Predicting Man City vs. Chelsea and the Weekend's Best World Football Matches
At this stage of the season across Europe's best leagues, every match matters in the quest for European places, domestic titles and relegation battles.
This weekend across the European continent, the English Premier League takes a break for the fifth round of the FA Cup, which hands us two very enticing matchups, while the other domestic leagues continue their programs with a full slate of matches.
From London and Manchester to Leverkeusen and everywhere in between, there are plenty of matches worth watching this weekend.
Continue reading for predictions of seven of the biggest matches this weekend.
FA Cup Fifth Round: Manchester City vs. Chelsea
Just 12 days after their last encounter at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City and Chelsea will duke it out in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
When the two sides met in league play on February 3, Chelsea won 1-0 to hand City their first defeat at home in the EPL this season.
The Citizens will look to enact revenge from that loss by knocking the Blues out of the competition that they have dominated over the last decade.
The two sides have combined for five FA Cups in the past decade, which means both teams will be taking this match very seriously on Saturday.
Manchester City come into the game with more rest than the Blues because their Wednesday league match with Sunderland was postponed due to poor conditions in the northeast of England.
Chelsea come into the match with a chip on their shoulders after a 1-1 draw on Tuesday at The Hawthorns with West Brom.
Both teams should go all out, but expect City to pull this one out at home by the slimmest of margins.
Prediction: Manchester City 2, Chelsea 1.
FA Cup Fifth Round: Arsenal vs. Liverpool
The fifth round of the FA Cup hands us a second juicy tie as Arsenal hosts Liverpool on Sunday at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners and the Reds also met recently, on February 8, in the hotly-contested EPL.
In their last meeting, Liverpool thrashed the Gunners in a 5-1 blowout at Anfield, a result that Arsene Wenger's men will hope to avoid this time around.
Arsenal have a bit more motivation during Sunday's clash of the titans because they are still searching for their first trophy since the 2005 FA Cup, a fact that everyone will remind you of, especially if the Gunners fall short in this match.
With most of the big guns of English football out of the competition already, whoever wins this match and the Manchester City-Chelsea clash will be in pole position to hoist the FA Cup at Wembley in May.
As for the final score of the match, expect a few goals from both of these explosive teams, but look for Arsenal to rebound from their minor slump in the league to advance to the final eight.
Prediction: Arsenal 3, Liverpool 2.
La Liga: Sevilla vs. Valencia
You may not find a seventh versus eighth showdown in La Liga as an appealing match, but Sunday's game between Sevilla and Valencia does have plenty of meaning.
Both clubs have 31 points from 23 matches this season and the duo sit six points behind Real Sociedad for the final European place out of Spain for next season.
With the UEFA Champions League spots virtually out of reach, a place in the UEFA Europa League would be a nice consolation.
Los Che and Los Rojiblancos will know exactly what they need to do to keep up with Real Sociedad as the match will be the final one of the La Liga weekend program on Sunday night.
The last time the two teams met back in September saw Valencia come out on top as 3-1 victors thanks to two second-half goals by Jonas and Victor Ruiz.
Valencia are the team in better form as they are unbeaten in four matches, while Sevilla have lost their last three matches.
Based on the form table, it looks like Los Che will have this one in the bag.
Prediction: Valencia 2, Sevilla 0.
La Liga: Getafe vs. Real Madrid
Of the teams in the heated three-way La Liga title race, Real Madrid is the only one to go on the road this weekend as they visit Getafe on Sunday.
With Atletico Madrid and Barcelona expected to win at home against two teams stuck in the relegation battle on Saturday, the pressure will be on Los Blancos to be victorious at the Estadio Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
Carlo Ancelotti's men have shown that they are susceptible to slipping up on the road with three draws and one loss on their travels this season.
The form book does not give Getafe a strong chance of pulling off an upset, as they have not won at home in five league games and they are also winless in 2014.
That form is unlikely to change when Los Blancos visit them, but stranger things have happened in world football before.
With that being said, Real Madrid should win, but there will be a ton of pressure on them if Atletico Madrid and Barcelona win as expected earlier in the weekend.
Prediction: Getafe 0, Real Madrid 3.
Serie A: Fiorentina vs. Inter
The lone Saturday match in Serie A is quite the important one as fourth-place Fiorentina hosts fifth-place Inter at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Inter are eight points behind Fiorentina in the league table and a loss to the Viola will leave them fighting with four other clubs for the final European qualification spot.
A victory by the Nerazzurri would heat up the club's hopeful chase for the third and final UEFA Champions League spot, which is currently held by Napoli.
Both clubs are not in the best form at the moment, so this could be anyone's game to win.
Fiorentina may have the edge at home since Inter has failed to win their last five road matches, the last four of those results have been losses.
Prediction: Fiorentina 2, Inter 1.
Bundesliga: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Schalke
A top-four clash on Saturday at Bay Arena will be the marquee match of the weekend in the Bundesliga as Bayer Leverkusen host Schalke.
Through 20 matches of league play, Bayer Leverkusen are the third-best home team with 25 points, a number that is only bested by Bayern Munich and Borussia Monchengladbach.
Schalke, who are in the midst of a three-game winning streak, defeated Leverkusen at home, 2-0, back in August in the first meeting between the two sides this season.
With a victory on the road, Schalke will solidify their credentials for the race for top three in the Bundesliga table, a placing that is significant because the top three earn advancement to the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.
This game is a tossup based on form and it could easily end in a draw that will not benefit Schalke.
Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 2, Schalke 2.
FA Cup Fifth Round: Sheffield United vs. Nottingham Forest
You may not think that this clash of lower-league sides in the FA Cup fifth round means anything, but it presents a chance for the lowest-ranked side left in the competition to reach the final eight.
League One's Sheffield United pulled off scalps of two EPL sides, Aston Villa and Fulham, in the last two rounds and they have been rewarded with a home clash at Bramall Lane with Championship side Nottingham Forest.
Forest is one of the five second-tier clubs left in the competition, one of them is United's biggest rival, Sheffield Wednesday, who host Charlton Athletic on Saturday.
Defeating Forest will not be an easy task for the hosts, who are in the middle of the League One relegation battle, as Billy Davies' men have not lost in all competitions since November 29.
Picking the Cinderella story here is a difficult thing to do with a Forest side that are in the mix for promotion to the English top flight.
Prediction: Sheffield United 1, Nottingham Forest 3.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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