BC-SOC--European Soccer Weekend
What to watch in the leading soccer leagues in Europe this weekend:
Manchester City is two wins away from retaining the Premier League trophy, but there’s an outside chance the title could be clinched a week early.
That could only happen if title rival Liverpool loses at Newcastle in a rare Saturday night kickoff in England’s top flight. Then City, which leads by a point, could wrap up a fourth title in seven years by beating Leicester on Monday.
If Liverpool draws or wins at St. James’ Park, the title race is guaranteed to go to the final day for the first time since 2014 — when the two protagonists were also City, the eventual champion, and Liverpool.
Four teams are separated by five points in the battle for the remaining two Champions League qualification spots behind City and Liverpool, and that could also go to the final round.
Third-place Tottenham could seal one of them with a win at Bournemouth. Chelsea is two points behind in fourth place going into a home match against Watford, while Arsenal — at home to Brighton — is a further two points back in fifth. Sixth-place Manchester United is away to Huddersfield.
Cardiff will be the final team relegated if it loses to Crystal Palace on Saturday.
— By Steve Douglas.
Bayern Munich needs seven points from its last three games to claim a record-extending seventh successive Bundesliga title, and few expect the side to claim anything other than three of them against last-place Hannover on Saturday.
Hannover did, however, keep its survival hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Mainz to end its nine-game run without a win last weekend.
Hannover is six points behind Stuttgart, which holds the relegation playoff place and faces Hertha Berlin away on Saturday.
Borussia Dortmund, which trails Bayern by two points after its 4-2 Ruhr derby loss to Schalke, will be without suspended captain Marco Reus for the trip to Werder Bremen on Saturday. Another defeat would all but end its title hopes.
Bayer Leverkusen hosts Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday, with Champions League qualification at stake for both.
— By Ciaran Fahey.
Lille can virtually seal an automatic place in next season’s Champions League with victory away to Lyon on Sunday.
Second place guarantees qualification for Europe’s elite competition while the side finishing third goes into the qualifying rounds. Lille has a tight grip on second place and can move nine points ahead of third-place Lyon if it wins — after which there will be only three games remaining.
Lyon is also under pressure to hold onto third place, with fierce local rival Saint-Etienne only three points behind in fourth ahead of its trip to Monaco on Sunday.
Paris Saint-Germain has already won the title but looks to end to an alarming slump in form when it faces seventh-place Nice at Parc des Princes on Saturday. PSG has won just one of the past six games and is leaking goals, while Nice has conceded only one in five games.
Also Saturday, last-place Guingamp desperately needs to win its relegation scrap at home to 18th-place Caen.
— By Jerome Pugmire
Atletico Madrid can secure a second straight runner-up finish in the Spanish league with a draw at Espanyol on Saturday.
Atletico enters the weekend with a nine-point advantage over third-place Real Madrid, needing a point from the last three matches to guarantee second place.
Real, which holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Atletico, hosts Villarreal on Sunday.
Before winning the league in 2014, Atletico hadn’t finished better than second since 1990-91. Real Madrid hasn’t finished outside the top two in consecutive seasons since 1973-74.
Barcelona, which clinched its 26th league title last weekend, visits relegation-threatened Celta Vigo on Saturday. Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is expected to rest many of the regular starters who helped the team defeat Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals on Wednesday at Camp Nou Stadium.
In the fight for the final Champions League spot, fourth-place Getafe hosts Girona, fifth-place Sevilla hosts Leganes, and seventh-place Valencia visits last-place Huesca.
— By Tales Azzoni.
Six clubs are fighting for the final two Champions League spots with four rounds remaining in Serie A.
With Juventus (88 points) having sealed a record-extending eighth straight title and Napoli (70) firmly in second, the other spots are up for grabs between Inter Milan (62), Atalanta (59), Roma (58), Torino (56), AC Milan (56) and Lazio (55).
This weekend, Inter visits relegation-threatened Udinese, Atalanta travels to Lazio in a preview of the Italian Cup final, Roma plays at Genoa, Torino meets Juventus in a derby, and Milan hosts Bologna on Monday.
— By Andrew Dampf.
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