It’s that time of year when trophies, promotions and relegation are decided in Europe’s top leagues, and this weekend brings plenty of pivotal matches to keep track of the Premier League, LaLiga and Bundesliga. We also have the semi-finals of the EFL Championship, where four teams battle for the final promotion place to next season’s Premier League.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, EFL Championship (USA)
The two-horse Premier League title race between Manchester City and Arsenal is drawing to a close, while the Champions League qualification battle continues further down the line as Newcastle United, Manchester United and Liverpool all target to reach the top four. Meanwhile, at the far end of the table, relegation remains a real threat for several clubs including 2015-16 champions Leicester City and Everton, who have yet to lose their league status.
In Spain, Barcelona could be crowned LaLiga champions before kicking the ball this weekend, while European champions Real Madrid will need to beat local rivals Atletico Madrid if they want to avoid finishing third in the league.
The most unpredictable title race is in the Bundesliga as the two German clubs, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, switch places at the top as the season draws to a close. But arguably the most dramatic climax to a season for any team, anywhere is the Championship, where four clubs from England’s second tier must first win their semi-final match before competing for the prize of promotion to the Premier League in the final game at Wembley.
Here’s a quick and easy guide to what critical matches to watch out for across the continent over the next few days and specifically what’s at stake for the different clubs involved.
Friday, May 12th
2:30pm ET: FC Cologne vs Hertha BSC (Live on ESPN+ in the US)
Bottom of the 18-team table with one win in nine matches, Hertha BSC will take their place in the bottom three mathematically sealed if they lose to Cologne. And Relegation-threatened Schalke 04 beat leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday. However, Hertha could still escape the dreaded relegation if they finished 16th and thus qualified for the promotion-relegation play-off in the Bundesliga, which would pit them against the team third in the division below (2, Bundesliga) for a chance to keep their place. In the first division in Germany.
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Saturday 13th May
7:30 am EST: Leeds United vs Newcastle United
There is still plenty to play for in the 20-team Premier League, and while there is clear daylight between title-chasers and third-placed Newcastle, Eddie Howe’s side need to pile as many points on the board as possible from the four remaining matches. to secure qualification for the UEFA Champions League.
Newcastle are third (65 points) and will not face any other teams in the top six between now and the end of the season. However, with Manchester United (63 pts) and Liverpool (62 pts) right on their tail, Newcastle will look tense over their shoulder.
10am EST: Manchester United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
If Newcastle draw with relegation-fighting Leeds, Manchester United can level with them on points with a win over midfield Wolverhampton (although with a much lower goal difference). Indeed, if Howe’s side somehow conspire to lose to a side struggling desperately out of the relegation zone, United could catapult them into third place when the final whistle blows at Old Trafford.
10am ET: Southampton vs Fulham
Southampton have been bottom of the table since November, barring a sweet little spell on the 19th for one week in March. They will become the first club to be relegated from the Premier League this season if they do not beat Fulham at St Mary’s.
But even a win against the Cougars may not be enough to save the Saints, who still manage to pull back in the unlikely event that Everton and Nottingham Forest both win their matches against Man City and Chelsea respectively.
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9:30 a.m. ET: Bayern Munich vs Schalke 04 (Live on ESPN+ in the US)
12:30 PM ET: Borussia Dortmund vs Borussia Monchengladbach (Live on ESPN+ in the US)
The Bundesliga is in the midst of the closest title race in years, with only one point between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at the top, with three matches.
Bayern’s stuttering left Dortmund behind, but back-to-back victories over Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen put them back at the top of the table by one point. However, with just one defeat in their last 16 league matches, Dortmund are still in good shape to hunt for their first title since Jurgen Klopp led them to back-to-back championships in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Bayern have a significantly superior goal difference (+49 to Dortmund +33), but a positive result for Schalke 04 will give Dortmund a chance to regain full lead with major ramifications at the bottom of the table.
3pm ET: Real Madrid vs. Getafe (live on ESPN+ in the US)
In simple terms, if both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid fail to win this weekend (against Getafe and Elche, respectively), Barcelona will be crowned LaLiga champions before kick-off against Espanyol on Sunday.
EFL Championship Play-off (Semi-finals, first-leg)
12:30pm ET: Sunderland vs Luton Town (live on ESPN+ in the US)
Burnley and Sheffield United have already secured their promotion to the Premier League by finishing as champions and runners-up respectively in the regular season, which officially concluded last weekend.
Attention now turns to the third and final promotion spot, which the clubs finishing third to sixth in the table – Luton Town, Middlesbrough, Coventry City and Sunderland – will contest via the Championship play-offs.
Two-legged, home-and-away semi-final matches kick off on Saturday to determine the two teams who meet at Wembley on May 27 (live on ESPN+ in the US). The final is a huge match that is often called the ‘richest game in football’ due to the huge financial windfalls that Premier League promotion brings with it.
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Sunday 14 May
9 a.m. ET: Everton vs. Manchester City
11:30 a.m. ET: Arsenal vs Brighton & Hove Albion
It’s still too early to call the Premier League title race, though, despite Manchester City going into the weekend with a one-point lead over rivals Arsenal with a game in hand. However, City are in exceptional form after winning each of their previous 10 league matches by a score of 29-8.
And in the event that City defeats Everton to achieve its eleventh successive victory, and Arsenal falters and loses to Brighton, then Pep Guardiola’s team’s victory over Chelsea next weekend will witness its fifth title win in six seasons.
10:15 a.m. ET: Elche vs. Atletico Madrid (Live on ESPN+ in the US)
3 p.m. ET: Espanyol vs. Barcelona (live on ESPN, broadcast on ESPN+ in the US)
Barcelona will officially seal their first LaLiga title since 2018-2019 if they can beat neighbors Espanyol in the derby. However, they may not need to if both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid lose before this derby kicks off at the RCDE.
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EFL Championship Play-off (Semi-finals, first-leg)
7am ET: Coventry City vs Middlesbrough (Live on ESPN+ in the US)
The second semi-final of the Championship plays together Coventry and Middlesbrough as both begin their quest to earn a long-awaited return to the top flight of English football.
The last time Boro played in the Premier League was in 2016-17, but after only one season they were relegated to the top spot. But you have to go back to the 2000-01 season for the last time Coventry City was in the Premier League. The Sky Blues were one of the founder members of the league in 1992, but they were near-constant relegation warriors, eventually going down when they finished 19th with just eight wins and 36 goals to their name.
Monday, May 15th
3 p.m. ET: Leicester City vs. Liverpool
Not so long ago, Liverpool were mired in mid-table next to Chelsea. But while the Blues’ season stagnated, the Reds made a belated run in the league. Their renewed quest to claim Champions League qualification with a top-four finish continues on Monday when they travel to face Leicester, who are trying to avoid becoming only the second former Premier League champions to be relegated later – after the fall of Blackburn Rovers in 1998-99, four years later. of winning the title.