MATCHDAY: Everton can secure EPL survival before final round
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Thursday:
Before the final round on Sunday, the Premier League has three games on tap that had been postponed earlier in the season. Everton can guarantee its Premier League place by beating Crystal Palace before heading to Champions League-chasing Arsenal on the final day. Everton has center back Michael Keane and midfielder Donny van de Beek fit again, while manager Frank Lampard is also hopeful defender Ben Godfrey will return after a month out with a thigh problem. Lampard is still without midfielder Fabian Delph and defender Yerry Mina. Burnley goes to Aston Villa having slipped back into the relegation zone after losing back-to-back games. Burnley is a point behind Leeds and is now playing its game in hand on Jesse Marsch’s team. At the upper end of the standings, Chelsea will clinch third place with at least a draw against Leicester. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he does not know whether Andreas Christensen has already played his last match for the west London club. The defender withdrew himself from selection for Saturday’s FA Cup final loss to Liverpool on the morning of the Wembley game.
Hertha Berlin hosts former Bundesliga heavyweight Hamburger SV for the first leg of their relegation-promotion playoff to see which club plays in Germany’s top division next season. Hertha finished third from bottom in the Bundesliga after failing to win any of its last three games and losing the last two, when a draw in either would have been enough to avoid the playoff. Hamburg, in contrast, is full of optimism after winning its last four games to grab third place in the second division. “The momentum is on our side,” Hamburg coach Tim Walter said. Counterpart Felix Magath, who steered Hertha away from a direct relegation place after replacing the luckless Tayfun Korkut with eight rounds remaining, joked shortly after taking over that he envisaged the team playing against his former club Hamburg in the playoff. Magath is still a club hero at “his” Hamburg after a playing career that lasted a decade at the club and included the winning goal in the 1983 European Cup final against Juventus.
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