This weekend is upon us as it’s (thankfully) Friday and some of the biggest domestic competitions take place this weekend. The world’s biggest leagues along with the FA Cup will happen this weekend as this year’s biggest leagues start to wrap up and the planet’s biggest domestic cup competition reaches it’s semifinal stage. 4 of the 7 top clubs reach the semifinals of England’s FA Cup, as well as the planet’s biggest competitions like La Liga and Ligue 1 have the biggest games of the year take place this weekend.
In Spain this week, there’s only one match to look forward to and that’s the matches of all matches. El Clasico. That’s right, Spain’s two biggest clubs and the two biggest clubs on planet earth will face off for superiority in La Liga as Real Madrid and Barcelona sit 1st and 2nd respectively in La Liga. The biggest match on planet earth face off for the final time this season as the winner will have a straight shot towards the league title. Madrid come into the match, 3 points ahead of Barcelona with a game in hand over their eternal rivals. Madrid may have the upper hand and the momentum going into the match but never count out Barcelona who, even without Neymar, are one of the planet’s best attacking teams and a wounded tiger is a dangerous beast. I think Madrid will win this affair 3-1. Barcelona is always a dangerous team and an animal backed into the corner is a dangerous one indeed, but with Madrid’s form, discipline, drive for the title and the fact that is in the Santiago Bernabeu seals Barcelona’s fate.
After the Milan derby last week that ended in a 2-2 draw, Inter have another difficult test in Florence this week as they take on 8th place Fiorentina on Saturday. Both teams were shooting for qualification into a European competition and Inter is still looking to achieve just that, sitting 4 points behind 5th place Atalanta who hold the final Europa League qualification spot. After their draw last week, Inter are going to need all three points to put the pressure on one of Italy’s most young and talented squads. Goals will be hard to come by in this one. Inter win 1-0.
The top news of the Bundesliga was the elimination of both their representatives from the Champions League Quarterfinals. Now with their European ambitions, blown to smithereens, both sides will focus on finishing out their seasons strong. Bayern will still finish with the Bundesliga title in hand but the main focus this week is on the emotional Borussia Dortmund. Reeling after the fallout of the bus attack that left Marc Bartra with a hurt hand, Dortmund travel to Borussia Park to take on Monchengladbach. Dortmund have a 10 point cushion, holding onto that final Champions League spot, they’ll be looking up at Hoffenheim who sit 2 points ahead of Dortmund. Gladbach is a very solid team and a real challenge for any team in the league, but Dortmund are emotional and ready to attack anyone in their way after their fall from the Champions League. Dortmund also possess the ball 58 percent of the time in the Bundesliga, only behind Bayern and put on the 2nd most shots, also behind Bayern. Monchengladbach are also fresh off conceding 5 times to Hoffenheim last week. It won’t be 5 this week, so we’ll call it a 4-2 win for high flying Dortmund.
The big news out of Lyon this weekend is with the women as opposed to the men as Alex Morgan and co. take on Carli Lloyd’s Manchester City on Saturday in the Women’s Champions League. But the men also have a critical game this week and they face the planet’s most hyped eleven. Lyon host Champions League semifinalists and Ligue 1 leading Monaco this weekend as Monaco look to put some distance between themselves and surging Paris. Nothing much needs to be said about Kylian Mbappe from me, as all of you have probably heard about the 18 year old wonder kid who is slated to be the next Thierry Henry. That whole Monaco side is flushed with young talent that will all be sold to their respective clubs this summer but at least for this season, this magical group of players are looking to achieve glory in the league and in Europe. Lyon will put on quite the match and it’s going to be an attacking thriller, but Monaco will keep the train moving, winning this one 3-2.
FA Cup Semifinals
If it wasn’t for El Clasico, these two match ups would be dominating the world football headlines. 4 of the best in England, will do battle in London’s hollowed ground, Wembley Stadium. Who will come out on top between these four as they close in on a chance for silverware. The first matchup is Chelsea and Tottenham. 3 of the 4 FA Cup sides remaining are based in London and there’s nothing like a London Derby in Wembley. Not to mention that these are the top two clubs in the Premier League. The game will do nothing for their league ambitions but it will mean everything to the winning side, to go onto the FA Cup Finals for a chance to win the glorious competition. Chelsea have easily looked like the best England has to offer, but that title is on the verge of being stripped away with The Blues’ recent struggles. Losses to Crystal Palace and Manchester United in the league have left Chelsea scrambling for answers and looking to regroup in time before they get ousted from the competition. Manager, Antonio Conte, is more then capable of bringing his team back to form but Mauricio Pochettino won’t let his Spurs side lose this opportunity to pounce on a struggling, top side. It’s going to be an instant Wembley Classic that ends with Harry Kane flashing a moment of brilliance that will put Chelsea away. Spurs win 2-1.
As for the other matchup. A different story when it comes to their league success but the two biggest cash cows of the Premier League face off for a chance at redeeming something of value this season. Arsenal and Manchester City face off in the 2nd semifinal on Sunday and both will be looking to regroup before running the final 100 meters of this Premier League season. City have underachieved under their philosophical, celebrity manager, Pep Guardiola and are looking to just secure a spot in the Champions League for next season. Pep’s men will also be looking to build up momentum before their incoming Manchester Derby on Thursday. Arsenal on the other hand are in full on crisis mode and the lack of trophy this season, and could be the final straw for Alexis, who may be looking to force a move away from the Emirates this summer. Arsenal also need to build momentum in order to at least secure a spot in the Europa League as their awful dip in form has dropped them down to 7th in the league. This match is of the upmost importance for both clubs and they’ll both need to walk out of Wembley with a win in their hands. City have been the better side overall this season, but I’m throwing logic out the window for my prediction here and I’m saying Arsenal beats City 3-1 to set up a legendary North London Derby in Wembley for the FA Cup Final. Yes please.
Elsewhere in Europe is a crucial game between two of the biggest clubs in Portugal. Sporting will host Benfica in Lisbon as Benfica look to triumph over their bitter rivals and to put distance over a challenging Porto. Both sides are in absolute terrific form as they are both unbeaten in their last 6 with Sporting notching victories in their last 5. Both teams are in terrific form, Pizzi will own the attacking third for Benfica while Bas Dost will notch a goal or two for his Sporting. No one wins this game, except for Porto who will gain ground on Benfica after both Lisbon sides draw 2-2. Porto will beat Feirense on Sunday and Benfica’s lead will be cut down to 1 point in the league by Monday.
The Eredivisie must be mentioned as well, as the two biggest sides in the history of Dutch Soccer will meet this weekend in Eindhoven. It’s PSV and Ajax, two of the best talent factories that the world has ever seen and this match is no different. Incredible talents on both sides of the pitch, this match always showcases the future of Europe’s Top 5 leagues as if it’s a big time College Football game. Ajax will most likely feature a starting 11 that won’t field a single player over 27, including teenage wonder boy Patrick Kluivert. Both sides come in with terrific form as well as Ajax come in winning 12 of their last 14. PSV also come into the match winning their last 9 home games. Neither are on top of the league and PSV is not even in the title picture. It’s only Feyenoord and Ajax at this point and it’s that added motivation that will get Ajax their 13th win in their last 15. Ajax wins 2-1.
Major League Soccer
The eyes of the nation will set on Frisco Texas as the two best sides in MLS will face off again this season as FC Dallas hosts Sporting KC this weekend. It may be early in the season, but clubs are off to terrific starts with both sides being the final unbeaten teams in MLS. I could sit here and tell you all about Max Urrutti and how wonderful he’s playing. I could also tell you about the Dynamic Dom Dwyer who’s been owning MLS for KC, and has been having discussions of an American National Team call up, despite being English born. Both stars are going to shine and both sides are going to play a terrific match of football. That is what’s guaranteed in this wonderful league. What’s also a guarantee are my predictions and I say they tie 2-2.
This article was going to be published last night in an effort to be able to preview the Tijuana-Toluca match before it takes place but I wasn’t able to (major sad face). They are the top two sides in the Torneo Clausura season and both trying to lock up a regular season table title going into the Clausura playoffs. Miguel Herrera’s Xolos locked up the victory at home in the Estadio Caliente with a 2-0 win. With 2 games to, Tijuana lead the table and are looking to remain at the top and lock up that number 1 seed for the playoffs. Plenty of matches still to watch in Liga MX including El Clasico Regio which features Monterrey and Tigres in their classic and always entertaining Derby. Two of the best this weekend in Mexico and Tigres will win their fierce rivalry match 2-1 thanks to Big Mac Andre Pierre Gignac.