Real Madrid’s players celebrate at the end of the UEFA Champions League semifinal second leg football match Club Atletico de Madrid vs Real Madrid CF at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, on May 10, 2017. GERARD JULIEN / AFP
The champions of three of Europe’s five major leagues have already been produced, Chelsea have taken the EPL, while Monaco have won the French league title and Bayern already wrapped up the German title a while ago. We will find out who wins the Spanish La Liga this weekend, while the Italian title could also be won this weekend or we might have to wait till the final day of the season. As usual, I’ll be previewing the games that will be played this week and the likely scenarios that might play out.
The title returned to the capital this season as Antonio Conte won it for Chelsea in his debut season in England to hand the pensioners their second title in three years. The relegation places have also been decided with Hull City, Middlesbrough and Sunderland going down to the Championship. However, two of the four UEFA Champions League places ceded to England are still up for grabs and Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal will fight to the death this weekend for the available slots.
Manchester City will be guests of Watford at Vicarage road with the knowledge that a point will guarantee them UCL football, however they will want to go all out for all three points to be sure of finishing third and getting directly into the group stages of the UCL and avoid any tricky qualifier. Pep Guardiola might have underestimated the EPL in his debut season and will definitely prepare better for next season. Pablo Zabaleta will be playing his final game for the citizens and will want to leave a lasting impression. This isn’t going to be an easy game for Manchester City as Watford showed during the week against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge that they can give as good as they can get in a 4-3 thriller. The Hornets will want to sting Manchester City and derail their UCL ambitions. This surely is a game to look out for.
Liverpool have their UCL fate in their own hands and that must be a confidence booster heading into this weekend’s game against at home to Middlesbrough. All the Reds need to do to secure their UCL status is to beat Boro, it seems like a straight forward scenario, but Liverpool have shown during the course of this season that if they have any weakness, it is dispatching the so-called small teams. Middlesbrough will come into this game with nothing to lose and that will make them a very dangerous side to come up against. Liverpool were very clinical in defeating West Ham last weekend and if they show up in such form on Sunday, they will definitely be in the UCL next season.
Arsenal have the toughest route in trying to qualify for next season’s UCL as they will need one of the two teams above them to slipup, preferably Liverpool and if that happens, they would need to beat a very tough Everton side to stand a chance of preserving their long run of consecutive UCL appearances. The Gunners have been in fine form recently, winning six of their last seven league games, but it might just be too little too late. Everton will finish in seventh place and some of their fans wouldn’t mind losing to Arsenal if it will help in bringing misery to their Merseyside rivals, Liverpool. Ronald Koeman is a tough competitor and will definitely want to get a victory over Arsene Wenger at the Emirates.
LA LIGA (Spain)
Real Madrid defeated Celta Vigo 4-1 on Wednesday to go three points clear of Barcelona at the top of the Spanish league and will need just a point this weekend away to Malaga to clinch their first league title in half a decade. Los Blancos have qualified for their third UCL final in four years; however what the madridstas really want right now is a league title. Cristiano Ronaldo has been very clutching for Madrid, scoring fourteen goals in his last eight games and pushing his side strongly to the finish line, the likes of Isco and Toni Kroos have also stepped up and I do not see Malaga stopping their march to the title. It is important to note though, that Malaga were the last team to defeat Barcelona and stop them from scoring in the league, so they can be a very tough nut to crack at their Estadio La Rosaleda home.
Barcelona will be at home Eibar and know that a win will not get them the title in the event of a Real win or draw. Real know they cannot afford to lose to Malaga as Barcelona will be too eager to capitalise on that and get a third consecutive La Liga title. The Blaugrana are on a run of six consecutive wins, scoring twenty-four in the process and another attacking master class is expected against Eibar on Sunday.
SERIE A (Italy)
Roma will play Chievo away on Saturday and anything short of a win will mean that Juventus will win the title with a victory over Crotone the next day. In fact, a win for Juventus on Sunday regardless of whatever happens in the Roma match will give the Old Lady of Italian football her sixth straight scudetto and their second trophy in their chase for a treble this season; they defeated Lazio 2-0 on Wednesday to win their first. Juventus will want to get the title wrapped up as quickly as possible so they can focus their attention on the UCL final against Real Madrid.