What a week we have this weekend in world football!
As if the Champions League and Europa League action wasn't enough to satisfy our football cravings, there's a plethora of great games to watch out for this weekend right across the world. England, Spain, Germany, the United States—you name it, there's a big game to watch for and a fascinating matchup to be found.
Which teams will emerge as winners and losers from the weekend?
Read on for a full preview and predictions for all the top domestic action.
EPL—Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 9:05 a.m. ET
Tottenham and Everton are currently duking it out for a spot in the top four this year, and the outcome of this game will be a seriously defining moment in that battle.
Spurs are currently third on 57 points, but Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton are all within two wins of that mark. Dropped points here would be a huge dint in Andre Villas-Boas' dreams of the Champions League, whilst a win would make them very tough to gun down over the final few weeks.
Everton have won three in a row, but have only four road wins to speak of this year. Moreover, in their 14 away games, they Toffees have netted just 19 goals. Contrast that to the Spurs, who have been sublime at home all year and have been an attacking force to be reckoned with—although there are two key questions here for the home side.
The first is how they'll fare should Gareth Bale be ruled out. The winger was stretchered off in the final minutes against Basel, and could be out for the weekend. If that's the case, Tottenham will be without one of their key players and it will no doubt impact them greatly.
The other question is as to what side they'll line up, with a return leg in Basel next weekend in the Europa League. Tottenham would love to win that competition, but you get the feeling that a top-four spot and chance to play in the Champions League this year is more important.
Expect Spurs to lineup their possible strongest squad here (albeit without Bale, perhaps) and for that squad to more than handle it's own against Everton.
The Toffees will press, and will likely be rewarded for their efforts, but nothing more than a consolidation goal which leaves this one all tied up.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 1, Everton 1
EPL—Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 11:10 a.m. ET
Perhaps the biggest relegation-based game in the past few weeks takes place here as Queens Park Rangers try to save their season against Wigan Athletic.
QPR are seven points behind Wigan and Aston Villa, and will need to catch one of those teams if they are to avoid the drop this year. After squandering a chance to get some points on the road last week against Fulham, they'll be desperate to make sure they leave London with a win this week.
Wigan are always a hard team to predict, and are seemingly in a good run of form at the moment—having won three of their last five games. Moreover, they've only lost one of their last five matches playing away from the DW Stadium in Wigan.
Rangers will likely attack here, and they should see plenty of opportunities as a result. However, the Latics are just as strong on the counterattack and, if they can find some room outside, will be a persistent threat for QPR all night that eventually steals a point here.
Prediction: QPR 1, Wigan Athletic 1
EPL—Monday, April 8, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. ET
The biggest game in England this week sees Manchester United take on Manchester City in their rivalry game, but with the title race seemingly all finished between the two teams.
United are 15 points clear and on the back of seven straight wins; City have won just two of their past seven and have all but guaranteed the trophy heads back to Old Trafford this year.
The biggest key to look at here is what the respective teams have to play for. Neither's league position is going to be affected a great deal by either result (City will surely still make the top four) so the question is as to who has more to play for this season.
And the answer to that is surely United.
Other than playing Arsenal, this game is the only game they have left this year. They're out of the Champions League and out of the FA Cup—meaning that winning this rivalry game stands as their last test all season. That's unlike City, who will be focusing their full attention on getting past European champions Chelsea when they clash in the semifinals of the Cup.
The Red Devils will know losing this fixture last year cost them their chance at the title, and will be desperate to make up for that again here. And after scraping through 3-2 when they first played during the year, expect United to repeat the double over their rivals here with a key win.
Prediction: Manchester United 2, Manchester City 0
Serie A—Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 6:30 a.m. ET
AC Milan come into this game with a very strong run of domestic form—undefeated in their past eight—and seemingly destined to play Champions League football again next season.
However, Fiorentina are closing in rapidly and, having won five of their past eight, will be a very difficult place for the Rossoneri to travel to this week.
Milan's away form has not been tremendous all season, but they'll know just how big of a game this is. With Fiorentina just six points behind them, this is in every essence a six-point game, and a loss here would severely hinder their chances of clinching a European berth as they want.
Expect Fiorentina to keep it tight at the back early, and create a number of attacking chances in the second half. But there's just something to like about Milan at the moment, and with a very strong second half, I think they might just storm back and post a huge win away from home.
Prediction: Fiorentina 1, AC Milan 2
Serie A—Monday, April 8, 2013 at 2:45 p.m. ET
Not much beats the Roma vs. Lazio rivalry—especially after all that transpired when they met back in November—and the atmosphere will no doubt be electric once more for this fixture.
Especially given that the two teams are trying to push into the top four, with both within four points of the fourth-placed Fiorentina, who play a difficult game against Milan this week.
At home, Roma have been very strong this year, and should be tough to beat. They've been brilliant in attack, and whilst they have been found wanting at the back sometimes, they've shown enough attacking strength to get over the line and dominate their opponents.
They'll be looking to do that to their Rome rivals here, and so they should. Lazio must overcome a two-goal deficit in the Europa League in the coming days when they take on Fenerbahce at home, so expect Lazio to perhaps rest a player or too in light of that match. Even if this is a local derby—winning European silverware still takes priority for the away side in this one.
Look for Roma to get in front early, and for that lead to hold throughout—perhaps adding a late goal here just to rub it in the face of their opponents and their fans.
Prediction: Roma 2, Lazio 0
La Liga—Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET
Real Sociedad have been a huge surprise in La Liga this year—currently sitting in fourth place and in line for a potential European berth at the end of next season. However, if they're going to get there, they'll have to get through Malaga this week, who sit just one point behind them on the league table.
Malaga lost at home to Deportivo last week after resting a number of players for their Champions League clash, and could do the same again this week given their fixture against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.
Sociedad are undefeated in their past eight games and have only lost once since November—going down 4-3 away to champions Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
That form line will be hard to break down for even the best of teams, and whilst Malaga do have the skill required to compete with that (as shown against Dortmund), they'll know that their priority should be winning during the week rather than triumphing over Sociedad.
The home side, no doubt, will gladly take that in this one, and should post up a comfortable home win as a result of their opponents' squad changes.
Prediction: Real Sociedad 3, Malaga 1
Bundesliga—Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 9:30 a.m. ET
Heading into last week, you might have wondered whether Bayern Munich (without some of their key players) would be as decisive and ruthless as they had been all season.
After a 9-2 drubbing of Hamburg, those doubts were quickly replaced, and their 2-0 win over Juventus also showed just how good this team can be at their very best.
The probable German champions will go on the road this week (where they haven't been beaten all year and have conceded just two goals) as they take on Eintracht Frankfurt, who are currently in fifth position and desperate to try and catch the fourth-placed Schalke.
Frankfurt have been strong this year, but with just one win in their last seven games, they know how important this game is to their chances at success next season. And even against the might of Bayern—who will surely rest a number of players—they'll see plenty of good attacking chances.
The question is whether the away side—even with their second-string side—can be beat. We saw last week how strong they can be in attack, and even away from home, they should surely produce another brilliant performance here that sees them keep their incredible winning streak alive.
Even if they do concede just their third away goal for the year.
Prediction: Eintracht Frankfurt 1, Bayern Munich 2
Ligue 1—Friday, April 5, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. ET
On paper, the prospect of Marseille playing Bordeaux might not seem like a big deal, but given the European football that's at stake for the home team, this one is a very big game to watch.
Marseille scored a huge win away from home over Nice last weekend, with that win just their third victory in their past 11 games. And now, back at home—where they've lost just three games all year—they'll surely churn out a dominant performance here against Bordeaux.
Marseille's lack of scoring means that this one should stay relatively close, however, and Bordeaux are certainly in with a big chance here. They've already held both PSG (0-0 draw) and Lyon scoreless (2-0 win) when playing from home this year, and could well do the same here against Marseille.
Look for a big defensive battle here as Marseille try to extend their lead in second-place over the rest of the field. And whilst it might not come for a while, expect the home side to eventually break through the Bordeaux defense here and grab the goal that gives them all three points here.
Prediction: Marseille 1, Bordeaux 0
Ligue 1—Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. ET
Feel like an upset prediction this weekend? We've got you covered, and it's coming from French football.
Lyon are not in a great place domestically, having gone winless through their last four games, and seeing themselves slip further down the Ligue 1 table in the process. They lost 4-1 away from home to Bastia (currently 13th) and were then beaten 2-1 at home by Sochaux (currently 17th) in their last two league games—which isn't exactly the form line they'd be wanting to carry into this one.
Reims, currently in 16th, will be looking to continue that frustration here.
They've only been defeated three times at home all season and have lost just one of their past eight matches at home. Moreover, Reims have shown they can mix it with the best teams in Ligue 1 this year by taking points off all but two of the top 10 sides—even off PSG.
Look for the home side to come out strong here and put up a very strong front defensively, having allowed just 11 goals at home all year. Lyon too will be tough, as they seek to rebound from their tough losses, but they will be unable to stop the skid again this week.
Reims have the talent to score, and should do so here.
Prediction: Reims 1, Lyon 0
MLS—Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. ET
A fascinating fixture in the MLS this week sees Columbus Crew take on the Philadelphia Union, with already potential playoff ramifications for both teams.
Neither have showcased a great amount of consistency through the year so far, but both have shown glimpses of their potential and should play out a very tight game here.
The Union were solid in defeat against the New York Red Bulls last week, and will be desperate to improve on that when they play away from home again in this one. However, their opponents will be very tough to beat at home, and should have too much for the away side.
With a red-hot Federico Higuain in their midst, the Crew will be looking to make it three wins in a row, and should be too good for their opponents in this one.
Prediction: Columbus Crew 2, Philadelphia Union 1
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