Champions League Preview

Champions League Final

Date

May 27, 2016

Where to Watch and At What Time

FOX at 2:45 pm EST

Venue

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano, Italy

Referee

Mark Clattenburg (England)

Road to the Final

Real Madrid started the campaign in Group A and ended up winning the group. In their group, they defeated Shakhtar Donetsk and Malmo home and away. They drew in Paris and then defeated them at home 1-0. In the knockout phase, Real Madrid faced Roma first and easily defeated them 4-0 on aggregate with a 2-0 win in each leg. In the quarterfinals, Real Madrid lost the first leg 2-0 in Wolfsburg. In the second leg, Cristiano Ronaldo scored an impressive hat trick to seal the passage for Real Madrid. In the semifinals, Real Madrid faced off with Manchester City. The only goal was in the second leg as a Fernando own goal. Both of the games were not overly exciting, but it does mean that Real Madrid have a chance to win their 11th Champions League title.

Atletico Madrid was in Group C this season and won the group by 3 points over Benfica. They defeated Galatasaray in both legs. They defeated Astana at home but were unable to win in Kazakhstan. Atleti lost the home game against Benfica but won in the final day to win the group in Portugal. In the quarterfinals, PSV Eindhoven held Atletico off the scoreboard in both legs and forced penalty kicks. Atletico won 8-7 on penalties. In the quarterfinals, Atletico Madrid faced the defending champions, Barcelona. Barcelona won the first leg at home 2-1. In the second leg, Atletico Madrid defeated Barcelona 2-0 and knocked the champions out of the competition. In the semifinals, Atletico defeated Bayern Munich 1-0 in the first leg at home. In Germany, Bayern Munich won the game 2-1 but was knocked out on away goals. Atletico Madrid is back in the final for the second time in three years. Can they defeat their crosstown rivals?

Managers

Real Madrid is now managed by Zinedine Zidane. He took over in January following the dismissal of Rafa Benitez. He has been in charge for 26 games and has won 21 of those games. This is his first managerial position. He was the manager of Real Madrid Castilla for the start of the season. He has really turned around the season for Real Madrid and gave them a shot at the league title. Can he win join the elite club of people who have won the Champions league as a player and a coach?

Diego Simeone has been the manager for the last four and a half seasons. As the manager of the club, he led them to their first title since 1996 in 2013-14. He also won the Copa del Rey in 2013 and the Europa League and UEFA Super Cup in 2012. He has revolutionized Atletico Madrid and really broken the duopoly that was the Spanish La Liga. Can he now deliver the one trophy that has eluded him?

Players to Watch

Cristiano Ronaldo is the superstar for Real Madrid. He has been their talisman and will need to be at his best, and he has in the Champions League this season. He has 16 goals this season and is 2 away from setting the record for the most goals in a campaign. The record is 17 and Ronaldo set it in 2013-14. He has 93 goals in his career. He will be the one to watch as he looks to win his third Champions League winners medal.

Antoine Griezmann is the star man on a team that plays for each other. He has scored 7 goals this season in the Champions League and is the man who leads the attack. He will have his sights on winning the Champions League for the first time ever.

Probable Starting XI

Real Madrid: Navas, Carvajal, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo

Atletico Madrid: Oblak, Juanfran, Gimenez, Godin, Luiz, Niguez, Koke, Gabi, Carrasco, Griezmann, Torres

Predictions

My Pick – Real 2, Atletico 1: Goals by Bale, Benzema, and Griezmann

James’ Pick – Real 1, Atletico 2: Goals by Ronaldo and Griezmann (2)

 

Domestic Cup Finals

The Domestic Cup season came to a close this weekend with the favorites winning all of the cups. Bayern, Juventus, and Barcelona all won doubles in their respective countries and all needed extra time to secure the win. PSG won their second domestic treble and Manchester United won their first trophy since Sir Alex left the club.

Bayern Munich won the DFB Pokal final thanks to a 4-3 penalty shootout win over rivals Borussia Dortmund. The game ended 0-0 and no one would score in extra time. Bender and Sokratis both missed their penalties for Dortmund and Kimmich missed for Bayern Munich. Douglas Costa scored the final penalty that sealed the win.   Pep Guardiola ended his time at Bayern with his 7th trophy in 3 years and his 21st trophy as a top flight manager. He averages 3 trophies a year as he gets ready to head to England and take charge of Manchester City.

Juventus won the Coppa Italia thanks to an extra time winner from Alvaro Morata. Morata came on the field in the 108th minute and then scored with almost his first touch. Milan was very strong throughout the game and even had more possession than Juve in the game. In the end it was history for Juventus as they became the first team ever to defend both the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia.

Barcelona and Sevilla played out a fantastic scoreless draw in regulation. Barcelona played the majority of the game with 10 men after Javier Mascherano was sent off in the 36th minute for his last man tackle on Kevin Gamiero. Luis Suarez then exited with an injury in the 55th minute. Barcelona did not concede a goal, despite some intense periods of pressure. The game took another turn in the 2nd minute of added time in the second half. Ever Banega denied Neymar a clear goal scoring chance and was sent off. The extra time was played 10 on 10. Messi played a magical ball to Alba just 7 minutes in to extra time. Alba finished it like a world-class striker. Then in the 119th minute, Neymar put the game out of reach as he finished off another nice pass from Messi. Barcelona would win the 7th trophy in the last two seasons.

In the Coupe de France, PSG got off to a flying start as Blaise Matuidi scored 2 minutes in to the game. Thauvin leveled the score 10 minutes later. In the second half, Zlatan Ibrahimovic would score twice in his final game for PSG and Cavani would score as well, giving PSG a 4-1 lead. Michy Batshuayi would score a late consolation goal. PSG have now won back-to-back domestic trebles. Can they take the next step in Europe next season?

In the FA Cup final, Crystal Palace would open the scoring in the second half thanks to a goal from Jason Puncheon. The lead would not last long, as Mata would level the score just 3 minutes later. Then in extra time, down to 10 men, Jesse Lingard scored a beautiful goal that would win Louis van Gaal his only trophy at Manchester United, and the club’s first since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. LVG was fired this morning and his successor looks to be Jose Mourinho, but we will have to wait and see.

This has been an amazing season. On Friday, I will have my preview of the Champions League final. Then next Wednesday, I will put out my preview of the European Championships. It should be an interesting summer with all the new managers in the Premier League so I hope you stay tuned…

Cup Final Weekend!!!!

The league seasons are over and we only have a couple more weeks until the start of the Euros in France and the Copa America Centenario in the United States.  This weekend we have a slate of Cup finals across the big five leagues and then next weekend is the culmination of the season with the Champions League final.  Here is a quick look at the cup finals this weekend and some predictions.

  1. Copa del Rey Final ~ Barcelona vs. Sevilla

Sunday, May 22nd at Estadio Vicente Calderon (Madrid), 3:30 pm EST on ESPN2

The Champions of Spain take on the recently crowned Europa League Champions.  Sevilla went on to defeat Liverpool 3-1 in the Europa League final this weekend thanks to an amazing second half.  This weekend, both teams will be looking to win their second title of the season.  Barcelona won their 6th league title in the last 8 years.  Bravo is still out for Barcelona, which means that ter Stegen will start in goal.  Dani Alves should be at right back as there will most likely be little changes to the Barcelona lineup.  Tremoulinas and Rami look set to miss out on the final along with Krohn-Dehli and Reyes.  Sevilla will have some high spirits after lifting the trophy in Basel.  This should be a fantastic match with both teams looking to win another trophy.

Predictions

My Pick – Barcelona 3, Sevilla 1: Goals by Messi, Suarez (2), and Gameiro

James’ Pick – Barcelona 2, Sevilla 1: Goals by Messi, Suarez, and Gameiro

  1. DFB Pokal Final ~ Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund

Saturday, May 21st at Olympiastadion Berlin (Berlin), 1:45 pm EST on ESPN3

The champions of Germany take on their closest competitors in the Pokal final.  Bayern Munich won the league running away this season, but Dortmund had a much better showing as they rebounded nicely from their poor season last year.  Now they will look to stop Munich from the domestic double.  An interesting subplot to this match will be Mats Hummels, as this is his final game for Dortmund before he returns home to Bayern Munich next season.  His final game will be against Bayern Munich and his first game for Bayern will be against Dortmund in the German Super Cup next season.  Badstuber and Robben are still out for Munich.  Javi Martinez and Xabi Alonso are both a doubt.  For Dortmund, Subotic and Gundogan are out.  Reus and Park face late fitness tests, but I expect Reus to start.  These teams are very evenly matched and should give us a classic game.

Predictions

My Pick – Munich 1, Dortmund 2: Goals by Lewandowski, Reus, and Aubameyang

James’ Pick – Munich 3, Dortmund 2: Goals by Lewandowski (2), Muller, Mkhitaryan, and Aubameyang

  1. Coppa Italia Final ~ AC Milan vs. Juventus

Saturday May 21st at Stadio Olimpico (Rome), 2:45 pm EST on GOLTV

The theme of the weekend has to be league champions hoping for a domestic double as Juventus is the third team in a row that can win the domestic double this weekend if they are able to defeat AC Milan this weekend.  AC Milan had a very disappointing league campaign, finishing 7th in the league and are looking at two straight seasons without European football.  Their only hope is winning the Coppa which will be difficult.  Rodrigo Ely and Luca Antonelly are injured.  M’Baye Niang might recover in time to start this game; if not look for Honda, Bacca, and Bonaventura to start in the front three.  Khedira and Marchisio are out in the center of midfield.  Caceres is out injured and Bonucci is suspended.  This means we are likely to see Asamoah and Hernanes with Pogba in the center of midfield and Rugani to join Barzagli and Chiellini in the back 3.  Neto should continue in goal for Juventus as he has played in goal for all of the cup games.  Juventus look like an unstoppable machine right now as they have arguably been the best team in Europe over the last 2 months.

Predictions

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

James’ Pick – Milan 1, Juventus 3: Goals by Bacca, Mandxukic, Dybala, Pogba

  1. Coupe de France Final ~ Marseille vs. Paris Saint Germain

Saturday, May 21st at Stade de France (Paris), 3:00 pm EST on beIN Sports

PSG is looking to complete their second straight domestic treble.  They have already won the Coupe de la Ligue and the Ligue 1.  Last year they won all three competitions and they have a chance to make history and do it two years in a row.  Their opponents had a rough season this year but a win this weekend could be a silver lining on the dark cloud.  Marseille struggled from the start of the season and ended up replacing their manager.  They slightly righted the ship, but it was not enough to potentially challenge for the title.  Michy Batshuayi, Benjamin Mendy, and Jacques-Alaixys Romao are all back from suspension.  Abou Diaby is still sidelined.  Georges-Kevin Nkoudou is getting closer to returning, but it might not happen.  Look for Marseille to play a 4-4-2 with Batshuayi and Fletcher up front and Diarra and Isla in the midfield.  This will be Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s final game for PSG as he is set to leave this summer.  Di Maria and Cavani look set to start up front with Lucas Moura pushing for a starting spot.  Pastore should start in the center of the park with Verratti injured.  10 years ago was the last time these two teams faced each other in the Stade de France and PSG defeated the then favorites Marseille for the Coupe de France title.  Will we see another upset this year?

Predictions

My Pick – Marseille 1, PSG 4: Goals by Batshuayi, Ibrahimovic (3), and Di Maria

James’ Pick – Marseille 1, PSG 2: Goals by Batshuayi, Ibrahimovic, and Cavani

  1. FA Cup Final ~ Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United

Saturday, May 21st at Wembley Stadium (London), 12:30 pm EST on FOX

The only cup final that does not feature the league winner is the FA Cup final in London this weekend.  Instead we have Crystal Palace and Manchester United facing off for the trophy in Wembley.  We will either have a tie at the top for most ever FA Cup trophy wins, as Manchester United are looking for their 12th win, or Palace is looking for their first ever FA Cup trophy.  They have only been in the final one time in 1990 and are hoping for better luck this time around.  In 1990 they faced Manchester United and earned a 3-3 draw in the final forcing a replay.  In the replay, United won 1-0.  This was the first major trophy under Sir Alex Ferguson.  Will this be the first major trophy for Louis Van Gaal? Will this be enough for him to keep his job? Palace will be without Appiah, Chamakh, Ledley, and Hangeland due to injury.  Mutch is a doubt for the game.  United are still without Keane, Shaw, Schweinsteiger, and Januzaj.  Darmian is a doubt.  The United faithful will expect a trophy this weekend as they are the clear favorites.

Predictions

My Pick – Palace 2, United 1: Goals by Wickham, Puncheon, and Martial

James’ Pick – Palace 1, United 2: Goals by Bolasie, Rooney, and Martial

 

 

Europa League Final

Date

May 19, 2016

Where to Watch and At What Time

Fox Sports 1 at 2:45 pm EST

Venue

St. Jakob-Park, Basel Switzerland

Referee

Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)

Sevilla

Road to the Final

Sevilla began this season in the Champions League Group D with Manchester City, Juventus, and Borussia Monchengladbach. Many pundits felt that this was the group of death, as all four teams were going to be very strong and a really tough out. As it happens, Sevilla finished third in the group and were sent to the Europa League. They defeated Juventus on the final day to jump over Monchengladbach. In the Round of 32, they faced Molde from Norway. They won the first leg at home 3-0 and that was all they needed as they lost the second leg 0-1. In the round of 16, Basel found out how hard it is to play in Spain as they lost the second leg in Sevilla 3-0. In the quarterfinals, Sevilla faced a Spanish opponent that was up to the task. Athletic Bilbao was a very tough opponent. In Bilbao, the first leg ended 2-1 to Sevilla. Sevilla thought they were looking good but then the second leg went 1-2 to Bilbao. On to penalties the game went, where Sevilla advanced 5-4. In the semifinal, Sevilla faced Shakhtar Donetsk. They came back twice in Ukraine to draw 2-2 and then won the second leg at home 3-1 to return to their third straight final.

Manager

Unai Emery is about to finish his third full season as manager of Sevilla and looking to win his third straight Europa League title. He took over in January of 2013 and won the Europa League and finished 5th in each of his two previous seasons. This season he led Sevilla to a seventh place finish, but he is in the final of the Europa League and the Copa del Rey. He has found great success with this club in Europe and is looking to make it three Europa Leagues in three seasons.

One to Watch

Kevin Gameiro seems to have made it his personal mission to win a third Europa League final. In his 8 appearances in the competition, he has 7 goals and 2 assists. He has been spectacular this season and will need to be stopped if Liverpool wants any chance to win the trophy.

Probable Starting XI

Soria, Tremoulinas, Rami, Carrico, Mariano, N’Zonzi, Krychowiak, Curro Banega, Konoplyanka, Gameiro

Liverpool

Road to the Final

Liverpool started the campaign in the Europa League Group B. In this group was Bordeaux, Sion, and Rubin Kazan. Liverpool drew the first 3 games 1-1 of the campaign before defeating Rubin Kazan 1-0 in Russia. They then defeated Bordeaux 2-1 on Matchday 5. In the final group match, they drew 0-0 with Sion. This gave them enough points to win the group and advance to the round of 32. In the round of 32, they faced Augsburg. Liverpool advanced thanks to a 1-0 second leg win at home. In the round of 16, a familiar foe faced Liverpool as they took on Manchester United. In the first leg in Anfield, Liverpool won 2-0. The second leg would end in a 1-1 draw, sending Liverpool on. Jurgen Klopp would now face his former club in the quarterfinals. The first leg in Germany was fairly uneventful as the game ended in a 1-1 draw. The second leg however, will be remembered for a long time in Liverpool as the Reds came back from down 2-0 and 3-1 to win the game 4-3 and the tie 5-4 on aggregate. In the semifinals, Liverpool became the first non-Spanish side to eliminate a Spanish side in the knockout stages of the Europa League and the Champions League. They defeated Villarreal 3-0 in the second leg at home to advance to the final on the strength of a 3-1 victory. They are now set for the final and a potential Champions League place.

Manager

The new manager at Liverpool has captivated the city and made them believe again in their team. Jurgen Klopp took the reins at Liverpool in mid October and has slowly started to shape the team to his style. He has raised the spirits and will hope to win his first trophy with his new club just 8 months on the job.

One to Watch

Roberto Firmino took time to settle under Brendan Rodgers but has looked very bright under Jurgen Klopp. He has scored 11 goals and has 9 assists this season and looks to be getting more and more comfortable.

Probable Starting XI

Mignolet, Clyne, Toure, Lovren, Moreno, Can, Milner, Lallana, Firmino, Coutinho, Sturridge

Predictions

My Pick – Sevilla 2, Liverpool 1: Goals by Gamiero (2) and Firmino

James’ Pick – Sevilla , Liverpool : Goals by

Final Update of The Season…

England – Premier League

Major Takeaway: Anything is possible in the Premier League now with the new TV money.  Leicester City did this before the money kicks in.  They shocked the world this season and are the story of the century.

Question for Next Season: Can Leicester be successful in the Champions League and stay strong in the Premier League?

Champion: Leicester City

Champions League Places: Leicester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Manchester City (United will qualify if they defeat Bournemouth 18-0 on Tuesday)

Europa League Places: Southampton, Manchester United, and West Ham United or Crystal Palace (Depending on FA Cup final this weekend)

Relegated: Newcastle United, Norwich City, Aston Villa

Spain – La Liga

Major Takeaway: Barcelona has now won 8 of the last 12 La Liga titles.  They have been dominant in the league and look to continue this in the future with MSN.

Question for Next Season: How will Zidane reshape Real Madrid, and can they win their first league title since 2011-12?

Champion: Barcelona

Champions League Places: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, and Villarreal

Europa League Places: Athletic Bilbao, Celta Vigo, and Sevilla

Relegated: Rayo Vallecano, Getafe, and Levante

Italy – Serie A

Major Takeaway: Despite a slow start, Juventus won their 5th Serie A title in a row.  They are becoming unbeaten in Italy and will look to continue to strengthen this summer.

Question for Next Season: Can Napoli or Roma push Juventus all the way next season?

Champion: Juventus

Champions League Places: Juventus, Napoli, and Roma

Europa League Places: Inter Milan, Fiorentina, and Sassuolo or Milan (Depends on Coppa Italia next weekend)

Relegated: Carpi, Frosinone, and Verona

Germany – Bundesliga

Major Takeaway: Dortmund responded very well this season, but it was not enough to keep pace with Bayern Munich as they fell 10 points shy of them in the end.  Munich won their 4th straight title.

Question for Next Season: Who can join Dortmund and Bayern at the top and how will Bayern look under Ancelotti?

Champion: Bayern Munich

Champions League Places: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen, and Borussia Monchengladbach

Europa League Places: Schalke 04, Mainz 05, and Hertha Berlin

Relegation Play off: Eintracht Frankfurt

Relegated: Stuttgart and Hannover

France – Ligue 1

Major Takeaway: PSG dominated this season from start to finish and look a league and a half better than the rest of the league.  If you were to take them out of the league, then it was very competitive and exciting.  Hopefully some of the other teams will be able to close the gap soon.

Question for Next Season: Can anyone end the monopoly that is PSG?

Champion: Paris Saint-Germain

Champions League Places: PSG, Lyon, and Monaco

Europa League Places: Nice, Lille, and St. Etienne or Marseille (Depends on Coupe de France Final)

Relegated: Reims, Ajaccio, and Troyes

 

Come back tomorrow for a preview of the Europa League Final between Sevilla and Liverpool.

 

The Final Weekend

The final weekend of the season has come, so here is our last look at 5 league games.  Next weekend is Cup final weekend and then it is the Champions League Final before we shift our focus to the European Championships, the Copa America, and eventually the Olympics.  There is only one title that is still up for grabs so we will focus on that game and others that have impact on Champions League, Europa League, or relegation places.

  1. Granada vs. Barcelona ~ Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes, Granada

Saturday, May 14th at 11:00 am EST on beIN Sports Connect

Barcelona has it all in their hands if they are going to win their second Spanish league title in a row.  As the table stands right now, Barcelona has a 1 point lead on Real Madrid plus the tiebreaker over their rivals.  They have won 4 straight to maintain their top spot in the table.  This weekend, Barcelona faces Granada.  Granada has earned just enough points to stay in the league thanks to results against Getafe and Sporting Gijon.  They hold the tiebreaker on both of them.  Barcelona will be without Samper, Sandro, and more importantly Claudio Bravo.  Marc-Andre ter Stegen will start in goal.  MSN should start up front.  Granada is not expected to make any changes to their lineup.  Former Barcelona youth player Isaac Cuenca said that he would like to spoil the Barcelona party, but it will be tough work. 3 points wins the title for Barcelona and that will be their aim.

Predictions

My Pick – Granada 1, Barcelona 4: Goals by Rochina, Messi, Suarez (2), and Rakitic

James’ Pick – Granada 1, Barcelona 3: Goals by El Arabi, Suarez, Messi, and Neymar

  1. Deportivo La Coruna vs. Real Madrid ~ Estadio Municipal de Riazor, La Coruna

Saturday, May 14th at 11:00 am EST on beIN Sports

The other game in the title race will take place in the northwest of Spain as Deportivo La Coruna hosts Real Madrid.  Like Granada, Deportivo La Coruna is safe from relegation and their position in the table is not going to change much.  Real Madrid needs to win the match and have Barcelona drop points to win the title.  If they fail to win, the title is Barcelona’s.  Fabricio, Lux, and Dominguez are out injured for Deportivo.  Borges and Navarro will return from their suspensions. Juanfran is a doubt but should start.  For Real Madrid, Gareth Bale is a doubt with his knee injury, but with the title on the line he should play.  Lucas Vazquez is out injured.  Benzema, Modric, and Navas are all expected to be in the lineup.  Real Madrid should dominate this game and get the win they need.  The question will be is will it be enough to take the title from Barcelona?

Predictions

My Pick – Deportivo 1, Madrid 3: Goals by Alberto, Ronaldo, and Benzema (2)

James’ Pick – Deportivo 0, Madrid 3: Goals by Ronaldo (2) and Benzema

  1. AC Milan vs. Roma ~ Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano

Saturday, May 14th at 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports

This game has some Champions League and potential Europa League spot implications as seventh place AC Milan hosts 3rd place Roma.  If Sassuolo and Napoli drop points this weekend, then this game gets even more interesting.  Milan is 1 point behind Sassuolo and if they are able to jump them before the end of the table then they will be in the Europa League next season regardless of the Coppa Italia final.  Roma is 2 points behind Napoli for the Champions League group stage spot.  If Napoli loses and Roma is able to win, that will help Roma this summer as they will not have to play in the qualifiers.  This is two of the old guard in Italy and they are both hoping to better their situation before the final table of the season.  Luca Antonelli is out injured for Milan.  Giacomo Bonaventura should return to the lineup after returning to training this week.  Luiz Adriano appears to be ahead of Mario Balotelli to start up front with Carlos Bacca.  For Roma, this might be Francesco Totti’s final game with the club as his future still hangs up in the air.  He will start if Diego Perotti is unable to play.  Both of these teams need help, but they need 3 points first.

Predictions

My Pick – Milan 1, Roma 2: Goals by Bacca, Salah, and Totti

James’ Pick – Milan 1, Roma 2: Goals by Bacca, Salah, and Perotti

  1. Saint Etienne vs. Lille ~ Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne

Saturday, May 14th at 3:00 pm EST on beIN Sports Connect

While I have selected the game between 5th and 6th in the French table, all eyes in France will be on the bottom of the table as Toulouse, Ajaccio, and Reims battle for the final two relegation spots.  Toulouse travels to Angers, Ajaccio travels to Lorient, and Reims hosts Lyon.  The game that we are predicting is the battle for the final Europa League spot.  If Paris Saint Germain defeats Marseille in the final of the Coupe de France, then both teams will get a spot in the Europa League.  However, if Marseille wins then the winner of this game will get the spot in the Europa League.  Right now Saint-Etienne is in 5th place with 58 points.  Their opponents are in 6th place with 57 points.  Lille had the chance to qualify for the Europa League, but they lost the Coupe de la Ligue final to PSG.  Malcuit and Tabanou are suspended for Les Verts.  Brison, Clerc and Bahebeck are all out injured.  Lille is without Bautheac and Boufal due to injury and Obbadi is suspended.  Rio Mavuba should play if he passes a late fitness test. Neither team will want to leave their spot in the Europa League in the hands of PSG.  A win for either will guarantee it.

Predictions

My Pick – Etienne 1, Lille 1: Goals by Roux and Amalfitano

James’ Pick – Etienne 1, Lille 1: Goals by Roux and Eder

  1. Werder Bremen vs. Eintracht Frankfurt ~ Weserstadion, Bremen

Saturday, May 14th at 9:30 am EST on Fox Soccer Plus

With the top 3 locked in place, Mainz, Hertha, and Schalke need a massive win this weekend and Gladbach to lose heavily if they want to get into the Champions League.  Mainz and Hertha meet this weekend with both hoping to qualify for the group stage of the Europa League.  Instead, I have decided to look into the bottom of the table.  15th place and 16th place meet this weekend as Werder Bremen hosts Eintracht Frankfurt.  Stuttgart is in 17th place.  All of these three teams are within 3 points of each other.  If any of them fail to win this weekend, they could be in trouble.  Stuttgart travels to Wolfsburg.  The winner of Werder Bremen and Eintracht Frankfurt will be safe from relegation and the relegation playoff.  The loser will either be relegated or in the relegation playoff.  Bremen is without Fin Bartels due to suspension.  American Aron Johannsson is injured along with Wolf, Yatabare, and Bargfrede.  Santiago Garcia is a doubt.  Frankfurt is without suspended Szabolcs Huszti.  Who will stay in the Bundesliga?

Predictions

My Pick – Bremen 2, Frankfurt 1: Goals by Pizarro, Oztunali, and Seferovic

James’ Pick – Bremen 2, Frankfurt 1: Goals by Pizarro (2) and Seferovic

Other Games on TV This Weekend

England – Premier League

Arsenal vs. Aston Villa – Sunday at 10:00 am EST on Syfy

Manchester United vs. AFC Bournemouth – Sunday at 10:00 am EST on NBCSN

Southampton vs. Crystal Palace – Sunday at 10:00 am EST on E!

Chelsea vs. Leicester City – Sunday at 10:00 am EST on CNBC

West Bromwich albion vs. Liverpool – Sunday at 10:00 am EST on MSNBC

Swansea City vs. Manchester City – Sunday at 10:00 am EST on NBC

Everton vs. Norwich City – Sunday at 10:00 am EST on Esquire

Watford vs. Sunderland – Sunday at 10:00 am EST on Oxygen

Newcastle United vs. Tottenham Hotspur – Sunday at 10:00 am EST on USA

Stoke City vs. West Ham United – Sunday at 10:00 am EST on Bravo

Italy – Serie A

Udinese vs. Carpi  – Sunday at 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports

Germany – Bundesliga

Bayern Munchen vs. Hannover 96 – Saturday at 9:30 am EST on FOX

All of the other games will be on Fox Sports 2 on Saturday at 9:30 am EST

France – Ligue 1

PSG vs. Nantes – Saturday at 3:00 pm EST on beIN Sports

One Week Left…

With just a weekend left in the league calendar season, we will take our final look at where everything stands with just a week left in the season.

England – Premier League

Champions – LEICESTER CITY ARE CHAMPIONS OF ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Champions League – Leicester and Tottenham have qualified for the Champions League. Arsenal is next in the table and needs just a point to qualify for the group stage. They face Aston Villa on the final day. Manchester City and Manchester United will compete for the final spot in the Champions League. City currently has a 2 point lead on United. However, United has two games remaining in the season. The spot is in United’s hands following City’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal. United plays at West Ham this Tuesday and then Bournemouth on Sunday. If they win both of those games, they are in the Champions League. If they drop any points and City defeats Swansea, then it is Manchester City in the Champions League. These will be a massive final two games for Van Gaal and the city of Manchester. If Liverpool is able to defeat Sevilla in the Europa League final, then they will also play in the Champions League.

Europa League – One of the two Manchester sides will play in the Europa League next season. The other guaranteed spot will go down to final weekend as Southampton, West Ham, and Liverpool are all competing for the spot. Right now Southampton is in 6th place with 60 points. They have just one game remaining. West Ham and Liverpool both have 2 games left and they are on 59 and 58 points respectively. West Ham hosts Manchester United on Wednesday and travels to Stoke City on Sunday. If they win out then the spot is theirs. Liverpool plays Chelsea on Wednesday and then at West Bromwich on Sunday. If West Ham drops points and they win out then the spot is theirs. Southampton needs both teams to drop some points to stay in 6th, but they have had great form recently. A third spot might open up if Manchester United wins the FA Cup; otherwise Crystal Palace will play in the Europa League.

Relegation – Aston Villa is already relegated to the Championship. The other two relegation spots come down to the midweek games this week and possible the final weekend. Norwich and Sunderland both play this week and need 3 points to help their survival bids. In fact a Sunderland win against Everton will mean that Newcastle and Norwich are relegated to the Championship. If they fail to win, then it will go down to the final weekend. Norwich must win against Watford on Tuesday if they want to hope of survival on the final day. On Sunday, Sunderland travels to Watford, Newcastle hosts Tottenham, and Norwich travels to Everton. Will it come down to the final weekend?

Promotion – The Championship finished this weekend with Burnley as champions. They will be joined by Middlesbrough in the Premier League next season. Brighton, Hull, Derby, and Sheffield Wednesday will play in the playoffs for the final spot in the Premier League.

FA Cup – The final will take place on May 21st and feature Crystal Palace and Manchester United. A spot in the Europa League is up for grabs, but United will hope to win their first trophy since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.

League Cup – Manchester City won the League Cup this season defeating Liverpool 3-1 on penalties after drawing the final 1-1.

Germany – Bundesliga

Champions – Bayern Munich are champions of Germany for the fourth straight season following their 2-1 win over Ingolstadt.

Champions League – Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and Bayer Leverkusen have all qualified for the group stage of the Champions League. Borussia Monchengladbach has all but wrapped up the final spot thanks to their 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen. They have a 3 point lead on Mainz, Hertha Berlin, and Schalke, plus a far superior goal difference as Gladbach is at +15, Mainz is +4, Hertha is at 0, and Schalke is at -1. Gladbach should qualify, but a point on the final weekend would seal it as they travel to Darmstadt. Mainz and Hertha Berlin face each other on the final weekend. Schalke travels to Hoffenheim.

Europa League – Mainz, Hertha, and Schalke will all play in the Europa League next season if one of them does not catch Gladbach on the final weekend. The two teams that earn the most points on the weekend will finish in the group stage and the other will have to go through the qualification rounds before the season starts next fall.

Relegation – Hannover is relegated to the 2.Bundesliga for next season. Stuttgart currently sits in 17th place and needs to win this weekend if they are to escape the relegation spots. They travel to Wolfsburg this Saturday with it all on the line. If they drop any points, then they are relegated. Werder Bremen is currently 2 points ahead of Stuttgart. Eintracht Frankfurt is 3 points clear of Stuttgart. Bremen host Frankfurt this weekend. This is essentially a playoff game as the winner will stay in the Bundesliga and the loser could get relegated, or will have to play in the relegation playoff game.

Promotion – While there is still a week left in the 2.Bundesliga season, the two teams that will be promoted have already clinched their promotion. Freiburg will return to the Bundesliga as champions. RB Leipzig will also be promoted thanks to their 2nd place finish. Nurnberg will play in the relegation playoff game against whoever finishes in 16th place in the Bundesliga.

Pokal Cup – The Pokal Cup final will take place on May 21st and feature Der Klassiker as Bayern Munchen will face Borussia Dortmund. This will be Pep’s final game in charge of Munich and could be Mats Hummels final game at Dortmund before he joins Munich this summer. It should be a great game.

Spain – La Liga

Champions – The league will go down to the final weekend between the two giants of Spanish football. Right now, Barcelona is on top of the table with 88 points and Real Madrid is right behind them on 87 points. Atletico Madrid is in third on 85 points following their 2-1 loss to Levante this weekend. This means that Atletico is out of the title race. If Barcelona defeats Granada this weekend, then they are champions. If they drop points and Real Madrid defeats Deportivo La Coruna, then they are champions. If Real Madrid drops any points then Barcelona are champions.

Champions League – Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid have all qualified for the Champions League. Villarreal has qualified for the qualification rounds of the Champions League. If Sevilla wins the Europa League final against Liverpool, then they will also qualify for the Champions League.

Europa League – Celta Vigo and Athletic Bilbao have qualified for the Europa League. The spot in the group stage is still up for grabs as Celta is just 1 point ahead of Bilbao. Celta travels to Atletico Madrid this weekend, meanwhile Bilbao hosts Sevilla. Sevilla will qualify for the Europa League as well via either winning the Copa del Rey or their league position. However, they might qualify for the Champions League as well.

Relegation – Despite defeating Atletico Madrid this past weekend, Levante is relegated to the Segunda Division. The other two spots are still up in the air. Currently, Vallecano and Sporting are in the relegation places. Getafe and Granada are still within the danger zone in terms of points, but Granada is safe as they hold the tiebreakers over both Sporting Gijon and Getafe. They will remain in the Primera Division. Getafe has the tiebreaker over Sporting, but Rayo Vallecano has the tiebreaker over Sporting and Getafe. Rayo hosts Getafe on the final weekend, Sporting hosts Villarreal, and Getafe travel to Real Betis. It will be interesting to see who survives and who goes down.

Promotion – There is still 5 more games left in the Segunda Division. Leganes and Alaves are currently in the automatic promotion spots. Gimnastic, Zaragoza, Osasuna, and Oviedo are in the playoff spots. Girona, Cordoba, Alcorcon, and Elche are all one point outside of the playoff spots. It should be interesting to see how it all plays out and if Leganes and Alaves are able to hold on to their spots.

Copa del Rey – The Copa del Rey final will take place on May 22nd between Barcelona and Sevilla. The final will take place at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid.

Italy – Serie A

Champions – Juventus are Champions of Italy for the 5th straight season and have been one of the best teams in all of Europe in 2016.

Champions League – Juventus, Napoli, and Roma have all qualified for the Champions League. Right now, Napoli is in the second group stage spot and a win against Frosinone this weekend will guarantee that spot. Roma is in the qualification spot and could catch Napoli if they defeat Milan and Napoli loses.

Europa League – Inter Milan has qualified for the Europa League and will return to European competition next season. Fiorentina is currently in the other Europa League spot. They are currently 3 points ahead of Sassuolo. They hold the tiebreaker over Sassuolo right now, so even if they lose and Sassuolo wins, Fiorentina will play in the Europa League. If Juventus wins the Coppa Italia then Sassuolo will play in the Europa League, if they defeat Inter this weekend or match the result of Milan. Milan will play in the Europa League if they better Sassuolo’s result at the weekend or win the Coppa Italia.

Relegation – Hellas Verona and Frosinone are relegated to the Serie B for next season. The third team that will join them is between Carpi and Palermo. Carpi is currently 1 point behind Palermo. Palermo hosts Hellas Verona and Carpi travel to Udinese. As long as Palermo match or better Carpi’s result, then they will be safe.

Promotion – There are two rounds left in the Serie B. Crotone and Cagliari are going to be promoted to the Serie A next season, as they are 11 and 9 points clear of Pescara in third place. Pescara is going to qualify for the playoffs. The other 5 spots in the playoff will be taken by 5 of the following 6 sides: Trapani, Bari, Cesena, Novara, Spezia, and Entella.

Coppa Italia – The Coppa Italia final will take place on May 21st at Stadio Olimpico between Milan and Juventus. Juventus is looking to win back to back doubles in Italian football. Milan is looking to win their 1st since 2003.

France – Ligue 1

Champions – PSG are champions of France for the fourth year in a row.

Champions League – PSG and Lyon have qualified for the Champions League group stage next season. Either Monaco or Nice will qualify for the qualification rounds of the Champions League. Monaco hosts Montpellier and Nice travels to Guingamp. If Monaco wins, they will qualify for the Champions League. If they draw and Nice wins, then Nice will qualify thanks to goal difference.

Europa League – Nice has qualified for the Europa League if they do not jump Monaco. The second spot is currently held by St. Etienne. They have a 1 point lead on Lille. If PSG wins the Coupe de France, then both St. Etienne and Lille will play in the Europa League. If Marseille wins, then they will be in the Europa League and the winner of St. Etienne and Lille will join them. If those two teams draw, then St. Etienne will play in the Europa League.

Relegation – Troyes have been relegated to the Ligue 2 for some time now. The final two spots are down to Reims (36 points), GFC Ajaccio (37 points), and Toulouse (37 points). The goal difference is the tie breaker and right now they are Reims at -16, Ajaccio at -20, and Toulouse at -11. Reims faces Lyon this weekend. Toulouse travels to Angers. Finally Ajaccio travels to Lorient. This should be interesting to see who can survive and who gets relegated.

Promotion – There is still one week to go in the Ligue 2 however, Nancy are champions of the Ligue 2 and will play in the Ligue 1 next season. Dijon will join them in the Ligue 1. Metz is in the third promotion spot and needs just a point on the final weekend or Havre to drop points to gain promotion.

Coupe de France – The final of the Coupe de France will be played on May 21st between Olympique Marseille and Paris Saint Germain. PSG will be looking to win a second straight domestic treble.

Coupe de la Ligue – PSG won the Coupe de la Ligue for the third straight year in a row.

 

Penultimate Weekend of the Season

This weekend we take a look at some major clashes across the continent with either title implications or Champions League Qualification implications. However, I have to start with a quick word on what is the greatest moment in sporting history that I have experienced.   To put this in perspective for you, Leicester City were 5000/1 odds to win the title, but I am sure you have heard that already. How about these odds…Simon Cowell was 500/1 to be the Prime Minister of the UK, the Loch Ness monster is 500/1 to be discovered, and Kim Kardashian is 2000/1 odds to be the US president in 2020. Have Leicester changed football? I am not sure if they have or if this is just a one off, but it goes to show you what belief and spirit can really do for a team and for a city. Congrats to Leicester, thanks for making us all believe again that anything is possible in sports.

  1. Barcelona vs. Espanyol ~ Camp Nou, Barcelona

Sunday, May 8th at 11:00 am EST on beIN Sports Connect

The Derbi Barceloni takes place this weekend with a ton of pressure on the hosts to come away with all three points. Their title rivals, Atletico Madrid, travels to Levante this weekend and Real Madrid hosts Valencia. Barcelona needs 3 points, as they are 6 points away from the title. If they win their remaining two games they are Champions. Barcelona has won 5 of the last 6 Catalan Derbies and will look to make it 6 out of 7. Espanyol, meanwhile, is in 14th place, 5 points above the relegation zone. 1 more point for them would basically guarantee that they are safe from relegation. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen should start for Barcelona in goal with Bravo out injured. Sergi Roberto and Dani Alves will be in competition for the right back spot. Vermaelen, Samper, and Sandro continue to be out and Mathieu is a fitness doubt. Alvaro Gonzalez and Oscar Duarte are both suspended for the visitors. Arbilla and Abraham are out injured. This should be a cagey affair but Barcelona has the title in their sights.

Predictions

My Pick – Barcelona 4, Espanyol 0: Goals by Suarez (3) and Messi

James’ Pick – Barcelona , Espanyol : Goals by

  1. Lyon vs. Monaco ~ Stade de Gerland, Lyon

Saturday, May 7th at 3:00 pm EST on beIN Sports Connect

Second and third meet this weekend in France as Lyon and Monaco play for the title of best of the rest. According to Jean-Michel Aulas, Lyon’s president, “It is good to have a final to the French championship because Qatar is not part of France.” A win for either team will guarantee them a spot in the Champions League next season. If Lyon wins, then they will be guaranteed second place. In January, Lyon opened their new stadium and has gone unbeaten in their new stadium, winning 7 of the 9 games. Sergi Darder should come into the side for Lyon with Corentin Tolisso out with injury. Valbuena and Bedimo are doubtful for the game with Malbrangue and Fofana out injured. Coentrao, Pasalic, and Toure are all injured. Fabinho is suspended. Moutinho and Toulalan will face late fitness tests. This is the biggest game in the new stadium between the best two teams in France not named PSG. This should be a very close affair with both teams willing to take a point and need just a point on the final weekend to qualify for the Champions League.

Predictions

My Pick – Lyon 2, Monaco 1: Goals by Lacazete, Ghezzal, and Love

James’ Pick – Lyon , Monaco : Goals by

  1. Ingolstadt vs. Bayern Munchen ~ Audi-Sportpark, Ingolstadt

Saturday, May 7th at 9:30 am EST on Fox

Bayern Munich had to wait to clinch the title as they drew last weekend with Borussia Monchengladbach. A point is really all they need as Dortmund can only amass 83 points the rest of the season and Munich are on 82. Munich also has an 11 goal lead in goal difference which will be tough to overcome for Dortmund. They should clinch their fourth title in a row as the Pep Guardiola era comes to an end. This era will most likely go down as a disappointment since he was never able to win the Champions League, despite making the semifinals each of his three seasons in charge and winning the league each season, plus a cup title and possibly a second one later this month. Ingolstadt meanwhile has enjoyed a very nice first season in the Bundesliga. They are staying up as they are currently in 9th place, 7 points above the relegation zone. Ramazan Ozcan should come into the goal this weekend. Robert Bauer is suspended which means Markus Suttner should start at left back. Boateng and Martinez should start at center back for Munich. Badstuber still remains on the sidelines. Gotze is likely to drop to the bench as speculation continues about his future. Robben is also still sidelined with an injury. The champions of the 2.Bundesliga last season will most likely see the champions of the Bundesliga celebrate another title on their ground, but they are staying up!

Predictions

My Pick – Ingolstadt 1, Munich 3: Goals by Lewandowski, Muller, Costa

James’ Pick – Ingolstadt , Munich : Goals by

  1. Manchester City vs. Arsenal ~ Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Sunday, May 8th at 11:00 pm EST on NBC Sports Live Extra

Third and fourth meet in England this weekend. Arsenal is hopeful that they can catch Tottenham and possibly finish above them again this season. A win for Arsenal means that they are guaranteed Champions League football next season. Manchester City needs to win to maintain their spot in the Champions League. Silva, Zabaleta, and Kolarov are out injured. Kompany only lasted 10 minutes against Real Madrid before coming off with an injury. Arsenal is without Oxlade Chamberlain and Mertesacker. City was just eliminated from the Champions League on Wednesday and it was not a great display. They have United right on their tails going into the final two weeks of the season. Arsenal has their sights on Tottenham and should use this to give them some motivation for the rest of the season.

Predictions

My Pick – City 1, Arsenal 2: Goals by Aguero, Welbeck, and Sanchez

James’ Pick – City , Arsenal : Goals by

  1. Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Bayer Leverkusen ~ Borussia-Park, Monchengladbach

Saturday, May 7th at 9:30 am EST on Fox Soccer Plus

To go along with the theme, third and fourth meet in Germany this weekend. There is a lot on the line this weekend. Leverkusen has already clinched their spot in the Champions League next season, but Gladbach still has some work to do. They are currently level on points with Hertha Berlin, just 1 point ahead of Schalke, and 3 ahead of Mainz with 2 games left. If they drop points this weekend, they might not be in a Champions League place at the end of the weekend and could be in trouble. Schulz, Alvaro Dominguez, and Jantschke are all injured. Ibrahima Traore should start over Fabian Johnson in the right wing. Lars Stindl should come back into the starting 11. Christoph Kramer could start at center back with Papadopoulos, Boenisch, and Tah all out injured. Wendell is still out injured as well. Bellarabi is suspended for the game. Gladbach need the points in a bad way. Leverkusen is safe and could have their heads turned towards the summer and resting. This should be a hard fought game at both ends of the school.

Predictions

My Pick – Gladbach 2, Leverkusen 2: Goals by Stindl, Xhaka, Chichariot, and KieBling.

James’ Pick – Gladbach , Leverkusen : Goals by

Champions League Recap

The final is all set and it is a replay of the final two years ago, as it is an all Madrid affair. Atletico clinched their spot in the final first thanks to away goals. Bayern Munich won the second leg 2-1 thanks to goals from Xabi Alonso and Robert Lewandoski. However, Antoine Griezmann was able to find the net as well and that goal sent Atleti back to the final. Muller missed a penalty in the first half that could have sent Munich to the final. Torres missed one in the second half after the game was 2-1. Real Madrid followed up their city rivals with a 1-0 win over Manchester City to give them their 18th European finals appearance and chance for the club’s 11th Champions League/European Cup title.

Europa League Recap

Two teams that are very familiar with the Europa League/UEFA Cup title are Liverpool and Sevilla. Sevilla has won 2 straight and a total of 4 titles. Liverpool has won this competition 3 times. They will battle this month for the chance to add to those totals thanks to dominant home performances. Sevilla defeated Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 at home to give their fans their third trip in a row to the Europa League finals. Liverpool scored 3 goals in what is quickly becoming fortress Anfield again, as they won 3-0. This will give both of these teams a shot at qualifying for the Champions League next season, as they both are outside the Champions League spots in their respective divisions.

Other Games on TV This Weekend

England – Premier League

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

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

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

Leicester City vs. Everton – Saturday at 12:30 pm EST on USA

Spain – La Liga

Real Madrid vs. Valencia – Sunday at 11:00 am EST on beIN Sports

Italy – Serie A

Internazionale vs. Empoli – Saturday at 12:00 pm EST on beIN Sports

Germany – Bundesliga

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Dortmund – Saturday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Sports 1

France – Ligue 1

Gazelec Ajaccio vs. PSG – Saturday at 3:00 pm EST on beIN Sports

As we enter the final weeks of the season, let’s take a look at the races throughout the big 5 leagues and who is going to finish where.

England – Premier League

Title – Leicester City are champions! That is right. Leicester City is the champion of England. Not a club from Manchester or London, but Leicester. The King Power Stadium will be rocking next weekend, as Leicester will take the field as champions of England for the first time ever!

Champions League – Leicester and Tottenham have qualified for the Champions League next season. Arsenal is 3 points away from qualification for the Champions League. Manchester City, Manchester United, and West Ham United are in competition for the fourth spot. City has a 4 point lead over United and a 5 point lead over West Ham United. Both United and West Ham have played one less game, so they could cut into that lead.

Europa League – Manchester United, West Ham United, Southampton, and Liverpool are all in competition for the two Europa League positions. The third Europa League position comes from the FA Cup final, which is between Manchester United and Crystal Palace. If United wins, then three of the four mentioned above will qualify for the Europa League.

Relegation – Aston Villa is relegated to the Championship for next season. The final two spots come down to Norwich, Sunderland, and Newcastle. Norwich is 2 points behind Newcastle. Sunderland is 1 point behind Newcastle. With 2 games to go, Newcastle going to Aston Villa could go a long way towards survival.

Germany – Bundesliga

Title – Bayern Munich will win their 4th title in a row this season if they get 2 points from the remaining 2 games, or if Borussia Dortmund drops any points. The title race stayed alive thanks to Bayern’s 1-1 draw with Monchengladbach.

Champions League – Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and Bayer Leverkusen have all clinched their spots in the group stage of the Champions League. The fourth and final spot is still up for grabs with 2 games to go. Monchengladbach is currently in 4th place with 49 points. Hertha Berlin is in 5th behind Monchengladbach by only goal differential. Schalke 04 is a point behind them and Mainz still has an outside chance since they are only 3 points back.

Europa League – Hertha Berlin and Schalke 04 are guaranteed a spot in the Europa League. Koln can catch Mainz for the third and final spot, but if Mainz wins 1 of their last 2 games then they will be in the Europa League next season.

Relegation – Hannover are the first team relegated from the Bundesliga. They will finish bottom of the table. The other team to join them in relegation is still up for grabs. The other spot in the relegation zone will go down to the wire. Stuttgart is currently in the final spot thanks to goal difference, as they are level on points with Frankfurt on 33 points. Frankfurt is in the relegation playoff spot. Werder Bremen is one point clear of the playoff spot. The number of teams that could still mathematically get relegated is quite large. Wolfsburg (39 points), Hamburger (38), Augsburg (37), and Hoffenheim (37) are all still in the running but would need to really struggle over the last two weeks. Darmstadt is 2 points clear of Frankfurt and could be in trouble as they face the top four contenders the last two weeks.

Spain – La Liga

Title – The title race is going down to the wire in Spain. Currently Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are level on points at the top with 85 points. Real Madrid is one point behind them. They all have two games left to play and the title is really anyone’s guess. Barcelona has the edge, as they have the better head to head record against Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.   Barcelona’s final two games are home against Espanyol and away to Granada. Atletico Madrid’s final two games are at Levante and home against Celta de Vigo. Real Madrid has a home game against Valencia and then travels to Deportivo La Coruna on the final weekend.

Champions League – The four Champions League places are decided in Spain. Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Real Madrid are in the group stage. Villarreal will be in the Champions League qualifying rounds.

Europa League – The three Europa League spots that are given to Spain are also clinched. Athletic Bilbao, Celta Vigo, and Sevilla are going to play in the Europa League. Sevilla will either qualify for the Europa League by winning the Copa del Rey final or by their league position. They could qualify for the Champions League if they win the Europa League, which would mean that Bilbao and Celta would be the only two in the Europa League.

Relegation – Levante is in big trouble. They are mathematically still alive, but if Vallecano, Sporting, or Getafe get 1 point then they are relegated. Those 3 teams are all level on 35 points. Granada is one point above them on 36 points. Mathematically Deportivo, Espanyol, and Betis are all still in the mix to get relegated. However 3 of the 4 teams below them would need to win both games.

Italy – Serie A

Title – Juventus has won their 5th Serie A title in a row this season after starting the year off poorly. They have been one of the best teams in the world lately as they are unbeaten in their last 26 games.

Champions League – Juventus, Napoli, and Roma are going to play in the Champions League next season. Juventus will be in the group stage, but the second spot in the group stage will go down to the wire. Napoli has a 2-point lead on Roma with 2 games to go.

Europa League – Inter Milan will play in the Europa League next season. The second spot is up for grabs. Fiorentina is 4 points behind Inter. Sassuolo is chasing Fiorentina but will need some help. They are currently 5 points back. Sassuolo will play in the Europa League if they finish above Milan and Juventus wins the Coppa Italia. If Milan wins the Coppa Italia, they will get the third and final spot. They are currently 1 point behind Sassuolo. Lazio is still alive in the race but needs some help.

Relegation – Verona is relegated to the Serie B. The other two spots are still in contention with 2 games to go. The final two spots will come from Carpi, Palermo, Frosinone. Carpi and Palermo are level on points with 35. Frosinone is in 19th place and 4 points behind Palermo. They need some help as Carpi and Palermo can make it a 2 horse race for 1 spot with 3 points next weekend.

France – Ligue 1

Title – PSG are champions again of Ligue 1 and have been for what feels like 3 months.

Champions League – PSG will be in the Champions League next season. The other two spots in the Champions League are up for grabs still. Lyon and Monaco are 3 points away from clinching the final two spots. They are both level on points at 62 and play each other next weekend. Saint Etienne, Nice and Lille could still qualify, but they will need one of the two teams above them to collapse.

Europa League – France is allocated 3 spots in the Europa League. Since PSG won the Coupe de la Ligue, 2 spots are already given to the league. If PSG defeat Marseille in the Coupe de France, then a third spot will be given to the league table. If Marseille wins then they will play in the Europa League. Currently, St. Etienne and Nice are in the Europa League places on 58 and 57 points respectively. Lille is just behind them on 56 points. Rennes could still catch Nice, but they will need some help. Angers is alive if PSG wins the Coupe de France as they are 6 points behind Lille.

Relegation – Troyes has been relegated for some time now but who will join them? The final two spots come down to Toulouse, 34 points, Reims, 36 points, and GFC Ajaccio, 37 points. This looks set to go down to the final weekend in two weeks.

Goal of the Weekend

I am going to go with Wes Morgan’s goal that gave Leicester the point that would go on to give them the title.  Leicester City are CHAMPIONS OF ENGLAND!!!

Champions League Preview

Bayern Munchen vs. Atletico Madrid, Allianz Arena, Munich – Can Bayern Munich return to the final or will they be doomed by the goal they conceded in Madrid? The first leg ended 1-0 in favor of Atletico. If the Madrid side can find an away goal then Bayern will need to score 3 goals. I think Atletico advances thanks to away goals when they lose this leg 2-1.

Real Madrid vs. Manchester City, Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid – This game will hopefully be better than the first leg. The first leg ended with a 0-0 draw and means that it is all to play for in Madrid. Manchester City kept the vital clean sheet at home and will hope that they can score in Madrid. Ronaldo is hopeful to play and if he does, he can make the difference in this game. I think Real Madrid advances thanks to a 2-1 win.

Europa League Preview

Liverpool vs. Villarreal, Anfield, Liverpool – The Spanish side brings their narrow 1-0 lead to England in hopes that they will be able to make it to the final of the Europa League. Liverpool has been very strong at Anfield, but their defense has been shaky and they have a ton of injuries. I think a road goal does in Liverpool as they win 2-1, but do not advance due to away goals.

Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk, Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Sevilla – Sevilla looks set to return to their third Europa League final after they scored 2 away goals. The first leg ended in a 2-2 draw in Ukraine. If Sevilla is able to get a positive result, then they should advance. They have been really strong at home and should set up an all-Spanish final in the Europa League with a 2-0 win in the second leg.