Best of the Rest

What to watch this weekend

I didn’t write any recaps last weekend but I’ll recap the important doings over the past week as well as tell you what to watch this weekend.

1. Premier League

Liverpool lost 1-0 to Chelsea on Sunday at Stamford Bridge. This was not the best performance the Reds have put out there this season. 

This really showed how much the run to the Champions League final had taken out of them. You could tell early on that they did not have much to offer, yes the game was important but this team was physically and mentally exhausted from having to play so many high level games during this run to the final. Then you throw out there all the injuries it’s just put them in a position that the result on Sunday is all that was left for them.

As a result of this it has put pressure on them for the final day of the season against Brighton.

Going into Sunday Liverpool only needs 1 point to finish the season in the top 4 and guarantee Champions League football for next season. That point can either be if Liverpool would draw of if Chelsea would draw at Newcastle on Sunday.

Chelsea had a chance to force Liverpool to win this weekend but was only able to get a draw at home against Huddersfield on Wednesday. That was a significant result in many ways.

It ensures Huddersfield’s safety for next season.

With Tottenham beating Newcastle 1-0 it also locked up a top 4 finish for Spurs.

The relegation race is now straight forward for the first time. Stoke was eliminated when they were unable to beat Crystal Palace at home this past weekend.

West Brom was eliminated when Southampton beat Swansea on Tuesday 1-0 at the Liberty Stadium on a late Gabbiadini goal.

It’s now between those two teams for the last spot of safety and barring a miracle Southampton will be staying and Swansea will be joining Stoke and West Brom in the Championship.

For Swansea to survive they need to beat Stoke and Manchester City needs to beat Southampton. Okay that part isn’t unrealistic but from there Swansea has to make up a 9 goal differential. Sure City could provide you a little help and maybe beat Southampton 5-0 but then Swansea would still have to turn around and beat Stoke by the same 5-0 score. Sure I guess anything can happen but I really don’t see this happening. Especially since Swansea hasn’t scored a goal in 4 games and hasn’t scored 5 in 9 games. The 9th game was a 4-1 win over West Ham.

Unfortunately for fans of the league and NBC who is doing their traditional Championship Sunday broadcast of using 10 different channels to broadcast all 10 Premier League games there isn’t much to play for here.

Unless like I said Swansea wins by 5 goals and Southampton loses by 5 goals the relegation battle is all over so that just leaves us with 4 place.

Liverpool has Brighton coming to Anfield just needing a draw. This is probably the best condition this Liverpool side will be in for a Premier League match for a long time.

Liverpool is winless in their last 3. The last win was when they won 3-0 at home against Bouremouth and I think since the squad didn’t have to play a game midweek this week they will be in a much better position than they have been and will look like themselves again in a league match.

They are as healthy as they’ve been for a while as well. Well I guess they are since Adam Lallana gets set to return but they announced this week that Joe Gomez season is over after reinjuring his ankle. He’s also out of the World Cup as well.

But with how bad the midfield has been decimated by injuries it is nice to see Lallana back in the squad.

It also appears that Emre Can won’t be able to return for the Champions League final as some had hoped he may be able to.

The most important thing to me here is that this team will be as fresh as they’ve been in a long time, and they only need a draw to guarantee the top 4 finish. I think you will see a rejuvenated side on Sunday that comes out and pounds Brighton like they have done to so many sides this season.

Liverpool 3-0

Also I think Chelsea draws at Newcastle which would mean Livepool wouldn’t even have to show up on Sunday but you may as well go out with a bang and put a good performance together in the final game before Kyiv.

2. What else to watch

  • Championship Playoffs

The first leg of the Championship playoffs go off on Friday and Saturday with Derby County hosting Fulham on Friday and Middlesborough hosting Aston Villa on Saturday.

The return fixtures are on Monday and Tuesday. Monday Fulham hosts Derby and Villa hosts Boro.

Then the winners face off at Wembley on May 26 to determine the final spot for the Premier League for next season.

In case you don’t know already Wolves wrapped up their spot in the Premier League by winning the league and wrapping their automatic spot up a week ago but the second spot came down to the last weekend.

Cardiff had a 1 point lead over Fulham for the last automatic promotion spot heading into the last day of the season.

Fulham hadn’t lost a game since December the 16th against Sunderland it was an impressive run of 23 games unbeaten. During that stretch they had won 18 and drew 4 times. They actually got the help they needed with Cardiff drawing at home against Reading but Fulham suffered their first loss in 23 games losing 3-1 at Birmingham City, so Cardiff got the second automatic promotion spot. Cardiff goes to the Premier League and Fulham to the playoff.

The Championship playoffs if you have never watched it is some of the most passionate football you will ever see. I highly recommend it.

  • Bundesliga

Five games in Germany matter as Saturday is the final day of the season here. They will all be playing at 930am EST. You can catch the action on Fox, FS1, and FS2.

Fox will have Hoffenheim/Dortmund, FS1 will have Bayern Munich/Stuttgart, and FS2 will have mutlimatch 90 which is redzone channel like whip around coverage. It’s a really fun way to watch the last day of the season with all the games going off at once.

What matters here you ask? Well after last weekend when Hoffenheim lost 2-0 to Stuttgart and Bayern Leverkusen drew 0-0 with Werder Bremen that means Hoffenheim and Leverkusen come down to the last day of the season tied with 55 points for 4th and the last Champions League spot.

Hoffenheim has the goal differential edge so if they would end up level in points they would be the one that would finish 4th. Unless Leverkusen would win 5-0 and Hoffenheim would win 1-0 then Hoffenheim would get 4th with the same result.

So to make things less confusing Hoffenheim would get it with a win. If they draw they would need Leverkusen to draw or lose and if they lose they would need Leverkusen to lose.

For Leverkusen you need to win and hope Hoffenheim draws or loses.

Hoffenheim is at home against Dortmund which is obviously tough and Leverkusen is also at home against Hannover.

As far as relegation is concerned Hamburger sits in the last automatic relegation spot with 28. Wolfsburg sits in the relegation playoff spot with 30 and the last safety spot is Freiburg with 33.

Obviously for Hamburger they need a Wolfsburg loss against Koln and a win against Mochengladbach to get into relegation playoff to avoid automatic relegation.

Wolfsburg to avoid relegation all together needs to win that game and hope Freiburg loses to Augsburg which will put out them to safety and Freiburg to the playoff.

Bundesliga final day should be good. You have 5 games with meaning.

  • Serie A

This has been probably the best place for drama this season but when Juventus won last weekend against Bologna and Napoli was only able to muster a draw at home against Torino it gave Juventus a 6 point lead with two games to play.

It’s a shame for Napoli but the reality is they just weren’t deep enough to deal with the rigors of what it takes to win a title. There is talk that Sarri tendency to stick with his first choice 11 hurt them in recruitment when it came to adding some depth in January.

Who knows what’s true but they weren’t deep enough to fight off a Juventus team who hasn’t been impressive it was almost like they were there for the taking but if you’re going to beat them you have to deliver that knock out blow which is something this Napoli team wasn’t capable of.

They played a style of football that people that love pressing and attack minded football like me fell in love with and other than success for my beloved Liverpool I wanted nothing more than to see this team win the Scudetto but at the end this Juventus team was just too deep for them.

Juventus travels to Roma on Sunday needing just one point. Napoli travels to Sampdoria at the same time.

The title race is over but the top 4 battle has a little life left. Roma comes in with 73 points, Lazio has 71, and Inter has 69.

Lazio travels to Crotone and Inter is at home against Sassuolo. If Lazio and Inter win, but Roma loses to Juve we could head into the last day with Lazio having 74, Roma with 73, and Inter 72. Lazio hosts Inter on the last day of the season. As a neutral this is what we want .

  • La Liga

Nothing to see here other than to see if Barcelona can finish the season unbeaten. I’ve written about this before but it boggles my mind that there hasn’t been more attention given to this Barcelona run.

They are about to do something that no one has ever done before in this league. They have done the league double, all this in a year where so many around the world expected them to flop.

I get they flopped in the Champions League but one horrible night shouldn’t ruin what was an incredible season for a side who wasn’t as talented as they have been overall compared to some teams in the past but is about to do something incredible but people can’t give them the credit they deserve because of one bad night in Rome.

Last weekend’s El Classico was as wild of an El Classico that we have seen in years and they only thing to play for in this was pride and Barcelona’s unbeaten league campaign.

It was a physical and chippy as I’ve ever seen between these two great rivals.

Barcelona played the second half a man down after Sergi Roberto’s red card. The game ultimately ended 2-2 but it was as enjoyable of a 2 hours I had watching football this season.

Barcelona has two more games to go to be the Spanish Invincibles. Sunday they travel to Levante and next Sunday they finish off their season at home against Real Sociedad.

That’s all I got. Enjoy all the action and Up the Reds!

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