Top 5 European Leagues | Preview Summary - Mar 12-18
by Mladen Mladenov Scores & Statson
We start the football week in England with a game between Stoke City and Manchester City. This game is way more important for the hosts which are involved in the relegation battle. On the other side, Manchester City has pointed away from the title in the Premier League. Pep’s players are playing at a scarily high level and it will be important for them to keep the good form in the Premier League, especially after the shocking lost against Basel last week.
During the weekend, the FA Cup will be the most interesting tournament in England. The first game in this tournament will be held on Saturday and it will be between Swansea and Tottenham. Tottenham got eliminated from the Champions League, the title in the Premier League is impossible, so the FA Cup will be the only chance for a cup for this season. Swansea has a much more important task to avoid relegation and we doubt that they will put lots of powers into the FA Cup battles. While the main focus in England will be on the FA Cup battles, Liverpool will have a home game in the Premier League against Watford. The games between those two sides are always interesting and high scoring and this match should not be exclusion. The late game on Saturday in England will be again from the FA Cup. Manchester United will host Brighton in a game that must not provide surprises for United fans, especially if Mourinho wants to win some kind of a cup in May.
On the next day, it will be interesting to see if Wigan can continue with the huge surprises in the FA Cup after eliminating Manchester City. This time the team will host Southampton in this FA Cup quarter-final. The more interesting game in the FA Cup that day will be between Leicester and Chelsea. The battle between the last two-year title holders from the Premier League will be really interesting. FA Cup is the only chance for those teams to win something this year (if Chelsea does not pass through Barcelona in the Champions League).
In the Bundesliga, the fight for the European spots continues with more battles on Saturday. Borussia Monchengladbach host Hoffenheim in a direct battle for UEFA Europa League spot. Later on, Eintracht Frankfurt will try to beat Mainz 05 and continue the great streak which the team has in the Bundesliga. In the same time, Augsburg and Werder Bremen should create some goals in the game between these two sides. The other game on this day will be between Wolfsburg and Schalke 04. This clash used to be much more important back in the days, but now both teams are far from their historic glory. Schalke 04 are fully equipped without any injuries or suspensions, while Wolfsburg lacks eight players. The many problems with the squad had led Wolfsburg to the 15th spot in the Bundesliga and to another relegation battle for this glorious team. The game against Schalke will be missed by John Brooks, Marcel Tisserand, Gerhardt, Seba Jung, Osimhen, Camacho, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Josip Brekalo. All this should make it easier for Schalke in their battle for 3 points and for securing of the second spot in the league.
Sunday will start with a game between Dortmund and Hannover. Both teams have different styles. Dortmund relies on offense while Hannover keeps an eye on its defense. The game should be interesting, especially counting the fact that Dortmund will have a hard game in Europe during the week. In the same day, we will also see a regional derby between Koeln and Bayer Leverkusen. This game should be really rough and full with fouls. The week in Germany will end with a derby between RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich. Bayern is basically going to win the Bundesliga, but this does not mean that RB will not try to steal some points in this game.
The interesting games in Spain start on Saturday when in a La Liga game Valencia will host Alaves. Valencia went through a rough period but now it looks like the team is back on track. In this game, Andreas Pereira and Santi Mina will be missing the game, but this should not be an excuse in the fight of Valencia for a Champions League spot. On Sunday, the early game will be between Leganes and Sevilla. Leganes started the season great but now the situation for the team is horrible. On the other side, Sevilla is in a fairly good form and still playing in the Champions League. Their focus will be on the weekly game in the Champions League and depending on the outcome the players of Sevilla might have a different motivation for this La Liga fixture. After that Barcelona will try to make another step towards the title in a home game against Bilbao. Bilbao is in a weird form and it will be surprising if they still something from Camp Nou. A few hours later Villarreal will host Atletico Madrid. Villarreal is fighting for a European spot for the next season, while Atletico tries to stay as close to the first spot as possible. The day will end with a game between Real Madrid and Girona. Real is having a strange season in which everything in La Liga had collapsed for the players of Zidane. Now, Real Madrid can mainly focus on the Champions League but this does not mean that Ronald and company will give up the points in this game against a Catalan team. Girona is having the best season of its history and this game will be a bonus for the Catalans.
On Wednesday PSG and Angers will have a Ligue 1 clash that might not be the most interesting game in the world… PSG is now eliminated from the Champions League, without the injured Neymar and with a lot of points ahead of its opponents in France. Basically, PSG will just finish the season that cannot be counted as successful even with the potential Ligue 1 title. On Friday, Monaco will host Lille in another Ligue 1 game. Monaco can focus only on the league battles and for this reason, we are expecting a strong performance from the current champions of France.
On Saturday, Bordeaux and Rennes will face each other in a direct battle for the European spots. Both teams are suffering from inconsistency, so anything can happen in this derby. On the next day, we will see another game of PSG. This time they will travel to South France to face Nice. Nice had a wonderful last season and a horrible start of this season. Now the team is in a good form and they could surprise the players of PSG which basically does not have a great motivation for the rest of the season. The week will end with a derby between Marseille and Lyon. Marseille is the most usual team that we can see playing on Sunday. The two teams are close to each other and for this reason, the game must be interesting. Moreover, both teams will most likely go to the next stage of the UEFA Europa League and for this reason, we should see are really high-level football. We must note that Nabil Fekir will miss the game for Lyon while Florian Thauvin will be in doubt until the last moment. This could affect the outcome of the game since both players are important for the two squads.
Juventus will host Atalanta in a rescheduled game in Seria A. The game on Wednesday will be a great chance for Juventus to create an even bigger margin between them and Napoli. Atalanta fights for a European spot and they surely are going to give some great opposition to the Italian champions. We must note that the injuries in Juventus squad just do not end. This time Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi will miss the game for the team from Torino. The next interesting game in Italy will again involve Juventus. This time on Saturday, the champions will try to protect their title in an away game against SPAL. Upset here will be a small miracle for the players of SPAL.
On Sunday, Inter will continue the search for a win. This time the team will play against Sampdoria, which is a great home team and the chances of Inter for a win might be limited. After that Milan will try to get back on the winning path in their home game against Chievo. In the same time, Roma will travel to Crotone’s home in a search for their great form from the beginning of the season in Seria A. The day will finish with two games that should end with home victories. Lazio host Bologna, while Napoli will try to beat Genoa and to stay in the battle for the title in Seria A.
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
The most interesting tournament in the football world is going to offer some excitement once again. On Tuesday Roma will try to eliminate the best team from Eastern Europe – Shakhtar Donetsk. Roma took the lead in the first game, but the Ukrainians came back with two goals to capture a 2-1 win. Now in Rome the game must be really interesting and should present some goals. The other game on this day is supposed to be even better. Manchester United will try to eliminate the tough team of Sevilla. The first game in Spain finished 0-0 and now anything could happen in this game. Mourinho once again will be highly cautious and strict on defense because United cannot afford to concede an away goal from Sevilla. The game should be interesting, but might not be high scoring.
Wednesday starts with a game between Besiktas and Bayern Munich. The first game was even until the red card of Domagoj Vida. After that Besiktas just collapsed and conceded 5 goals. Now the Turkish champions will just play for their honor and for their great fans. After that, we will watch the most interesting game of the week. Barcelona will host Chelsea on Camp Now in a game that should create some history. The first was really surprising since Chelsea was the better team. Still, the game finished 1-1 and now both teams have fairly even chances. Chelsea will rely heavily on defense and if Barcelona does not score a quick goal the game might become more of a battle than of a football derby.
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE
The second best European club tournament enters the deciding stages of its schedule. This week we will see the rematches of the Round of 16’s games. We will start with Lokomotiv Moscow and Atletico Madrid. Atletico won the first game with 3-0 and now they should just cruise to the next stage of the tournament. Later on, Athletic Club Bilbao will host Marseille in a clash that does not give many chances to the Spanish side. Bilbao was basically destroyed in the first game after losing to 3-1. If it was not for the penalty in the first half, Bilbao most likely would not have scored in this game. Dynamo Kyiv and Lazio will decide who will go to the next stage after an amazing 2-2 in Italy in the first game. Expect lots of goals once again. Sporting Lisboa will travel to the Czech Republic and will try to finish what it started in the first game against Plzen (2-0). The next game will be between Red Bull Leipzig and Zenit. The German side played a perfect game and was leading with 2-0 until Zenit scored a late goal that gives them great chances in the rematch.
The later set of games will offer the rematch between two teams that prefer playing in the Champions League rather than in this tournament. Arsenal will host Milan and will most likely keep the great 0-2 lead that it took from the first matchup. In the same time, Lyon will host CSKA Moscow and will most likely register a second win against this opponent. The day will finish with a game between Red Bull Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund. The first game offered a huge upset when the Austrian champions won on Signal Iduna Park (1-2). We cannot underestimate the chances of Dortmund, so pay attention to this game.