Can Leicester win the title this weekend?

  1. Manchester United vs. Leicester City ~ Old Trafford, Manchester

Sunday, May 1st at 9:05 am EST on NBCSN

Can history happen this weekend? Can Leicester City win the title?  They are just 3 points away from the title with three games to go.  This weekend the title hopefuls travel to Old Trafford.  Their opponents this weekend are still hopeful of qualifying for the Champions League.  They currently sit in 5th place, just 5 points behind Arsenal and Manchester City with a game in hand.  If United is able to get all three points this weekend then the race for fourth will surely be on.  Jamie Vardy is serving the extra game ban he received for his comments towards the official two weeks ago.  Matthew James is also out for Leicester.  Will Ranieri stick with the team that got the win last weekend? United is still without Schweinsteiger, Januzaj, Keane, and Shaw.  Phil Jones is getting closer to coming back into the first team. Will we see history on Sunday?  I would say that this is the must watch the game of the weekend and should be fascinating.

Betting Odds

Match Result – United 11/10, Leicester 29/10, Draw 12/5

Predictions

My Pick – United 1, Leicester 1: Goals by Rashford and Mahrez

James’ Pick – United 1, Leicester 1: Goals by Rashford and Mahrez

  1. Valencia vs. Villarreal ~ Estadio de Mestalla

Sunday, May 1st at 2:30 pm EST on beIN Sports Connect

Two teams from the eastern coast of Spain face off in La Mestalla this weekend as Valencia host Villarreal.  These are traditionally two teams that are competing for the fourth and final Champions League spot.  This season has not gone as planned for Valencia, as they have had four different managers.  Villarreal, on the other hand, has a lead after the first leg of the Europa League semifinals and is 5 points away from clinching a place in the Champions League.  Any dropped points for Valencia means that they will miss out on any European competitions for next season. Valencia remains without Gaya and Bakkali due to injuries.  Diego Alves and Rodrigo will face late fitness tests.  Villarreal might rotate some of their squad with the second leg of the Europa League semifinals next Thursday in Liverpool.  They are without Baptistao and Bailly due to injury.  Valencia is unbeaten in their last four games and will look to continue to that trend this weekend.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Valencia 6/5, Villarreal 12/5, Draw 23/10

Predictions

My Pick – Valencia 2, Villarreal 2: Goals by Alcacer, Gomes, Adrian, and Suarez

James’ Pick – Valencia 2, Villarreal 2: Goals by Alcacer, Parejo, Adrian, and Soldado

  1. Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin ~ BayArena, Leverkusen

Saturday, April 30th at 12:30 pm EST on Fox Sports 1

Third vs. Fourth meet this weekend in Germany.  Bayer Leverkusen has won 6 straight and taken a strong hold on third place.  They are 5 points clear of their opponents Hertha Berlin.  The race for fourth place has really heated up since Hertha is winless in their last four games.  They have dropped from third to fourth and are just one point above Monchengladbach.  With just three games to go, the race for the final Champions League spot should be great to watch. Bayer Leverkusen is without Boenisch, Papdopoulous, Tah, and Wendell for this game.  Look for Tin Jedvej to fill in at center back and Roberto Hilbert on the right side.   Hertha also have a list of key injuries.  Allagui, Kurt, Darida, and Brooks are all out injured.  Rune Jarstein is returning and Lustenberger is set to fill in at center back.  Hertha really needs 3 points this weekend, but they are running into a buzz saw in Bayer Leverkusen and could be outside of the top four after this weekend.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Leverkusen 8/13, Hertha 5/1, Draw 11/4

Predictions

My Pick – Leverkusen 3, Hertha 1: Goals by Kießling, Chicharito, Bellarabi, and Kalou

James’ Pick – Leverkusen 2, Hertha 1: Goals by  Kießling, Chicharito, and Kalou

  1. Chelsea vs. Tottenham ~ Stamford Bridge, London

Monday, May 2nd at 3:00 pm EST on NBCSN

Tottenham saw their title hopes dashed a bit following their 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion.  They are now 7 points behind Leicester and are in desperate need of a Leicester loss.  They do not play until Monday this weekend so they will most likely be massive United fans on Sunday.  If they are able to win out and Leicester does not get three points, they, Tottenham, will be champions.  Chelsea has seemingly recovered under Guus Hiddink and climbed up to 9th in the table.  They will do well to get any higher in the table this season; however, it will still be a disappointment for them as they would have hoped to be in and around the title. Chelsea is without injured players Kurt Zouma, Loic Remy, and John Terry.  Thibaut Courtois is suspended.  Gary Cahill is a doubt for the game.  For Tottenham, Dele Alli is suspended for the rest of the season due to his actions on Monday.  Nabil Bentaleb is out injured.  Eric Dier is a doubt for the game. This is going to be in a tough one for Tottenham as the title might be over before this game is kicked off.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Chelsea 7/4, Tottenham 13/8, Draw 13/5

Predictions

My Pick – Chelsea 1, Tottenham 1: Goals by Costa and Kane

James’ Pick – Chelsea 1, Tottenham 2: Goals by Costa, Kane, and Erikson

  1. Borussia Dortmund vs. Wolfsburg ~ Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund

Saturday, April 30th at 9:30 am EST on Fox Soccer Plus

Two of Germany’s most famous clubs meet this weekend in Dortmund as Wolfsburg faces Borussia Dortmund.  Dortmund has had a very good season but they look set finish second in the league.  Munich is just 1 win away from clinching the title.  Wolfsburg has had a rough season as they sit in 10th pace.  They are not in the race for a European place and will be back in the Bundesliga next season.  Dortmund is unbeaten in their last 14 games.  Wolfsburg meanwhile has not won in their last 6 games.  Will this come to an end this weekend?  Borussia Dortmund is without Nevan Subotic and Joo-Ho Park.  Aubameyang and Gundogan will face late fitness tests.  Wolfsburg is without Jung, Draxler, Ascues, and Henrique.  I think this will be a bitter sweet weekend for Dortmund as they should get three points but will most likely see Munich clinch the title for the fourth year in a row.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Dortmund 4/11, Wolfsburg 15/2, Draw 4/1

Predictions

My Pick – Dortmund 4, Wolfsburg 1: Goals by Reus, Ramos, Mkhitaryan, Castro, and Dost

James’ Pick – Dortmund 3, Wolfsburg 1: Goals by  Reus, Ramos, Mkhitaryan, and Dost

Champions League Recap

Manchester City 0, Real Madrid 0 – The first leg in Manchester was not very exciting to watch, but it was a good result for both teams you could say.  Manchester City kept a clean sheet and will be hopeful that if they can score a goal at the Bernabeu, then they can advance to the final.  This second leg should be a great opportunity for Manchester City and they have it all to play for.

Atletico Madrid 1, Bayern Munchen 0 – Saul Niguez scored a beautiful goal to give Atletico something to take to Munich.  Atleti was very strong defensively and played out the game plan perfectly.  They will need to do this again next weekend if they want to get back to the final.

Europa League Recap

Villarreal 1, Liverpool 0 – This game was a very tight game with few chances, but Villarreal took their chance in extra time.  Denis Suarez got behind Kolo Toure and then played a lovely ball to Adrian who finished it easily past Mignolet.  The tie is not over, but Villarreal do have a leg up ahead of the second leg.

Shakhtar Donetsk 2, Sevilla 2 – This game really had all the scoring in Europe this week.  Sevilla opened the scoring in the 6th minute thanks to Vitolo.  The holders then saw their lead disappear as Marlos and Tara Stephaneko scored before halftime.  The holders did not give up and with 8 minutes to go, Vitolo was taken down in the box.  Gameiro finished the penalty.  The game ended in a 2-2 draw, which gives Sevilla a slight edge thanks to away goals for the second leg in Sevilla next week.

Other Games on TV This Weekend

England – Premier League

Stoke City vs. Sunderland – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on NBCSN

Newcastle United vs. Crystal Palace – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on USA

Arsenal vs. Norwich City – Saturday at 12:30 pm EST on NBC

Swansea City vs. Liverpool – Sunday at 7:00 am EST on NBCSN

Southampton vs. Manchester City – Sunday at 11:30 am EST on NBCSN

Spain – La Liga

Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Atletico Madrid vs. Rayo Vallecano – Saturday at 12:15 pm EST on beIN Sports

Real Betis vs. Barcelona – Saturday at 2:30 pm EST on beIN Sports

Italy – Serie A

Juventus vs. Carpi – Sunday at 6:30 am EST on beIN Sports

Milan vs. Frosinone – Sunday at 9:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Lazio vs. Internazionale – Sunday at 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports

Germany – Bundesliga

Bayern Munchen vs. Borussia Monchengladbach – Saturday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Sports 2

Werder Bremen vs. Stuttgart – Monday at 2:15 pm EST on Fox Sports 1

Winners and Losers from This Weekend

Winners

  1. Sunderland – They are out of the relegation zone and are favorites for survival, as they have the best goal difference and a fairly decent run-in. They earned themselves a 0-0 draw this weekend with Arsenal. They are hopeful of staying in the Premier League for another year.  There are four games to play, but Sunderland fans must start to get excited about their prospects of staying in the league for another season.
  2. Luis Suarez – In the last 7 days, Luis Suarez has scored 8 goals and lifted Barcelona from their slump of 3 straight losses to two straight wins. They have maintained their spot on top of the league and kept Barcelona’s hopes of winning the title still alive. This is some of the best form of his career as he looks set to win the Pichichi for the most goals scored in La Liga.  Suarez has scored 34 goals this season in 32 games.  Ronaldo is second with 31 goals in 34 games.
  3. Juventus – Gigi Buffon came up big for Juventus as they went 12 points clear at the top. Mario Mandzukic scored the only goal in the first half of the game. In the second half, Kalinic leveled the score with 9 minutes to go.  Then just 2 minutes later Morata put Juve back on top.  In added time, Kalinic had a chance from the penalty spot, but Buffon came up with the save.  This win, coupled with Roma defeating Napoli 1-0 today, means that Juventus will retain the Serie A title.
  4. Bayer Leverkusen – Six straight wins has seen Bayer Leverkusen take third place and make it their own. They defeated Schalke 04 this weekend 3-2 after trailing 0-2 at halftime. They scored 3 goals in 6 minutes and moved 6 points clear of Hertha Berlin and are four points away from guaranteeing themselves Champions League football for next season.
  5. PSG – They have won their second trophy of the season and third Coupe de la Ligue in a row. They defeated Lille 2-1 this weekend thanks to Angel Di Maria. Javier Pastore opened up the scoring just before half time.  Djibril Sidibe leveled the score 4 minutes into the second half.  With 20 minutes to go, Adrien Rabiot was shown his second yellow and PSG were down to 10 men.  However, just 4 minutes later Angel Di Maria scored what would end up being the winner.  This is the 11th trophy that PSG has won since the start of the 2012-13 season and their dominance of French soccer began.

Losers

  1. Norwich City – They have lost two in a row and are now back in the relegation zone with just 4 games left. They are level on points with Sunderland, but their inferior goal difference means that they are in trouble. They must find a way to end their two game losing streak and earn more points that Sunderland over the last 4 games.
  2. Sporting Gijon – They were on the wrong end of a 6-0 defeat to Barcelona that was very harsh. Sporting Gijon was down just 1-0 at halftime and made some changes early in the second half to try a rescue a point. They were opened up and then a series of penalties put the game beyond them.  Their loss and Granada’s 5-1 defeat of Levante means that Sporting is now in the relegation zone and could be in trouble with just 3 games to play.
  3. Napoli – After a horrendous start to the season for Juventus, many in Italy felt that this could be the year for a new champion. However, we found out today that we would not see a new champion. Juventus clinched their 5th straight title.  Napoli were defeated today 1-0 to Roma.  They should be in the Champions League next season, but it will be disappointing for the team and their fans when they look back and realize that this title slipped away from them very quickly.
  4. Hertha Berlin – Is the magic running out for Hertha? They have not won a game in their last four Bundesliga matches. They have dropped from 3rd to 4th and seen their safe Champions League spot turn into a 1 point lead with 3 games to go.  As the season has started to wind down, Hertha has looked weaker and weaker and are now in danger of missing out on the Champions League if they cannot turn around their form.
  5. Everton – The blue half of Merseyside is not having the best time right now. With what many Everton fans consider the best team they have had in a while, they sit in 11th place in the league. They have failed to win in any of their last 7 games.  They did have the hope of reaching the FA Cup final and potentially a trophy.  However, those dreams are now over as they were defeated by Manchester United 2-1 thanks to an extra time goal from Martial.  Is this the end of Roberto Martinez’s time at Everton?

Champions League Semifinals

This week is the first leg of the Champions League semifinals.  We are down to four teams: Manchester City (ENG), Real Madrid (ESP), Bayern Munchen (GER), and Atletico Madrid (ESP).  The first legs are this weekend on Tuesday and Wednesday with the second legs next week.  A spot in the final of the biggest club football competition is on the line.

Tuesday: Manchester City vs. Real Madrid, Etihad Stadium, Manchester – This is the first time Manchester City has ever made it to the semifinals.  For Real Madrid, this is their 6th trip in a row to the semifinals.  Manchester City could shock the world and upset Real Madrid, but a clean sheet and a win is a must on Tuesday.  I think that they can win, but a clean sheet will be tough.  City 2- Madrid 1.

Wednesday: Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munchen, Vicente Calderon, Madrid – This is high powered offense vs. brick wall defense.  Atletico Madrid defeated Barcelona thanks to a 2-0 win in the Calderon.  A repeat performance could be on this weekend as Diego Simeone looks to return to the final two years after his side lost the final to Real Madrid.  Pep Guardiola is looking to make it to the finals for the first time since his Barcelona days.  Atletico have a very strong defense, look for that to be important as they will need a good result at home.  Atletico 1 – Bayern 1.

Europa League Semifinals

While I usually do not talk too much about the Europa League, now is the time as the competition has reached the semifinals and if the quarterfinals were any indication, we are in for some fantastic matches.

Thursday: Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) vs. Sevilla (ESP), Arena Lviv, Lviv – The two time defending champions Sevilla (ESP) travel to Lviv to face off with Shakhtar Donetsk.  The Spanish side has dominated this competition lately but advanced on penalties against Athletic Bilbao.  They seem to have the ability to advance each and every time.  Donetsk, meanwhile, easily brushed aside Sporting Braga winning 6-1.  This should be a bit closer.  I expect Sevilla to get the needed result, 2-1 to the visitors.

Thursday: Villarreal (ESP) vs. Liverpool (ENG), El Madrigal, Villarreal – This one should be a fantastic match with two teams that are really finding their form at the right time in this competition.  Villarreal defeated Sparta Prague 6-3 on aggregate.  They looked a very strong side and should be favorites in this first leg.  Liverpool needed a dramatic comeback from 3-1 down against Dortmund to advance on the strength of a 4-3 win in the second leg.  Klopp seems to have found the winning formula, but they have been up and down all season.

Goal of the Weekend

This weekend I am going to go with Douglas Costa and his beautiful strike against Hertha Berlin.

 

 

French Cup Final, FA Cup Semifinals, and another title for Juve?

  1. Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lille ~ Coupe de la Ligue Final ~ Stade de France, Paris

Saturday, April 23rd at 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports

This weekend is the Coupe de la Ligue Cup final.  This is competition was founded in 1994.  It will be played in the Stade de France in Paris and features PSG and Lille.  PSG is the heavy favorites to win this title, as they have dominated French football for the last 3 years.  They have won this competition 5 times, including the last two years in a row.  This is Lille’s first trip to the final as they will hope to pull the upset and take a trophy away from the French giants.  Laurent Blanc will be able to call upon David Luiz and Marco Verratti for the final. However, Verratti is unlikely to start. Javier Pastore, Lucas Moura, and Layvin Kurzawa could all come into the side following the team’s win in the semifinals of the Coupe de France this week.  Thiago Motta is the only player out injured.  For Lille, Marvin Martin and Eric Bautheac are out injured.  Manager Frederic Antonetti will also be without Renato Civelli who is suspended.  Marko Basa is a doubt for the game.  PSG are out of the Champions League and already champions of France.  They will now look to make their first of two trips to the Stade de France a success and repeat their domestic treble.  One trophy is already clinched; will it be two this weekend?

Betting Odds

Match Result – PSG 1/3, Lille 17/2, Draw 15/4

Predictions

My Pick – PSG 3, Lille 1: Goals by Ibrahimovic, Maria, Cavani, and Amalfitano

James’ Pick – PSG , Lille : Goals by

  1. Everton vs. Manchester United ~ FA Cup Semifinal ~ Wembley Stadium, London

Saturday, April 23rd at 12:00 pm EST on Fox Sports 2

The world’s oldest football competition in the world resumes this weekend with the FA Cup Semifinals.  The two games will be played this weekend with the first on Saturday featuring Everton vs. Manchester United.  The semifinals take place in Wembley Stadium in the London.  The first semifinal features two teams that have a rich history in the FA Cup.  Manchester United is looking to win the cup for the 12th time, which would pull them level with Arsenal for the most ever.  It could be their 19th final appearance.  Their last FA Cup trophy came in 2004.  Everton has won the title 5 times, most recently in 1995, but they have finished runners-up more than any other team for a total of 13 final appearances.  Both of these sets of fans would love a trophy, but that might mean their manager stays on for next season.  A loss for either manager is probably the final straw.  Everton are without Tyias Browning and Seamus Coleman due to injury.  Ramiro Funes Mori was sent off for an awful challenge on Divock Origi in the Merseyside Derby, so Mori is suspended.  Gareth Barry came off injured in the game midweek and might not be available.  Phil Jagielka might be rushed back to fill in for Mori or Stones if he is not able to place.   United is without Keane, Schweinsteiger, and Januzaj.  Rooney is back and in the lineup but Rashford has maintained his spot up front with Martial out on the left wing.  This should be a great watch this weekend and will feature two teams really hoping to get another trip to Wembley.

Betting Odds

Match Results – Everton 3/1, United 1/1, Draw 13/5

Predictions

My Pick – Everton 1, United 1, Everton 5-4 on Penalties: Goals by Lukaku and Rashford

James’ Pick – Everton , United : Goals by

  1. Crystal Palace vs. Watford ~ FA Cup Semifinal ~ Wembley Stadium, London

Sunday, April 24th at 11:00 am EST on Fox Sports 2

The second semifinal this weekend will feature Crystal Palace and Watford.  These two teams have both never won the competition but have finished as runners up.  Crystal Palace was runners up in 1990.  Watford, meanwhile, was runners up in 1984.  Both of these teams have had disappointing 2016s after starting very well this season.  They should both stay up in the Premier League, but a trip to the final of the FA Cup and a trophy would mean the world to both sets of fans.  Alan Pardew rested the majority of his big names this week when his side faced Manchester United.  Scott Dann should recover in time for the game.  Connor Wickham should also start up front ahead of Emmanuel Adebayor, but I would be surprised if we do not see Adebayor.  Quique Sanchez Flores is under some pressure after his team’s poor stretch run.  He made seven changes this week against West Ham with both eyes on this game at Wembley.  Nordin Amrabat is suspended for the game otherwise; Watford should be at full strength.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Palace 6/4, Watford 21/10, Draw 23/10

Predictions

My Pick – Palace 2, Watford 3: Goals by Pucheon, Wickham, Ighalo, and Deeney (2)

James’ Pick – Palace , Watford : Goals by

  1. Fiorentina vs. Juventus ~ Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence

Sunday, April 24th at 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports

Two of the top 5 teams in Italy face off this weekend when Juventus travels to Fiorentina.  Juventus is four points away from clinching the title and could this weekend with a win and any dropped points by Napoli.  They are in the midst of a 24 game unbeaten run having taken the Serie A by storm.  Fiorentina is in the final Europa League spot and should be able to hold on.  This should be a tough clash and is a potential loss for Juventus.  Fiorentina is unbeaten in their last 7 home games.  Paul Pogba has been phenomenal this season and will to continue his great form.  Paulo Dybala has scored 16 games this season and looks to be a fantastic signing.  For Fiorentina, Milan Badeli has been the playmaker in the center of midfield with Josip Ilicic and Nikola Kalinic scoring the goals.  Fiorentina once had dreams of winning the title this season but look resigned to the fact that they will play in Europe.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Fiorentina 5/2, Juventus 23/20, Draw 23/10

Predictions

My Pick – Fiorentina 0, Juventus 2: Goals by Dybala and Pogba

James’ Pick – Fiorentina , Juventus : Goals by

  1. Sevilla vs. Real Betis ~ Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Sevilla

Sunday, April 24th at 10:00 am EST on beIN Sports

This game is one that is very close to my heart as I have attended this derby before and witnessed firsthand the passion and the pride that is at stake when the two teams from Sevilla meet.  Sevilla has become one of the best teams in Europe, having won the last two Europa League titles and they are in the semifinals this season.  Sevilla is sitting just outside of the Europa League spots right now in 7th place.  Real Betis is currently in 12th place right now.  They look to stay up this season after gaining promotion last season.  Sevilla is without Vitolo, Andreolli, and Tremoulinas due to injury.  Adil Rami is a doubt and this could lead to Kolodziejczak and Carrico partnering in the center of the back four.  Real Betis is without Piccini and Digard due to injury.  Martin Montoya, N’Diaye, and Dani Ceballos are all doubts for the game.  Sevilla has dominated this derby lately winning 4 of the last 6.  They could get their first win this weekend after going four without a win.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Sevilla 1/2, Betis 11/2, Draw 10/3

Predictions

My Pick – Sevilla 2, Betis 1: Goals by Gameiro, Reyes, and Castro

James’ Pick – Sevilla , Betis : Goals by

Other Games on TV This Weekend

England – Premier League

Manchester City vs. Stoke City – Saturday at 7:45 am EST on NBCSN

AFC Bournemouth vs. Chelsea – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on USA

Liverpool vs. Newcastle United – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on NBCSN

Sunderland vs. Arsenal – Sunday at 9:05 am EST on NBCSN

Leicester City vs. Swansea City – Sunday at 11:15 am EST on NBCSN

Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Bromwich Albion – Monday at 3:00 pm EST on NBCSN

Spain – La Liga

Rayo Vallecano vs. Real Madrid – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Atletico Madrid vs. Malaga – Saturday at 12:15 pm EST on beIN Sports

Getafe vs. Valencia – Sunday at 12:15 pm EST on beIN Sports

Italy – Serie A

Sampdoria vs. Lazio – Sunday at 9:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Germany – Bundesliga

Stuttgart vs. Borussia Dortmund – Saturday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Soccer Plus

Hertha Berlin vs. Bayern Munchen – Saturday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Sports 2

Schalke 04 vs. Bayer Leverkusen – Saturday at 12:30 am EST on Fox Soccer Plus

Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Hoffenheim – Sunday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Soccer Plus

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Mainz 05 – Sunday at 11:30 am EST on Fox Soccer Plus

 

 

Top & Bottom of the Table Updates…

With just over a month left in the season, I think this is the perfect time to take a look at the race for the title, Champions League, Europa League, and relegation in each of the five leagues.

England – Premier League

Title – This is a two horse race for the title and none of the usual suspects are involved. Leicester City is 8 points away from clinching the title. They are currently 5 points clear of Tottenham. With just 4 games to go, Leicester needs to come up with some big results if they are to win their first ever Premier League title. Tottenham will hope that they are able to draw level as their goal difference is far superior to Leicester’s.

Champions League – Leicester City will play in the Champions League next season. Tottenham also looks set to play in the Champions League as well. Manchester City and Arsenal currently sit in third and fourth respectively and should qualify for the Champions League next season. Manchester United should push those two to the end but look to come up just short.

Europa League – England gets three spots in the Europa League; one for league position, one for the League Cup winner and one for the FA Cup winner. Since Manchester City won the League Cup, their spot is given to the 6th place team in the table. The FA Cup is in the semifinals currently which will take place next weekend. Everton will face Manchester United and Crystal Palace will face Watford. United is the only team in the Europa League places left so most likely the winner will qualify for the Europa League. That leaves the two league spots. Currently United are in fifth and should qualify for the Europa League. West Ham is currently in 6th on 53 points. Southampton is in 7th on 51 points but has played one more game than West Ham. Liverpool is also on 51 points, but they have played 1 game less than West Ham. If they are able to win their game in hand then they will jump into the Europa League place.

Relegation – Aston Villa is the first team to be relegated this season from the Premier League. The two teams that will join Villa in the Championship is still up in the air. It is between three teams for the two spots. Newcastle (28 points, 33 games played), Sunderland (30, 33), and Norwich City (31, 34) Norwich is in trouble if Newcastle and Sunderland can get positive results in the midweek games this week. Goal difference may play a part and Sunderland has a nice advantage at -18, compared to Norwich (-25) and Newcastle (-26).

Spain – La Liga

Title – The tile race has really heated up lately thanks to a dramatic loss of form from Barcelona. There are still 5 games to play, but this is very much a three-team race. Barcelona is on top with 76 points. Atletico Madrid is level on points with Barcelona but in second place. Real Madrid is 1 point behind both of them. Barcelona has the tie breaker on each of their rivals since they won aggregate score of their head to head matchups. This looks like it could go down to the wire.

Champions League – Spain gets four spots in the Champions League next season. Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Real Madrid will take up three of those spots. The final spot is still up for grabs, but it is looking more and more likely that it will be Villarreal. They are currently in fourth place with a 6 point lead on Athletic Bilbao in 5th. If they dramatically lose their form then it could be a race, but I expect Villarreal to hold on to fourth place.

Europa League – Spain gets three spots in the Europa League next season. Two are based on league standing and go to the fifth and sixth place teams. The third goes to the winner of the Copa del Rey. The final will be played between Barcelona and Sevilla. If Barcelona wins, then the seventh place team will get the third spot. If Sevilla wins then they get the spot. Villarreal is guaranteed at least a spot in the Europa League, but I expect them to take the final Champions League spot. This leaves Athletic Bilbao, Celta Vigo, and Sevilla for the Europa League place. Bilbao is on 54 points, Vigo 53, and Sevilla on 49. Malaga, Real Sociedad, and Eibar are next in the table on 41 points, but I see it being difficult for them to make up the gap.

Relegation – The bottom of the table is very tight and could change from week to week. Currently it is Getafe (28 points), Levante 28, Sporting Gijon (29), Granada (3), Rayo (34), and Espanyol (36). I feel that this is a four team race for survival and only one will survive. I think that if you can get to 38 points then you will be safe. Besides that, I think it will be Getafe, Levante, and Granada who are relegated, but it could be any of the bottom four clubs.

Germany –Bundesliga

Title – Bayern Munich is 5 points away from clinching their 3rd consecutive title in a row under Pep Guardiola, and four in a row overall. If they are able to win their next two games, they are Champions. Borussia Dortmund put up a good fight, but it will be too little in the end as they are currently 7 points back.

Champions League – Germany gets four Champions League places. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have two of those places clinched. The other two are up for grabs. Currently, Bayer Leverkusen (51 points) and Hertha Berlin (49) sit in the final two spots. However, three teams are right on their heels. Borussia Monchengladbach, Mainz 05, and Schalke are all on 45 points and will hope that Hertha and Bayer slip up so they can qualify.

Europa League –The Europa League will really be a consolation prize for the three teams that miss out on the Champions League. Germany gets three spots in the Europa League. Two for the league places and one for the Pokal Cup. Right now the cup is in the semifinals. It features Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen and Hertha Berlin vs. Borussia Dortmund. If any team besides Werder Bremen wins, then the teams that finish 5th, 6th, and 7th will qualify for the Europa League. The semifinals are this week. Besides the five teams in the hunt for the final two Champions League places, I do not see any team really making a challenge for the Europa League. Wolfsburg sits in 8th on 39 points, but they will need a lot of help to catch Schalke, Mainz, and Monchengladbach.

Relegation – I hate to say it but I think Hannover 96 is going down. They are currently on 21 points and need to earn 10 points in their remaining games and have the teams above them earn 0 points. There are only 12 more available points. Germany does relegation a little differently than the rest of the world. The bottom two teams are relegated and the team in 16th place goes into the relegation playoff against the third place team in the 2. Bundesliga. Currently, Hannover (21) and Eintracht Frankfurt (27) are in the relegation spots. Werder Bremen (31) is in the play-off spot. Just above the drop zone is Stuttgart (33), Augsburg (33), Hoffenheim (34), Hamburger SV (34), and Darmstadt 98 (35). I think that the three teams in the relegation spots will stay there, but you never know.

Italy – Serie A

Title – Technically, Napoli can still catch Juventus for the title, but I think that is unlikely following their defeat this weekend. They trail Juventus by 9 points with just 5 games to go. Juventus needs a total of 6 points to win the title and they will have clinched their 5th title in a row.

Champions League – Italy gets three spots in the Champions League. Juventus has one of those spots clinched. Napoli should clinch their spot in the next couple weeks as they need 6 points to clinch. Roma is the third and final spot and their spot is more in doubt. They are just 4 points above Internazionale. The race for the third spot should be interesting between these two teams.

Europa League – Italy gets three spots to the Europa League. Since Juventus and Milan have reached the final of the 2015-16 Coppa Italia, it appears that the 6th place team will qualify for the Europa League if Juventus wins. It will be Milan if they win the Coppa. Inter looks set to at the worst qualify for the Europa League. Fiorentina is in 5th place. They are currently on 59 points. Milan is in 6th on 52 points. Sassuolo and Lazio are in 7th and 8th respectively, but are 4 points behind Milan. They will need to have some results go their way if they are to qualify.

Relegation – The relegation fight is another four team race for survival.   Hellas Verona will need to win out if they have any chance of survival. They currently have 22 points. Palermo is 6 points above Hellas in 19th place. Frosinone is in 18th place with 30 points. They are one point from safety behind Carpi who has 31 points. Udinese is in 16th place on 35 points, but I think they will be able to survive.

France – Ligue 1

Title – Paris Saint-Germain is the champions of the French League.

Champions League – France gets three spots in the Champions League. PSG has one of them. The other two are still up for grabs. Monaco is currently in second place on 58 points; Lyon is in third on 56 points. Both Nice and Saint-Etienne will hope that those two slip up, as they are 4 behind Monaco and just 2 behind Lyon.

Europa League – France is given 3 places in the Europa League. They currently have one given to the 4th place team and then one given to the winner of the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue. If PSG is able to win both of these competitions, then the 5th and 6th place teams would qualify. The Coupe de France is in the semifinals that will be played this week. Lorient hosts PSG and Sochaux host Marseille. The Coupe de la Ligue Final is set to take place next weekend and features PSG vs. Lille. The race for fourth is down to Nice (54), Saint-Etienne (54), Lille (52), Rennes (51), and Angers (49). Most likely three of these teams will qualify for the Europa League.

Relegation – The relegation battle is getting tighter as Troyes is relegated to the Ligue 2. Toulouse and Gazelec Ajaccio currently hold the other two relegation places, but they can at least see safety. Toulouse is 3 points and Gazelec Ajaccio is 2 points behind Reims and safety. Montpellier and Marseille are on 40 points and 6 points clear. They should be safe for this season.

Goal of the Weekend

My Goal of the Week this weekend is Juan Cuadrado’s nice finish for Juventus against Palermo.

This week there is plenty of midweek action. The leagues seem to be taking advantage of the week off from European competitions.

England – There is a small slate of games this week for teams to make up missed matches. The headliner has to be the Merseyside Derby on Wednesday between Liverpool and Everton. However, Arsenal, Manchester United, West Ham, and Manchester City are all in action as well.

Spain – There is a full slate of this weekend. Can Barcelona end their losing streak? They travel to Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday. Atletico Madrid can jump into first if they can win at Athletic Bilbao. Real Madrid will face Villarreal in the best matchup of the week. We could have a new leader on Thursday.

Italy – Serie A also has a full slate of games this week. Juventus vs. Lazio is the headliner of the week, but a lot of questions could be answered before Friday.

Germany – The DFB Pokal semifinals take place the week. On Tuesday, Bayern Munich will host Werder Bremen. On Wednesday, Hertha Berlin hosts Borussia Dortmund.

France – The semifinals of the Coupe de France are on Tuesday and Thursday. Lorient hosts PSG on Tuesday and Sochaux hosts Marseille on Thursday.

Time for the Stretch Run!!

  1. Leicester City vs. West Ham United ~ King Power Stadium, Leicester

Sunday, April 17th at 8:30 am EST on NBCSN

The darlings of the Premier League take on West Ham United this weekend as Leicester looks to move 10 claer at the top.  Leicester is three wins away from clinching their first ever top flight title.  Their story has been amazing this season and I think the whole world is cheering for them now.  They have won 5 straight games and will look to take a big step towards the title.  West Ham had dreams of Champions League football three weeks ago, but three straight draws have seen them drop to 5 points behind City for fourth place.  They will be in desperate need of a win this weekend.  Leicester is very healthy for the stretch run.  They are without Matthew James who is unfit for the match.  Look for Ranieri to not tinker with the lineup this weekend.  For West Ham, Sam Byram continues to be out, meaning Michail Antonio will start at right back.  Diafra Sakho is a doubt with a knee injury.  Carroll should get the start upfront after his hat trick last weekend.  Leicester looks set to move within 6 points of the title, but it will not be easy.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Leicester 19/20, West Ham 16/5, Draw 13/5

First Goalscorer – Vardy 15/4, Mahrez 6/1, Ulloa 6/1

Predictions

My Pick – Leicester 2, West Ham 0: Goals by Mahrez and Vardy

James’ Pick – Leicester 2, West Ham 1: Goals by Vardy, Mahrez, and Payet

  1. Barcelona vs. Valencia ~ Camp Nou, Barcelona

Sunday, April 17th at 2:30 pm EST on beIN Sports

This has been an awful couple weeks for Barcelona that has seen them earn just 1 point in their last three La Liga matches, drop out of the Champions League, and lose El Clasico at home.  Now they have just two targets left, the Primera Division title and the Copa del Rey.  They will need to right the ship quickly if they want to maintain their lead at the top. When they kick off on Sunday with Valencia, they could be level on points with Atletico Madrid and just one point ahead of Real Madrid.  A win is a must for the Catalan giants.  Valencia got a vital win last weekend and should now be safe from relegation.  They could use a win to guarantee that and will think that Barcelona is ripe for the taking.  Luis Suarez returns from a ban as Arda Turan is banned for collecting yellow cards.  Sandro, Vermaelen, and Mathieu are all out injured.  For Valencia Bakkali and Piatti are out injured.  Sofiane Feghouli will also be out.  Cheryshev face a late fitness test.  This will be a big test for Barcelona.  They need all three points.  Messi is in the midst of a slump.  Can Barcelona turn it around? Who will provide the spark?

Betting Odds

Match Result – Barcelona 1/8, Valencia 14/1, Draw 8/1

First Goalscorer – Messi 9/4, Suarez 3/1, Neymar 10/3

Predictions

My Pick – Barcelona 2, Valencia 1: Goals by Messi (2) and Alcacer

James’ Pick – Barcelona 3, Valencia 1: Goals by Messi, Suarez, Neymar, and Alcacer

  1. Bayern Munich vs. Schalke 04 ~ Allianz Arena, Munich

Saturday, April 16th at 12:30 pm EST on Fox

Bayern Munich takes on Schalke this weekend in the headline grabbing match in the Bundesliga.  Bayern is currently 7 points clear at the top and will look to maintain their lead.  Schalke meanwhile are in the midst of the race for 4th place.  They are currently level on points with Monchengladbach and Mainz at 45 and just 3 points behind Leverkusen in 4th place.  Schalke will need to find some way to pick up points if they want to maintain in the race for fourth place over the next 5 games.  Javi Martinez is fully fit and should probably come into the starting 11.  Xabi Alonso is suspended for the game.  The major question with Munich is whether or not Pep will rest some players for the stretch run, including the Champions League semifinals.  For Schalke, Uchida, Howedes, Sam, and Goretzka are all out injured.  Kolasinac is suspended.  Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg should get the chance to show his parent club his talents with Goretzka out.  Bayern should dominate the game from the start, but Schalke should come in with some confidence.  This should be a classic Bundesliga heavyweight match.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Munich 1/6, Schalke 12/1, Draw 13/2

First Goalscorer – Lewandowski 12/5, Muller 3/1, Costa 5/1

Predictions

My Pick – Munich 2, Schalke 1: Goals by Lewandowski, Coman, and Sane

James’ Pick – Munich 2, Schalke 1: Goals by Muller (2) and Huntelaar

  1. Inter Milan vs. Napoli ~ Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan

Saturday, April 16th at 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports

Roberto Mancini said today that Inter still believe they can finish in third place and qualify for the Champions League.  In order to make this happen, Inter will need to catch Roma in the last 6 games of the season.  They are currently 6 points behind Roma.  This weekend, Inter faces another one of the 3 teams above them in the table as they host Napoli.  Napoli is currently in second place and is 6 points behind leaders Juventus.  So by Mancini’s logic, Napoli can catch Juventus and win the title.  This should be a very good game.  Adem Ljajic is the only player that is out for Inter Milan.  Stevan Jovetic is set to return to the lineup for Inter.  Gonzalo Higuain is out suspended but he has appealed the decision.  I think he will lose the appeal which means Gabbiadini is set to start.  This should be a very tight affair, but Napoli should have the quality to come out of the game with all three points.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Inter 2/1, Napoli 6/4, Draw 11/5

First Goalscorer – Icardi 5/1, Eder 11/2, Manaj 6/1

Predictions

My Pick – Inter 2, Napoli 3: Goals by Icardi, Biabiany, Insigne, Allan, and Gabbiadini

James’ Pick – Inter 1, Napoli 1: Goals by Icardi and Higuain

  1. Monaco vs. Marseille ~ Stade Louis II, Monaco

Sunday, April 17th at 3:00 pm EST on beIN Sports Connect

The race for the final two Champions League spots has really heated up lately with Monaco losing two straight games.  They were jumped by Lyon thanks to goal differential.  They are also just 2 points above Nice.  Nice and Lyon are playing today so I chose to go with this game as it will have an impact on who is in the Champions League next season.  Monaco could need to win this game to keep their place in the top 3.  Marseille meanwhile have been plummeting down the table.  They are just 6 points above the relegation zone and have not won a game in their last 9.  Both of these two teams will need a good result this weekend, or some help from their rivals.  Monaco is without Coentrao due to injury, Echiejile due to suspension, and Traore due to him being unfit.  Moutinho is doubtful for the game.  Marseille is without Lass Diarra and Mauricio Isla due to injury and Alessandrini due to suspension.  Abou Diaby is facing a late fitness test.  Monaco is the better team and should came away with all three points.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Monaco 11/10, Marseille 13/5, Draw 12/5

First Goalscorer – Batshuayi 4/1, Love 11/2, Cavaleiro 6/1

Predictions

My Pick – Monaco 1, Marseille 1: Goals by Love and Batshuayi

James’ Pick – Monaco 2, Marseille 0: Goals by Lamar and Silva

Champions League Recap

Real Madrid 3 – Wolfsburg 0 (Real Madrid wins 3-2 on aggregate) – The Spanish giants came back in this tie to win in dominating fashion on Tuesday thanks to three goals from Cristiano Ronaldo.  This was his fifth hat trick in the Champions League, tying him with Leo Messi for the most all time.  His team needed a big performance and the Portuguese striker delivered.

Manchester City 1 – Paris Saint-Germain 0 (Manchester City wins 3-2 on aggregate) – There is hope for an English team to win the competition.  The Manchester side looked strong defensively and Joe Hart put in a great performance.  Kevin De Bruyne has been the difference.  Since his return from injury, City has looked a much better side and are a couple good results away from the final.

Atletico Madrid 2 – Barcelona 0 (Atletico Madrid wins 3-2 on aggregate) – Atletico Madrid has knocked out the holders with a very good performance in the Vicente Calderon.  Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring in the first half and then finished the tie with a penalty kick in the final 2 minutes.  They are in to the semifinals for the second time in four years.  Simeone has his team poised to make another trip to the final.

Benfica 2 – Bayern Munchen 2 (Bayern Munchen wins 3-2 on aggregate) – Benfica made it tough for Munich.  After a slim 1-0 win at home, Munich advances thanks to that advantage.  The Portuguese side took the lead in the first half but it was quickly canceled out by Vidal.  In the second half, Muller put Munich up 2-1 and basically ended the chances for Benfica.  Talisca did level the game with 14 minutes to go, but Benfica could not find the two more goals they needed.

The draw happened this morning and we now have a couple weeks to digest these matchups.  They are Manchester City vs. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munchen.

Europa League Update

The quarterfinals of the Europa League were amazing this week with a total of 20 goals scored on Thursday.  Villarreal defeated Sparta Prague 4-2 to advance to the semifinals.  Shakhtar Donetsk defeated Sporting Braga 4-0 to advance on a 6-1 aggregate win.  Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao went to extra time and both teams won 2-1 on the road.  The game went to penalty kicks and Sevilla advanced winning the penalty kicks 5-4.  The final quarterfinal ended 4-3 to Liverpool despite them being down 2-0 at half and 3-1 with just over 30 minutes left in the game.  The semifinals will be Villarreal vs. Liverpool and Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Sevilla.  Can Sevilla go to a third straight final and potentially win the Europa League three years in a row?

Other Games on TV This Weekend

England – Premier League

Norwich City vs. Sunderland – Saturday at 7:45 am EST on NBCSN

Manchester United vs. Aston Villa – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on NBCSN

Chelsea vs. Manchester City – Saturday at 12:30 pm EST on NBC

Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace – Sunday at 11:00 am EST on NBCSN

Stoke City vs. Tottenham Hotspur – Monday at 3:00 pm EST on NBCSN

Spain – La Liga

Getafe vs. Real Madrid – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Italy – Serie A

Juventus vs. Palermo – Sunday at 9:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Germany – Bundesliga

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Eintracht Frankfurt – Saturday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Sports 2

Augsburg vs. Stuttgart – Saturday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Soccer Plus

Borussia Dortmund vs. Hamburger SV – Sunday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Sports 1

Mainz 05 vs. Koln – Sunday at 11:30 am EST on Fox Soccer Plus

France – Ligue 1

PSG vs. Caen – Saturday at 11:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Winners and Losers From This Weekend!!

Winners

  1. Leicester City – The foxes have qualified for the Champions League next season with 5 games to go. That is an absolute shock to the world of football, and only the first major shock that Leicester will send as they are destined to win the Premier League this season. They are 7 points clear at the top and need to get just 9 points out of the last 5.  We will have a new surprising champion in England and it will be Leicester City!
  2. Atletico Madrid – They are the big winners because they made up some significant ground on Barcelona this weekend. They defeated Espanyol 3-1 and are now just 3 points behind the leaders, Barcelona. There are still 6 games to play in Spain and they have a chance.  Now they will hope that they can overturn their 2-1 deficit in the Champions League this week.
  3. Hoffenheim & Augsburg – The bottom of the German table is where I focused this weekend. Hoffenheim and Augsburg got vital victories this weekend to give themselves some breathing room at the bottom. Augsburg jumped out of the relegation zone and is now 2 points clear of the relegation play off, and 3 points clear of the relegation zone.  Hoffenheim is a point above Augsburg.  They both are now in a good position to survive and remain in the Bundesliga.
  4. Inter – Mauro Icardi gave Inter a 1-0 lead and the victory which sent Inter up to 4th place in the table. They are 5 points from the Champions League, but Roma plays later today and a win for Roma would make it 8 points. They look set to now return to Europe in the Europa League but have also given themselves a shot at the Champions League.
  5. Nice – They came out the winners for the battle between 4th and 5th in France and are now just two points behind Monaco and Lyon for the two remaining Champions League spots. This could be a very interesting race to watch as the season progresses.

Losers

  1. Barcelona – One point in the last 3 weeks has seen their 10 point lead evaporate in the table. They are now just 3 points ahead of Atletico and 4 ahead of Real Madrid. This is probably the worst time to have a poor run of form, but a good result Wednesday is all that matters now.  They also have the head to head advantages on both Atletico and Real.  This means that if they end level on points, Barcelona will retain the title.
  2. Manchester United – Their top four hopes took a big hit this weekend as they were defeated 3-0 at Tottenham Hotspur. United is now 4 points behind City and will need to earn at least 4 more points than City over the next 6 games to qualify for the Champions League. It is looking less and less likely that they will qualify.  What will that mean for Louis van Gaal?
  3. Borussia Monchengladbach – Coming into the weekend, Gladbach was in 4th place. After the weekend, they are three points behind Leverkusen looking up at the rest of the table. The race for the fourth and final Champions League spot is really heating up.  Leverkusen jumped into that spot but has just a three point lead on Gladbach, Mainz, and Schalke.  Any time one of those four teams drop points it will be a big deal.
  4. AC Milan – Milan suffered defeat this weekend at the hands of Juventus. They remain in 6th place and look set to miss out on any European competition for the second straight season. They are now 7 points behind Fiorentina and will need a lot of help if they wish to qualify.
  5. Troyes – With their 23rd loss of the season, this French side is now going to finish on the bottom of the table for sure and will be headed to Ligue 2 next season. They have won just 2 games all season and only drawn 8 times. It has been a very disappointing season for them.

Goal of the Weekend

I am going with James Rodriquez’s goal vs. Eibar.  Maybe he should take all the free kicks for Real Madrid?

Champions League Preview

Manchester City vs. Paris Saint-Germain – Eithad Stadium, Manchester: The second leg of this tie should be fantastic.  The first leg ended 2-2 in Paris.  City has two vital road goals but has struggled to keep clean sheets in the Premier League.  Either way one of these two will be advancing to unknown territory in the semifinals.  PSG has just a bit more qualified and pulls off another big win in England, 2-1 to PSG.

Real Madrid vs. Wolfsburg, Santiago Bernabeau, Madrid: The first twenty minutes will tell you everything.  Wolfsburg will be looking to hold on to their 2-0 lead following the match in Germany.  Real Madrid will have to come out guns blazing and go for it all.  Should be interesting to see if Real can overturn the poor first leg.  Real has advanced to 5 straight semifinals and will hope they can make it 6.  Real Madrid should win easily and will overturn the results, 4-1 to Real Madrid.

Benfica vs. Bayern Munich – Estadio da Luz, Benfica: This one was one of the two that you thought would be done and dusted before this game but it is not.  Bayern Munich was only able to manage a 1-0 win at home.  They did not concede a road goal and that should help them as they look to advance to the semifinals for the fifth straight year.  I think Bayern will advance with another 1-0 win.

Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona – Estadio Vicente Calderon, Madrid:  This final quarterfinal match is the all Spanish affair.  The first leg ended 2-1 to Barcelona with a vital road goal from Fernando Torres before he was sent off.  That road goal, coupled with Barcelona’s poor form could lead to Atletico Madrid advancing to the semifinals.  Suarez will be back for Barcelona.  This will be a tough game for both sides.  I am going with a 1-1 draw.

 

 

Ruhr Derby, Spurs v. United, Top 4 Battle in France

  1. Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United ~ White Hart Lane, London

Sunday, April 10th at 11:00 am EST on NBCSN

These two teams are in big need of all 3 points this weekend if they want to keep pace with their new goals for the end of the season. Tottenham is currently 7 points behind Leicester and could be 10 points back when this game kicks off. If they have any hope of catching them and winning their first EPL title, then they must win. United is just a point off the top four and a win could send them into the top 4. A loss could see them jumped by West Ham and more distance found between them. Good news for United is they are undefeated in 31 of their last 33 against Spurs in all competitions. They have kept a clean sheet in their last 3 games. Vertonghen and N’Jie are back in training for Tottenham but are doubtful for this weekend. Lamela is back and might get the start over Heung Min-Son. United remains without Shaw, Rooney, Keane, and Schweinsteiger. Blind and Jones are a doubt for the game. Spurs have been impressive and they look set to win their first game against United since January of 2014.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Tottenham 10/11, Manchester United 3/1, Draw 5/2

First Goalscorer – Kane 15/4, Chadli 11/2, Son 11/2

Predictions

My Pick – Tottenham 2, United 1: Goals by Kane, Lamela, and Martial

James’ Pick – Tottenham , United : Goals by

  1. Sporting Gijon vs. Celta de Vigo ~ Estadio Municipal El Molinon, Gijon

Sunday, April 10th at 6:00 am EST on beIN Sports Connect

This weekend we focus on a north west of Spain as Celta de Vigo travels from Galicia to Asturias to face Sporting Gijon. These two teams are on the opposite ends of the table right now and both have something to fight for over the last 7 games. Celta Vigo is currently in 5th place in the league and is looking to keep themselves in a Europa League place. The Champions League looks out of reach, but Sevilla and Athletic Club are just a point behind Celta. Sporting Gijon is currently in the bottom 3. They are level on points with Getafe who is in 18th. Granada is in 17th place, just one point above Getafe and Sporting Gijon. Two of these three teams will be relegated to the Segunda Division at the end of the season. Three points this weekend could go a long way towards survival. Jorge Mere returns from suspension and into the back four of Sporting. Alberto Lora is banned for the game. Ndi, Rachid, Barrera are all doubtful for the game. Celta is without Fontas and Marcelo Diaz. Sporting has earned 4 points from the last six possible games. This game could go either way and should be a scrappy game.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Gijon 21/10, Vigo 13/10, Draw 9/4

First Goalscorer – Nolito 9/2, Aspas 11/2, Sanabria 11/2

Predictions

My Pick – Gijon 1, Celta 2: Goals by Sanabria, Aspas, and Nolito

James’ Pick – Gijon , Celta : Goals by

  1. Schalke vs. Dortmund ~ Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen

Sunday, April 10th at 9:30 am EST on Fox Sports 1

The Revier Derby takes place this weekend as Schalke hosts Dortmund. It is also known as the Ruhr Derby, named after the Ruhr region in which both clubs are located. These are two of the biggest clubs in Germany and always a showcase match of the season. Dortmund is currently in second place, just 5 points behind Munich. Schalke is currently in 7th place but right in the race for fourth place and the final Champions League spot. They are just one point behind Gladbach. The difference between 3rd place (Hertha Berlin) and 7th place (Schalke) is just 4 points. Over the last 6 games, Hertha Berlin, Gladbach, Leverkusen, Mainz, and Schalke will all be competing for the two Champions League spots. Schalke 04 will be without Uchida, Nastasic, Howedes, Hoger, and Goretzka for the Ruhr Derby. Dortmund meanwhile will be without Subotic. Sokratis and Bender will compete for the spot at center back. Schalke could really use three points, but Dortmund will be a tough opponent this weekend. This should be a great way to start your Sunday.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Schalke 16/5, Dortmund 8/11, draw 3/1

First Goalscorer – Aubameyang 7/2, Reus 9/2, Ramos 5/1

Predictions

My Pick – Schalke 2, Dortmund 3: Goals by Sane, Matip, Aubameyang, Reus, and Weigl

James’ Pick – Schalke , Dortmund : Goals by

  1. Milan vs. Juventus ~ Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano

Saturday, April 9th at 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports

The derby of Northern Italy takes place this weekend as Juventus travels to Milan. Juventus has been great following their poor start. They are in the midst of a 21 game unbeaten run and have won 5 straight. They have climbed to the top of the table and have a 6 point lead at the top of the table. Milan meanwhile is just on the outside of the European places in 6th place, 6 points behind their crosstown rivals Inter Milan. Milan is winless in their last 4 games. Milan is without Mexes and Niang through injury and Bertolacci who is suspended. Montolivo is doubtful for the game. Juventus is missing Caceres, Chiellini, and Khedira. The first two are injured and Khedira is suspended. Dybala is doubtful for the game. Balotelli and Bacca are set to start up front. Look for Mandzukic and Morata to start up front for Juventus. Juventus is simply just too strong right now and will look to get one step closer to another Scudetto.

Betting Odds

Match results – Milan 3/1, Juventus 21/20, Draw 21/10

First Goalscorer – Mandzukic 9/2, Dybala 5/1, Morata 5/1

Predictions

My Pick – Milan 1, Juventus 2: Goals by Bacca, Morata, and Pogba

James’ Pick – Milan , Juventus : Goals by

  1. Nice vs. Stade Rennais ~ Allianz Riviera, Nice

Sunday, April 10th at 11:00 am EST

The French league is back after a couple of weeks off. There are two races that are still worth talking about in France as we approach the end of the season. The final Champions league spot and the final relegation spot are still up for grabs. Lyon is currently in third with 52 points, Rennes is in 4th with 51 and Nice is in 5th with 50 points. This weekend could see one of those teams drop off a little bit if they fail to win this weekend. Rennes has won 2 straight and are 5 unbeaten to climb up the table. Nice had won 3 straight before losing last weekend against PSG. Either team could really use all three points. Rennes has won 3 of the last 6 with Nice winning 2 of those games. The last one was a 2-2 draw in the Coupe de France. Nice won the earlier game this season 4 to 1. Nice has no significant injuries as they look to name their strongest team with Jeremy Pied back from suspension. Rennes is without Ntep and possibly Diallo. Nice will look to bounce back and climb back up the table but will face a strong team in Rennes.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Nice 13/10, Rennes 21/10, Draw 9/4

First Goalscorer – ben Arfa 11/2, Caddy 6/1, Le Bihan 6/1, Germain 6/1

Predictions

My Pick – Nice 2, Rennes 1: Goals by Arfa, Germain, and Sio

James’ Pick – Nice , Rennes : Goals by

Champions League Recap

Barcelona 2, Atletico Madrid 1 – The story line of the first half had to be Fernando Torres. In the space of 10 minutes, he scored a goal and committed 3 fouls that probably all deserved a yellow card. He was shown one for two of those tackles and sent off the field. In the second half, the story was all about Luis Suarez. He probably should have been shown a yellow in the first but wasn’t. He then scored in the 63rd minutes, was shown a yellow in the 70th, and then scored another goal in the 74th minute. Barcelona takes a slight advantage to Madrid next week.

Bayern Munchen 1, Benfica 0 – Bayern Munich kept the clean sheet at home and gave themselves a slight lead to take to the second leg. Vidal opened the scoring in the second minute and Bayern held on from there. They are up ahead of their trip to Portugal and should advance.

Paris Saint-Germain 2, Manchester City 2 – This was a great result for Manchester City and a poor one for PSG. It started with an early yellow for David Luiz and then a missed penalty by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Ibrahimovic scored in the first half, but after Kevin De Bruyne gave City the lead. In the second half, Adrien Rabiot gave PSG the lead but that did not last. Fernandinho leveled the score. 2 road goals for City could go a long way in helping them advance to the semifinals.

Wolfsburg 2, Real Madrid 0 – This was the shock result of the round. Wolfsburg has been struggling in the Bundesliga and Real Madrid just defeated Barcelona in Barcelona. However, Wolfsburg converted their chances. Ricardo Rodriguez opened the scoring in the 18th minute from the penalty spot. Then Maximilian Arnold doubled the lead before the half hour mark. They went on to hold on to a vital win. Wolfsburg now has a nice chance at advancing to the semifinals.

Other Games on TV This Weekend

English – Premier League

West Ham United vs. Arsenal – Saturday at 7:45 am EST on NBCSN

Southampton vs. Newcastle United – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on USA

Crystal Palace vs. Norwich City – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on NBCSN

Manchester City vs. West Bromwich Albion – Saturday at 12:30 pm EST on NBC

Sunderland vs. Leicester City – Sunday at 8:30 am EST on NBCSN

Spain – La Liga

Real Madrid vs. Eibar – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Italy – Serie A

Napoli vs. Hellas Verona – Sunday at 9:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Palermo vs. Lazio – Sunday at 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports

Germany – Bundesliga

Stuttgart vs. Bayern Munchen – Saturday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Sports 1

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Hoffenheim – Saturday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Soccer Plus

Ingolstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach – Saturday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Sports 2

Koln vs. Bayer Leverkusen – Sunday at 11:30 am EST on Fox Sports 2

France – Ligue 1

Guingamp vs. PSG – Saturday at 11:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Winners and Losers From this Weekend

Winners

  1. Leicester City – This weekend they defeated Southampton 1-0 to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to 7 points. They were helped as Liverpool drew 1-1 with Tottenham. This allowed for Leicester to extend their lead on Sunday. They did and now look favorites to win the Premier League.
  2. Real Madrid – The winner of El Clasico is always a winner and this was a big step for Zidane and Perez. They came away from the Camp Nou just 7 points behind Barcelona and have given themselves a shot at catching their rivals. It will also be a big boost for them in terms of the Champions League and going into the summer.
  3. Borussia Monchengladbach – Gladbach came away as the big winners in Germany this weekend as they defeated Hertha Berlin 5-0. This propelled them into the top 4 as they are level on points with Leverkusen, but have a strong goal differential. They are now hopeful of returning to the Champions League next season.
  4. Atletico Madrid – The other Madrid club were probably the biggest winners on Saturday. They are now just 6 points behind Barcelona following the weekend and looked very impressive against Real Betis. They now face Barcelona at home and can go in with a lot of confidence.
  5. Roma – Their win this weekend has given them a great chance at qualifying for the Champions League next season. They have a 7 point lead on Fiorentina with just 7 games to go. They also defeated their city rivals 4-1 in the Roman Derby. Spalletti has really righted the ship.

Losers

  1. Barcelona – Their 39 game unbeaten run is over and they looked awful in the game. Some might have said that Barcelona looked like a team with two eyes on this Tuesday and their big showdown with Atletico Madrid. Can they turn this small dip in form around?
  2. Napoli – Their championship fight is basically over following their 3-1 defeat at Udinese. This defeat, coupled with Juventus’ 1-0 win over Empoli, means that the gap is now 6 points with just 7 games to go. They can overcome this gap, but with Juventus’ current form and the lack of European football for them means that Napoli will have to settle for second in the Serie A this season.
  3. Schalke 04 – This team had a perfect chance to close the gap on their top 4 rivals when they faced Ingolstadt this weekend. Inglostadt was in the middle of a winless streak that has seen them fall from a top four contender to middle of the table. Schalke needed to win to maintain their top 4 place, but they massively struggled losing 3-0. They are now outside of the European places and look to be in some trouble.
  4. Nice – This French club had dreams of Champions league football coming in to the weekend. However, they faced PSG this weekend and suffered a 4-1 defeat. Lyon and Rennes both came away with victories this weekend and jumped Nice. They will need to come back strong following this defeat.
  5. Newcastle United – This could be the end of their run in the Premier League following their defeat to Norwich this weekend. Rafa is still winless as manager of Newcastle. They are 6 points from safety and will struggle to find points if their current form continues.

Goals of the Weekend

James’ Goal – If you still have not seen this goal then here you go. Simply one of the best goals I have seen in a while. Payet against Crystal Palace.

My Goal – For my choice, I am going to go with Alessandro Florenzi and his superb volley in the Roman Derby.

Champions League Preview

The quarterfinals take place this week. The first legs will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid – Camp Nou, Barcelona – Tuesday

In the all Spanish affair, two of the giants face off. Barcelona will play host to Atletico Madrid as they look to continue their title defense. This should be an interesting game after this weekend. However, Barcelona has had the answers for Atleti this season, defeating them twice already. Did Barcelona get the wakeup call they needed this weekend? 2-1 to Barcelona.

Bayern Munich vs. Benfica – Allianz Arena, Munich – Tuesday

The German giants will be favorites to advance in this match up. They have been very strong recently and are only getting healthier each week. Benfica will be lucky to score an away goal. Look for Bayern to win this game easily. 3-0 to Bayern Munich.

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Manchester City – Parc des Princes, Paris – Wednesday

This is definitely the second biggest matchup of the round and probably the toughest to call. Both teams will dream of a trip to the semifinals and the first leg in Paris is critical. Look for PSG to try and put the game out of reach from City. Both teams have been very hit or miss recently. This game could go either way but I think the home team comes out ahead. 2-1 to PSG.

Wolfsburg vs. Real Madrid – Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg – Wednesday

The Spanish giants will be huge favorites in this matchup and should have a new sense of confidence following their 2-1 win at the Camp Nou. I think they take this confidence to Wolfsburg and guarantee themselves a spot in the semifinals. 3-0 to Real Madrid.

El Clasico & The Roman Derby

This week the football world lost a legend as Johan Cruyff passed away at the age of 68.  Johan Cruyff was simply a legend who changed the game and the world of football.  As a player, he helped his Ajax team to win 8 Eredivisie titles and 3 European Cup titles.  In Barcelona, he won the league title in 1974 and the Copa Del Rey in 1978.  As a manager, he guided Barcelona to 4 league titles and their first ever European Cup in 1992.  He won the Ballon d’Or 3 times.  He was a legend as a player and a legend as a manager.  He is known as the architect of total football and La Masia.  He changed the world of football and will be remembered forever.

  1. Barcelona vs. Real Madrid ~ Camp Nou, Barcelona

Saturday, April 2nd at 2:30 pm EST on beIN Sports

All the eyes of the footballing world will shift to Catalunya this Saturday as El Clasico takes place in the Camp Nou.  The Camp Nou will be a very emotional stadium this Saturday following the passing of club legend, Johan Cruyff.  It is fitting that the first match since his passing is El Clasico.  The Dutchman changed the fortunes of Barcelona and it all started with his phenomenal performance against Real Madrid in a 5-0 win at the Bernabeu.  Barcelona is currently 10 points ahead of their rivals with 8 games to play.  A win for Barcelona will effectively end the title race.  Real Madrid will hope to win the match to give them a small glimmer of hope for a league title.  Jordi Alba has a minor ankle problem but should start.  Andres Iniesta is also expected to start.  Real Madrid is set to go with Sergio Ramos and Pepe in the heart of their defense.  Carvajal should get the nod over Danilo at right back.  Casemiro should start in the midfield with Kroos and Modric.  Real Madrid has won 5 straight in all competitions and scored 4 goals their last time out against Sevilla.  This should be an amazing game full of brilliant football.  My prediction is in honor of Johan Cruyff!

Betting Odds

Match Result – Barcelona 4/7, Real Madrid 17/4, Draw 7/2

First Goalscorer – Messi 12/5, Suarez 15/4, Neymar 15/4

Predictions

My Pick – Barcelona 5, Real Madrid 0: Goals by Messi (2), Suarez, Neymar, Rakitic

James’ Pick – Barcelona 3, Real Madrid 2: Goals by Suarez, Messi, Neymar, Benzema, and Ronaldo

  1. Lazio vs. Roma ~ Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Sunday, April 3rd at 9:00 am EST on beIN Sports

The Roman Derby is the headline matchup in Italy this weekend as Lazio hosts Roma.  The two clubs in the capitol of Italy started the season with the goal of Champions League football and only one of the two has a shot of reaching the tournament this season.  Roma is currently in third place.  They have a 5 point lead on Fiorentina for the third and final Champions League spot.  Lazio is in 8th place.  They are safe from relegation but are 13 points away from a Europa League spot.  Lazio has a long injury list right now with 5 defenders out for this game.  Senad Lulic is suspended for the game.  Antonio Candreva and Felipe Anderson should both start this weekend despite the fact that they have been rotating.  Dzeko might start for Roma this weekend due to Daniele De Rossi facing a late fitness test.  If Luciano Spalletti wants to go with his 3 man midfield, then he could start Seydou Keita instead.  Totti might also see some play time as this might be his last Roman derby.  Roma has been the better of these two teams and they should get another 3 points in what will be a heated derby.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Lazio 23/10, Roma 6/5, Draw 12/5

First Goalscorer – Dzeko 11/2, Totti 6/1, Pjanic 13/2

Predictions

My Pick – Lazio 2, Roma 3: Goals by Anderson, Candreva, Salah, Pjanic, and Shaarawy

James’ Pick – Lazio 1, Roma 3: Goals by Anderson, Salah, Pjanic, and Dzeko

  1. Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Hertha Berlin ~ Borussia-Park, Monchengladbach

Sunday, April 3rd at 9:30 am EST on Fox Sports 1

The surprise team of the season has to be Hertha Berlin.  Last season they finished in 15th place, level on points with Hamburger, who were in the relegation playoff.  This season, they are currently in 3rd place with just 7 games remaining.  They have a four point lead on 4th place Schalke and a 6 point lead on Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen in 5th and 6th place respectively.  They have been stellar defensively, conceding just 27 goals all season.  That is the third best defense.  However, Hertha is yet to win on the road against any of the top 6 teams this season and they have won just one of their last 10 games against Gladbach. Gladbach, on the other hand, is looking to return to the Champions League this season.  Fabian Johnson is close to returning for Galdbach as is Raffael.  John Brooks is a major doubt for Hertha and looks to be replaced by Sebastian Langkamp.  This will be a tough game for both teams and a win for either will go a long way towards getting them Champions League football.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Gladbach 5/6, Berlin 10/3, Draw 13/5

First Goalscorer – Raffael 5/1, Hazard 5/1, Hrgota 5/1

Predictions

My Pick – Gladbach 1, Berlin 1: Goals by Hazard and Ibisevic

James’ Pick – Gladbach 1, Berlin 2: Goals by Stindl, Kalou, and Ibisevic

  1. Norwich City vs. Newcastle United ~ Carrow Road, Norwich

Saturday, April 2nd at 10:00 am EST on USA

This game has massive relegation connotations.  Norwich City is looking to spend a second season in the top flight of English football.  Newcastle is looking to avoid relegation for the first time since they went down in 2009.  Newcastle is currently in 19th place and is 3 points behind Norwich and safety.  Norwich is 2 points clear of Sunderland in 17th place.  A win for them could really give them some breathing room with just 6 games left.  Sunderland and Newcastle both have a game in hand on Norwich so this game is a must win.  Nathan Redman and Alex Tettey are still out for Norwich.  Robbie Brady and Ryan Bennett are close and will face late fitness tests.  Newcastle is not without their second string goalie as Rob Elliot suffered a serious knee injury on international duty.  Jack Colback is suspended.  Daryl Janmaat and Aleksandar Mitrovic face late fitness tests with the former unlikely to play.   Newcastle is yet to win or keep a clean sheet under Rafa, but this is a great opportunity to give them some hope about staying in the Premier League.

Betting Odds

Match Result – Norwich 5/4, Newcastle 13/5, Draw 23/10

First Goalscorer – Jerome 11/2, Bamford 11/2, Mbokani 6/1

Predictions

My Pick – Norwich 1, Newcastle 1: Goals by Bamford and Wijnaldum

James’ Pick – Norwich 1, Newcastle 1: Goals by Mbokani and Wijnaldum

  1. West Ham United vs. Crystal Palace ~ Boleyn Ground, London

Saturday, April 2nd at 10:00 am EST on NBC Sports Live Extra

The final game for this weekend is a London derby as the Hammers of east London take on Crystal Palace of south London.  This is West Ham’s final season in Upton Park.  They are hoping to make it a magical season.  They have one more FA Cup game in the ground that could send them to the semifinals.  They have six more home games this season.  This match features two teams that are trending in different directions.  West Ham is on the brink of Champions League football.  They are currently in fifth place and unbeaten in their last 5.  They have won 3 straight at home and are in the midst of a 12 game unbeaten run at home.  The hammers are 1 point behind Manchester City for fourth place.  Palace, meanwhile, is getting closer and closer to the relegation zone.  They have failed to win in their last 13 games and lost their last 2.  Palace is just 7 points above the relegation zone.  They will need to find some points soon. Slaven Bilic looks set to name the same eleven that secured the point at Stamford Bridge last time out.  Dimitri Payet has been the standout performer of the season as he has scored 8 goals and has 8 assists.  Jason Puncheon has returned and Connor Wickham and Mile Jedinak are both close to returning for Crystal Palace.  This could be huge for Palace.  West Ham has been great this season and will look to send themselves into the top 4.

Betting Odds

Match Result – West Ham United 1/1, Palace 3/1, Draw 13/5

First Goalscorer – Carroll 5/1, Sakho 5/1, Valencia 5/1

Predictions

My Pick – West Ham 2, Palace 1: Goals by Lanzini, Sakho, and Puncheon

James’ Pick – West Ham 2, Palace 1: Goals by Sahko, Payet, and Puncheon

Other Games on TV This Weekend

England – Premier League

Aston Villa vs. Chelsea – Saturday at 7:45 am EST on NBCSN

Arsenal vs. Watford – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on NBCSN

Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspur – Saturday at 12:30 pm EST on NBC

Leicester City vs. Southampton – Sunday at 8:30 am EST on NBCSN

Spain – La Liga

Atletico Madrid vs. Real Betis – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Italy – Serie A

Internazionale vs. Torino – Sunday at 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports

Bologna vs. Hellas Verona – Monday at 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports

Germany – Bundesliga

Bayern Munchen vs. Eintracht Frankfurt – Saturday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Sports 2

Ingolstadt vs. Schalke 04 – Saturday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Soccer Plus

Borussia Dortmund vs. Werder Bremen – Saturday at 12:30 pm EST on Fox

Hoffenheim vs. Koln – Sunday at 11:30 am EST on Fox Sports 2

France – Ligue 1

PSG vs. Nice – Saturday at 11:00 am EST on beIN Sports