|Football Bettor's Survey|
2 Captains Fighting It Out on 2 Fronts
By the time this weekends fixtures take place, the finalists of the major European finals will have been decided and focus can return to the domestic leagues.
It may only just be the start of May but with Euro 2008 looming large, many domestic leagues are ending earlier than normal and there really isn't long to go in the big 4 leagues.
No matter what happens this weekend, the Premiership race is going to the last day. Chelsea's victory over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge left both teams level on points, albeit United have a vastly superior goal difference.
This goal difference is such that for Chelsea to have any hope of wrestling the title from Fergie's grasp, United will have to drop points somewhere and this weekend could be the place. A home game to West Ham isn't the trickiest of matches but West Ham have won their last three encounters with United and would love to steal a point on their travels. Chelsea have the tougher match of the weekend with a game against the revitalised Newcastle United at St James Park but wouldn't Kevin Keegan love it, absolutely love it if he secured another title for Man Utd?
Old Boys Network?
The final day matches again have Chelsea having the tougher task on paper. The Blues will be home to Bolton Wanderers but the Trotters may well still be fighting to stay in the league and will not be lying down without a battle. United may be away from home but will be up against Wigan, safe from relegation and managed by ex-United hero Steve Bruce. Bruce has already joked about what sort of his performance his team will provide if United need 3 points to claim the title and the odds are still definitely stacked in the Red Devils corner.
Madrid March On
In La Liga, it is a lot simpler. If Real Madrid win this weekend, they are champions. They travel to Osasuna, currently lying 16th and in real danger of being relegated. A 3-0 home victory last weekend over Athletico Bilbao put Bernd Schuster’s team within 1 victory of clinching the title. Given their recent form there is no reason why Real cannot do what they have to come this weekend. They will also be aware that if Villarreal do not win against Getafe, this will also clinch the league for them.
Given that Villarreal still have Barcelona behind them for the automatic Champions League place, do not expect the Yellow Submarine to take their foot off the gas. If the unthinkable does happen and Real slip up whilst Villarreal win, the next chance for Real Madrid to clinch the league will be in midweek. Barcelona come to the Bernabeu for 'El Classico' and how sweet would it be for Real if they celebrated another league triumph whilst their bitter rivals look on? No doubt they will want the league won this weekend but some Real fans would love to win it against Barcelona even more.
Bayern Bounce Back
In Germany, the Bundesliga is even more straightforward and Bayern Munich won't have long to wait until they are celebrating being champions again. When Bayern had their nightmare season last year where they even failed to qualify for the Champions League, many predicted they would come roaring back and this looks the case.
Frank Ribery and Luca Toni have been the inspiration all season and a 12 point lead with 4 games to go is the least that the team deserves. If Bayern Munich avoid defeat away to Wolfsburg on Sunday, they will be crowned Champions of Germany. Bayern might not even have to wait until their match because their two challengers have to win to keep the league alive. Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen play before Bayern on Sunday and if both fail to win, then FC Hollywood can pop the champagne in earnest.
Milan Derby Could Swing La Liga
In Italy, things are a bit tighter with some intriguing games to go. Inter Milan lead the way by 6 points with 3 games still to play. It is not as much of a lead as they held a few months back but it still keeps their noses in front.
Roma are the side hoping for an Inter falter at the death and both teams have a very similar run-in. This weekend both teams have tricky away matches to teams currently just outside the Champions league spot.
Roma travel to Sampdoria hoping to keep the pressure on at the top but face a team sitting in sixth position and only two points behind AC Milan in fifth. This game is sure to be an exciting match and ordinarily would easily be the game of the weekend.
Inter Milan do not have very far to travel but they are also away from home this weekend as the Milan derby takes pride of place in the Italian fixture list. Not only are AC Milan still trying to chase Fiorentina for a Champions League place, you know they would love to derail Inter’s title bid. On the other hand, if Inter Milan gets a better result than Roma manage this week, they will create an unassailable lead at the top and leave the last two games meaningless for the top two.
We did mention that both of the top 2 have a similar run and their next match sees them both playing teams sat in the middle of the league. The final day of fixtures sees both Inter and Roma travel to teams in the bottom third of the table. There is every likelihood of points being dropped in the run-in but whether it will swing the league, who can say?
Roma need Inter to trip up in two of their three fixtures whilst triumphing in all of theirs so the odds are definitely balanced in Inter’s favour but La Liga is definitely not over yet.
2 Certainties, 2 Clear Favourites
Things in Spain and Germany appear to be as close to being tied up without being mathematically secure and their races could be over by the end of the weekend. The English and Italian title race is still on but the teams currently on top should have enough to win it. Of all the chasing teams, Chelsea seem to have the best chance of overhauling a lead but even they are hoping for some favours from other teams.
Needless to say, titles are won over the entire season but the team who holds their nerve when it gets to the business edge are invariably the worthy winners of their respective league campaign.
By Andrew Reilly
for The Silver Circle at www.footballtip.co.uk
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