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Predicting the Biggest EPL, Liga, Serie A Matches: All Eyes on the Emirates

Richard MorganContributor IMarch 27, 2014

Predicting the Biggest EPL, Liga, Serie A Matches: All Eyes on the Emirates

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    With now less than two months of the league seasons left to play across Europe, each round of matches carries with it more and more significance, and none more so than this weekend in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A.

    And so here we preview some of the biggest fixtures that are taking place throughout the continent, including Saturday night’s standout game at the Emirates...

La Liga: Espanyol v FC Barcelona

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    Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Where: Estadi Cornella-El Prat

    When: Saturday, March 29, 3 p.m. GMT

    Prediction: 0-1

    What a turnaround in fortunes for the Liga champions since suffering their self-confessed lowest moment of the season earlier this month when they surprisingly lost away to struggling Real Valladolid.

    Since that loss, the Catalan giants’ second consecutive away defeat in the league, Tata Martino’s men have won three straight Liga contests, including last Sunday night’s stunning 4-3 win against arch-rivals Real Madrid to move to within just a point of Atletico Madrid at the top of the table going into the final eight games of the campaign.

    However, standing in Barca’s way of another three points this Saturday afternoon are none other than eighth-placed Espanyol, who would love nothing better than to derail their city rivals’ chances of retaining their title by getting one over on them at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat.

    Equally, though, with Barcelona first to play among the leading trio in La Liga this weekend, they have a great chance to temporarily move top of the table with a win and place huge pressure on Atleti and Los Blancos ahead of their own matches later that day.

     

La Liga: Athletic Bilbao v Atletico Madrid

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    Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

    Where: San Mames Stadium

    When: Saturday, March 29, 7 p.m. GMT

    Prediction: 2-2

    Diego Simeone’s side have been in imperious form since suffering a shock 3-0 loss on their travels at the hands of relegation-threatened Osasuna back on Feb. 23. They drew with city rivals Real Madrid before then winning their next four Liga encounters in a row without conceding a single goal.

    And as a result of that fine recent run of results, Atleti now travel to the Basque country on Saturday night as outright leaders in the top flight, with only eight games of the campaign left to play and their destiny very much in their own hands.

    However, their opponents this weekend are also currently playing well, having not lost in the league in their previous six outings and also notoriously hard to get the better of at home, especially this season, where Athletic have already beaten champions FC Barcelona and drawn with Real Madrid.

    Their visitors, though, do know what it is like to leave the Basque country with a win, after overcoming Athletic 2-1 in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final clash in January.

     

     

     

Serie A: Sassuolo v Roma

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    Riccardo De Luca/Associated Press

    Where: Mapei Stadium - Citta del Tricolore

    When: Sunday, March 30, 11:30 a.m. GMT

    Prediction: 0-3

    You do feel that if AS Roma are to stand any chance whatsoever of pulling off a remarkable first Serie A title triumph since Fabio Capello was in charge back in 2000/01, then this has to be the weekend when they start to close the gap on leaders and champions Juventus.

    But for that to happen, the second-placed Romans must first take care of business on the road against struggling Sassuolo on Sunday morning, before the Old Lady of Italian football then travel to third-in-the-table Napoli later that evening.

    And if Rudi Garcia and co. can win at the Citta del Tricolore, coupled with a Napoli victory over Juve in Naples later that evening, then Roma would be within only eight points of the Bianconeri, with a game in hand, as they enter the final seven league games of the campaign, which include a visit by the champions to the capital in the penultimate game of the season.

    And facing a side that have lost five of their previous six fixtures at home following their stunning 4-3 win over AC Milan back in January, the Giallorossa will expect nothing but three points this weekend.

     

Serie A: Napoli v Juventus

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    Massimo Pinca/Associated Press

    Where: Stadio San Paolo

    When: Sunday, March 30, 7:45 p.m. GMT

    Prediction: 1-2

    Antonio Conte’s men are now virtually within touching distance of a third consecutive Serie A title following Tuesday night’s hard-fought 2-1 home win over sixth-placed Parma, secured courtesy of Carlos Tevez’s first-half brace.

    In fact, the champions really only have two more tricky-looking league fixtures left on the horizon, at second-in-the-table AS Roma in their penultimate match, as well as this weekend’s tough encounter against third-placed Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo.

    However, with Juve now unbeaten in the Italian top flight since suffering their one and only loss this season at the hands of arch-rivals Fiorentina in Florence back on Oct. 20, it would still represent something of a surprise were the visitors not to leave Naples on Sunday evening with at least a share of the spoils.

    Their hosts, meanwhile, are still on course to finish the campaign in third place and qualify for the UEFA Champions League, as they lead fourth-in-the-table Fiorentina by 10 points with now only eight games left to play this season, despite losing at home to La Viola last weekend.

    And with Rafa Benitez’s side a tough nut to crack at the San Paolo—only Fiorentina and Parma have won in Naples in Serie A so far in this campaign—confidence will be high that they can repeat their impressive 1-0 win against title-chasing Roma from earlier this month when Juve visit southern Italy on Sunday.

     

     

     

Premier League: Arsenal v Manchester City

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Where: Emirates Stadium

    When: Saturday, March 29, 5:30 p.m.

    Prediction: 1-2

    This surely represents the Gunners’ last chance to get themselves back in the race for the Premier League title by overcoming one of the sides currently above them in the table, although based purely on recent form Arsene Wenger’s men could be in for another demoralising encounter in the capital.

    The north Londoners have dropped crucial points in their past two league fixtures to fall six points behind arch-rivals Chelsea at the top of the table, and now following Tuesday’s night’s shock 2-2 draw with struggling Swansea City at the Emirates, Arsenal are in danger of being caught by Everton in the race to finish fourth.

    City, in stark contrast, are purring at the moment after winning their last four top-flight games in a row, including Tuesday night’s commanding 3-0 win at champions and city rivals Manchester United, to close the gap on the Blues to three points, albeit with still two games in hand.

    And securing a league double over Arsenal after their stunning 6-3 win in the corresponding fixture at Eastlands back in December would keep the destiny of the title still within City's own hands, going into their final eight matches of the campaign.

     

Premier League: Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    Where: Anfield

    When: Sunday, March 30, 4 p.m.

    Prediction: 2-1

    It’s title-chasing Liverpool against UEFA Champions League-chasing Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday afternoon as things start to get really interesting at the top of the table.

    The home side are currently the most in-form team in the top flight, having won their last seven league games in a row, while they are also undefeated in the Premier League in 2014.

    Meanwhile, the north Londoners arrive on Merseyside on the back of a morale-boosting come-from-behind win against Southampton at White Hart Lane last Sunday that keeps alive their slim hopes of finishing this campaign in the top four and entry into Europe’s premier club competition.

    And with this particular fixture almost always producing goals, and invariably plenty of them too—it finished 3-2 to the Reds last season—this could be one of the most entertaining matches of the entire weekend on the continent.

     

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