Is FIFA in Trouble?

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.

Europa League Final!!!

Today is the Europa League final!!!  This is Europe’s second tier competition behind the Champions League.  The Europa League was the combination of two former competitions, the UEFA Cup and the Cup Winners Cup.  Today, Sevilla face Dnipro in the final.  The game is being played today in the National Stadium in Warsaw.  Sevilla are favorites in the final, but it should be a good game.

What to watch for in this game focuses on Sevilla and their run at history.  No team has won the Europa League/UEFA Cup 4 times.  This is something that Sevilla has the chance to do today.  They can also be the first club to ever successfully defend their title twice.  However, they face a very strong defensive team in Dnipro.  Dnipro are the newcomers to the final.  While Sevilla is making their fourth appearance in the final today, this is Dnipro’s first ever final.  In fact, Dnipro had never made it to a semi-final before this season.  Dnipro advanced to the final after shocking the football world with their upset over Napoli.  Dnipro will set up with a very good defensive shape and hope to find some room to counter with Yevhen Konoplyanka.

In terms of team news and players to watch, Dnipro has Roman Zozulya and Serhiy Kravchenko out, with Yevhen Shakhov listed as doubtful according to UEFA.com.  Sevilla will be without goalkeeper Beto and Nicolas Pareja who has a knee problem.  The players that are worth keeping an eye on are Carlos Bacca and Denys Boyko.  Boyko will most likely be called up to keep a clean sheet or close to it for Dnipro.  Meanwhile, Bacca has been a great threat up top for Sevilla and can cause all kinds of problems, scoring 26 goals this season.  Sevilla can also bring on Kevin Gameiro for some added threats on the bench.

The final will start today at 2:45 pm EST and will be on Fox Sports 1.  For my brother Jon, I hope Sevilla wins and truthfully that is all I can really see.  I am going Sevilla 2 Dnipro 1.

End of the Year Review

In what was the final weekend across many of the leagues, it is a great time to look back at this season and remember how great this wonderful game is.  From the tantalizing fixtures, to the somewhat meaningless games near the end of the season.  The rise of Harry Kane has happened this season.  Lowly Bradford City upset Chelsea in the FA Cup.  Steven Gerrard got a red card in under a minute against Man United.  Manchester United has returned to the Champions League after a season out of the league.  We have seen Leicester sit on the bottom of the table for most of the season and somehow survive.  Real Madrid went on a 21 game unbeaten run and did not win the league or Champions League.  Juventus have won 2 titles and could possibly earn their first ever treble.  A club that was bankrupt came out and beat the Champions when Parma beat Juventus.  One player took a selfie on the field after he scored a goal and then a fan got a tattoo of this moment.  We have seen the rise of Valencia again as they also return to the Champions League.  We have seen Cristiano Ronaldo score more goals than he ever had before in a league season.  Leo Messi reminded the world how good he really is and showed us all why he is so special to watch and enjoy.  We saw a team in Borussia Dortmund at the bottom of the table at the winter break climb all the way to a Europa League place.  Bayern Munich continued their domination as they ran away with the league but couldn’t find great success elsewhere.  We saw the Bayern Medical team quit midseason following a row with Pep Guardiola.  PSG fought off Lyon to win their third Ligue 1 title.  They could win a domestic treble this weekend as well.  Monaco was able to keep their place in the Champions League, despite key players leaving during the season.  We have seen the end of some great careers across the top 5; Xavi, Drogba, Lampard, and Gerrard to name a few.  Jurgen Klopp has stepped down at Borussia Dortmund.  Carlo Ancelotti was sacked one season after winning the Champions League at Real Madrid.  PS is there a curse?  Mourinho left Inter in 2011 after winning on 2010.  Pep left Barcelona after winning in 2011.  Di Matteo was fired after winning in 2012 with Chelsea.  Jupp Heynckes left after winning in 2013.  And now Ancelotti after winning on 2014.  Interesting to say the least.

It was a fantastic season and we still have some more big games left to come.  The Europa League final is this Wednesday.  The last weekend in Italy is this weekend.  The rest of the league cup finals are also this weekend.  Then on June 6th is the big one, the Champions League final.  Congrats to all the fans of the teams that won their leagues, or those that survived.  And in just about 75 days, we will see the return of the leagues and will see go on another adventure.

Here is my end of the season awards

Player of the Year: Leo Messi – Barcelona

Young Player of the Year: Paulo Dybala – Palermo

Manager of the Season: Max Allegri – Juventus

Moment of the Season: Morata knocking out Real Madrid from Champions League

Goal of the Season: Charlie Adam vs Chelsea

Signing of the Season: Alvaro Morata – Juventus

Flop Player of the Season: Mario Balotelli – Liverpool

Flop Team of the Season: Borussia Dortmund

Surprise of the Season: Dortmund bottom of the table at the winter break

EPL Pick Em Recap –

In the inaugural year of the EPL Pick Em Buzz, or @buzzpinson, is the winner after winning the final weekend 7-6 to make the overall score 247 to 237.  I will have to wait till next year to try and get him back!  Congrats Buzz!!

For all the relegation and promotion and Champions League/Europa League news please check out the Champions page on the top.

I will be posting a Europa League preview Wednesday morning, as well as a weekend preview on Friday.  Please check out the twitter handle @SoccerPond as I will be tweeting my reactions to the big signings this summer!!

#6raciasXavi

This weekend is starting to feel like the end of an era in many ways.  The EPL is losing two legends in Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, as they will heading to the states in the coming weeks to battle in the MLS.  These two midfielders are playing their last games for their teams and will both be remembered as greats of the game.  Lampard will eventually be remembered fondly again in Chelsea, as he was one of the greatest players in their history.  He has won the Premier League 3 times, the FA Cup 4 times, and a Champions League trophy in his time at Chelsea.  While today he plays for Manchester City, his time at Chelsea should not be forgotten.  I have already talked about Gerrard and what a disappointment in the result for the game last weekend, but the reception and admiration from the crowd was palpable.

However, this weekend will be the last La Liga game for a legend.  Xavi Hernandez made the announcement on Thursday that he will be leaving the club that he has spent his whole career at.  Xavi joined the club at the age of 11.  He rose through the ranks at the club and many thought he would never get a game.  He watched from the sidelines as Barcelona won the 2006 UEFA Champions League.  He was getting overlooked by Rijkaard as more athletic players were his first choice.  Then life changed for Xavi as two coaches gave him a chance and he shined.  Pep Guardiola and Luis Aragones both built their teams around the midfield maestro.  This lead to unprecedented success.  His vision and ability to pick out a pass was way beyond anyone around him.  Paired with Andres Iniesta, the two formed what has become one of the greatest midfield partnerships ever.  Xavi has won 3 Champions League titles, 2 Super Cups, 2 Club World Cups, 8 La Liga titles, 2 Copa del Rey titles, and 6 Spanish Super Cup with Barcelona.  He has also won the World Cup and two European Cups with Spain.  Xavi still has time to add to these trophies with the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals to come.  Xavi’s brilliance has inspired many and showed us all how great he truly can be.  Barcelona will be wearing a special jersey this weekend.  While I do believe we will see Xavi back at the Camp Nou someday, it will not be in another team’s shirt. #6raciasXavi

The treble hunt is on as Juventus have won the Coppa Italia.   Lazio was able to jump out to an early lead as they scored the first goal of the game in the fourth minute from a Cataldi free kick.  Radu was able to head in the beautiful free kick.  The lead did not last long as Chiellini leveled the score after Pirlo sent in a free kick and Evra headed it down to Chiellini.  The game was level after 90 minutes but just 7 minutes into the first half of extra time Alessandro Matri scored what would be the winner.  Juventus won the game 2-1 after extra time.  This was their 10th Coppa Italia win.

This weekend sees the end of the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga, the French Ligue 1, and the Spanish La Liga.  All of the titles have been decided and they will be more or less coronation games for the champions: Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, and Barcelona.  This week I will look at the games that will have an impact on Champions League/Europa League places or relegation.

In England, two games will have the spotlight on Sunday.  The first game is Hull City hosting Manchester United.  If Hull City does not win then they will be relegated.  They also need help if they are able to beat United.  The other game is Newcastle hosting West Ham.  If Newcastle is able to get a win then they will be safe.  The relegation battle is down to these two teams due to Sunderland getting a point against Arsenal during the week.  The Champions League spots are all set, Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal, and Man United will be the top 4 and in that order.  The Europa League spots go to the 5th place team and the winners of the FA Cup and League Cup.  Since Chelsea won the League Cup, the 6th place team will also play in the Europa League.   If Arsenal wins the FA Cup, then the team in 7th place will play in the Europa League.  If Aston Villa wins then they get to play in the competition.  Liverpool, Tottenham, and Southampton will all be fighting for these spots.  Liverpool is on 62 points, Tottenham has 61 and Southampton has 60.  Liverpool travels to Stoke this weekend.  Tottenham travel to Merseyside to face Everton.  Southampton travels to Manchester to face City this weekend.   The Champions, Chelsea, will lift the trophy at home when they host Sunderland.

In Spain, Barcelona will lift the trophy in the Camp Nou when they host Deportivo on Saturday.  Real Madrid is also assured of second place in the league and host Getafe.  Atletico can secure third place in the league with a win or draw at Granada.  Valencia will be guaranteed a place in the Champions League if they are able to secure a point this weekend at Almeria.  Sevilla will look to jump into the top 4 as they travel to Malaga, but even if they cannot make it into the top 4 they can still qualify if they are able to beat Dnipro in the Europa League final.  The relegation battle is very tight going into the final weekend of the season.  Almeria and Eibar are currently in the relegation zone with 32 points.  Deportivo and Granada are 2 points clear of those 2.  AS recently published that there are 81 different relegation combinations.  Almeria, Depo and Granada will have tough matches against Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico respectively.  Eibar hosts already relegated Cordoba.   It will be fascinating to see who stays up.

In Germany, there is not much to talk about at the top of the table.  The places are set and the teams will be looking forward to the end of the season.  At the bottom of the table, the bottom 2 teams are automatically relegated and the third team, Paderborn, is all but guaranteed a spot in the bottom 3.  Hamburg needs to win this weekend, or they will be relegated for the first time in their history.  Stuttgart are currently in the third relegation spot and will look to stay up with a win against Paderborn.   Hamburg face Schalke in a must win for them.  Hannover and Freiburg are the two teams that are just above the zone and face each other.  A win for them will go a long way in staying up.  Lastly, there is a spot in the Europa League up for grabs between Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen.  If Dortmund is able to earn a point it is theirs.  This will also be the last home game for Jurgen Klopp and Sebestian Kehl.

In France, the top two are set but there is a battle for the third Champions League spot still to play for.  Monaco will be in the Champions League with a win at Lorient.  If they should fail to win then the door will be opened for Marseille or Saint-Etienne.  Monaco is currently two points above their rivals.  If the teams end the season with the same amount of points, then the first tie-breaker is goal difference.  Currently, Marseille has the best goal difference at +31, then Monaco at +24 and then Saint-Etienne at +20.  Marseille needs to beat Bastia if they want to have a chance and Saint-Etienne needs to beat Guingamp.  This could an interesting weekend of play.  The two teams that do not qualify for the Champions League will play in the Europa League next season.  The relegation battle is over as Evian, Metz, and Lens will be in Ligue 2 next season.

In Italy, there are two weekends left in the season.  While the title and relegation battles have been settled, the fight for the Champions League and Europa League spots is still going on.  Roma, Lazio, and Napoli are all battling for the final two Champions League spots.  Since Juventus won the Coppa Italia, an additional Europa League spot will be given to the team that finishes in 6th place.  However, Genoa did not get a UEFA license so they cannot play in Europe next season.  Napoli has qualified for the Europa League at the very least.  Fiorentina has also qualified for the Europa League.  Sampdoria, Internazionale, and Torino will battle for the final spot.  The big game this weekend was moved to Monday and sees Lazio host Roma in the Derby della Capitale.  Napoli travels to the Champions in need of 3 points.  These two matches might be the must watch games of the weekend.

EPL Pick Em

Score is 240 to 231.  Buzz has the lead.

My Picks – City 1-1 Chelsea 0-0 Pool 3-1 Leicester 1-0 Villa 2-1 Palace 1-0 Hull 1-1 Arsenal 2-0 Hammers 2-1 Everton 2-1

Buzz’s Picks – Arsenal 2-1, Villa 2-2, Spurs 1-0, Leicester 2-1, City 3-1, Toon 1-1, Swans 2-1, ManU 2-0, Stoke 1-1, 2-1

Is MSN the best front 3 ever?

Is MSN the best front 3 we have ever seen? The numbers are scary.  In total, the three players have combined for 116 goals in all competitions.  Messi leads the way with 54 goals while Neymar added 37.  Suarez was third but missed the first quarter of the season.  The three of them have scored more goals that the total goal tallies of every team in La Liga, except for Real Madrid.  The three have also combined for 53 assists this season.  Messi once again has the most of the three with 27.  However, before we can talk about best front 3 ever, they must be the best front three at Barcelona and right now that is probably not true.  Barcelona have a rich history of great strikers from Romario to Rivaldo to Ronaldinho to Stoichkov.  Some of the front 3s in their history have been outstanding.  Henry, Eto’o and Messi in 2009 when they won the treble.  Messi, Villa, and Pedro when they won the Champions League and La Liga in 2011.  While I am not sure if they are the best three ever, to really get into the conversation, they need to win 2 more games this season and make it a truly special season.

This week is the Coppa Italia final.  It features Juventus and Lazio.  This could be the second leg of Juve’s treble campaign.  With the league title already clinched and the Champions League final to come, Juventus will look for their first ever treble and become the second Italian side to win a treble.  More to come on this during the lead up to the Champions League final.   If Juventus are successful and able to win the Coppa Italia, their will earn their third double season in history, and over take Inter Milan for the most in Italian football.  Besides Inter, Torino, Napoli, and Lazio have completed the double.  The game will be played in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.   The final will be without Alvaro Morata due to suspensions.  Lazio have made it to their 8th appearance in the Coppa Italia final.  They have won 6 of their previous 7 appearances.  Their lone defeat came in 1961.  Their last Coppa Italia was 2013.  Juventus will look to become the most successful club in the competition with what could be their 10th title.  They have been stuck on 9 for a while, as their last victory was in 1995.  Since then, they have lost the final 3 times most recently in 2012.   Will the treble still be on for Juve?

In Spain, Barcelona has won their 7th title in the last 11 years.  This was due to their 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid.  The fans in Barcelona took to the streets to celebrate after they took back the title from Atletico Madrid.  Real Madrid got a hat trick from Cristiano Ronaldo and beat Espanyol 4-1.  In the race for the final two Champions League places, Valencia drew 1-1 to Celta Vigo.  This has opened the door for Sevilla who beat Almeria 2-1.  Sevilla is now 1 point behind Valencia.  Valencia are 3 points behind Atletico Madrid.  Atleti will be in the Champions League next season.  Valencia needs to win, or Sevilla to lose in order to qualify.  At the bottom end of the table, Granada, Deportivo, Eibar, and Almeria will all battle it out in the last weekend.  Granada and Deportivo are currently 2 points ahead of Eibar and Almeria.  Two of the four teams will be relegated next weekend.

In France, we have a champion! Paris Saint-Germain has won the French Ligue 1 following their 2-1 victory over Montpellier.  This means that PSG has now won the title three years in a row.  Lyon will now have to settle for the Champions League Group Stages next year.  Monaco, St. Etienne, and Marseille all won at the weekend, which means the third and final spot will be decided next weekend.  Monaco needs a win and the spot is theirs.  If they should draw or lose, then the competition is wide open.  Marseille have the best goal difference of the three teams and that could be the difference.  It will be interesting to watch next weekend.  All three teams will play in Europe next year, but the question is in which competition.  Evian will no longer be in Ligue 1 next year as they suffered defeat to St. Etienne.

In Italy, Juventus defeated inter Milan in the match following their huge Champions League triumph.  Juventus have been on top of the table for 33 of the 36 and will be top for 35 of the 38 rounds of the league.  They have been on top of the table since Round 4.  Talk about domination.  In the race for the Champions League place, Lazio got a huge 1-0 win.  Roma also won 2-1 this weekend.  They are currently 7 points from Napoli and a win next weekend will guarantee them Champions League football.  With 2 more rounds left of the Serie A, a lot can change over the next two weeks.  Napoli has a big game today as they host Cesena.  Anything but a win will do a lot of damage to their Champions League aspirations.

In Germany, Stuttgart is no longer on the bottom of the table following their 2-1 win over Hamburger.  Paderborn is now on the bottom of the table after they lost 1-0 at Schalke.  Paderborn need to win next weekend or they will get relegated.  Hamburger is also in the same predicament.  Hannover got a huge win this week when they beat Augsburg 2-1.  Freiburg needs a big win and got one when they beat Bayern Munich 2-1.  Hertha Berlin is not safe yet, but will need another point to stay up after they drew 0-0 with Eintracht.  Schalke have now qualified for the Europa League following their win.  Augsburg sits in the final Europa League spot right now but is only 3 points ahead of Dortmund with one round left.  In a preview of the DFB-Pokal Final, Wolfsburg beat Dortmund 2-1.

In England, the relegation battle will go down to the last day for the third and final spot.  This weekend, Leicester City gained safety with their 0-0 draw at Sunderland.  The point for Sunderland means that just one more point for them can guarantee them a spot next year.  The race is down to Hull, Newcastle, and Sunderland, as Burnley and QPR are already relegated.  Newcastle continued to struggle this past weekend when they lost 2-1 at QPR.  Hull also suffered a defeat as they lost 2-0 at Tottenham.  Hull needs to beat Manchester United at home to stay up and needs some help.  Newcastle also needs to win, as their goal difference is worse than Hull’s goal difference.   At the top end of the table, Liverpool suffered another defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace in Steven Gerrard’s final match at Anfield.  The scenes in the stadium prior showed what he truly meant to the club and the city of Liverpool.   United and Arsenal played to a 1-1 draw thanks to an own goal.  David de Gea left the game injured and might never play for United again, as Real Madrid is circling.  Southampton had the fastest hat trick ever scored as Mane scored 3 goals in 3 minutes in their 6-1 defeat of Aston Villa.  Arsenal can guarantee their spot in the group stage with a win this week when they make up their game against Sunderland.

The Final is Set!!

We are all set for the biggest game of this calendar year.  Barcelona will face Juventus in the Champions League final.  Juventus and Barcelona are both playing in their 8th final.  The two have never met in the final before.  This is Juventus’ first trip since 2003.  They have won the title twice, once in 1985 and most recently 1996.  Juventus advanced to the final following their 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in the Bernabeu.  The game in Turin ended with Juventus winning 2-1 and the road goal for Real look poised to be crucial.  Real Madrid came flying out of the gates and were on the attack.  23 minutes into the game, James was bundled over in the box and a penalty was awarded to Madrid.  Ronaldo placed the ball in the back of the net and had Real Madrid poised to reach the final.  At halftime, Real was ahead 1-0.  Then in the 57th minute, boyhood fan and former real Madrid youth player chested the ball down and smashed it into the net.  He did not celebrate as he had just scored the goal to knock his boyhood club out of the Champions League.  Alvaro Morata had leveled the score on the night and gives Juventus the lead in the tie.  @HipsterManager tweeted “I think it’s great how Real Madrid spent £195m on their front 3 and they get knocked out by their own academy player.”  The game would end 1-1 and Juventus advanced to the final winning 3-2 on aggregate.

Barcelona has reached the final four times in the last 10 years and have won the previous 3 finals.  They have won a total of four titles.  They won in 1992, 2006, 2009, and 2011.  It will be a fascinating game and will be a great 90 minutes of football.   Barcelona advanced thanks mostly in part to their 3-0 win in the first leg in Barcelona.  In the second leg, Bayern started fast as Benatia headed in a corner to give them the lead.  However, Messi, Suarez, and Neymar hooked up twice within 15 minutes to end the game.  At halftime, Neymar had a brace and gave Barcelona a 2-1 lead.  The aggregate score was 5-1 and Bayern would need 5 goals in the second half to advance to the final.  They did get two goals from Lewandowski and Muller, but Barcelona had clearly switched off and turned their focus to winning the league title this weekend.

The Europa League semifinals also took place this week.  The final is set as Sevilla cruised and Dnipro kept a vital clean sheet.  Sevilla was already up 3-0 and would get two more within 5 minutes to guarantee themselves a chance to defend their title.  Dnipro got a vital road goal in the first leg and added a home goal to win the home leg 1-0, and the two-legged match 2-1.  Dnipro is in their first ever final.  They will look to become just the second ever Ukrainian team to win the title.  The other being Shaktar Donetsk in 2009.  Sevilla has won the title 3 times before and is looking to become the first team to win the Europa league/UEFA Cup for the fourth time.  They are also looking to win back to back titles for the second time.  They did this in 2006 and 2007.  Real Madrid is the only other club to win the title in back to back seasons in 1985 and 1986.

Where to go from here is the next question.  This is the penultimate weekend in Spain, France, England, and Germany. Italy has three weeks to go.  In Spain and France, the title can be won.  In England, it is Steven Gerrard’s last match at Anfield.

In France, PSG can win the title this weekend if they are able to get a point at Montpellier.  This will be their third title in a row.  The defending champions need just one more point over the next two games to win the title.  Lyon is already guaranteed a spot in the Champions League, but can guarantee themselves a spot in the group stage next season and second place with a point.  Monaco, Marseille, and St. Etienne will battle it out over the next two weeks for the final spot in the Champions League.  Monaco has a 2 point lead on the other two.  Monaco hosts Metz this weekend.  Marseille travels to Lille.  St. Etienne travels to Evian.  They should all win this weekend, but any dropped points will really hurt them with just 6 points available.  Lens and Metz are relegated already.  Evian will be relegated if they fail to win against St. Etienne.

In Spain, the strike is over and the final rounds of the season will be played. Barcelona can win the title with a win in either of their last two games.  This weekend they travel to Madrid to face Atletico Madrid.  With just two games left, Atletico Madrid needs just two points to guarantee their spot in the Champions League Group Stage.  They will clearly be in the competition next year.  Real Madrid will be without their manager when they travel to Catalunya to face Espanyol.  The title race is all but over and many will wonder if Ancelotti will ever manage from the pitch for Real Madrid again.  Valencia holds a 3 point lead on Sevilla for the fourth spot in the Champions League.  Valencia host Celta Vigo this weekend.  3 points could guarantee the Champions League football next season.  Sevilla hosts Almeria, and if they drop any points then they will be in trouble.  However, they could qualify for the Champions League if they win the Europa League.  Cordoba is the only team that is currently relegated.  Eibar, Granada, and Deportivo are all on 31 points.  Almeria is on 32 points.  Getafe and Levante can guarantee their spots in La Liga next season with any points this weekend.  Eibar and Getafe face each other in a massive game at the bottom end of the table.  Getafe will look to get the point they need to survive.  Deportivo hosts Levante in the other big match at the bottom end of the table.  Granada travels to Real Sociedad this weekend.

In England, the big story has to be Steven Gerrard’s final match in Anfield.  The Liverpool legend will be moving on after this season and a great career will come to an end.  He has been captain of Liverpool for 11 years and only ever played for the club.  His final match will be against Crystal Palace.  It should be a rather emotional affair in what is a meaningless game otherwise.  Both teams do not have much to play for, as Liverpool will not be able to catch United in fourth.  The Champions, Chelsea, travel to West Brom this weekend.  Manchester United host Arsenal on Sunday, in what is the most intriguing game of the round.  The two teams are currently battling for the final spot in the group stage and avoid the qualifying rounds.  Burnley and QPR are relegated.  The final spot will go down to the last weekend as Hull, Newcastle, and Sunderland battle it out.  Hull is currently two points behind Newcastle and could be relegated this weekend if results don’t fall their way.

In Germany, the attention should be shifted to the bottom end of the table.  Stuttgart is currently at the bottom of the table.  They host Hamburger this weekend.  Hamburger is currently safe but sits just 2 points above Stuttgart.  A win will send Stuttgart out of the bottom 3.  Paderborn travels to Schalke needing points to get out of the bottom 3.  Hannover travel to Augsburg while they look to get to safety.  Freiburg could find themselves in some trouble as they face Bayern Munich in what is certainly going to be a redemption game for them.  With the top 4 set, all eyes will be on the bottom end of the table.

In Italy, Juventus may not be completely focused, as they have already won the league and are two wins away from a treble.  They will travel to Milan to play Inter.  Roma and Lazio need to avoid points.  A win for Roma will almost guarantee them Champions League football next year.  Lazio will not mathematically be guaranteed Champions League football with a win, but they have a far superior goal difference when compared to Napoli, so it will be hard to see them not getting at least third place with a win this weekend.  Roma hosts Udinese while Lazio travels to Sampdoria.  Napoli will need to win on Monday in order to stay alive in the race for a top 4 place.  Parma, Cesena, and Cagliari are all relegated to the Serie B for next season.  The Europa League spots are still up for grabs.  If Napoli cannot catch Lazio or Roma, then they will be in the Europa League.  Fiorentina and Sampdoria currently sit in the last two spots, but Genoa and Inter could catch them in the final three weeks.

EPL Pick Em

I picked up 3 points last week and now only trail by 10 as the score is 235 to 225.  I need a big win here or Buzz will be the Champion along with his beloved Blues.

My Picks: Saints 2-1, Leicester 1-0, Stoke 3-1, Hull 1-1, Hammers 1-1, QPR 2-1, Pool 2-1, Man City 5-1, Arsenal 2-2, Chelsea 3-1

Buzz’s Picks: Coming soon…

Will we see the end to this La Liga season?

Will we see the end to this La Liga season?  Right now everything is on hold as players’ union (AFE) has called for a strike.  The strike was then backed up by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) who halted all competition starting on May 16.  So what happened?  Who are the key players? What will end up happening?  Last week a new law was passed in Spain regarding collective bargaining for the domestic television rights.  This law mandated that the revenue from domestic TV rights be shared among all of the teams.  Currently, the teams are able to individually negotiate their TV rights.  This is unique to La Liga.  Following this law, the AFE and RFEF have called for a halt of play.  The Spanish Professional League (LFP) is now trying to overturn the decision by the RFEF to halt play.  The AFE is upset that they are not seeing any share of the revenue like in England.  The RFEF feels that there has been a “lack of respect” shown by the government and that they were not consulted properly.  This will be interesting to see how it plays out, as collective bargaining could go a long way to helping lower table and lower division teams of the league gain some finances and exposure.  The last two rounds of the league have been suspended for now, as has the Copa Del Rey final.  With the Copa America coming up, a decision needs to be made soon as to what should be done with the end of the season and with the TV money.

The Champions League returns this week.  This is the last midweek round of the Champions League and a spot in Berlin is on the line.  Both of the home teams will look to overcome their defeats on the road.  Who will advance to the final?  Will we see another all Spanish affair? Can Bayern overturn their 3-0 defeat?  Will an Italian side return to the final for the first time since Jose won it with Internazionale?  All of these questions will be answered this week.  I cannot wait to watch and see how it all plays out.

The top 4 is now set in England.  While mathematically Liverpool can catch United for fourth, the race is over.  Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Manchester United will play in the Champions League.  We also now know two of the teams that will be relegated.  Burnley and QPR will be playing in the Championship next season.  The only thing really left to play for is the final relegation spot in England.  Hull City currently sits in that spot.  They are two points behind Newcastle and Sunderland and 3 points behind Leicester.  This weekend, Fellaini all but guaranteed Champions League football with his late winner over Crystal Palace.  Manchester City put 6 past QPR.  Chelsea and Liverpool played to a 1-1 draw with the goals coming from both of the club’s legends in Terry and Gerrard.  Sunderland, Leicester, and Villa all got vital wins.

In Italy, the race for the final 3 spots just got a little tighter this weekend as Lazio were beaten 2-1 by Inter, and Roma was beaten 2-1 by AC Milan.  Napoli however, was not able to completely capitalize as they could only draw 2-2 with bottom club Parma.  Napoli is now just 3 points behind Lazio and 4 points behind Roma.  At the bottom end of the table, Parma have been relegated for some time now and Cesena will join them in Serie B.  Cagliari is not mathematically eliminated, but with they are currently 8 points behind Atalanta.  They will need to win all of their remaining games.  Atalanta needs just 2 points to guarantee they stay up.

The race in France might be over as Caen may have played spoiler.  With just 2 games left, PSG can win the title next weekend with a win or draw.  This is due to their 6-0 win over Guingamp, combined with Caen beating Lyon 3-0.  PSG now has a 6 point lead and just 2 games left to play.  The race for the third and final spot is heating up as Marseille beat Monaco 2-1.  This means that the two teams are now just separated by 2 points.  St. Etienne also stays in the race following their 5-0 win over Nice.   It will be a fascinating two weeks. At the bottom end of the table, Lens and Metz are relegated to Ligue 2.  Evian sit in the final spot and are 4 points behind Stade Reims.  This gap was expanded this weekend when Stade Reims beat Evian 3-2 this weekend.  Caen, Lorient, Toulouse, and Stade Reims all won this weekend to give them some breathing room.  You have to think a point for any of them will keep them up.

In Germany, Bayern Munich has now lost 4 games in a row following their 1-0 loss to Augsburg.  With the top 4 set for next season, the only thing left to play for at the top end is a group stage spot versus a playoff spot.  Wolfsburg will be in the group stage next season.  Monchengladbach needs just 2 points to clinch their spot.  Bayer will need to win all of their remaining games and hope others drop points to get into the group stage.  The Europa League spots are still in play with Augsburg and Schalke currently in them.  Dortmund and Werder Bremen sit just 2 points from these spots.  My new favorite stat of the season is that just 16 points separate 5th from 18th (bottom) in Germany.  The difference from 5th to 1st is 30 points.   At the bottom end of the table, Stuttgart got a huge three points when they beat Mainz 2-0.  They are now just 1 point from safety.  Mainz needs a point to be safe from relegation, but everyone below them is in a fight.  Hertha Berlin sits 3 points clear of the relegation spots, but they are just 4 points from the bottom.  Hamburger is 1 point clear.  Freiburg is safe due to goal difference.  Hannover sits in the relegation/promotion play-off spot.  Paderborn is currently 17th.  With two games to go, the table could shit dramatically.  Looking forward, Stuttgart host Hamburger next weekend in the big 6 pointer.

Lastly, the Spanish title is one step closer to being resolved this weekend thanks to Diego Alves and Valencia.  Early Saturday morning in the States, Barcelona put two past Real Sociedad including a stunner from Pedro.  This extended the Barcelona lead at the top of the table to 5 points.  Real Madrid then faced off with Valencia.  Before anyone knew what had happened, Valencia was up 2-0.  Real was able to fight back and got a beautiful strike from Isco.  However, they could not find a third and ending up drawing 2-2.  The lead is now 4 points, and a win in either of Barcelona’s remaining games will mean that the title is theirs.  Sevilla still remains 3 points adrift of Valencia following their 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo.  At the bottom end of the table, Cordoba is relegated to Liga Adelante.  However, who will join them remains to be seen.  3 teams are level on 31 points in Deportivo, Granada, and Eibar.  Almeria sits just 1 point ahead of them.  Whenever the season resumes it should be a good race to the finish.

There Are Not Words…

I cannot lie to you all right now…I am on cloud 9 and am still buzzing from Wednesday.  I was talking with a student of mine yesterday about the Barcelona-Bayern game and told him that I felt like for 70 minutes that might have been the best 0-0 game I had ever seen. However an alien, a super human, a man that words cannot even begin to describe, took over.  As I was sitting at my desk watching the match through a fuzzy online feed, Lionel Messi took control of the game.  Messi got the ball following a great take away from Alves and he rocketed a shot from just outside of the box that flew past Neuer and into the bottom right corner.  Messi had broken the deadlock, but he was not done yet.  Just three minutes later, Rakitic played in Messi again and what happened cannot be described by words.  Messi calmly cut past Boateng, who ended up twisting and turning and falling to the floor.  He then was one-on-one with Neuer, and as Neuer went down Messi chipped it right over his arms and coolly into the net.  In the 76th minute, the world was going to be talking about how Barcelona was wasteful in the first half and will Munich be able to steal the show with a late goal.  In the 81st minute, we were reminded of how great Messi is and questioning Pep for his tactics and decisions.  Neymar would then be played in late on and was as cool as a cucumber when he slid the ball past Neuer to make it 3-0 to Barcelona.  Bayern can recover, and have shown their ability to score and score in a hurry, but it was job done for Barcelona.  I can’t wait to see Munich respond on Tuesday.

Last Tuesday was the other semifinal between Juventus and Real Madrid.  This game set the stage beautifully.  What a game.  Juventus didn’t have to wait long before they opened the scoring.  In just the 8th minute of play, Tevez was given room to shoot and his snap shot was saved by the arm of Casillas, but the ball fell right to former Real Madrid striker, Alvaro Morata, who tapped the ball into the net from maybe 2 yards out.  The lead would only last for 20 minutes as the ball came into James Rodriguez and he chipped the ball across the box to find the cutting Ronaldo, who headed the ball into the net. 1-1.  A big talking point in the game came in the 41st minute. Marcelo played in Isco down the left flank and he crossed the ball perfectly in to James.  James hit the diving header towards a wide open goal, only to find the cross bar from 3 yards out.  Then in the 57th minute, Tevez was breaking on the counter one-on-one against Carvajal.  Carvajal did a great job pushing him to the side but then went in for the tackle and got only a piece of Tevez, sending him to the ground inside the box for a penalty.  Tevez then stepped up and buried it into the open goal. The game finished 2-1 to Juve.  While Juventus have the led going into next Wednesdays match at the Bernabeu, it is very difficult to see Real Madrid not scoring at least once.  Can Juventus get an all important road goal next week to send them to the final, or will Ronaldo’s goal give Real Madrid the edge and help send them to the final? Wednesday should be fascinating.  Here is to hoping it lives up to what we saw last Wednesday.

The Europa League semifinals also took place this week on Thursday.  The holders of the trophy sent out a message to the world that they plan to get back to the final.  Vidal scored two wonderful goals in the game and Gameiro added the third in the last 15 minutes.  Gameiro had been on the pitch for just about 10 seconds.  The final was 3-0 to Sevilla and Fiorentina has their work cut out for them.  In the other semifinal, Napoli and Dnipro ended in a 1-1 draw giving Dnipro the edge as they head home for the second leg next week.  The question though is should they have equalized?  The Dnipro goal was clearly offsides and should have been called but was not.  Will the Ukranian side be able to hold on at home?  Can Fiorentina over come such a deficit?

Weekend Preview

In Spain, we cannot talk about the football without talking about the impending strike over the TV deal.  This week, a new law was passed in Spain allowing the centralized selling of TV rights.  The strike is set to suspend the season after this weekend’s round of fixtures.  It will be interesting to see this play out over the next couple weeks, and I will be writing more about this next week and more information comes out.  Meanwhile on the pitch, there is still a tightly contested title race going on between the two big boys of Spain.  The gap remains 2 points with just 3 games to go.  Both teams play on Saturday and are at home.  Barcelona faces David Moyes and Real Sociedad.  Real Madrid host Valencia.  The more intriguing matchup is going to take place in Madrid as Valencia sits just 3 points clear of Sevilla.  However, David Moyes was able to get the victory in the opposite fixture earlier in the season.  This weekend could go a long way in deciding the title.  Three points is a must for both teams.  Sevilla will hope they can go level on points with Valencia when they travel to Celta Vigo on Sunday.

In France, PSG can open up a 6 point gap at the top today as they host Guingamp.  With just 3 games left, that gap might be enough to see off Lyon for their third straight title.  Lyon will hope that they can gain some ground on Saturday when they travel to Caen.  Monaco has opened up a 5 point lead on Marseille and St. Etienne, but they must travel to Marseille this weekend.  A win for Marseille will really open up the race for the third and final Champions League spot.  St. Etienne host Nice this weekend.  At the other end of the table, 5 teams are within 2 points of each other and all trying to not be in the last relegation spot.  Evian is currently in that spot.  Stade Reims sits one point clear while Toulouse, Lorient, and Caen sit 2 points clear.  Caen hosts Lyon and could be in trouble at the end of the weekend.  Lorient travels to bottom of the table Metz.  Toulouse host Lille.  Stade Reims and Evian face each other on Saturday in which is a massive 6 pointer at the bottom of the table.  If either team can find a way to get all three points then the other will be in the last spot and in desperate need of points.

In England, the big match of the weekend is Chelsea vs Liverpool.  Chelsea was crowned champions of the league with 3 games to go and have nothing to play for except for their unbeaten home record.  Liverpool is in desperate need for points after dropping 5 points over the last fortnight.  Those 5 points would have them in the top 4 right now.  3 points at Chelsea could go a long way in getting them back in the race for the fourth spot.  United can essentially, but not mathematically, clinch the fourth spot if they are able to beat Crystal Palace in London on Saturday.  Manchester City and Arsenal need a point to clinch their spots in the Champions League next year and they should be able to do that as they host QPR and Swansea respectively.  Sunderland travels to Everton in a big match in the bottom half of the table.  Burnley travel to Hull in what could relegate them from the league or give them a tiny glimmer of hope.  This will be a big relegation 6 pointer.

In Italy, there are still four rounds to go.  The title may have been decided, but the race for a Champions League spot is far from over.  While both Roma and Lazio have a nice lead on Napoli of 5 and 4 point respectively, Lazio and Napoli face each other on the final day of the season. If Lazio drop any points before that game, they could be in big trouble.  Roma travel to the San Siro this weekend to face AC Milan.  Lazio will host the other team from Milan, Internazionale.  Napoli travel to Parma in the big three games of the weekend.  Juventus host Cagliari as they most certainly will have at least one eye, if not two, on the second leg of their Champions League semifinal next week.  At the bottom of the table, it seems more of a formality as Atalanta is now 6 points clear from the bottom 3.  Cagliari needs to find a way to beat the Champions this weekend if they are to have any hope.

With 3 rounds left in Germany, very little is left to play for.  While we are not sure who will finish in 2, 3, or 4, we know what three teams will finish in them.  Wolfsburg has taken a massive tumble down the table that any other year might have seen them fighting for a Europa League place.  This year however, it leaves them just 2 points clear of third place Monchengladbach.  Bayer Leverkusen is 2 points behind Monchengladbach.  However, the distance between Schalke and Bayer is a massive 13 points.  So who will get the two automatic group stage spots and who will have to play in the play offs? Well two of those teams face off as Monchengladbach hosts Bayer.  This game will go a long way in deciding who gets the privilege of playing in the Champions League playoff rounds.  Wolfsburg travels to Paderborn this weekend.  They could really use a big three points.  At the bottom end of the table, Freiburg and Hamburger play in Germany’s big relegation 6 pointer.

EPL Pick Em

Buzz won another weekend and extended his lead with three weeks left.  The score is now Buzz 233, Me 220.

My Picks – Everton 2-1, Spurs 2-1, Leicester 1-0, Hull 2-1, West Brom 2-0, West Ham 2-2, Palace 2-1, City 2-0, Chelsea 1-1, Arsenal 3-1

Buzz’s Picks – Everton 2-1, Villa 2-2, saints 1-1, WBA 1-0, hull 2-1, Spurs 2-0, united 2-0, Champs 2-1, city 3-1, Arsenal 3-0

130 Million Pound Reward

The richest league in the world just found out who two of its new members will be.  Bournemouth has been crowned the champions of the English League Championship and will be joined by Watford.  Bournemouth won the title thanks to a last minute equalizer from Sheffield Wednesday.  The only two questions remaining now is who will join them up, and who is going down?  Norwich City, Middlesbourgh, Brentford, and Ipswich Town will all play in the playoffs and will now battle for the third and final spot in the Premier League.  The clubs will earn at least 130 million pounds for getting promoted, so it will be interesting to see who earns that money.

Champions League Preview

This week is the first legs of the Champions League semifinals.  The first match is Tuesday in Turin, where the champions of Italy host Real Madrid.  Real Madrid look to continue their title defense and get back to the final.  Juventus will try to be the first Italian side to make it to the final since Internazionale won the trophy in 2010.  Juventus has not been to the final since they lost the final in 2003 to AC Milan.  Real Madrid hope to be the first team since the European Cup became the Champions League to repeat as champions.  Many teams have gone to back to back finals games, but none have won it.  Bayern Munich (2012 & 2013), Manchester United (2008 & 2009), Valencia (2000 & 2001), Juventus (1996, 1997, & 1998), and Ajax (1995 & 1996) have all gone to back to back finals. Real Madrid are trying to become the first team since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990 to repeat as champions of Europe.

The other match sees the return of Pep Guardiola to Barcelona.  He brings his Bayern Munich team to Barcelona on Wednesday.  Barcelona is looking to return to the final for the first time since Pep led them to the title in 2011.  They have won the trophy 4 times and twice under then manager Pep Guardiola in 2009 and 2011.  Bayern Munich won the trophy in 2013 and will look to make it 4 finals appearances since 2010.  Barcelona had appeared in the semifinals in 8 out of the last 10 years. Will we see an El Clasico final? It has never happened before.  We have had the chance for this to occur but never seen it play out, although they did face off in the semifinals during the 2010-11 season.

Europa League Preview

With a spot in next year’s Champions League on the line, four teams will fight it out.  Of the four teams, only Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk sit in a Champions League place in their league, but that is not guaranteed.  The first legs will take place this week with Napoli hosting Dnipro and Sevilla hosting Fiorentina. Sevilla will work to become the only club to win this trophy in back to back years twice.  They won the trophy in 2006 and 2007.  The only other team to repeat as Champions is Real Madrid, who won the trophy in 1985 and 1986.  This year it means more than it ever did before with a spot in the big tournament on the line for the first time.  It should be interesting to see how hard they go for the title.

Weekend Review

In England, Chelsea has won the title.  They have won it with 3 games to go as they are now 13 points clear at the top.  The accomplished this by beating Crystal Palace 1-0.  Manchester City locked up the Champions League for next year when they ended Tottenham’s top 4 dream with a 1-0 win.  Manchester United slipped up this weekend and could give Liverpool a chance to make it a race as the gap is now 4 points.  West Brom beat United 1-0 and Liverpool got a winner from their Captain Steven Gerrard, to beat QPR 2-1.

In Italy, Juventus has won the title.  They accomplished this feat with a 1-0 win over Sampdoria.  Roma was able to jump into second place when they beat Genoa 2-0.  This was in part due to Atalanta drawing 1-1 with Lazio.  Napoli remains four points off the pace as they beat Milan 3-0.  The question over the next three weeks will be can Napoli close the gap to under 3 points before the final week of the season when Lazio must travel to Naples.

In Germany, Bayern Munich lost 2-0 in their first match since clinching the title.  The victors were Bayer Leverkusen.  Wolfsburg now continued to slide and have seen what was at one point a 10 point lead over Monchengladbach slip to only 2 points following Wolfsburg’s draw with Hannover.  Monchengladbach beat Hertha 2-1.  Schalke won 3-2 over Stuttgart thanks to a last minute own goal.  That could have been a massive goal for Stuttgart.

In France, PSG remain on top following their 2-0 win over Nantes.  Lyon was able to keep the pressure on them with a 2-0 win over Evian.  In what will be a race to the finish line, both teams look set to take all 9 points the rest of the way.  Goal difference will be the tie breaker should they end level on points.  Despite the fact that Marseille was able to get 3 points, Monaco maintained their 5 point lead in third place with a 4-1 win over Toulouse.  St. Etienne failed to keep pace as they lost 1-0 at Bastia.  Marseille beat Metz 2-0.

In Spain, Barcelona pushed Cordoba aside and won easily in Southern Spain 8-0.  Real Madrid were able to keep pace thanks to Ronaldo and his hat trick giving them a 3-2 win over Sevilla.  With just 3 games remaining, the lead is still just 2 points and each team needs to continue to win their games.  Atletico Madrid drew 0-0 with Athletic Bilbao.  They remain comfortably in third place.  Valencia has a bit of breathing room in fourth place since Real beat Sevilla and Valencia beat Eibar 3-1.

Relegation Battle Update…

Relegation Battle

The season is winding down and the points are getting more and more critical.  Here is an update on who will not be joining us next year in the top flights.

English Premier League

Current Bottom 3: Burnley (26), QPR (27), Sunderland (33) (game in hand)

Safe for now: Leicester (34), Hull (34) (game in hand), Newcastle (35), Aston Villa (35)

This weekend saw huge wins for Leicester, Sunderland, and Aston Villa.  It looks like QPR and Burnley are set to be relegated following their defeats.  If Sunderland is able to win their game in hand then they will jump out of the bottom 3 but they need all 3 points in that game.  This should be a fascinating race to the finish.  Personally, I hope Leicester is able to escape and stay up but I think Sunderland will pull it off again.

German Bundesliga

Current Bottom 2: Stuttgart (27), Hannover (30)

Playoff Spot: Freiburg (30)

Safe for Now: Paderborn (31), Hamburger (31), Hertha (34), Eintracht (36), Koln (36)

Hamburger and Paderborn got huge wins this week.  With just 9 points available, the bottom of the table could change drastically. There are many huge 6 point games remaining feature the teams on this list.  I think it will be interesting to see what happens at the bottom end of this table.

French Ligue 1

Current Bottom 3: Lens (26), Metz (30), Evian (37)

Safe for Now: Stade Reims (38), Toulouse (39), Lorient (39), Caen (39), Nice (42)

Lens is relegated all ready with just 3 games left.  Metz are in trouble since they will need to win all three of their remaining games to escape the drop.  Evian is close to safety and will need points but it should be an interesting race over the next three weeks.

Italian Serie A

Current Bottom 3: Parma (16) (game in hand), Cesena (24), Cagliari (24) (game in hand)

Safe for Now: Atalanta (33)

The relegation race is all but over.  With just four games left, there are 12 points remaining.  This means that Cesena and Cagliari need to win all of their remaining games in order to have a shot at escaping but one of the two will get relegated.

Spanish La Liga

Current Bottom 3: Cordoba (20), Granada (28), Deportivo (30)

Safe for Now: Almeria (31) (game in hand), Eibar (31), Levante (35), Getafe (36)

Cordoba is now relegated to la Liga Adelante.  Granada and Deportivo are in trouble but can still escape if they are able to string together some points.  It will be interesting to see if they are able to get out of the bottom 3.