European leagues nearing exciting conclusions
Europe’s top five leagues head into the penultimate matches of the season with plenty still to play for. Here are the key games to look out for around the continent this weekend:
Leicester captain Wes Morgan will lift the Premier League trophy after the Foxes’ game against Everton at the King Power Stadium on Saturday. One of the most incredible sporting stories of all time was completed on Monday when Tottenham failed to beat Chelsea, and Claudio Ranieri’s men will continue the celebrations with the Leicester supporters in their final home match of the season.
It is also a crucial weekend in the race for the Champions League in England. Manchester United visit relegation-threatened Norwich trying to keep pace with Manchester City and Arsenal, who go head-to-head at the Etihad on Sunday. Louis Van Gaal’s United are four points behind City in fifth, but also have a game in hand against West Ham in the final match to be played at Upton Park on Tuesday.
With just two rounds of matches left in Spain, Barcelona need two wins to hold off Champions League finalists Atletico and Real Madrid to successfully defend their title. Luis Enrique’s Catalans welcome Espanyol to the Camp Nou on Sunday, having scored 16 goals in their last three outings without conceding.
All the games kick off at the same time, with Real hosting Valencia as they look to continue their incredible run of form. Ten consecutive wins have dragged Los Blancos back into the title race and they sit just a point behind the top two. Atletico are level on points with Barca at the summit, but trail them on head-to-head record. Diego Simeone’s side travel to already-relegated Levante.
Bayern Munich can wrap up a historic fourth consecutive Bundesliga title at the second time of asking on Saturday. The Bavarians were held 1-1 by Borussia Moenchengladbach last weekend, but know that a win at Ingolstadt would finally see off Borussia Dortmund’s stubborn challenge. Pep Guardiola may not be leaving Bayern with a Champions League title, but he could still claim a double with the German Cup final against Dortmund to come on May 21.
Should Bayern slip up, then Thomas Tuchel’s Dortmund will need a victory at Eintracht Frankfurt to take the title race to the final day of the season. Bayer Leverkusen are assured of third place, but there are four sides still trying to snatch the final Champions League spot. Fourth-placed Gladbach host Leverkusen, fifth-placed Hertha Berlin take on Darmstadt, while Schalke and Mainz play Augsburg and Stuttgart respectively.
Juventus have already been crowned champions for a record fifth successive time in Italy thanks to a clinical 26-match unbeaten run. The champions go to relegated Verona on Sunday, but there is still plenty to play for in the battle for Europe.
Second-placed Napoli visit Torino on Sunday as they look to protect a two-point lead over Roma, with just the top two in Serie A qualifying directly to the Champions League group stages. Inter Milan have already booked their ticket for the Europa League next term, and a Fiorentina win over crisis-hit Palermo would see La Viola into the qualifying stage.
Paris Saint-Germain wrapped up the French title in record time long ago, so the big match of the penultimate weekend is in Lyon, where Monaco are the visitors. Second-placed Lyon have been revitalised under new coach Bruno Genesio, and both teams know that a win on Saturday would seal a Champions League place.
The losers at Parc OL could still be drawn into a battle for the third and final spot in Europe’s premier competition. Saint-Etienne are four points behind Lyon and Monaco in fourth place, and Les Verts host Nice, who are just a point further adrift.