5 Winners and 5 Losers from this weekend…
- Leicester City Football Club
They have to be the biggest winners in all of England thanks to their 1-0 win over Watford and the draw in the North London Derby (more on that later). They are currently on top with 60 points and have a 5-point lead over Tottenham. There are only 9 games remaining, and they have the best run in of them all. It is getting closer and closer to one of the most remarkable finishes in the league and a historic season. Leicester and Claudio Ranieri deserve a lot of praise, no matter how the season finishes. As Ranieri said himself, “We are playing with house money.”
- UD Las Palmas
The Spanish club from the Canary Islands looks to have given themselves a great chance at survival thanks to their 1-0 win over Villarreal. They are now four points clear of the relegation zone with 10 games to play. This was also a bad result for Villarreal since they were the only team to lose in the top 4. Barcelona dominated Eibar 4-0 to stay top. Atletico Madrid defeated Valencia to stay on pace with Barcelona. Real Madrid scored 7 against Celta Vigo. So in a weekend where the big three all looked dominant, the little side from Las Palmas defeated one of the top 4.
- Paris Saint-Germain
They are not a winner because they won or even looked great this weekend, but more because Monaco drew this weekend. The draw for Monaco means that PSG could win the league next weekend. They have 74 points and Monaco has 51. With 9 games to play, Monaco can only earn 27 more points for a total of 78 points. That means that a PSG win and Monaco loss clinches the title for PSG. It should be interesting next weekend as Monaco host Stade de Reims and PSG travel to Troyes. Will they clinch the league?
- Schalke 04
In what is starting to become a revolving door, Schalke is the newest team to sit in that coveted final Champions League spot. This weekend, they defeated Köln 3-1 thanks to Klaas Jan Hutelaar, Max Meyer, and Franco Di Santo. This win, coupled with Mainz 05 drawing 0-0 with Darmstadt and Monchengladbach losing 2-1 to Wolfsburg, got them in the final spot. This is going to be a dog fight for the final spot and Hertha might get sucked into this race, making 2 spots open. The teams from 3rd to 8th are separated by 6 points. This should be a good watch and Schalke got a big win this weekend.
The team from the Italian Capital has strung 7 wins in a row following their 1-0 loss at Juventus. Roma faced their nearest rivals Fiorentina. Coming into the weekend, they were separated by goal difference only. Roma went on to defeat Fiorentina 4-1. Mohamed Salah scored a brace. Stephan El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti both scored. Josip Ilicic scored the penalty for Fiorentina. There are 10 games to play and these two teams seem destined to battle out for this final Champions League place. It was a huge win for Roma.
- Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland, and Crystal Palace
All of these teams dropped points this weekend from a winning position despite having 11 men against 10. It all started with the North London Derby. Arsenal was reduced to 10 men when leading 1-0 after a silly tackle from Francis Coquelin. Within 5 minutes Tottenham were level thanks to Alderweireld and then two minutes later the lead through a beauty from Harry Kane. They looked set to win the game but just 14 minutes from time, Alexis Sanchez leveled the score. In fact from that moment on, Arsenal looked more likely to win the game and if not for a match saving tackle by Wimmer in stoppage time, probably would have. Southampton went down to 10 men with just 11 minutes left against Sunderland. Defoe gave them the lead, but Virgil van Dijk would save the day in the 4th minute of stoppage time and give Southampton a point. Lastly, with Crystal Palace leading 1-0 thanks to Joe Ledley, James Milner would see his second yellow for Liverpool. However, they looked the better side after that and Alex McCarthy gifted Firmino the ball and he leveled the score. In the 4th minute of stoppage time, Christian Benteke was brought down in the box and he sealed the points from the spot. It was not a good weekend for sides with 11v10.
- AC Milan
With a chance to cement themselves in the race for a European place and distance themselves from midtable, Milan struggled this weekend. They were facing Sassuolo, who was 6 points behind them and 1 place. Now Sassuolo is just 3 points behind them and Inter Milan is now 4 points clear of their rivals. Sassuoloa got a first half goal from Joseph Duncan and then another one in the second half from Nicola Sansone. With 13 minutes to play, Milan was handed a lifeline when Gregoire Defrel was sent off for his second yellow. However, Milan did not score a goal and the match finished 2-0. Milan will need to step their game up if they want to get back into European competitions. This weekend was a big step back.
- Borussia Dortmund
With the opportunity to cut Bayern’s lead at the top to just 5 points and make the last 9 games even more important, Dortmund were not able to find a goal. They did create some shots but had very little possession. Dortmund had only 3 shots on target all night, despite getting 8 shots from inside the box. They also had just 37% possession. While their defense played spectacularly, the offense let them down and the title race is now over, it will be 4 in a row for Bayern Munich.
- Sevilla FC
Sevilla have not won a game on the road. They were facing a team in the bottom 3 of the league this weekend and had the perfect opportunity to get their first win. Sevilla took the lead with 11 minutes left in the game thanks to Ever Banega. They just needed to hold on to this lead but they could not. Emiliano Valezquez sent in the equalizer with just four minutes to play. The winless streak on the road continues for Sevilla. They did remain in 5th place in the table, however.
- Reims and Guingamp
These two teams are currently safe from relegation, but this weekend they lost and saw their point advantage decrease on 18th place Ajaccio. Ajaccio was able to pick up a point thanks to their 1-1 draw with Bordeaux. This means that they are now just 3 points behind Guingamp and Reims. Guingamp lost big at Lyon. Reims lost 2-0 to Lille. This, in a weekend in which over half the teams picked up at least a point. Ajaccio now faces a midweek match against Marseille which could pull them level on points with these two teams, and send Guingamp into the relegation zone. They both might survive, but they took a stumble this weekend.
Picture of the Weekend
Pep Guardiola was obviously not happy with Joshua Kimmich following the draw with Borussia Dortmund.
Goal of the Weekend
My pick is Harry Kane’s beautiful finish in the North London Derby.
Champions League Matches This Weekend
Wolfsburg vs. Gent – Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg – Tuesday at 2:45 pm EST on Fox Sport Region
The first leg of this tie ended 3-2 to the road side Wolfsburg. They now return home looking to advance. I think the Cinderella story of Gent ends on Tuesday as the Germans are just too much. 3-1 to the Germans
Real Madrid vs. Roma – Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid – Tuesday at 2:45 pm EST on Fox Sports 1
The first leg ended 2-0 to the Spanish giants, and it should be very straight forward for them this time around. This is Real Madrid’s focus for the rest of the season and they might look to make a statement here. I think it will get ugly despite Roma’s great form. 4-0 to Real Madrid.
Zenit Saint Petersburg vs. Benfica – Petrovsky, Saint Petersburg – Wednesday at 12:00 pm EST on Fox Sports 1
Benfica left it really late in the first leg grabbing a small 1-0 lead. This leg in Russia will be a tough one as the weather will play a factor. These teams seem very equal and could end up going to extra time after this leg if it ends 1-0. I think that is what will happen. Zenit to advance winning the game 2-0 after extra time.
Chelsea vs. Paris Saint-Germain – Stamford Bridge, London – Wednesday at 2:45 pm EST on Fox Sports 1
Last but certainly not least is Chelsea vs. PSG, the headline matchup of this week’s games. The first leg ended 2-1 to the Parisians, but Chelsea got a vital road goal. A 1-0 win will send them through. PSG have stumbled lately, but their focus seems to be on the Champions League. I think the Paris side will advance, but it is tight. 1-1 draw to send PSG to the Quarterfinals on aggregate 3-2.
The first leg of the Round of 16 is this Thursday. Some of the big games are Liverpool hosting Manchester United, Dortmund hosting Tottenham, Athletic Bilbao hosts Valencia, and Villarreal hosting Bayer Leverkusen. These should be some fantastic matches and worth your time if you are free.