Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By JUSTIN FERGUSON
While last season’s English Premier League crown was sealed with four matches, there will be some title drama on this season’s Championship Sunday.
Two years ago, the last time the EPL trophy went down to the final day, Manchester City won the title in dramatic fashion. This Sunday, all Man City will need is a home result against 12th-place West Ham United in order to grab their second title in three seasons.
With a two-point lead and a +13 goal differential on Liverpool, Manchester City will win the title Sunday if they defeat or draw with West Ham. The Citizens have scored 100 goals this season, and they could set a new league record if they score four in their home match against the Hammers, who have lost their last three league fixtures. Man City have only lost once at home this entire EPL season — a 1-0 result at the hands of third-place Chelsea — and have all the momentum heading into what could be another memorable day at Ethiad Stadium.
In La Liga, first-place Atletico Madrid were on pace to secure a league title of their own with a win on Sunday. But, after a 2-0 road loss to Levante, Atletico will need a win against 13th-place Malaga and some help from relegation-fighting Elche if they want to secure the crown in front of their home fans at the Vicente Calderon. Atletico lead second-place Barcelona, who they will face next weekend at Camp Nou, by two points with two matches remaining, and they need a victory to secure their spot at the top heading into Spain’s final matchday.
Here is a closer look at this weekend’s action from the top leagues in Europe:
Second-place Liverpool will host Newcastle United at Anfield on Sunday needing a victory and some major help in the title picture. The Reds will need an unprecedented double-digit victory in order to win the title if Manchester City draw, so their hopes are pinned solely on West Ham United pulling the road upset — if they beat Newcastle. Liverpool drew 2-2 with Newcastle at St. James’ Park earlier this season, and the Magpies are fresh off a streak-snapping 3-0 win against Cardiff City that could give them hope of a brighter end to their midtable campaign.
Fourth-place Arsenal are already confirmed for a Champions League spot ahead of their trip to 18th-place Norwich City, who will also need a massively improbable scoring swing if they are to avoid relegation. Arsenal will be looking for momentum ahead of next week’s FA Cup Final against Hull City, where they will try to end their long trophy drought. Arsene Wenger might field a reserve side as his team continues to battle through injury problems at the end of their second straight fourth-place season.
Here are this weekend’s matches in the English Premier League:
Cardiff City vs. Chelsea
Fulham vs. Crystal Palace
Hull City vs. Everton
Liverpool vs. Newcastle United
Manchester City vs. West Ham United
Norwich City vs. Arsenal
Southampton vs. Manchester United
Sunderland vs. Swansea City
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa
West Bromwich Albion vs. Stoke City
As league-leading Atletico Madrid battle Malaga at the Vicente Calderon on Sunday, second-place Barcelona will visit 15th-place Elche looking to stay in the hunt for another league title. Barcelona had no problems with Elche at Camp Nou in their first match of the 2014 calendar, blanking their opponents 4-0 thanks to a hat trick from Alexis Sanchez. The defending champions could either be leading the league, setting up a potential title-decider for next weekend or completely out of the race depending on Sunday’s results, making La Liga must-see TV for soccer fans this weekend.
Third-place Real Madrid are not completely out of the title picture yet, but they need a win at ninth-place Celta Vigo and an Atletico Madrid loss to stay alive in the race. Even if Real are not title contenders by the end of the weekend, they would love to get another win ahead of their upcoming Champions League final against Atletico. Cristiano Ronaldo netted a brace and Karim Benzema got on the scoresheet in their last meeting with Celta Vigo, and look for Los Blancos’ high-scoring offense to get going again this weekend after back-to-back league draws.
Here are this weekend’s matches in La Liga:
Villarreal vs. Rayo Vallecano
Levante vs. Valencia
Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Sociedad
Atletico Madrid vs. Malaga
Celta Vigo vs. Real Madrid
Elche vs. Barcelona
Espanyol vs. Osasuna
Getafe vs. Sevilla
Granada vs. Almeria
Real Betis vs. Real Valladolid
With three of the top spots and the three relegation spots in the Bundesliga sealed ahead of the final matchday, the race for the fourth and final Champions League place will take center stage Saturday. Fourth-place Bayer Leverkusen lead fifth-place Wolfsburg by one point, and Leverkusen will take their four-match unbeaten run into their home match against Werder Bremen. The visitors defeated Leverkusen 1-0 in their earlier matchup this season, but Leverkusen have gone through a resurgence since the appointment of interim manager Sacha Lewandowski.
Fifth-place Wolfsburg will have a tougher matchup this weekend against sixth-place Borussia Monchengladbach, who could also pull into fourth-place with a win and some help from Werder Bremen. Wolfsburg are also unbeaten in fourth straight matches heading into this Saturday’s action, while Monchengladbach have won two straight to stay in the hunt for the Champions League. The two sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw earlier this season, but they will both be gunning for all three points with one eye on the action at the BayArena.
Here are this weekend’s matches in the Bundesliga:
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Werder Bremen
Bayern Munich vs. Stuttgart
Augsburg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Hannover vs. Freiburg
Hertha Berlin vs. Borussia Dortmund
Mainz vs. Hamburg
Schalke vs. Nurnberg
Hoffenheim vs. Eintracht Braunschweig
Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
The title has already been awarded in Serie A, but the league will still have a clash of giants this weekend as second-place AS Roma host champions Juventus. Roma were rocked 4-1 by Cagliari last weekend, a match that handed the title to Juve with just two weekends remaining. Juventus have only allowed one goal in their last five league matches, all of them victories, and they will be looking to set the tone for next season’s campaign with a win against their biggest domestic adversary on their home turf.
Toward the bottom of the table, 18th-place Bologna will host 19th-place Catania in an important relegation six-pointer. Bologna trail Chievo Verona by one point in the fight for safety, and Catania trail Bologna by three points with their sights set on a season-saving road victory. Catania defeated Bologna 2-0 in a home match earlier this season, but they have lost their last six straight road matches in Serie A, including three consecutive shutout losses that put them in serious jeopardy being dropped to Serie B.
Here are this weekend’s matches in Serie A:
Hellas Verona vs. Udinese
Inter Milan vs. Lazio
Atalanta vs. AC Milan
Bologna vs. Catania
Cagliari vs. Chievo Verona
Livorno vs. Fiorentina
Sampdoria vs. Napoli
Sassuolo vs. Genoa
Torino vs. Parma
AS Roma vs. Juventus
Paris Saint-Germain are champions once more in Ligue 1, and they will head to the Stade Pierre-Mauroy this weekend for a match against a team that will actually need points, third-place Lille. PSG’s hosts lead Saint Etienne by five points in the battle for the final Champions League spot in France, and they can nail their trip to next season’s continental competition with an upset victory against the league title-holders. Lille are on a 13-match unbeaten run and have something to play for this weekend, so look for them to give the Parisians a tough matchup this weekend.
Here are this weekend’s matches in Ligue 1:
AC Ajaccio vs. Stade de Reims
Bordeaux vs. Marseille
Evian Thonon Gaillard vs. Nice
Guingamp vs. Toulouse
Lille vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Lyon vs. Lorient
Montpellier vs. Bastia
Nantes vs. Saint Etienne
Stade Rennes vs. Sochaux
Valenciennes vs. AS Monaco
Which European matches are you looking forward to the most this weekend? Think Manchester City will take care of business Sunday, or do you see any final day drama in store for the English Premier League? Who do you have winning La Liga as the teams head into the final two weekends? See any potential upsets elsewhere?
Share your thoughts below.