European Look Ahead: Milan Derby looms, Race for EPL title and more

Inter and ac milan getty

 

By JOHN BOSCHINI

As Real Madrid and Ajax officially wrapped up their league titles in midweek, three of the six major leagues in Europe have already crowned their champion.

The question of who will raise the Scudetto hinges on the penultimate weekend in Serie A as the Milan derby looms large and the league leaders jockey for position. AC Milan took advantage of Juventus' midweek draw to move within one point of pole position. They can retake the lead this weekend but looming large is a resurgent Inter Milan squad that is unbelievably in the hunt for a Champions League spot.

Inter Milan's rebirth hit a significant snag with a 3-1 loss to Parma in midweek and now manager Andrea Stramaccioni must win both of his final two games to have a chance at qualification. Should AC Milan lose and Juventus win against Cagliari, Juventus will clinch their first title since 2003 and 28th overall.

The most competitive title race left is the one between the two Manchester clubs in England. United and City are level on 83 points with City holding a significant advantage on goal differential. Things won't be straightforward for Roberto Mancini's men, however, as a Newcastle side desperate for fourth place looms. Papiss Cisse's unbelievable double dispatched Chelsea from the Champions League conversation but Newcastle will likely need to win out and hope for a Tottenham slip up.

Here is a look forward to the rest of the action from around Europe:

ENGLAND

With Harry Redknapp officially out of the England manager sweepstakes, the Tottenham manager can focus all his efforts on guiding Spurs to a fourth-placed finish. Spurs start with an away trip to Aston Villa before finishing up with a home stand against Fulham.

A key relegation battle is on display on Monday night as Blackburn hosts a red-hot Wigan. Anything less than a win all but officially relegates Blackburn to the Championship while Wigan virtually assures their safety with a win. Manchester United, on the other hand, will try to run up the score at home against a Swansea side with nothing much to play for.

SATURDAY

Arsenal vs. Norwich City

SUNDAY

Newcastle United vs. Manchester City, 8:30 a.m.
Aston Villa vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 9 a.m. 
Bolton Wanderers vs. West Bromwich Albion, 9 a.m. 
Fulham vs. Sunderland, 9 a.m. 
Queens Park Rangers vs. Stoke City, 9 a.m. 
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Everton, 9 a.m. 
Manchester United vs. Swansea City, 11 a.m.

MONDAY

Blackburn Rovers vs. Wigan Athletic, 3 p.m.

SPAIN

With Real Madrid clinching their 32nd league title in midweek and no Champions League final for either them or Barcelona, both of Spain's top teams can start looking forward to the summer. However, while the title race is over the search for the Champions League is still in full force. Valencia currently holds on to third place and can clinch Champions League play with a victory over Villarreal. The Yellow Submarines expected to be battling near the top of the table at the start of the season but need at least one more win to simply avoid relegation.

Malaga sit in fourth place at the moment but face a difficult test against Atletico Madrid. A win for Malaga eliminated Madrid from contention while a loss could see Levante sneak into fourth place. As the final two weekends loom, all teams will play concurrently for the remainder of the year.

SATURDAY

Athletic Bilbao vs. Getafe, 3 p.m.
Atletico Madrid vs. Malaga, 3 p.m.
Barcelona vs. Espanyol, 3 p.m.
Granada vs.Real Madrid, 3 p.m.
Mallorca vs. Levante, 3 p.m.
Osasuna vs. Real Sociedad, 3 p.m.
Real Zaragoza vs. Racing Santander, 3 p.m.
Sevilla FC vs. Rayo Vallecano, 3 p.m.
Sporting Gijon vs. Real Betis, 3 p.m.
Valencia vs. Villarreal, 3 p.m. 

GERMANY

There is almost nothing to play for as Saturday marks the end of the Bundesliga season. There is no possibility for movement among the top four and the three teams primed for relegation are decided. Hertha Berlin could move into a relegation playoff with a win over Hoffenheim but Cologne needs only a draw against a Bayern Munich side looking ahead to the Champions League final.

SATURDAY

Borussia Dortmund vs. SC Freiburg, 9:30 a.m.
FC Augsburg vs. Hamburg SV, 9:30 a.m.
FC Cologne vs. Bayern Munich, 9:30 a.m.
Hannover 96 vs. Kaiserslautern, 9:30 a.m.
Hertha Berlin vs. TSG Hoffenheim, 9:30 a.m.
Mainz vs. Borussia Monchengladbach, 9:30 a.m.
Nurnberg vs. Bayer Leverkusen, 9:30 a.m.
VfB Stuttgart vs. VfL Wolfsburg, 9:30 a.m.
Werder Bremen vs. Schalke 04, 9:30 a.m. 

ITALY

While most of Italy will be focused on the Milan derby, Napoli are looking to hold on to the final Champions League place. Napoli are level on points with Udinese with a comfortable advantage on goal differential. Their run in over the final two games should be easy but Napoli have been far from consistent this season. 

If Lazio is going to crawl back into the Champions League discussion, a win over Atalanta on Sunday is crucial.

SATURDAY

Lecce vs. Fiorentina, 12 p.m.
AS Roma vs. Catania, 2:45 p.m.

SUNDAY

Seina vs. Parma, 6:30 a.m.
Atalanta vs. Lazio, 9 a.m. 
Bologna vs. Napoli, 9 a.m. 
Novara vs. Cesena, 9 a.m. 
Palermo vs. Chievo Verona, 9 a.m. 
Udinese vs. Genoa, 9 a.m. 
Cagliari vs. Juventus, 2:45 p.m.
Inter Milan vs. AC Milan, 2:45 p.m. 

France

With only three games left in the Ligue 1 season, Montpellier is looking to close out the ultra-rich Paris Saint-Germain. Montpellier holds a three-point advantage and the two teams are very close on goal differential. Montpellier's run in is especially difficult with games against Stade Rennes and Lille. PSG has a much easier fixture list leading up to the finale on May 20th.

Lille needs only a point in their final three games to wrap up Champions League play next season.

SUNDAY

Evian Thonon Gaillard vs. AC Ajaccio, 11 a.m.
Lyon vs. Brest, 11 a.m.
Valenciennes vs. Paris Saint-Germain, 3:15 p.m.

MONDAY

AJ Auxerre vs. Bordeaux, 1 p.m.
Lille vs. Caen, 1 p.m.
Lorient vs. Dijon FCO, 1 p.m. 
Sochaux vs. AS Nancy Lorraine, 1 p.m. 
St Etienne vs. Marseille, 1 p.m.
Toulouse vs. Nice, 1 p.m. 
Stade Rennes vs. Montpellier, 3 p.m. 

The Netherlands

The Eredivisie enters its final weekend with the battle for second place anything but decided. Feyenoord Rotterdam currently occupy the runner up position but PSV Eindhoven sit just a point behind. Rotterdam take a trip to fourth-placed Heerenveen for a difficult test while PSV shouldn't have much trouble with Excelsior.

Should PSV stumble to a loss, Heerenveen could overtake Rotterdam and move into second with a six-goal victory but that's very unlikely.

SUNDAY

ADO Den Haag vs. De Graafschap, 8:30 a.m.
AZ Alkmaar vs. FC Groningen, 8:30 a.m.
Excelsior vs. PSV Eindhoven 
Heerenveen vs. Feyenoord Rotterdam, 8:30 a.m. 
NAC Breda vs. RKC Waalwijk, 8:30 a.m. 
Roda JC Kerkrade vs. FC Utrecht, 8:30 a.m. 
SC Heracles Almelo vs. NEC Nijmegen, 8:30 a.m. 
Vitesse Arnhem vs. Ajax, 8:30 a.m. 
VVV Venlo vs. FC Twente, 8:30 a.m.  

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What do you think of the weekend's fixtures? Who will come out on top in the Milan Derby? Excited for the sprint to the finish between the two Manchester clubs? Will you be tuning into the final weekends of Germany and Holland?

Share your thoughts below

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3 Responses to European Look Ahead: Milan Derby looms, Race for EPL title and more

  1. evan says:

    three of the six major leagues? i’d think the Portugese league is at least as ‘major’ as the Dutch league hmm?

  2. biff says:

    Steve Cherundolo and Hannover will be fighting to hold onto 7th place and the Europa League. But if Kaiserlautern performs a miracle and beats Hannover, then Nuremberg still has an outside chance at seventh place/Europa league, if Wolfsburg and Breman lose (both play strong teams)—and if Nuremburg wins by enough to erase the three-goal advantage held now by Hannover.

  3. Tim says:

    Ibra is a thug