The weekend is here once again and we are set to indulge in another feast of pure football entertainment, which will be served to us by Europe’s elite clubs and leagues.
The last seven days have been enthralling, dramatic and exciting to say the least. It began with Real Madrid winning their 35th La Liga title, after spanking Espanyol 4-0 at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, then came Manchester United who had a statement win over Brentford at Old Trafford on Monday.
Tuesday saw Liverpool reach a tenth UCL/European Cup Final in their history by eliminating Villarreal 3-2 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate. The Reds had to come from a 2-0 first half deficit to claim the win while Real Madrid upset the odds by clawing their way from a 5-3 aggregate deficit to see off Manchester City 6-5 at the Bernabeu.
Thursday night action saw German Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt and Scottish Premiership giants Rangers book a date in the Final of the UEFA Europa League on May 18th, after they both overcame West Ham United (3-1 on aggregate) and RB Leipzig (3-2 aggregate scoreline) respectively, while Feyenoord and AS Roma will clash in the inaugural edition of the UEFA Europa Conference League in Tirana on May 25th after they both eliminated Olympique Marseille and Leicester City.
In this weekend’s preview, Apex Football delves into Europe’s major leagues and dissects three fixtures which should serve us fireworks and talking points. Let’s go!!!
LIVERPOOL VS TOTTENHAM HOTSPURS:
Anfield comes alive as it plays host to arguably the biggest game of Matchday 36 in the Premier League.
Fresh from reaching a 10th UEFA Champions League Final, Liverpool turn their attentions to the domestic scene where they will take on a formidable Tottenham Hotspurs side in the hope of taking all three points on the day.
Whilst their Premier League destiny isn’t in their own hands, Liverpool continue to chase league-leaders Manchester City, who are only a point ahead and extending their unbeaten 15-game PL streak (W13, D2) will show they are ready to pounce on any slip-up from the Cityzens.
The ‘Reds’ are in the title conversation largely thanks to their unbeaten home league record (W14, D3), with Anfield unsurprisingly proving a fortress, heightened by the fact Liverpool have recorded a league-high 12 home clean sheets.
As for Tottenham Hotspurs, they are locked in a battle for the a Top-Four place which will earn them a spot in next season’s UEFA Champions League. A positive result here would set up the ultimate showdown in their next match when they face off against their main top four and North London rivals Arsenal. While Liverpool are known for being fast starters, Spurs have proven tough to crack, winning all 13 of their PL matches in which they led at half-time.
On their travels, Antonio Conte’s men have lost once in their last five away PL games (W3, D1), with that 3-2 loss to Manchester United back in March being the only time they have failed to collect maximum points.
MANCHESTER CITY VS NEWCASTLE UNITED:
This tie is seen as a future potential “El Cashico” fixture (due to the amount of wealth both club owners possess and what could possibly happen in player recruitment) but until then, it is the case of the reigning champions taking on a resurgent Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium.
A devastating collapse in the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg clash against Real Madrid in midweek saw Manchester City crash out of Europe’s elite club competition, and now they must pick themselves up ahead of their return to domestic action. There is no time for Pep Guardiola’s side to sulk, as Liverpool are matching the Cityzens stride-for-stride at the top of the PL table.
The visit of Newcastle United bodes well for a return to winning ways for City, who have won 23 of the last 28 league head-to-heads (D4, L1). The reverse fixture saw Guardiola’s side run out 4-0 winners, and City may need plenty of goals to secure a head-to-head double this season.
As for the Magpies, their revival under manager Eddie Howe has been nothing short but remarkable, with the Toon collecting more PL points in this year (32pts) except for Liverpool and Manchester City. Their resurgence though was not enough to see Newcastle extend their winning run to five matches last time out against Liverpool, as Howe’s side fell to a 1-0 defeat against City’s nearest rivals.
A return to winning ways seems unlikely here, with Howe losing all 11 of his PL managerial head-to-heads against City by an aggregate scoreline of 34-5! Newcastle have never won a PL game at the Etihad Stadium (D2, L14) either. There may be a grain of hope if Newcastle can forge a half-time lead though, as they have gone on to win six of the nine PL games in which they have led at the break (D2, L1).
ATLETICO MADRID VS REAL MADRID:
Dethroned league champions Atlético Madrid welcome bitter city rivals and newly-crowned La Liga champions Real Madrid to the Wanda Metropolitano in the 229th edition of the Madrid Derby.
The Rojiblancos need a result in the ‘El Derbi Madrileño’ to consolidate fourth position on the table. But they have won just one of their last four league games (D1, L2) and have conceded over 40-plus goals this campaign, the first time that has happened since 2011/2012 – highlighting how underwhelming their season has been.
With defenders Mario Hermoso and Reinildo Mandava suspended, Atléti may struggle from preventing the goals leaking in and despite beating their fierce rivals to the title last term, they haven’t won a league head-to-head anywhere since the 2015/2016 season, with their last home league derby win coming back in 2014/2015 (D4, L2).
For the new kings of Spain, Real Madrid have been a rollercoaster run over the past week. First, they secured the 2021/2022 La Liga Santander title with four games remaining and in midweek, reached the Final of the UEFA Champions League by securing a dramatic 6-5 aggregate win over Manchester City.
Los Blancos boss Carlo Ancelotti has now made history by winning domestic top-flight titles in each of Europe’s Top-Five leagues and holds the record for being the oldest manager to win La Liga. The Italian gaffer has only lost one of his last five head-to-heads against Atlético Madrid (W3, D1).