Predicting the Biggest EPL, Liga, Serie A Matches: Title Races Near Conclusions

Dan ColasimoneContributor IApril 17, 2014

Predicting the Biggest EPL, Liga, Serie A Matches: Title Races Near Conclusions

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    Daniel Tejedor

    Europe's biggest leagues are racing towards their respective conclusions, with much still to be decided.

    In Italy, Juventus are close to clinching the title. They hold an eight-point lead at the top of the table over second-placed Roma, with six rounds remaining.

    Liverpool hold the high ground in the English Premier League title battle, sitting on top of the table with five games to go. Chelsea are in second, two points behind, while Manchester City are six points back with a game in hand.

    In Spain, there are six matches remaining, and it's a three-way shootout between Atletico Madrid (82 points), Real Madrid (79) and Barcelona (78).

    Here are four key matches this weekend that could go a long way to deciding the champions of each national league.

Fiorentina vs. Roma

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    Riccardo De Luca

    Stadio Artemio Franchi

    Kick-off: Saturday, 8 p.m. BST

    It's second versus fourth in the biggest Serie A clash of the weekend when Fiorentina take on Roma in Florence on Sunday.

    League leaders Juventus are barely visible on the horizon, and any slip-ups from Roma will mean they'll disappear once and for all over the horizon.

    To be fair to the Giallorossi, they haven't even looked like slipping up in recent weeks. They have now won their last seven games in a row, having scored at least twice in every one of those matches.

    Manager Rudi Garcia welcomes back Miralem Pjanic and Alessandro Florenzi from suspension, and both will likely slot straight into the starting lineup.

    Fiorentina are not doing too badly themselves lately, with three wins, a draw and one loss in their last five games.

    They are losing pace with third-placed Napoli and can certainly forget about catching them if they fail to take three points here.

    Two of the most astute tactical minds in the league face off against each other in this encounter, and it will be fascinating to see what strategies Garcia and Vincenzo Montella come up with.

     

    Prediction

    The last four times these sides have met, it is the Romans who have come out on top, and it should be no different on this occasion. Francesco Totti and friends have just that little bit more to play for, and they are in simply sensational form at present.

    Fiorentina 1 - 2 Roma

     

Norwich City vs. Liverpool

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    Clint Hughes

    Carrow Road

    Kick-off: Sunday, noon BST

    Liverpool's title push received a massive boost midweek when Manchester City failed to secure three points against lowly Sunderland.

    The Reds will be hoping to avoid a similar slip-up against relegation-threatened Norwich City.

    On paper, this should be clear-cut. Liverpool have won their last 10 Premier League matches and are now within touching distance of the prize.

    The Canaries, on the other hand, have lost three straight and sit just two points above Fulham and the relegation zone.

    Brendan Rogers won't be able to call on Jordan Henderson after the midfielder was sent off late on against Manchester City, and Daniel Sturridge is also likely to be absent with a hamstring complaint.

    Nevertheless, the ladder leaders should have more than enough firepower to overwhelm Norwich, who welcome back Sebastian Bassong from injury.

     

    Prediction

    After the dramatic win over City last week, Steven Gerrard immediately called on his teammates to focus on this game. Liverpool have not looked like succumbing to the pressure of leading the league, and they should be far too strong for the Canaries.

    Norwich City 0 - 3 Liverpool

Atletico Madrid vs. Elche

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    Andres Kudacki

    Estadio Vicente Calderon

    Kick-off: Friday, 7:30 p.m. BST

    If Atletico Madrid can win all of their remaining five games, they will be champions of Spain for the first time since 1996.

    It's a simple equation, but by no means a simple task. The first step to achieving it will come on Friday night when Diego Simeone's battlers take on Elche at the Vicente Calderon.

    Barcelona may be stumbling, but city rival Real Madrid are showing few signs of slowing down, so every game is crucial for Atletico from here on in.

    Star striker Diego Costa suffered a gruesome cut on his leg against Getafe, but is expected to be well enough to take the field.

    Meanwhile Ruben Perez, who is owned by Atletico, won't be allowed to play for Elche as they are unwilling to pay the €300,000 penalty if he does take the field.

    Simeone has instilled an incredible determination in his side, and they have now gone 11 matches without defeat, a run that includes nine wins.

    Elche have only won one of their last seven games and are uncomfortably close to the relegation zone.

     

    Prediction

    If they can avoid the distraction of a looming Champions League semi-final clash with Chelsea during the week, Atletico Madrid should not have too much trouble in steamrolling a struggling Elche.

    Atletico Madrid 2 - 0 Elche

     

Barcelona vs. Athletic Bilbao

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    Clint Hughes

    Camp Nou

    Kick-off: Sunday, 8 p.m. BST

    With the look of a boxer teetering against the ropes, it could take just one more blow for Barcelona to topple out of title contention.

    The Catalans have lost three games in a row, including devastating defeats to Atletico Madrid in the league and Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.

    It is hard to see then turning it around and pushing for first spot again, such has been the listless nature of their displays in recent weeks.

    On Sunday, Athletic Bilbao will attempt to deal another hit to Barcelona when the sides face off at the Camp Nou.

    Athletic Club are doing exceptionally well in the league and look good for fourth spot, barring any late-season capitulation.

    The Blaugrana will be missing Sergio Busquets for this clash, but some fans of the club might argue that many of the players have been missing for the past few games, even if they did take the field.

     

    Prediction

    Whatever the malaise is at Barcelona, it looks like there will be no quick fix. This season might be something of a write-off.

    Barcelona 1 - 2 Athletic Bilbao