By AYDIN REYHAN
With four of the top five leagues already concluded, this weekend presents a swansong of European action with a series of cup finals.
The FA Cup, Copa del Rey, DFB Pokal and Coupe de France will each be decided this weekend in the last bit of action in their respective countries before the 2015-16 campaign.
Meanwhile, the Serie A comes to a close this weekend with Juventus as champions, marking official end of every top-five league in Europe for the 2014-2015 domestic season.
Here’s a closer look at all of the cup action throughout Europe this weekend:
The reigning champions, Arsenal, will be facing Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium, with the former being the heavy favorites. The Gunners finished third in the Premier League, while Aston Villa finished just three points out of the relegation zone.
Arsenal will be lining up in their regular 4-2-3-1 against Villa’s 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. Comparing strikers Olivier Giroud and Christian Benteke shows that the Frenchman was slightly more prolific ,scoring one more goal and adding one more assist in two less games.
With two formidable forward up front, the final could be won in the midfield, while both the defenses will have to hold firm as this could be an up-and-down battle towards the latter stages due to both teams’ ability to get up and down the field
The game will be live on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on Fox.
COPA DEL REY
Barcelona will be facing Athletic Bilbao as heavy-favorites in the final of the Spanish cup. After winning La Liga and booking their place in the Champions League final, this is their second possible title to win this season and move one step closer to a treble.
Barca will likely line up in their usual 4-3-3 with Neymar, Lionel Messi and the returning Luis Suarez expected to lead the line in the final third.
Bilbao will still be without star midfielder Iker Munian but will rely on the likes of Aduriz and Inaki Williams going forward.
The game is scheduled for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN 2.
Borussia Dortmund missed out on the Champions League as they finished seventh in the Bundesliga. Their opponents in the Cup final, Wolfsburg, finished in second, guaranteeing Champions League soccer.
The 4-2-3-1 set-up is the favorite for both sides and the players know this style very well. This one is up in the air with the Wolves being slightly favorited to win as their form has been consistently good all year long.
Marco Reus will, as usual, be the one to watch for Dortmund while Kevin de Bruyne has that honor for Wolfsburg.
The final will be played Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN 3 and ESPN Deportes.
COUPE DE FRANCE
After winning Ligue 1 and the Coupe de la Ligue, Paris Saint-Germain is heavily-favored to win the final available cup that France has to offer. Their opponent will be Auxerre who, actually finished ninth in Ligue 2.
PSG will line up in their usual 4-3-3 with Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading the line in attack. Auxerre will play in a 4-4-2, looking to exploit the midfield of the Ligue 1 champs and pressure them enough to ruin their game of possession and speed.
This game should en in PSG’s favor on paper, but upsets have been happening all around Europe in recent years so this one could provide us with another.
This match will be played on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. EDT on BeIN Sports USA.
Juventus’ Serie A victory lap will see the Italian campaign at Hellas Verona. Crowned champions a few weeks back, Juve will look to end the season on a high before facing off with Barcelona in the Champions League finale next week.
Elsewhere, AC Milan finishes off another disappointing campaign with a trip to Atlanata, Napoli faces off with Lazio and Roma hosts Palermo.
Take a closer look at the closing Serie A matchups below:
Hellas Verona – Juventus
Atalanta – AC Milan
Cagliari – Udinese
Roma – Palermo
Fiorentina – Chievo Verona
Inter Milan – Empoli
Napoli – Lazio
Sampdoria – Parma
Sassuolo – Genoa
Torino – Cesena
Brad Guzan appears to playing in this final. Would he be the only American who played in any meaningful final in Europe this year? Also, how many 3+ goals against games for Howard this season?
What’s the word on Brad? Still now playing second fiddle behind Givens (sp?)?