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.

 

 

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