We are rapidly approaching the end of most of the European soccer leagues. With so much on the line, the matches takes on a whole new level of intensity and meaning and teams try to end their seasons on a high note. From the bottom of the English Premier League, to a derby in Moscow, here are a few games worth keeping an extra eye this weekend.
Hull City – Burnley FC (English Premier League Gameweek 36):
Burnley needs a win in this game in order to have any chance of stave off relegation in the Premier League. It looks like an impossible task, since they basically need to win their last three games against Hull, Stoke and Aston Villa along with having several of the teams above them lose out. Burnley sits at the bottom of the table with 26 points, 8 points behind Hull that sits just above the drop zone in 17th. Hull is looking to grab its third win in the last four games and get back on winning track after falling 3-1 against Arsenal earlier in the week. Burnley won the previous meeting between the teams 1-0 back in November after a goal by Ashley Barnes.
Crystal Palace – Manchester United (English Premier League Gameweek 36):
United sits in fourth with 65 points, and they desperately want to hold on to that position as it will grant them entry into next season’s Champions League. They do need to watch out as they are only four points ahead of Liverpool in fifth, and after losing three straight games, manager Louis van Gaal will have to find a way for his side to get back in the winning column. Crystal Palace has had a resurgence under manager Alan Pardew who took over midseason, and sits in 12th with 42 points. Wilfried Zaha was bought by United from Palace, but after an unsuccessful spell in Manchester he returned to Palace where he has been the team’s best player this season. He will most likely be relishing the opportunity to prove United wrong.
Real Madrid – Valencia (Spanish La Liga Gameweek 36):
Madrid played Juventus midweek in the Champions League semifinals, and despite losing 2-1 they have an opportunity to get themselves into the Final with a positive result in the return leg in Madrid next week. They are chasing Barcelona at the top of La Liga, and Los Merengues are currently in second place with 85 points, two behind the leaders from Catalonia. Valencia sits in the fourth spot, and has a three point lead over Sevilla for that last Champions League spot. It will be interesting to see if Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti will rest a few of his starters for the upcoming game against Juve. Cristiano Ronaldo has been on fire all season long and he leads the league in scoring with 42 goals so far, that a goal every 68th minute on average for the Portuguese international. Dani Parejo is Valencia’s top scorer with a tally of 12 league goals.
Lokomotiv Moscow – CSKA Moscow (Russian Premier League Gameweek 27):
Moscow derbies are always heated affairs, and this one will no different. CSKA is the top dog in the capital and they are on the hunt for the second spot in the league which equals a spot in the Champions League. They are four points behind Krasnodar, so they will try to win out in the remaining four game of the season. Lokomotiv sits in seventh and with 8 points up to Dynamo Moscow in fourth, it seems unlikely that they will participate in the European cups next season.
CSKA midfielder Bibras Natcho has 11 goals so far this season, two behind the leader Hulk from Zenit Saint Petersburg. CSKA also has Roman Eremenko (10 goals) and Ahmed Musa (9 goals) in the top 10. Early start in Sunday (3:30 a.m. PT) so either get up early or stay up from the night before and have some late night munchies.
Olympique de Marseille – AS Monaco FC (French Ligue 1 Gameweek 36):
Marseille welcome Monaco to the Stade Velodrome on Sunday as these two teams battle for the third spot in Ligue 1 and a chance to compete in the Champions League next season. Right now it’s advantage Monaco as they sit in the third spot with 65 points, five ahead of Marseille. A poor run of form for Olympique, with only one win in the last five, has seen them falling out from the title race and now they have to turn things around fast if they want to catch up to Monaco and get into the Champions League. Monaco have three wins and two draws in its last five league games, and the team will be feeling good that they made it to the quarterfinals in the Champions League (lost to Juventus). Andre Pierre Gignac has 20 league goals for Marseille this season, and Anthony Martial is Monaco’s top scorer with 9 league goals.