Invariably, a nine month season of 34 or 38 matches usually comes down to just that one game which eventually defines your season. Across Europe this weekend, these are the most important games that will determine the fate, fortune and future of a number of teams.
1. Aston Villa vs Chelsea:
As difficult as it is, the only way Chelsea would probably be in the Champions League is to win this game and ignore what happens in the other games.
With an eye on next week’s Champions League final against Manchester City, the Blues cannot afford to risk injuries to key players yet everyone must come to the party against a very stubborn Villa with nothing to play for except pride.
Should Chelsea not win, then they have to pray that those behind them do not have better results.
2. Liverpool vs Crystal Palace:
Curiously Liverpool have played themselves back into contention for a top four finish if they turn up and beat Crystal Palace at Anfield. It won’t matter what the outcome of the other games are as long as they nick three points.
3. Leicester City vs Tottenham:
FA Cup winners Leicester City are already guaranteed of European Football next season but after staying so long in the top three bracket it will seem unjust should they falter on the last day and miss out of Champions League action.
As it is, in 5th place, Leicester must beat Tottenham (who are also eyeing the last Europa League spot) and then pray that either Chelsea or Liverpool will drop points or else they’re stay shut out.
All three games are scheduled for 4pm on Sunday.
1. Real Valladolid vs Atletico Madrid:
At a point, Atletico led the league with as much as 10 points but a dip in form saw them lose ground yet they stubbornly held on till this final game.
With 83 points, Atleti travel to 19th-placed Real Valladolid who also have a small chance of escaping relegation of they win the game and other results also go in their favour. Luckily for Ateti, they have a good away record this season while Valladolid have the worst home record in the league.
As it were, a win of any kind will deliver a second La Liga title in seven years to Diego Simeone’s team while any other result could see them relinquish top spot to rivals Real Madid.
2. Real Madrid vs Villarreal:
Zinedine Zidane can win another La Liga title this weekend but he must do more than just defeat the visiting Villarreal, he must also pray that rivals Atletico drop points away at Real Valladolid.
Real are on 81 points but with a better head-to-head advantage against Atletico, should they win and Atletico lose or draw, they’ll be crowned champions.
It is however not cut and dried for Los Merengues because Villarreal are also in the hunt for European football and are just a few points away from the Europa League spots. A win for them and adverse results for Real Betis and Sociedad elsewhere could see the Yellow Submarines jump into fifth.
Luckily, they’re a decent team on the road with the fifth best result although Madrid are also formidable at home (3rd best).
Both games are scheduled for 5pm on Saturday.
1. Atalanta vs AC Milan:
Milan bottled the chance to qualify for the Champions League last week when they drew 0-0 at home with Cagliari. Now, they must win the final game away at 2nd-placed Atalanta.
Milan have the best away record this season with 46 of their 76 points coming on the road while Atalanta require just a solitary point to be sure of their spot, regardless of what happens in other games.
2. Napoli vs Verona:
Currently in fourth place, Napoli will cement their Champions League spot with a win at home against Verona who have nothing to play for. All things being equal, this is a game Napoli should win with minimum fuss with their impressive home record.
3. Bologna vs Juventus:
The biggest profile game of the weekend because Cristiano Ronaldo stands the chance of missing out on Champions League football for the first time since 2004! And, unfortunately, it is out of his hands because even if Juventus were to win, they still have to pray that Milan or Napoli drops points for them to enter the top 4.
All three games are scheduled for 7:45pm on Sunday.
1. Angers vs Lille:
Had Lille won their home fixture last week against St. Etienne, they would have taken a 3-point cushion into this last week but the scoreless draw meant they’re just a point better than PSG and, to emerge league champions, they must hold their nerves and win at Angers tomorrow.
As the league’s best away team this season, this should not be too difficult for them though Angers are also a decent side at home having garnered 21 of their 44 points total in front of their home fans. Tip Lille to throw everything into this game for all the points at stake.
2. Brest vs PSG:
Although their destiny is no longer in their hands but the former Champions must do their bit by winning at Brest and then hope for a miracle in the other match.
If they win and Lille draw or lose, then Mauricio Pochettino will win his first league title in France. But, he must ensure the three points first and then wait. And hope.
Both games are scheduled for 8pm on Sunday