With just a little over a month left in the season for most European Leagues, the countdown is on.
Welcome to this Weekend’s Commentary Thread.
This week’s EPL is mostly about the goalkeepers. Saturday, Brad Guzan and Tim Howard are working for clean sheets for their clubs as one team fights relegation and one team a place in Europe next season. It’s less than a month in the Championship. US players represent many of the Championship teams, this Saturday the potential is there for US players in four Championship games. Stuart Holden’s arrival at Sheffield Wednesday has coincided with a reassurance, Wednesday have won their last two games and are now well away from the relegation zone that triggered the Holden loan, from Bolton. Bolton have Tim Ream to call upon in their bid to return to the EPL. Bolton are two points out of a playoff spot, with the the four teams above them all struggling at this critical time and already relegated Bristol on the ticket. Leicester City’s draw on Friday has created an opportunity that Bolton must take if they have aspirations of EPL soccer next year.
In Germany, Schalke’s home game against Leverkusen is critical to both teams. A Schalke win will put them within a point of a guaranteed UCL place, and pull them three points clear of chasing Freiburg. For Leverkusen a win would all but put them in the UCL next season. This promises to be the game of the week in Bundesliga. With Hannover, Mainz and Nurnberg collectively going through a difficult patch with a Euro League opportunity begging, all eyes following US players turn to Hoffenheim and the equally woeful Augsburg. One, if not both, teams will be playing in 2. Bundesliga next season, and with time running out, points is the cry! Hoffenheim trail Augsburg by one point and have managed just seven points from a possible 15 in the last 5 games, Augsburg just six points over the same period. Hoffenheim play Saturday at Wolfsburg, Augsburg play at home on Sunday against Frankfurt.
Elsewhere, AZ and Jozy Altidore play on Sunday as they battle to stay safe in Holland, Anderlecht and Sasha Kljestan also play Sunday in the funky Belgium playoffs (referred hereafter as the FBP). Terrence Boyd and Rapid have to get by their current form if they want to cement a Euro League place next season
Finally, Finland starts playing soccer again, a sure sign that spring is here (in the US) for real.
As always, chat, rant (within reason) or debate goings on concerning US players over there and join me as we go through this weekends matches.