points. Roma is in third and is 7 points clear of Napoli. Roma hosts Atalanta this weekend. Napoli travels to Cagliari. The race for third seems to have cooled as Napoli, Sampdoria, and Fiorentina have all fallen off the pace. It looks set for the top 3, but Roma will need to pick up some points this weekend.
Lastly in England, the winners of 8 out of the last 10 EPL titles face off when Chelsea plays Manchester United. Chelsea look set to win the title this week as they have a 7 point lead on Arsenal. A win this weekend will end any thoughts of the title race not being over. The other big matches this weekend are the FA Cup semifinals. The matches will take place in Wembley. Saturday sees Reading play Arsenal while Liverpool against Aston Villa is on Sunday. In the EPL, Manchester City will look to respond to their derby defeat when they host West Ham. Southampton will look to close the gap on City when they travel to Stoke.
EPL Pick Em
The score is now 218 to 209. Buzz came up with a 8-5 win last week to extend his lead to 9 points.
My Picks – Saints 2-0, Swans 1-1, Everton 2-2, Palace 2-0, Chelsea 2-1, City 2-1, Spurs 2-1
Buzz’s Picks – Everton 2-1, Leicester 1-1, Palace 1-0, saints 2-1, Chelsea 2-1, City 3-1, Spurs 2-2