This week was a terrible week for FIFA, but potentially a great week for soccer. It has long been known that many of the big names in the FIFA hierarchy are corrupt and use their power and money to make what should be a democratic vote not one. There have been rumors of bribes for years and it is now just how FIFA works, and we as fans must live with it. However, this week someone stood up and said enough is enough. The United States Attorney General, Loretta Lynch called for the arrest of 14 members of FIFA. 7 of these men were arrested on Wednesday by Swiss police who will send them to the United States to face their charges. All of these men are now facing a 20 year jail sentence if found guilty, but many believe these are just the small fish that they will try to use to catch the big fish. Sepp Blatter has been the FIFA president for the last 17 years. He is up for reelection this year, but will surely win it easily. Blatter has always been surrounded by conspiracies from the start of his time at FIFA, and especially during his presidency. The majority of the questions started to gain some voice when the 2022 World Cup went to Qatar, a tiny country that is not equipped to handle the World Cup. First off, it is too hot in the winter, let alone the summer to host it. The human cost will be one of the worst if not the worst in the modern era. There have already been over 1000 deaths in Qatar, and many more will follow as the building intensifies and the conditions get worse. Will we see a change to the location? Not likely while Sepp is in charge. While there are problems in FIFA, I think it would be good for Sepp to be reminded who owns football, not him but the fans. Without the fans he doesn’t have a job and doesn’t have the power to make the choices he has. Hopefully this will lead to changes and maybe this “small non-profit” corporation will be held more accountable.
On Saturday, we will see the FA Cup final between Arsenal and Aston Villa. Arsenal will be looking for their second consecutive FA Cup title. They are the heavy favorites to win the title and should win their 12th FA Cup title. This would make them the most successful team in the competition, as they are currently tied with Manchester United on 11 titles. Aston Villa has a rich FA Cup history, winning the trophy a total of 7 times but they have not won it since 1957. Can they end their 58 year drought? If you find yourself watching this game, keep an eye on Jack Grealish for Aston Villa. He is a 19 year old midfielder who was instrumental in their semifinal victory over Liverpool. However, if they are to win this, they will need a great performance from Christian Benteke. Arsenal’s men to watch are Alexi Sanchez and Olivier Giroud.
Saturday also features the Copa Del Rey. This is Barcelona’s chance to win their second trophy of the season when they “host” Athletico Bilbao. The game is being played in the Camp Nou. It features the two most successful teams in this, as Barcelona has won it 26 times and Bilbao has won it 23 times. Bilbao has won it 4 more times that Real Madrid, who is third on the list. However, Bilbao has not won the trophy since 1984. Barcelona was in the final last year and lost to Real. They last won it in 2012. Suarez is reportedly fully fit and will play in this game. This will be Xavi’s final game in the Camp Nou. Bilbao are dealing with a lot of injuries, as they will be without Ander Iturraspe, Jonas Ramalho, Oscar de Marcos, and Iker Muniain. Look for Aritz Aduriz to lead the line and be the best hope for Bilbao. For Barcelona, I would keep an eye on Neymar to see if he can keep his scintillating form going.
The German DFB Pokal Cup final is Jurgen Klopp’s final game in charge of Borussia Dortmund. The match that takes place in Berlin features Borussia Dortmund against Wolfsburg. Wolfsburg should be the favorites, but they have only played in the final one time and lost it to Borussia Monchengladbach. Dortmund have won it 3 times, most recently in 2012. Can Dortmund send Klopp off with a victory? Will Bas Dost rekindle his form from earlier in the season and give Wolfsburg their first ever Pokal title?
The last cup final is the Coupe de France and features PSG and AJ Auxerre. I can only really see this going one way and that is a historic night in Paris. If PSG win the Coupe de France, then they will earn their first ever treble as they have already claimed the Coupe de la Ligue and the Ligue 1 titles. Auxerre has not won any of their last seven games and this should be a nice way for PSG to end their season.
The final weekend of play takes place in Italy, and the only match worth watching is Lazio against Napoli. Since the first tiebreaker is head to head, this game is essentially a playoff to get into the Champions League and all of its riches. Napoli won the first game 1-0, so whoever wins will advance and if the teams draw then Lazio will take third place. This will truly be the match to watch on Sunday.
Have a great weekend and enjoy the Cup finals/Champions League playoff.