Welcome to the Weekend Commentary Thread
Crunch Time Part 6: Two weeks left in the EPL, and the rest of Europe, and still much to be decided. Saturday Germany takes center stage, with a full plate of matches. At the top of Bundesliga, Schalke and Jermaine Jones take on Stuttgart, and Schalke will need to win to stay in contention for the UCL next season. Meanwhile the relegation battle will be decided over the next two games. Furth on 21 points are relegated. Three teams, #17 Hoffenheim on 28 points and #16 Augsburg and #15 Dusseldorf on 30 points each are desperately reaching for safety. So how will the weekend fair for the three teams. Augsburg have the unenviable task of visiting #1 and Bundesliga Champions Bayern Munich, it’s unlikely that Bayern will want to lose their home finale, WIN Bayern. Fabian Johnson and Hoffenheim welcome # 7 Hamburg to the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar Arena. Hamburg have an outside chance a snagging a Europa League spot, if the chips fall in their favor, they will be gunning for the shaky Hoffenheim defense from the opening whistle. Hoffenheim have found a little form over the last few weeks, while Hamburg have slipped some, DRAW. From the bottom teams playing this week, Dusseldorf v Nurnberg will be the hardest to predict. Both teams have lost four of their last five games. Tim Chandler (season ending injury) and Nurnberg’s away form is 3W-5D-8L, while Dusseldorf’s home form is a little better, but hardly inspiring at 5W-6D-5L. Hmm, I will go with a DRAW. So if my predictions are correct the positions stay the same, but Hoffenheim pulls within a point of Augsburg and Dusseldorf a point above. If this holds true then the finale week at the bottom of the Bundesliga is “gonna be a barn-burner” Leaving the senior leagues, I have to put in a word for 3. Liga #4 Preussen Munster and Matt Taylor. What a season they and Matt are having. Matt sits in eighth position in scoring with 15 Goals, and the team are one point off of a promotional playoff. With the team above them playing two very hard games over the next two weeks, and Preussen having a relatively easy path, 2. Bundesliga soccer next year is a real possibility – put your support with Preussen and Matt on Saturday as they visit Unterhaching.
Also on Saturday, in Austria, #3 Rapid Vienna and Terence Boyd will have #4 Wolfsberger to contend with. Rapid have only lost once in their last five, while Wolfsberger have two wins and three losses, including last weeks loss to relegation threatened Mattersburg. Austria Bundesliga still has four games to go, Rapid’s Europa League spot is by no means guaranteed, they need to maintain form and take the three points this weekend to help their own cause. So what’s happening in England on Saturday? Duh! FA Cup folks, Manchester City and Wigan will lock horns at Wembley. Aston Villa will entertain Chelsea, with Chelsea knowing a win would pretty much guarantee a spot in the top four, the last time Chelsea faced Villa at Stamford Bridge earlier this season it ended in an 8-0 beating . That should not be repeated as Aston Villa with Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj, now five points clear of the relegation zone and having recorded back-to-back wins that have secured their survival, will look for all three points in the finale at Villa Park, but don’t discount Chelsea to spoil Villa’s survival celebration. Finally, in Portugal, following an incredible draw, mid-week, at powerhouse league leaders Benfica, Estoril and Tony Taylor find themselves a point out of Portugal’s Europa League final spot. This Saturday they are at home to a near relegated Beira-Mar. Three points would, with one more game following this, keep them in the hunt for European play next season. Good luck Tony.
That’s Saturday, now Sunday, a busy day. In the EPL, Tottenham will visit a hot Stoke City. After a downturn in form, Stoke City with Geoff Cameron are now undefeated in their last three matches and safe from relegation. Tottenham and Clint Dempsey will be hunting for the win following Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea, and know that they must win to keep their UCL chances alive. Everton (still with David Moyes) will be at home to West Ham. Tim Howard and Co. still need to keep the pressure up to ensure they take sixth place, I believe (and need to confirm) that if Manchester City wins the FA Cup, the sixth place team will enter the Europa League, like I say I need to confirm this. In the Championship promotion playoffs Leicester City take a 1-0 lead into Watford, a win and they are in the playoff final, a loss and they will have to try again next season. It is unlikely that Zak Whitbread will play for Leicester. In Italy’s Serie A, AS Roma have a mountain to cross, with two games left, and trailing Udinese by two points, for the final Europa League place, this week they find themselves at the San Siro facing #3 AC Milan, points won’t come easy there. To make matters worse the finale for Michael Bradley, Totti and company will be against #2 Napoli next week. Looks like Europe is not in the plans for next season for AS Roma. In Holland, Jozy Altidore and AZ Alkmaar will finish out their season at Willem II. A late run by AZ has left them mid-table, and their win in the Dutch Cup placed them in the Europa League next season, going into the off-season there will be some good feelings for the future. Of course that feeling may not last long if Jozy decides to move on this summer. Oh, those wacky Belgians! Anderlecht and Sasha Kljestan will want all three points at Genk. Genk has the edge over Anderlecht in 2013 with a three win, one loss record. Anderlecht are a class team, that had lost their form right at the end of the regular season, but they are on the up right now and should record their second win against Genk this year. Randers and Charlie Davies need to get over their mid-week cup loss and concentrate on their game against Midtjylland in Denmark Sunday. There is no reason, with three games left, why Randers should not qualify for Europa League next season, barring a complete collapse. Denmark looks to be a great place for US players reaching next seasons European competitions, Conor O’Brien with Nordsjaelland, Thomas Delaney (dual) with Kobenhagn and Charlie Davies with Randers all look to be playing top flight.
So that covers the senior leagues that are almost complete for the year. No offense is meant to clubs who’s seasons have really just begun, by there omission in the round-up. We are still following Scandinavian teams closely as always.
Join me this weekend as we follow every US player that we know is playing, join in with the chat and if you must feel free to rant. Discuss the end of season positions/next season European play and of course “silly season” moves that you think may happen.
Join me for the drama Over There.