Predicting Every Major EPL, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 Match
After a huge week of Champions League and Europa League football, it's time to focus back on the myriad of brilliant domestic competitions around the league.
Some title races might be over, but that doesn't mean for a minute that the games set to take place aren't any less spectacular and any less worth watching.
Which teams are going to emerge as winners (and losers) from this weekend?
Read on and find out.
Saint-Etienne vs. Bordeaux
Ligue 1—Friday, May 3, 2013, at 2:30 p.m. ET
We kick off our week here with an interesting Ligue 1 fixture here with Saint-Etienne taking on Bordeaux at home, which could have profound impact on the European chances of Saint-Etienne next season.
They've been particularly strong of late (undefeated in their last eight) and have the potential to jump Lyon into third spot here. If they can keep their defense strong (second best in the league), they'll have no troubles here breezing past Bordeaux, who have scored just 35 goals in 34 games this year.
Saint-Etienne are too strong at both ends of the pitch and have too much to play for to let the three points available escape from this weekend.
Prediction: Saint-Etienne 2, Bordeaux 0
Barcelona vs. Real Betis
La Liga—Sunday, May 5, 2013, at 6 a.m. ET
It wasn't a good week for Barcelona, who were promptly dispatched from the Champions League by Bayern Munich. And it wasn't like they were just beaten; they were completely and utterly destroyed and showed to have very little to offer against the brilliance of the Bavarians.
How that will affect them this weekend will be very fascinating indeed.
They've already won the league and have shown to be nowhere near as strong without Lionel Messi working his magic. Barca have little to play for at the moment and will just be desperate not to pick up long-term injuries—which could bode well for Real Betis in this one.
Betis have struggled in their form of late and must win here if they're to be in any European competition next season. They'll come out all guns blazing in this one, and whilst I think they'll take the lead here at the Nou Camp, I'm not 100 percent sure they can hang on for the full three points.
Prediction: Barcelona 2, Real Betis 2
Liverpool vs. Everton
EPL—Sunday, May 5, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. ET
Not much beats a Merseyside derby when it comes to the English Premier League, and this week's bout certainly isn't without its fair share of interesting storylines and questions.
Everton technically still have a chance at the top four (or even for the Europa League next season) but they'll need to take all three points here. And given that even though Liverpool will be without Luis Suarez, they showed last week that they're still more than capable of scoring goals without him.
The Reds are undefeated in their last five, but form is secondary when it comes to rivalry games. This will just come down to which team wins more of those 50-50 balls, and how the luck falls on the day. And whilst it might not be the popular pick, I think that the Toffees—who have far more to play for in this one than Liverpool—will end up stealing the win with a late goal in this one.
Prediction: Liverpool 1, Everton 2
Manchester United vs. Chelsea
EPL—Sunday, May 5, 2013, at 11 a.m. ET
It might not have the same focus as a Merseyside derby, but the Manchester United-Chelsea rivalry is still pretty strong when it comes to English football—especially after the Blues recently knocked out the Red Devils in their recent FA Cup quarterfinal in a thrilling 1-0 win.
United will be chasing Chelsea's league records such as most points, goals and wins, so they'll be desperate to make sure that they don't slip up in this one. They might not have the same focus or hunger that they did when chasing the title, but United are still a very strong team who are capable of victory.
The Blues are through to the Europa League final after a strong but unconvincing win over FC Basel during the week. They've played a mountain of fixtures lately, and whilst they have coped relatively well, there's no doubt that at some point their demanding schedule will catch up with them.
And against the strongest team in that run, their rough schedule will catch up with them—with another close and thrilling Premier League game falling for United.
Prediction: Manchester United 3, Chelsea 2
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Southampton
EPL—Saturday, May 4, 2013, at 10 a.m. ET
Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton might not have the allure of being one of the "biggest" games in world football this week, but this is a very intriguing fixture to watch for.
Spurs desperately need to win this week after dropping points to Wigan Athletic last week if they want to keep their top-four hopes alive this week. Yet don't rule out the Saints from pulling off a similar achievement to what Wigan did last week given their recent form and strength throughout midfield.
Mauricio Pochettino's side suffered a shock home defeat to West Brom last week, but have been very strong since his arrival to the club. They will be a huge test for the North Londoners here and, even though they have European ambitions at stake, won't have it all their way against Southampton.
Gareth to Bale them out at the end? Perhaps.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2, Southampton 1
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo
MLS—Sunday, May 5, 2013, at 11 a.m. ET
The Houston Dynamo will be desperate to get a win over the Los Angeles Galaxy after losing the 2011 and 2012 MLS Cups. They've started the season in impressive form this season and have a great chance of beating the Galaxy, but you simply don't know what's going to happen between these two teams.
Houston have scored more goals than any other team in the East this year; Galaxy have conceded the fewest goals out of any team in the West this season.
Recent form would seem to suggest that the Galaxy are primed to win this one—especially after watching Houston struggle against the Colorado Rapids—but you simply never know what's going to happen here. There'll be drama and plenty of spectacular viewing like usual, but who will it be that emerges triumphant after 90 minutes of MLS action?
I'd say the home side in a thriller again.
Prediction: Los Angeles Galaxy 1, Houston Dynamo 0
Fiorentina vs. Roma
Serie A—Saturday, May 4, 2013, at 2:45 p.m. ET
Both Fiorentina and Roma will be looking to play in European football next season, and they will know that their chances at doing just that will depend on their success in this one.
Neither team has lost in their last five fixtures and currently sit just six points apart on the table at the moment. A win for the home side would extend that lead to nine and seemingly lock up fourth spot for them whilst an away win would close that gap into three points for the final few weeks of the season.
Mixed form would suggest that Roma will struggle away from home here—especially against a very dominant attack like Fiorentina—but don't be surprised to see them put up a great fight here. Their defense matches up well against the likes of Stevan Jovetic, so look for them to put up a great fight here and emerge with at least a point from their travels.
Prediction: Fiorentina 2, Roma 4
Juventus vs. Palermo
Serie A—Saturday, May 4, 2013, at 9 a.m. ET
Juventus can win the Serie A title this weekend against Palermo, which therefore makes this a must-watch game by default. But given the recent form of the away side, don't rule them out from making a serious challenge against the Old Lady and putting their title on hold for another week.
Juve have been the best Italian team by a mile this season and have been particularly strong at home. They've controlled the midfield beautifully and have shown to be a very tough side to break down at the back—something that would seem to suggest they'd be fine against 17th-ranked Palermo.
However, Palermo have won three of their last five—drawing the other two—and have beaten some very strong teams in that time. They beat Inter Milan at the San Siro, and whilst Juve are still a step up on that, they'll definitely back themselves to get the job done in Turin this weekend.
The Old Lady will want the title, and I think they'll still get it this weekend. But it won't come until they've suffered an almighty scare against Palermo and have launched an incredible comeback on the night.
Prediction: Juventus 2, Palermo 1
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Schalke 04
Bundesliga—Friday, May 3, 2013, at 2:30 p.m. ET
Schalke showed in the Champions League this season that they are a team worthy of playing European football. However, they will know that they need to win this weekend in the domestic competition if they're going to be back in the European competition next season—something they'll desperately want.
They'll face a difficult fixture this weekend in Borussia Monchengladbach, who have been very strong at home this season. Monchengladbach might have suffered a harsh loss to Wolfsburg last weekend, but they were on the road against a very in-form team, so don't look too much into that fixture.
Monchengladbach have more than enough talent to hurt Schalke, and whilst I can't completely see them getting he job done here, I can see them chalking up a goal or two against the visitors.
Look for them to split the points in this one.
Prediction: Borussia Monchengladbach 1, Schalke 1
Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich
Bundesliga—Saturday, May 4, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. ET
We finish our predictions this weekend with the most fascinating fixture of them all—a preview of the UEFA Champions League final that is set to take place on May 25.
Dortmund and Bayern have both been exceptional this season, and with neither able to change their positioning in the Bundesliga here, it will be interesting to see how the respective managers approach this one. Will they play anybody from their starting side, trying to gain an insight into their opponents?
You'd have to think probably not. Both sides know each other very well and will likely play a number of their younger guys—leaving it difficult to predict this weekend.
I think the home side will get the job done here, ending Bayern's incredible away run this season. Dortmund have an imposing home ground and fans, and they have a number of great young players in their under-19 team who are capable of getting the job done here if Jurgen Klopp goes that way.
If players are rested, I think Dortmund win this one. If not, I think the points will be shared, and we'll be left wanting more from both teams. And fortunately for us, we'll get that in just a few weeks' time.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 3, Bayern Munich 1
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