Liverpool/West Brom, FA Cup semis, Copa Del Rey final, and Juve/Napoli weekend preview edition
This should be an awesome weekend of football. The Premier League is a little light with only 6 games but don’t fret we have the FA Cup semis with the really juicy Tottenham/Manchester United tilt, Barcelona/Sevilla battling it out for the Copa Del Rey trophy, Juventus/Napoli battling it out for the title in Italy, and Dortmund/Leverkusen getting at it in a crucial battle in the top 4 race in Germany, so without further ado let’s do this.
1. West Brom/Liverpool (Saturday 730AM EST NBCSN)
Liverpool is 5 points away from clinching a top 4 spot and a return to the Champions League next season, so it is imperative to put Tuesday out of their minds for now and take care of business at the Hawthrones on Saturday.
West Brom on the other hand is likely done for the season and barring a miracle will be playing football in the Championship next season.
The baggies are on their third manager this season. They started the season with Tony Pulis, fired him and brought in Alan Pardew, fired him and are on caretaker manager Darren Moore for the rest of the season.
Right now they are dead last in the standings with 24 points, they are 9 points from safety with only 4 games to play, so yeah it’s not happening they will be in the Championship next season.
They’ve only won 4 league games this season which will get you sent down in a hurry.
But they are on their best form in ages, they’re unbeaten in their last two matches. Drawing with Swansea two weeks ago and beating Manchester United last week at Old Trafford, so Liverpool shouldn’t be taking it lightly.
I think I’ve written about this before but I think the biggest factor with this team this season was the firing of Tony Pulis.
I understand that people don’t like Pulis style but one thing he has done was keep West Brom up but by replacing him with Pardew is a move I think they now regret.
I don’t think this team is as bad as their record says they are and I think if they kept Pulis they would be staying up, they’re not a top half team like they were last season by any stretch but I think they’re good enough to be up.
Their expected goal have them scoring 4 more than they have scored, allowing 9 less and has them with 39 points which would have them safe by 12 points according to the expected points table from understat.
I think it’s been a bad combination of bad managing from Pardew but also bad luck (if you’re curious the expected goals table has Bournemouth, Stoke, and Swansea as the bottom 3. Bouremouth was lucky to survive how poor they we’re defensively earlier in this season, they got a lot more points than they should have and I think Stoke and Swansea speak for themselves) which I think explains their recent form. I think when Pardew was sacked they wanted to play hard for Moore.
Prior to this 2 game unbeaten streak they had lost 9 straight. Interestingly enough their last win was a 3-2 against Liverpool in the FA Cup. Remember that? That was the day that LFC Twitter had one of it’s greatest meltdowns in LFC Twitter history. The sky was falling, they were getting relegated, Klopp was a bum, van Dijk was a waste of money, FSG is the worst ever, Coutinho is the best player in the history of football and we won’t win another game without him. That was fun…
The two teams have gone in complete opposite directions since then. While West Brom had lost 9 straight the Reds have won 10, 1 loss, and 3 draws. Two of those draws were the second leg against Porto after coming home with a 5-0 lead and the second was the Everton game where Liverpool was basically playing for a 0-0 draw and for whatever reason Big Sam had his team do the same thing. Thanks for the point, Sam!
The other was against Spurs when you could argue that unfavorable officiating cost them the win in that one.
In addition since then the Reds have advanced to the semifinals of the Champions League and pretty much have wrapped up a top 4 finish, so the meltdown that day and a lot things said look very stupid at this point in time.
- Injuries/team news
Based on Jurgen Klopp’s press conference Friday he said that they will be going with a strong side on Saturday despite the start of the Champions League semi’s on Tuesday. He said that Mo Salah will be in there.
He also said that Joe Gomez is available so it’s good to have him back and that Dejan Lovren is recovered from the knock that had him leave the game last Saturday against Bournemouth.
He did go on to say that Joel Matip is definitely out for the rest of the season, but good news he said Adam Lallana and Emre Can could be available for the Championship League final which is about a month away.
One bad tidbit though is that Nathaniel Clyne would be out for West Brom, it’s a shame for him. He’s gone from probably a certain first choice right back and almost a lock for playing for England in the World Cup, to missing the entire season basically, losing his first choice spot and likely has no chance to be on that plane to Russia. Plus he’s just come back and showed surprisingly good form against Everton and looked like he could be a backup option, but missing out on Saturday is a setback to the little he gained since returning.
On the West Brom side of things they have received some good news ahead of this fixture as Jonny Evans and Hal Robson-Kanu will be available. Nacer Chadli is a question mark, Garreth Barry and James Morrison are out while Daniel Sturridge is ineligible due to rules not being allowed to play against your parent club.
- My pick
I know a lot of fans are looking ahead to Tuesday which is quite understandable. I pretty much am looking there too, but until top 4 is actually wrapped up I will still be looking as these games as important.
It’s never easy for Reds against West Brom. They have played twice this season. Both times at Anfield, once in the league and once in the FA Cup. West Brom has actually given Liverpool their only home loss on the season in the afformentioned 3-2 loss at Anfield in the FA Cup.
In their last 10 meetings overall Liverpool has won 4, West Brom won once, and they have drawn 5 times. In their last 7 league meetings at the Hawthrones, Liverpool has won twice, the Baggies have won twice, and they have drawn 3 times. This trip hasn’t been easy for the Reds and I don’t think Saturday will be an exception.
Yes, the easiest teams to play against this time of season are teams with nothing to play for and I would put West Brom in that category, if they escape this it would be the greatest escape ever, but even though they don’t have anything to play for this won’t be easy.
Since Pulis was sacked they have been playing like West Brom again, which is a pack it in, look for a counter attack real grind it out style which is never easy. We all know Liverpool has struggled against this type of team and this is a team that has looked a lot better the past two games especially last week at Old Trafford in one of the biggest shock wins of the season.
They’re healthy and have nothing to lose on the other hand Liverpool will have one eye on Tuesday. I think West Brom is going to put up one helluva fight and make life real tough for the Reds.
However I think there is something different with this Liverpool team right now and will fight as hard as they will fight on Tuesday and end up with a tight hard fought win.
PS I was real close to going with 0-0 but I couldn’t pull the trigger on that.
2. Rest of Premier League
It is a small slate this weekend due to the FA Cup semis with only 2 games on Saturday and 3 more on Sunday.
- Watford/Crystal Palace (Saturday 10am EST NBCSN)
Watford doesn’t quite have it wrapped up yet as they sit with 37 points in 12th place, they should survive but they are playing like a team right now that looks like they’re going down and if they don’t wake up this will go down to the last day for them.
I think they’ll survive but they way they’re playing right now doesn’t give me much confidence in them. They are winless in their last 5 and have the looks of that mid table team who is ready for their summer holiday to begin.
Crystal Palace on the other hand are still in the fight. They have a 5 point gap on Southampton coming into this weekend’s fixtures.
You’ve read my opinion on them I think they’re a much better team than where they reside on the table. But all that doesn’t matter if they don’t take care of business or they will end up in the Championship next season.
They have gone 2-1-1 in their last 4. The loss coming against Liverpool in a game they probably feel like they should have gotten at least a point out of it.
Prior to the last 4 games they went winless in 7 games. 5 losses and 2 draws, but that was without Wilfred Zaha. He’s had an incredible season but the problem for Crystal Palace has been they can’t win when he isn’t there. But he should he good to go on Saturday.
The other problem Palace has had this season is that they have tended to cough up points they should have won. The Liverpool game is an example of this also is the Bouremouth game which was their draw in their past 4.
I have said I think Leicester is the 7th best team in the season or in other words the best non big 6 team. Well going a step further I think they’re the 8th best team this season.
The problem is they started the season 1-9-2 which is obviously not optimal. I think it shows a lot that they have actually dug themselves out of this and are currently in a spot of safety.
After that dreadful start they went 5-1-6 in their next 12, but then they went on that 7 match winless streak but that was without Zaha. Zaha wasn’t on the PFA team of the year but had he been I wouldn’t have argued, he’s been that good.
In saying all that I think Palace gets the win, which should pretty much wrap up their safety. It should be a wild affair knowing both of these teams.
- Arsenal/West Ham (Sunday 830AM NBCSN)
The talk around this will no doubt be about Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal after the season after being in charge for the last 22 seasons.
In Wenger’s time with the Gunners they have won the Premier League title 3 times including the 2002 invincibles who finished the season unbeaten, but the last title was in 2004. They won the FA Cup 7 times under Wenger.
Europeon success was not quite as good for Wenger at Arsenal which is one place he was criticized heavily for.
They made the Champions League 17 straight seasons from 2000-01 season to the 2016-17 season. The last 7 seasons of that they got bounced in the round of 16, it almost became a running joke at the end of that run. You didn’t even need to watch Arsenal’s season, you knew they would finish 3rd of 4th but not really contend for the Premier League title, they would make it to the knockout stage of the Champions League but immediatly get knocked out in the round of 16, but they would end the season with a bang by winning the FA Cup.
The made the quarterfinals in the Champions League in 01, 04, 08, and 2010. They made the semifinals in 2009. Their best success was when they made the final in 2006 before losing to Barcelona 2-1. They held the lead until the 76th minute when Barcelona equalized and scored again in the 80th minute. It was hearbreaking no doubt and besides the FA Cup this was the last time they came close to glory under Wenger.
They did lose the Europa League or then the UEFA Cup final in 2000 losing to Galatasaray in penalties.
He will have one more shot at Europeon glory as they’re in the Europa League semifinals against Atletico Madrid.
There has been no doubt the time has come for a change with Arsenal. It was surprising they didn’t make the change last summer, but I thought the things that were said about him during the season last season were totally unfair.
It’s fine to want to change things had been getting worse every year for sometime now with last season being the worst league campaign under him until this season will pass that, but the things people were saying about him were so wrong.
Fine you’re ready for a new manager but people weren’t appreciating all he had done for them.
The success over the 20 plus years had been much better than any Gunner could have dreamed of but yet they were treating him like he was Alan Pardew or something, it was ridiculous and made Arsenal fans look like the biggest spoiled fanbase in the world.
Football fans are annoying anyhow with how they want their clubs manager to be sacked after 2 losses in a row, but the treatment of Wenger was the worst I can remember.
I’m glad he can leave on his own terms even though he probably stayed a few years more than he should have but he should be remembered for all the success he acheived which is better than probably any other manager could have acheived.
It got stale at the end and maybe the game passed him by a little at the end but this man was an innovator and ahead of his time and did incredible things in maybe the best league in the world, this is what I will remember him for and what everyone should remember him for.
I normally wouldn’t root for Arsenal ever but I would love to see him go out on top, so I hope they win the Europa League. Plus it would be awesome to see a Liverpool/Arsneal sweep of Europe wouldn’t it?
West Ham getting that late point against Stoke was probably enough to ensure their safety.
Arsenal is good at home and it will be emotional on Sunday after the announcement.
- Stoke/Burnley (Sunday 830amET NBC Sports Gold)
Stoke absolutely has to win if they want have any chance of staying up. They are currently 5 points behind Swansea for safety. Swansea does have a game in hand but if they want the game coming up with Swansea to have consequences they need to need to get points in a hurry. With Liverpool next I think they need this one at home against Burnely or it’s all over for them.
But if they can win this they can maybe pull off a great escape.
The Potter’s have been better of late. Sure they haven’t won since January 20 when they beat Huddersfield.
But the last two games should give them some confidence. They played well in a loss to Tottenham last weekend and were within minutes against West Ham from getting a critical three points but Andy Carroll’s late finish broke their hearts, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
They need points and they need them in a hurry and Burnely is a good opponent to get them against.
Burnely desperately wants to finish 6th so they can avoid the summer Europa League playoff, but they trail Arsenal by 2 points with Arsenal having a game in hand.
You all know my feelings on Burnley I don’t think this is a good team, a team that has been very lucky to get to where they have been so Stoke has a good opponent to get the points they need here.
Before the loss on Thursday against Chelsea they were unbeaten in their last 6 with 5 wins and a draw. If you want to rub that in my face when it comes to my feelings for them go back and watch those games and look to see how badly they get outplayed and tell me if you think they’re lucky. If you’re one of those simpletons that only look at wins and losses I probably don’t want to talk to you but if you’re open minded and can evaluate the game over who performed better then give me an explanation how this keeps happening, it’s one of the craziest things I have ever seen.
Prior to the 5 game winning streak they were on, they went on a 11 game winless streak which saw them almost blow their chances to get into the Europa League. They lost 5 of those matches and drew 6. It was the expected regression to the mean for me.
We know how this game will go Stoke will be on the front foot. If Stoke can get an early goal and avoid a defensive meltdown when Burnley goes long to Wood or Vokes I think they will win this.
- Manchester City/Swansea (Sunday 1130AM EST NBCSN)
City is on their celebration tour right now after winning the title thanks to United losing to West Brom last Sunday.
They haven’t had a chance to celebrate with their fans yet which they will have a chance to do on Sunday.
Segio Aguero is out for the season thanks to Ashley Young. I’m sure Pep will play with the lineup some as they play out the string, but there is no doubt they have a few things to accomplish. They want to break the goal scored record that Chelsea hold with 103 in 2009-2010. City currently has 93 so that’s 11 goals in 5 games so they should be able to do that. They have a chance to break Chelsea’s record of 30 wins from last season. They currently have 28 so they need 3 out of 5 to do that. Chelsea’s 04-05 team won 15 road games. City currently has 14 with 2 more road games to go. Chelsea’s 09-10 team has the record for best goal differential with a +71. City is currently at +68. This one I don’t think they will do Chelsea scored 68 home goals in 2009-2010 City currently has 53, so that will be difficult. Chelsea’s 04-05 team has the most points with 95. City has 87, but they want more than Chelsea’s mark they want to be the first team to get 100 which means they need 4 wins and a draw to get there. 99-00 Manchester United has the best margain of victory with an 18 point margain. They have a 13 point edge with a game in hand so this could be tricky. Lastly Chelsea had 48 road points in 04-05. City had 44 so that should he easy.
This will keep them motivated the rest of the season they will want to accomplish as many of these as they can to stamp their legacy as maybe the best team in the Premier League era.
Swansea needs points still, but it won’t be Sunday and I really believe they will be fighting for their safety until the last seconds of the last day.
- Everton/Newcastle (Monday 3PM EST NBCSN)
The last of the Premier League slate is Monday night. Let’s be honest Everton has packed it in and Newcastle has found their way to safety so this game could be dreadful.
Everton is as bad to watch as any team in Europe. I feel bad for their fans at this point.
On the other hand Newcastle wrapped it up last week with a lovely 2-1 win at home against Arsenal.
They are actually right on Everton’s heels in 10th one point behind Everton with a game in hand.
Rafa Bentiz won’t win coach of the year because Sean Dyche will because people can see that Burnley has been lucky they will think that Dyche is some wizard. But Rafa should win it. Hes taken a team with Championship level talent and has them looking like they will finish in the top half.
This will likely end in a draw as Rafa will have his squad play smart in this one.
3. FA Cup semifinals
- Tottenham/Manchester United (Saturday 1215AM EST Fox)
No doubt of the semifinals and maybe all the games anywhere this season this is the juicy one. Tottenham is going for their first trophy of any kind since the 2007-2008 league cup and their first FA Cup since 1990-91.
Spurs have come along way under Mauricio Pochettino but there are plenty out there that feel that until they win a trophy all the progress made means nothing.
I fully disagree with this but people are the way they are. Domestic Cups are nice prizes and should be celebrated but they don’t say more about you as a club than finishing in the top 4 of the league does and making progress in Europe.
Since Pochettino took over in the 2014-2015 season Spurs have had nothing but progress.
In 2014-2015 they finished 5th and got to a league cup final where they lost to Chelsea.
In 2015-2016 they were the only team in the way of ruining Leicester’s miracle title run until a 2-2 draw to Chelsea clinched the title for Leicester, there was also a late draw against West Brom that led to their demise.
No doubt it was a poor finish to what could have been a great season but to me this had the feeling of the beginning of something very special happening in North London.
They lost in the round of 16 to Dortmund in the Europa League but they decided to put all their eggs in the league basket since they were going for the title than going for the Europa League, they didn’t have the depth to go at it all in on both fronts.
Last season was a success despite no trophies. They finished a strong second in the league with 86 points. 7 points behind Chelsea but 8 points behind 3rd place Manchester City.
They reached the FA Cup semis bowing out to league champs Chelsea. The only real disappointment about last season was their play in Europe. They bowed out of the Champions League finishing a disappointing 3rd in their group. It was a group that had Monaco who at the time I don’t think we knew how good they were yet, Bayern Leverkusen, and CSKA Moscow.
They finished with 2 wins, 3 losses, and 1 draw. Their only wins came against CSKA and the biggest disappointment and the match that ultimately cost them was the home match against Leverkusen.
The home Champions League matches had a weird vibe as they played midweek matches at Wembley as their new stadium was being constructed.
Being third in their group sent them to the Europa League where they were embarrassingly bounced by Genk which was a bad note on an otherwise successful season and more progress under Pochettino.
This season they are currently 4th in the table, obviously in the FA Cup semis, and won the group of death in the Champions League before losing in the round of 16 to Juventus.
But it’s baby steps, to beat Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at home and to beat Dortmund on the road and draw with Madrid on the road definitely was something Spurs fans didn’t see coming in their wildest dreams.
So, when they got Juventus in the round of 16 it had to feel like some football god was against them.
They fell behind 2-0 at Turin in the first leg before drawing 2-2 which was a huge accomplishment in itself. Advancement looked certain coming home with the 2-2 edge but this Juve group is a difficult animal to kill. They held a 1-0 lead which would have sent them through until Juve scored twice in 3 minutes to advance. But no doubt a moment they will learn from.
The progress over these 4 seasons under Pochettino has been impressive. From where they were when Pochettino took over is night and day. They’re getting better every season, he’s also been huge in progress of Harry Kane, Dele All, and Eric Dier to name a few.
Domestic trophies are nice and all but I would rather be where Spurs are or where Liverpool is over where Arsenal or Manchester United is right now and over the past 4 years those two have combined for 5 domestic cups.
So, when some jackass this weekend in a column, podcast, on TV, or on soical media says nothing Spurs have accomplished matters until they win a trophy ignore that person because they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about and don’t deserve our attention.
I said all that about Spurs because it needed to be said because of where they are right now in the FA Cup. I also think they’re a better team than United right now, but if United wins people are going to say stupid shit so I have to get this out there ahead of time.
Things between Spurs and United have been about as even as they can get recently. Over the past 10 meetings they have each won 4 and have drawn twice. This season United won at home 1-0 and Spurs won the return fixture 2-0.
I’ve written this recently that I am having a really hard time judging this United team. Everyone wants to call this season a failure, which I do get with what happened against Sevilla in the Champions League but they are second in the league, yes far back but they are second, ahead of Spurs and Liverpool two teams that everyone are calling successes and rightfully so, but United has more points. I know that isn’t everything and some luck is involved but it’s the eye test thing with them, they just don’t look as good as those other teams do, even on their best days. They grind out results at home against teams in the bottom half. Great teams don’t do that.
So, are they actually overacheiving? They have to grind out results against bad teams and likely have David De Gea have to make a spectacular save or two? Is Jose a genius to be in second with this team? This is where I think the easy answer is no. He’s just a grumpy old man who hates everyone and refuses to play attacking football even though the team was built to play attacking football and he signed off on 90% of this roster.
The one area I may play a bit of devil’s advocate on is with the back 4. Jose has never trusted the back 4 and with Eric Bailly being out for large stretches of the season and having Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia playing fullbacks maybe it was actually smart to play the way they played because if he let this team attack like all of us wanted them to they would have been exposed badly.
You could also look at it as the only team that had the talent to beat Man City if they let the attacking talent be themselves. Also, Mourinho spent a lot of money if he was that worried about the back 4 he could spent money on that. The money is there.
So, what is the answer? I honestly don’t know and thanks to Jose we will never know, but it’s probably somewhere in the middle like most things are.
So as far as this game goes I want Spurs to win and I think Spurs should win but this is the type of game Spurs lose and Jose wins.
Ever since they got bounced against Sevilla and he had his stroke or meltdown or whatever happend to him I felt like they were winning the FA Cup. Then Jose will be able to throw it in people’s faces and in the way only he can do is spin this that this is better accomplishment than winning the league or Champions League.
Manchester United 2-1
- Chelsea/Southampton (Sunday 10am EST FS1)
This is a weird one they just played last Saturday when Chelsea came from down 2-0 to win 3-2. It was devastating to Southampton’s hopes of staying up, but that gets put on hold for now and the focus in on winning the FA Cup.
They once won the cup in 1976. This could be the best thing that has ever happened to them they can go to London and focus on this and forget about the stress of the relegation race for a minute.
Chelsea last won the cup in 2012 beating Liverpool. This was their 4th in 6 years, they lost to Arsenal in the final last season.
Both teams had league fixtures on Thursday. Chelsea had a huge win over Burnley 2-1 where they played one of their better games in a while. Southampton on the other hand got a 0-0 draw at Leicester.
After a real rough stretch of play where Chelsea looked like they were ready for the summer, players and manager included they have had two nice wins in a row on the road to get themselves ready for this clash against Southampton.
Chelsea has found something up front with Olivier Giroud who is giving them the quality play at that position they have been craving all season from Alvaro Morata that he hasn’t been delivering.
Antonio Conte has been able to rest a few guys on Thursday to have his squad at it’s best for Sunday.
He played two up top with Giroud and Morata against Burnley but I would expect him to play Hazard and Willian behind Giroud with Fabregas, Kante, and Bakayoko behind.
I think Southampton will come with their best effort and play their faces off in this but Hazard and Willian are just too good right now.
4. Juventus/Napoli (Sunday 245PM EST BEIN Connect)
First of all I have a bone to pick with BEIN Sports on this. The biggest game in the Serie A season, one of the biggest club games all season isn’t on live TV. Sure if you have Connect you can stream it there, but it’s embarrassing for this channel who the only reason anyone watches it is because of Serie A and La Liga. To have Moto GP on instead of the biggest game of the season, it’s a damn crime.
BEIN Espanol has the Atleti/Betis game at the same time, fine that channel shows every La Liga game I can except that plus I want to watch that game too, but for their main channel in English to not have this game live is a huge mistake for a station no one watches. If you want to watch it you can either watch it on Connect if you have that or watch it bootleg or wait till 7 to watch it in Spanish. To watch it English you have to wait until 1230 AM. C’mon BEIN you’re better than this.
This one speaks for itself. Thanks to Juventus drawing with Crotone on Wednesday and Napoli winning their midweek fixture the race for the Scudetto is only 4 points.
Napoli is looking for their first title in 28 years while Juventus is looking for their 6th straight. Both teams come in with no injuries so full squads will be available which as a neutral is what you want to see from this one.
There have been rumors around Italy that Paulo Dybala and Dreis Mertens could both be dropped by their respective managers.
It’s wild to think about that but with Dybala being in up and down form right now and mentally not sure where he is from one minute to the next it isn’t that surprising to think of Max Allegri making this move.
But the Mertens move I can’t see happening. He has 17 goals and 6 assists on the season, yes he was dropped for Arkasiusz Milik on Wednesday Milik did score in that game but I really don’t see them going without Mertens in their biggest game in years.
Napoli hasn’t won at Juventus since 2012, so this would take a huge effort to get the 3 points.
You have to think that Napoli will play their normal risky pressing and attack style that has made them so fun to watch this season knowing they need a win.
Juventus will be very difficult to beat on this spot they have only lost twice at home, once in league to Lazio on a penalty at the death and lost to Real Madrid when their home fans gave Ronaldo a standing ovation. It doesn’t happen often.
Juve beat Napoli the first time at Napoli 1-0, this was when Napoli was unbeatable. Juve had to hold off furious charge and maybe were a bit fortunate to come away with the win but it was a huge win nonethless.
Juve was outshot 21-7 in this game. Napoli also hit the post.
Juve tried to slow them down by playing 4 in the midfield using Matudi and Costa to run box to box on the wing and this worked to an extent to slow them down. At least as well as anyone has. Napoli likes to use their wingers and this made it difficult.
I really hope Napoli wins this, for one reason so we have a title race to go down to the last day of the season. But also because I love watching this Napoli team play football. Just like Liverpool I want to see fun teams win things so more teams play fun football in the future.
It’s going to be quite the task though. In league matches Juve is unbeaten in their last 20 with 17 wins and 3 draws plus as Tottenham and Real Madrid to an extent learned the old lady is quite the challenge in these types of games. They’re immortal or something they don’t die.
But Napoli is going to be coming into this learning some of the things Madrid did to have success and give them a fight. I think because of this Juve will play a safe game trying to frustrate Napoli and we will get a hard fought 0-0 draw.
5. Copa Del Rey Final Barcelona/Sevilla (Saturday 330PM EST ESPNNEWS)
It’s going to go down as a disappointment for Barcelona not making it out of the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the 3rd consecutive season.
But if they can win the Copa Del Rey to go with the Last Liga title, especially if that La Liga title goes down as an unbeaten season it will be a season they can be proud of.
If you look at where they were this summer when it was a complete mess after Neymar left to the mess of the Spanish Super Cup, no one thought they were winning the league, let alone have a chance at being unbeaten and winning the Copa Del Rey was probably a long shot too.
Barcelona has won this competition 29 times to Sevilla’s 5 times. Barcelona is going for their 4th straight and 5th out of 7th. Sevilla last won this in 2010, these two last met in the finals in 2016 when Barcelona beat them 2-0 in extra time.
Sevilla despite their season struggles has had a decent cup year. Getting to the final here and getting to quarterfinals in the Champions League. They will be a formidale for for Barcelona here.
The game will be played at the Wanda Metropolitan which is Atleti’s beautiful new home.
Sevilla has played Barca tough this season drawing with them at home 2-2 blowing a late 2-0 lead and losing at the Nou Camp 2-1.
I really feel this will be a good one, but this Barca team is pissed about what happened in Rome and this a a chance to win a trophy. Messi has been getting some rest since Rome, Suarez was rested midweek and Coutinho is in great form.
It will be good but Messi, Suarez, and Coutinho will ultimately be too much to handle.
6. Dortmund/Leverkusen (Saturday 1230PM EST FS1)
One last big one from the weekend is this Bundesliga clash. With 3 games left to play they are tied at 51 points for 3rd. Leipzig is in 5th with 47 points. So, if there is a winner in this they can pretty much count on finishing in the top 4.
The first time they met this season they drew 1-1.
Neither team is the greatest defensively. Dortmund is pretty much a mess just hoping to finish off the season in the top 4 limping to the line.
They’re actually a respectful 6-2-2 in their last 10 league matches but when you watch them you’re just waiting for a mistake to happen.
They were dreadful in losing 2-0 at Schalke last week.
Leverkusen on the other hand had two huge win in their last two league matches by beating Leipzig and Frankfurt both 4-1. Julian Brandt is in fantastic form right now.
They did lose midweek in the DFB Pokal semis getting crushed by Munich 6-2.
I worry how much energy they will have in the tank for this but neither team is the best defensively so I think this could be a real wild one.
I think a draw would be fitting for both as they both should have a top 4 spot wrapped by now. I think it will be wild and fun with lots of attack.
7. Other games of note
I’ve hit on the big ones but here are a few others to check out that should be fun.
- Celta Vigo/Valencia
- Atletico Madrid/Real Betis
It should be a ton of fun this weekend. Enjoy the football. And go Sixers!