Predicting the Biggest EPL, La Liga, Serie A Matches: Milan Derby the Highlight

Shane Murray@shanemurray76Featured ColumnistMay 1, 2014

Predicting the Biggest EPL, La Liga, Serie A Matches: Milan Derby the Highlight

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    Another pivotal weekend of fixtures throughout Europe’s top leagues serves up more intriguing clashes with only three rounds to go for most teams.

    With a glut of top-of-the-table clashes in recent weeks, there are few standout fixtures in England, Italy and Spain, although the Milan derby does take on more significance given the relatively disappointing seasons the two Italian giants have endured.

    Read on for a closer look at this weekend’s key encounters. 

EPL: Everton vs. Manchester City

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    Where: Goodison Park

    When: Saturday, May 3, 5.30 p.m.

    Prediction: 1-3


    The biggest game in the EPL this weekend sees title-chasing Manchester City travel to Champions League hopefuls Everton for what promises to be a stern test of character for both sides with the finish line almost in sight.

    Two disappointing defeats to Crystal Palace and Southampton in their last three games have derailed the Toffees’ chances of finishing fourth and claiming a Champions League berth for the first time since their one and only appearance in 2005/06.

    The hosts need to win both of their remaining games and hope rivals Arsenal fail to win both of their fixtures, but they don’t come much tougher than City, even at Goodison, where they have only lost twice in the league this season.

    City enter the game having won only three of their last six matches, including the decisive 3-2 defeat at Anfield to rivals Liverpool, but know three wins from their three outstanding fixtures will see them lift the Premier League trophy for the second time in three years.

    While Everton have enjoyed considerable success over City in recent seasons, it’s difficult to see them recovering from the disappointments of recent defeats to deny Manuel Pellegrini’s men—and, in turn, hand the advantage back to Liverpool, who are close to their first Premier League title since 1990.

    If the likes of City’s Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany are on form, Everton, like so many others, will find it tough. With that being said, with five defeats away from the Etihad Stadium, the Citizens are much more vulnerable on the road. 

La Liga: Levante vs. Atletico Madrid

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    Where: Ciutat de Valencia

    When: Sunday, May 4, 4 p.m.

    Prediction: 0-2


    La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid enter this clash knowing that victory will edge them one step closer to breaking up the dominance of Barcelona and Real Madrid, and one step closer to a first title since 1996.

    Diego Simeone’s men are on a roll, with nine consecutive league wins propelling them to the summit and into the Champions League final courtesy of their stunning 3-1 win over Chelsea on Wednesday.

    Momentum is key at this stage of the season, and Atleti certainly have that. However, with a trip to Barcelona on the final day still to come, the pressure is on.

    Atletico know that two wins against Levante and at home to Real Sociedad will remove second-placed Barca from the equation ahead of their visit to the Nou Camp, but city rivals Real are hot on their heels and ready to capitalise on any slip.

    Levante, for their part, have managed just one win in their last eight outings. The Valencia-based club have little to play for with relegation worries allayed for another year and European football out of reach.

    Diego Costa, Arda Turan and company looked unstoppable at Stamford Bridge. If they can maintain their impressive form over the last three games, the title is theirs. 

Serie A: AC Milan vs. Inter Milan

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    Where: San Siro

    When: Sunday, May 4, 7.45 p.m.

    Prediction: 2-1


    The Milan derby is always one of the standout fixtures in Italian football, but this clash takes on an unfamiliar complexion after indifferent seasons for both clubs means this is now a potential Europa League decider.

    The Rossoneri trail their city rivals by six points with three games to go, but that translates to five places with Inter fifth and Clarence Seedorf’s men in 10th.

    However, victory for Milan would see them close the gap significantly, and their recent form of five wins from eight suggests they are headed in the right direction.

    Meanwhile, Inter have managed three wins and four draws in the same period, which means Europa League qualification may be the best they can hope for this year.

    With both sides hoping to salvage something from a disappointing season, expect this game to be a tense, passionate affair, with Milan’s greater hunger just about edging it for them. 

La Liga: Real Madrid vs. Valencia

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    Where: Bernabeu

    When: Sunday, May 4, 8 p.m.

    Prediction: 3-0


    Third-placed Real Madrid have a game in hand over title rivals Atletico and Barcelona, but know they are relying on others if they are to reclaim the crown they last won in 2012.

    The scenario is simple. Real need Atletico to drop points in two of their remaining three games. Atleti’s superior record in the head-to-heads with Real (won one, drew one) means they will be crowned champions should the teams finish level on points.

    Like their city rivals, Real enter the game on a wave of euphoria and with considerable momentum after their emphatic 5-0 aggregate rout of Champions League holders Bayern Munich.

    Two defeats in 24 games is championship-winning form, although those losses came at the end of March to Barca and Sevilla and threaten to undermine an otherwise impressive campaign.

    Boss Carlo Ancelotti is a wily campaigner, with title wins in three countries, and the Italian would love to add to that haul on Spanish soil.

    A win over eighth-placed Valencia should prove comfortable given their mid-table standing, and with games against Real Valladolid, Celta Vigo and Espanyol to follow, their run-in also looks decidedly favourable.