This weekend offers the opportunity to move away from the usual leagues in Europe with high-profile games in places like Istanbul and Athens and taking place, while in England the big-spenders meet.>
Sports Pundit’s Game of the Weekend
England’s big spenders face off in a crucial clash for both of these sides if they are to maintain any glimmer of hope of winning the Premier League title this term.
Chelsea are currently nine points off the summit in fourth on 51 points, while the Sky Blues are third on 53 points. But with fifth-placed Tottenham snapping at their heals, this game is also about UEFA Champions League football for next season, with neither guaranteed qualification.
The Blues have found some touch lately, but it’s hard the wonderful form they produced early in the season. The Sky Blues bowed out of the Europa League in midweek after reaching the FA Cup semi-finals last weekend. It’s been a busy week, and it’ll all culminate in a grand finale here.
Istanbul’s two biggest rivals face off on Friday night in a clash between two clubs experiencing contrasting fortunes. Galatasaray are incredibly down in 11th, while Fenerbahce have stormed into top spot in the Super Lig to become strong title favourites.
With that in mind, there’s nothing Galatasaray would like more than to halt the Yellow Canaries’ progress. But that won’t be easy considering Fenerbahce are on a nine-game winning run, while Cimbom have won just once in their past six matches. There’s a growing divide between these two clubs, but anything’s possible in an Istanbul derby.
There’s a tight title race going on in France this season and Saturday brings together two of the genuine candidates for the crown when third-placed Lyon host second-placed Rennes.
Lyon were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League in midweek by Real Madrid, so they will switch their focus fully onto Ligue 1 now. And they are in some form in France, beaten only once in their past 20 league matches. Meanwhile, Rennes lost an important game to Marseille last weekend and will feel anxious about another big clash.
It’s time for El Derbi Madrileno when the Mattress Makers play host to city-rivals Los Merengues. It may be seventh versus second, but there’s plenty on the line in Madrid.
Incredibly, Real have not lost to Atletico since 1999 and given their current form (progressing to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals in midweek) will feel confident of keeping that record alive. Atletico are unbeaten in their past five in La Liga, but Real have won all three encounters between these two sides this season.
Olympiacos are set to claim the Greek Super League title on Sunday when they play host to long-time rivals AEK Athens.
Olympiacos lead the league by 10 points from Panathinaikos with four games to play and would’ve already claimed the title had it not been for a 2-1 loss at PAOK last weekend. Clinching the title at the Karaiskakis Stadium against AEK, though, would be special for Thrylos. But it won’t be a foregone conclusion considering AEK are third in the league and won through to the Greek Cup final in midweek.