It’s finally here. The Champions League Final is the obvious highlight of the weekend as Juventus and Barcelona battle for the biggest prize in European club soccer. But, there are a lot of other interesting matches going on around the world, and here are a few to keep an extra eye on.
Juventus – Barcelona (UEFA Champions League Final):
The biggest match in Europe is taking place at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on Saturday. For Juventus, it’s there first appearance in the final since they lost to AC Milan in the 2003 final at Old Trafford. The Italian champions are looking to win their Champions League title. Barcelona and Lionel Messi won the title back in 2011 after a vintage performance over Manchester United, and the Catalonian club could add a fifth CL title to the trophy cabinet.
LA Galaxy – Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS Gameweek 16):
The Galaxy and Whitecaps do battle at the StubHub Center in a Western Conference showdown. Only five points separates fifth-placed Galaxy and and first-place Seattle Sounders, so the west is as competitive as ever. The Whitecaps sits in second place, three points behind the Sounders, but with two more games played.
After two straight 1-0 wins over Houston and Salt Lake, the Galaxy drew 2-2 away to New England in a game that was played in some weird conditions as we torrential rain come down on the field. Vancouver lost a hard-fought Canadian derby against Montreal, falling 2-1 after Ignacio Piatti scored the winner for Montreal in the 83rd minute.
Ireland – England (International Friendly):
It might be labeled as a friendly, but the game will surely be anything but friendly as little brother Ireland hosts England for the first time on Irish soil since 1995. That last meeting in Dublin twenty years ago was abandoned after 27 minutes due to violence in the stands. Things should be a bit more civilized now, but there’s still a big rivalry between the two sides.
Ireland is captained by LA Galaxy star Robbie Keane who will make his 140th appearance for the Irish national team. Wayne Rooney is the England captain, and there are a couple of interesting names in Roy Hodgson’s squad including Southampton duo Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand.
Hammarby IF – IFK Gothenburg (Swedish Allsvenskan Gameweek 13):
Hammarby is back in the Swedish Allsvenskan after spending five years in the second division. The club has one of the strongest followings in the country, as they averaged over 20,000 in attendance in the second division, and on Sunday they go up against the most decorated club in Swedish history in IFK Gothenburg.
Gothenburg has had a strong start to the season and tops the league, five points ahead of Malmo FF after a 1-0 win over third-placed Elfsborg earlier in the week. Hammarby meanwhile is off to a decent start for being a newcomer, sitting in 11th, three place above the relegation zone.
France – Belgium (International Friendly):
As the host of the upcoming Euro 2016, France is not a part of the qualifications which makes these international friendlies all the more important for national team coach Didier Deschamps. He has a slew of excellent players to choose from and with Alexandre Lacazette scoring 27 league goals for Lyon this season and winning the Ligue 1 Golden Boot, Deschamps might have his next star striker. Lacazette has only featured in six games so far for the national team.
Belgium is a growing force in world soccer and is currently ranked number two on FIFA’s ranking. Now you should always take these rankings with a grain of salt, but it is an indication of just how good the Belgian side is. The Belgians are undefeated in the Euro 2016 qualifiers and top Group B with three wins and two draws, scoring 13 goals and only allowing one.