By JUSTIN FERGUSON
Second-place Chelsea may have defeated first-place Liverpool in English Premier League action last weekend, but the real winners of the colossal matchup could be found in Manchester.
On Saturday, Manchester City look to secure the first of what they hope will be three straight victories to clinch their second EPL title in three seasons. The Citizens control their own destiny in the title race now, but they first have to get past an Everton squad hanging onto hope of a Champions League spot.
Third-place Man City have one match in hand on their fellow title contenders when they make the trip to Goodison Park, a place where they have struggled mightily in recent seasons. The Citizens, who defeated Everton 3-1 at Ethiad Stadium earlier this season, have only won once in their last 15 trips to Goodison and have lost 10 in that same span. Everton will need a result Saturday to stay alive in the Champions League qualification hunt for at least one more day as fourth-place Arsenal could secure the final slot with a win on Sunday.
In Spain, Real Madrid are also looking to stay alive in a race of their own after booking their trip to the Champions League final in fantastic fashion. Fresh off their big win at Bayern Munich, third-place Real Madrid host eighth-place Valencia trailing city rivals and fellow Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid by six points in the race for the league crown. Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. are going to need wins and some help if they are going to keep themselves in league title contention, and the late push will start against a Valencia side they dramatically edged in their meeting earlier this season.
Here is a closer look at this weekend’s action from the top leagues in Europe:
Second-place Chelsea will be able to go to the EPL summit on at least a temporary basis this Sunday with a win against Norwich City, who continue their brutal stretch of matches in the drop zone. Depending on the result of the Manchester City-Everton match, the Blues could shift the title picture before Liverpool face Crystal Palace on Monday. Norwich trail currently safe Sunderland on goal differential alone, but they will not be expected to get a result against a Chelsea team determined to stay in the EPL title hunt after their Champions League exit at the hands of Atletico Madrid.
Fourth-place Arsenal can clinch another Champions League spot with a Sunday home win against 15th-place West Bromwich Albion, who appear safe from relegation heading into the weekend. While two sides drew 1-1 at the Hawthorns earlier this season, Arsenal are winners of three straight matches and Wembley-bound finalists in the FA Cup. The Gunners could already be Champions League qualifiers if Everton lose to Manchester City on Sunday, but the result of this match match could completely put to rest the Toffees’ dreams of a Champions League return.
Here are this weekend’s matches in the English Premier League:
West Ham United vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Aston Villa vs. Hull City
Manchester United vs. Sunderland
Newcastle United vs. Stoke City
Stoke City vs. Fulham
Swansea City vs. Southampton
Everton vs. Manchester City
Arsenal vs. West Bromwich Albion
Chelsea vs. Norwich City
First-place Atletico Madrid need two wins from their last three matches to clinch the title in La Liga. The Champions League finalists could setup a dream scenario next weekend at the Vicente Calderon with a road win this Sunday against 11th-place Levante, who are on a four-match winless skid in league play. If Atletico fail to win their next two matches, the title race could come down to the result of a season-ending trip to second-place Barcelona, so look for Diego Simeone’s squad to push their hardest for all three points this weekend in Levante.
Second-place Barcelona need to keep winning in La Liga in order to stay alive in the title race, and they have a favorable fixture this weekend against 17th-place Getafe. Barcelona have posted an impressive 16 league wins in 17 matches at Camp Nou this weekend, and they will fondly remember their 5-2 drubbing of Getafe earlier this season. Getafe sit just two points ahead of the drop zone in La Liga, hoping to pull out a shock result in their quest to stay in Spain’s top division for another season.
Here are this weekend’s matches in La Liga:
Rayo Vallecano vs. Athletic Bilbao
Barcelona vs. Getafe
Malaga vs. Elche
Osasuna vs. Celta Vigo
Real Valladolid vs. Espanyol
Almeria vs. Real Betis
Levante vs. Atletico Madrid
Sevilla vs. Villarreal
Real Madrid vs. Valencia
With just two matchdays left in the Bundesliga season, the most high-profile race left in the league table is the one for the fourth and final Champions League spot. Fourth-place Bayer Leverkusen lead fifth-place Wolfsburg by just one point, and Leverkusen will look to keep their lead after a trip to 11th-place Eintracht Frankfurt. Leverkusen lost to Frankfurt at the start of their lengthy midseason slide, but they have rebounded with a modest three-match losing streak, while Frankfurt have gone without a win in that same span.
Wolfsburg are also on the road this weekend as they will face 15th-place Stuttgart, who can secure their place above the relegation line with a positive home result. Stuttgart are finishing the season strong with a four-match unbeaten run, and they will be aiming to put their fears at rest this weekend. Wolfsburg could lose their shot at the Champions League with a loss this weekend, so look for both sides to go for all three points at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Here are this weekend’s matches in the Bundesliga:
Borussia Dortmund vs. Hoffenheim
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Mainz
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Hamburg vs. Bayern Munich
Nurnberg vs. Hannover
Freiburg vs. Schalke
Eintracht Braunschweig vs. Augsburg
Stuttgart vs. Wolfsburg
Werder Bremen vs. Hertha Berlin
While first-place Juventus do not play again until Monday, second-place AS Roma can hand the Serie A title to the Italian giants with a Sunday road loss against last-place Catania, who are making a last stand in their relegation fight. Roma can make it 10 consecutive league victories this weekend, and they will be favored to do so after smacking Catania 4-0 at the Stadio Olimpico earlier this season. Catania sit five points below the relegation line with three matches remaining, so they will most likely need a point to keep their survival hopes alive.
The two Milan rivals might not be near the top of the table in Serie A this season, but their second derby match of the season will definitely be heated as both AC and Inter Milan fight for Europa League qualification. Tenth-place AC Milan sit one point behind sixth-place Torino, who currently hold the final Europa League spot, and they have posted three consecutive league shutouts inside the San Siro. On the other side, fifth-place Inter Milan have not won in the shared home stadium in their last five matches, but they sit firmly in the qualification race with a six-point lead on their local rivals.
Here are this weekend’s matches in Serie A:
Catania vs. AS Roma
Chievo Verona vs. Torino
Genoa vs. Bologna
Parma vs. Sampdoria
Udiense vs. Livorno
AC Milan vs. Inter Milan
Fifth-place Lyon can clinch a spot in next season’s Europa League with a Sunday win against sixth-place Marseille in another clash of the Olympique clubs. Lyon hold a five-point advantage heading into this weekend’s action and are currently on a four-match unbeaten run in league play. Marseille, who drew 2-2 at Lyon earlier this season, are on a five-match unbeaten run and will need a victory to keep their hopes of European qualification alive.
Here are this weekend’s matches in Ligue 1:
Bastia vs. Lille
Saint Etienne vs. Montpellier
Lorient vs. AC Ajaccio
Sochaux vs. Nice
Stade de Reims vs. Evian Thonon Gaillard
Toulouse vs. Nantes
Valenciennes vs. Bordeaux
Marseille vs. Lyon
Which European matches are you looking forward to the most this weekend? See Manchester City getting a vital road victory at Everton? Think Real Madrid win against this weekend? See any potential upsets?
Share your thoughts below.