European Weekend Preview: El Clasico in Madrid, FA Cup Semifinals, and more

European Weekend Preview: El Clasico in Madrid, FA Cup Semifinals, and more

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European Weekend Preview: El Clasico in Madrid, FA Cup Semifinals, and more

Sunday’s El Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu could have huge implications on this year’s La Liga title race.

League-leaders Real Madrid host Barcelona on Sunday which sees the two sides separated by three points in the table. Zinedine Zidane’s side booked their place in the UEFA Champions League semifinals after an impressive second-leg victory over Bayern Munich earlier this week. Luis Enrique’s side, meanwhile, was ousted by Italian leaders Juventus on Wednesday after being held scoreless over the two legs.

A victory for the visitors would put them in top-spot based on goal differential, while a win for Madrid would see them in prime position for another La Liga crown.

Elsewhere, the English FA Cup semifinals kick off at Wembley on Saturday with Chelsea facing Tottenham. Manchester City faces Arsenal in the second semifinal on Sunday.

In Italy, Inter Milan travels to Fiorentina, while leaders Juventus host Genoa. Borussia Monchengladbach hosts Borussia Dortmund in the must-watch match in Germany while Lyon hosts Monaco in Ligue 1’s premier match of the weekend.

Here’s a closer look at all this weekend’s European action:

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Saturday’s early kickoff in the EPL sees Middlesbrough travel to Bournemouth. The visitors sit in 19th place, six points from safety. Despite a valiant effort earlier this week in a 2-1 defeat vs. Arsenal, Steve Agnew’s side is still struggling to find the back of the net. Their 23 goals scored are the lowest in the EPL this season. Bournemouth sits seven points clear of the relegation zone, but know another win or two should keep them safe for their second consecutive year.

13th-place West Ham United host seventh-place Everton at London Stadium on Saturday. The Hammers sit nine points clear of the relegation zone and would like to make it three straight unbeaten in the league. Midfielder Michail Antonio leads the team with nine goals, and will be expected to return for Slaven Bilic’s side this weekend. Everton has won their its two matches, and are still in the race for a European qualification spot. At their disposal, they have leading goalscorer Romelu Lukaku, who has 24 goals so far this season. The Toffees won the first meeting this season, 2-0, at Goodison Park back in October, and would like to sweep the season series from the Hammers.

Manchester United would like to stay in the top-four race, but know they will need all three points at Burnley on Sunday. Jose Mourinho’s side is coming off an impressive 2-0 home win against Chelsea last weekend, and is unbeaten in their last 21 Premier League fixtures. Burnley may have only one victory in their last 13 matches across all competitions, but the team is a different side at Turf Moor. Sean Dyche’s side has taken 32 of their 36 points this season at home, and will look to add another three to that list on Sunday.

Here’s all of Saturday and Sunday’s Premier League fixtures:

Saturday

  • AFC Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough
  • Hull City vs. Watford
  • Swansea City vs. Stoke City
  • West Ham United vs. Everton

Sunday

  • Burnley vs. Manchester United
  • Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace

ENGLISH FA CUP

The opening semifinal match in the 2016-17 FA Cup pits London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham against one another at Wembley. Despite holding a four-point lead over Spurs in the EPL table, Chelsea has lost two of their last four matches in all competitions. Antonio Conte’s side has split the season series with Tottenham, but know a victory on Saturday in this competition, should propel them to a strong run to end the season. Tottenham has won their last eight matches in all competitions, and is overall unbeaten in their last ten.

Sunday’s semifinal pits Arsenal and Manchester City together for a third time this season. These two last met on April 2 in EPL play with the sides sharing the points in a 2-2 draw. Arsene Wenger’s side has had favorable match-ups in their last two FA Cup draws, defeating non-league sides Sutton United and Lincoln City. Manchester City defeated Middlesbrough, 2-0, in the quarterfinals, and has only allowed one goal in five FA Cup matches this season.

Saturday

  • Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Sunday

  • Arsenal vs. Manchester City

SPANISH LA LIGA

Saturday’s must-watch match in Spain features third-place Atletico Madrid traveling to ninth-place Espanyol. The visitors are coming off booking their place in the Champions League semifinals and would like to make it 12 matches unbeaten across all competitions. Diego Simeone’s side features striker Antoine Griezmann, who has 15 league goals so far this campaign. Espanyol would like to make it three wins in a row, which would see them surpass 50 points on the season.

Round 33 in La Liga kicks off on Friday with Sevilla hosting Granada at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. The hosts have only won one of their last seven-league fixtures, that being a 4-2 home win over Deportivo on April 8. Sevilla sits in fourth-place and would like to keep pace with third-place Atletico Madrid, in the Champions League qualification spots. Granada has lost two straight and six of their last seven in league play. Despite their poor run of form, they are seven points from La Liga safety in 19th place.

The Round 33 finale takes place on Monday afternoon as Eibar hosts Athletic Bilbao in a battle of eighth vs. sixth. The hosts saw a five-match unbeaten run snapped last Sunday at Real Betis, but know a victory could see them surpass their opponents in the table. Midfielder Pedro Leon has 10 goals this season, and is definitely a player to watch for Eibar. Athletic Bilbao is coming off a 5-1 pummeling of Las Palmas last weekend, and would like to stay in that final European qualification spot.

Friday

  • Sevilla vs. Granada

Saturday

  • Malaga vs. Valencia
  • Villarreal vs. Leganes
  • Osasuna vs. Sporting Gijon
  • Espanyol vs. Atletico Madrid

Sunday

  • Real Sociedad vs. Deportivo
  • Celta Vigo vs. Real Betis
  • Las Palmas vs. Alaves
  • Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

Monday

  • Eibar vs. Athletic Bilbao

GERMAN BUNDESLIGA

The Borussenderby takes centerstage in Germany this Saturday, with Borussia Monchengladbach hosting Borussia Dortmund at Borussia-Park. The hosts are in ninth place, and are looking to shake off a 5-3 road loss at Hoffenheim last weekend. Striker Lars Stindl leads the way with nine goals so far, while Thorgan Hazard is a huge playmaker in Gladbach’s midfield. Dortmund is coming off a midweek Champions League exit, but would like to keep their spot in the top-four. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has 26 league goals this season, and would like to add to his three league tallies so far this month.

League leaders Bayern Munich will hope to return to winning ways on Saturday, welcoming Mainz to the Allianz Arena. Carlo Ancelotti’s side is coming off a tough second-leg defeat in Madrid on Tuesday, but will look to re-extend their lead at the top of the Bundesliga table. Striker Robert Lewandowski leads Bayern with 26 goals this season. On the other side, Mainz is looking to retain their top-flight status for another year. The visitors defeated Hertha Berlin last weekend, 1-0, snapping a five-game losing streak. Mainz sits in 15th, and is only ahead of Augsburg on goal difference.

Round 30 in Germany’s top-flight kicks off on Friday with seventh-place Koln hosting third-place Hoffenheim. The hosts have lost two in a row, and would like to get back to winning ways against a top-four side. Striker Anthony Modeste has been a one-man show for Koln this season, scoring 23 goals so far in 29 matches. Hoffenheim rolled past Borussia Monchengladbach, 5-3, last Saturday, and would like to keep their strong season going. Strikers Andrej Kramaric and Sandro Wagner have combined for 23 goals and 10 assists between them so far this season.

Friday

  • FC Koln vs. 1899 Hoffenheim

Saturday

  • Bayern Munich vs. FSV Mainz
  • Hertha Berlin vs. VfL Wolfsburg
  • Hamburg SV vs. SV Darmstadt
  • Ingolstadt vs. Werder Bremen
  • Eintracht Frankfurt vs. FC Augsburg
  • Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Borussia Dortmund

Sunday

  • SC Freiburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen
  • Schalke 04 vs. RB Leipzig

ITALIAN SERIE A

Saturday’s top showdown in Italy comes from Florence as Fiorentina welcomes Inter Milan to town. The hosts sit in eighth place, four points behind their opponents. Fiorentina slumped to a 2-1 home defeat against Empoli last weekend, while Inter drew 2-2 with rivals AC Milan. Striker Nikola Kalinic has 14 goals this season, and would like to add to that tally on Saturday. Inter’s Mauro Icardi leads the way for Stefano Pioli’s side with 21 goals so far.

Third-place Napoli faces a road test at Sassuolo to open Sunday’s Serie A action. Maurizio Sarri’s men are unbeaten in their last six fixtures across all competitions, including back-to-back league wins over Lazio and Udinese. The Neopolitans have four players with double-digit goals scored so far, with Dries Mertens leading the way with 21. Sassuolo defeated Sampdoria, 2-1, a week ago and would like to make it consecutive victories over top-half sides. Striker Gregoire Defrel leads the hosts with nine goals so far this season.

League-leader Juventus is looking to extend their lead at the top of the Serie A table, as they welcome Genoa to town on Sunday. Massimiliano Allegri’s side is coming off an impressive two-legged affair with Barcelona in the Champions League, which saw the Italians advance on a 3-0 aggregate scoreline. Gonzalo Higuain leads Juventus with 23 goals while Paulo Dybala is also a threat with eight so far. Genoa is coming off an impressive 2-2 draw vs. Lazio last weekend, and will hope to upset the leaders away from home on Sunday. The visitors sit nine points clear of the relegation zone, and will look to sweep the season series from Juventus after a 3-1 win back in November.

Saturday

  • Atalanta vs.  Bologna
  • Fiorentina vs. Inter Milan

Sunday

  • Sassuolo vs. Napoli
  • Chievo Verona vs. Torino
  • Lazio vs. Palermo
  • AC Milan vs. Empoli
  • Sampdoria vs. Crotone
  • Udinese vs. Cagliari
  • Juventus vs. Genoa

Monday

  • Pescara vs. Roma

FRENCH LIGUE 1

The must-watch match in France this weekend takes place on Sunday as Lyon welcomes Monaco to the Parc OL. Fourth place Lyon is looking to hold off several teams behind them for the final European spot. The hosts saw last weekend’s match at Bastia postponed due to crowd trouble. Monaco just booked their place into the Champions League semifinals after defeating Borussia Dortmund, 6-3, over two legs. Strikers Kylian Mbappe and Radamel Falcao have combined for 30 league goals this season, while Leonardo Jardim’s side look to continue their run towards a first Ligue 1 title since 1999-00.

Paris Saint-Germain opens the Ligue 1 action on Saturday, welcoming Montpellier to the Parc des Princes. Unai Emery’s side are coming off a 3-2 midweek win over Metz thanks to a brace from Blaise Matuidi. PSG is still in the hunt for the Ligue 1 title, level on points with leaders Monaco despite playing one extra match. Montpellier sits in 12th place, and is looking for their third consecutive win. Striker Steve Mounie leads the visitors with 13 goals so far, as Montpellier try to sweep the season series from PSG after a 3-0 win back in December.

Round 34 in the French Ligue 1 kicks off on Friday as Marseille travels to Nancy. 20 points may separate these sides in the table, but both teams have something to play for in this showdown. Marseille is in sixth place, and three points behind Lyon for the final European spot. The visitors are unbeaten in their last six matches, and will hope for a similar result to last weekend’s 4-0 trouncing of Saint-Etienne. Nancy sits outside of the relegation zone only on goal differential and will hope to inch further away from the bottom three with a win.

Friday

  • Nancy vs. Marseille

Saturday

  • PSG vs. Montpellier
  • Lorient vs. Metz
  • Bordeaux vs. Bastia
  • Lille vs. Guingamp
  • Dijon vs. Angers
  • Caen vs. Nantes

Sunday

  • Toulouse vs. Nice
  • Saint-Etienne vs. Rennes
  • Lyon vs. Monaco

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