The domestic season is coming to a close right around the world, but that certainly doesn't mean that pressure and anticipation are dying across the major leagues.
No, the exact opposite is happening, with league titles, Champions League berths and relegation fights existing. And this week—like every other week before—is no different, with a plethora of scintillating matches scheduled to take place.
Who's going to be left cheering at the end of this weekend's action?
Read on to see predictions for every major league around the world this week.
EPL—Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET
Given that Chelsea vs. Tottenham has been postponed due to FA Cup commitments, the biggest English Premier League match we need to watch out for this week is that of the Gunners.
Sure, there's a Tyne-Wear derby in there this weekend, but this game has serious ramifications for the Premier League's top four, with Arsenal possessing the chance to move into the top four this week.
The Gunners—at home—appear too strong for the Canaries here, who have won just once since Christmas and just once away from home all season. Moreover, Chris Hughton's men have netted just 12 away goals all season, compared to the 39 home goals that Arsenal have scored.
Yes, Norwich did cause Arsenal some problems when they met earlier in the year, but there's far more at stake in this one for the Gunners to slip up again.
Look for a comfortable win from Arsenal as they charge into the top four.
Prediction: Arsenal 3, Norwich City 0
Serie A—Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 2:45 p.m. ET
We head to Italy now where a number of key games are set to take place—the biggest of which being the second vs. third showdown between league giants AC Milan and Napoli.
Both sides have been in scintillating form of late (each losing just once in their last 14 games), and appear likely to play out a thrilling match this week. And as has become so common this year, the Rossoneri appear destined to continue their winning ways at the San Siro.
Milan have won their last eight games at home, allowed just 12 goals against all season and kept a clean sheet in a third of their entire home fixtures.
By comparison, Napoli have failed to score in a third of their away games, have scored just 21 goals all year and have won just three of their past eight road games.
Milan might be without star striker Mario Balotelli, but they are still more than capable of chalking up another solid performance defensively here. And with the attacking talent they do have on hand, they should be able to walk away with the three points from this fixture.
Prediction: AC Milan 2, Napoli 1
Serie A—Monday, April 15, 2013 at 2:45 p.m. ET
Having been bundled out of the Champions League during the week, Juventus will look to make sure of one trophy this year when they take on Lazio in their Serie A game this week.
The Old Lady were simply outclassed by Bayern across both legs, and must regroup and find their intensity for this fixture here, otherwise they might suffer a similar fate. After all, Lazio are pushing for a top-four finish, and have already shown they can mix it with the best in the league this year.
Lazio held Juve to a 0-0 draw when they met previously and have taken points off both Napoli and AC Milan on their home ground this season.
Juve—desperate to avenge their European heartbreak—will be another step up from that, but given what they've shown this year, Lazio could well pull out another big performance here. And as a result, they may just hold out the Old Lady long enough to steal a valuable point from this one.
Prediction: Lazio 0, Juventus 0
La Liga—Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 6:00 a.m. ET
Real Sociedad have surprised many with their strong play this season and are on the precipice of a top-four berth—something that seemed simply unthinkable at the start of the season.
And with Valencia playing a very tough fixture this week (which we'll get to shortly), it will be crucial for Sociedad that they capitalize on their good form in 2013 with a big win here.
However, against Rayo Vallecano, that won't come completely easy, with the home side already taking points off Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Malaga this year.
The biggest question will be whether Vallecano have the same need to win here as Sociedad, who know that their chances of a top-four berth potentially hinge on this result. The away side have lost just once the beginning of November—so they've proven themselves to be consistent—and will likely bring that same focus here as they play a difficult away fixture.
And whilst it won't be much, that focus and determination might just be enough to see them pick up a very important three points from this one.
Prediction: Rayo Vallecano 2, Real Sociedad 3
La Liga—Saturday, April 14, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. ET
If Valencia are going to close the gap to Real Sociedad in fifth position, then they're going to have to start winning games against weaker opponents. Regardless of whether they're at home or on the road, they cannot afford to keep dropping points like they have done if they want to close the gap.
Valencia come into this one with just four wins away from home all season, and none of those against an opponent inside the top 15 in the league. Granted they did hold both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid to draws, but they could not finish the job in either of those games and will be desperate to make sure that they do not suffer a similar fate against Espanyol in this one.
The home side are in a surprisingly good run of form, with just three losses since November, and have taken points off the likes of Real Madrid, Malaga and Real Sociedad this season—making them a very tough opponent for a struggling away side like Valencia to take on this weekend.
Look for a very even match to finish with shared points on the night, as Valencia's frustratingly inconsistent run of form continues for another week.
Prediction: Espanyol 1, Valencia 1
Bundesliga—Friday, April 12, 2013 at 9:30 a.m. ET
We move across Europe to Germany now where arguably the biggest fixture in world football this weekend is scheduled to take place as Schalke take on Bayer Leverkusen.
Both sides have been very impressive this year and are in the running for European football at the end of the season, but they have shown weaknesses over the past few weeks that will give their opponent hope—especially with the prospect of Champions League football on the line.
Schalke have won their last three home games (and over some very strong opposition), and have lost just three times in front of their home fans all season. However, Leverkusen do have a very impressive victory over Bayern Munich at home this year (their only defeat at home), and if they carry that away form into this fixture, could well end up challenging the home side on the night.
The biggest key it seems will be the defense of the home side, which has posted back-to-back clean sheets and will be looking for a third. In fact, only one of their past six games has seen them concede more than one goal, which should them in good stead this weekend.
And despite the quality of their opponents, I think it might just be enough to see them scrape through with a win here and keep their European dream alive.
Prediction: Schalke 1, Bayer Leverkusen 0
Ligue 1—Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Other than Paris Saint Germain in first place (64 points), the rest of the Ligue 1 table is incredibly close this season, with the teams scheduled to play European football seemingly changing every week.
Five teams sit within six points of each other heading into the final rounds of the competition, and when two of those teams play each other, it makes for a very fascinating fixture indeed—such as Lille taking on Marseille this weekend as they seek to extend their recent form.
Lille have been very impressive of late—winning seven of their past eight games and only losing three home fixtures all season. However, their opponents have one of the best away records in the league with just five defeats all season, and will certainly be capable of winning this one.
Perhaps the home team just has a little bit more to offer in attack this season, scoring 48 goals for the year compared to just 36 from their opponents. Which, given that Marseille have netted just 12 times on the road all season, could turn out to be a key factor here.
Marseille's last eight games have seen them score six goals; Lille's last eight have seen them score 21, and that should be the difference in this one.
Prediction: Lille 2, Marseille 0
MLS—Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. ET
We close out our predictions this week with the best that the MLS has to offer, and it's shaping as a pretty special fixture this weekend between FC Dallas and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Dallas currently sit on top of the Western Conference with 13 points whilst the Galaxy are close behind that in third place. A win here would be a huge for the away side in closing that gap, but Dallas will know that if they can gain all three points here, they'll have a big lead on top of the conference for now.
The home side showed against Toronto FC that they are more than capable of establishing a strong lead, but they also showed that under pressure, they can crumble.
Six minutes of chaos last week will have given Galaxy hope this week that they can challenge Dallas at home, and they should be able to pick up goals against the home side in this one. Whether that will be enough for the win still remains to be seen.
Dallas shouldn't give up all three points at home—they're just too strong for that—but they could see further points slip from their grasp with another late goal here.
Prediction: FC Dallas 1, Los Angeles Galaxy 1
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