• Friday, 30 March 2012

    Marking your card #3

    Things to look out for this weekend.

    Real Madrid got back to winning ways last week, but have a tough trip to Pamplona to play Osasuna on Saturday. Barcelona have already slipped up there and they take on Athletic this week. The Bilbao side back up from Thursday's 4-2 Europa League win over Schalke 04, the Liga authorities refusing to put the game back. It makes little difference: Athletic have struggled to back up from European exploits all season long and Barcelona should win this relatively comfortably. The 2-2 draw between the two at San Mamés was one of the games of the season. It's difficult to make a case for a repeat.

    It's a big week in Portugal. Porto face the obdurate Olhanense at home, but new leaders Braga go to Lisbon to face the side they usurped at the top, Benfica. Should Braga win, they will fancy going on to take the title. Anything else and it's all still up for grabs.

    It's third v fourth in France on Sunday when Lille host Toulouse in the battle for the final Champions League place. PSG can steal a march on Montpellier by winning their game against mid-table Nancy as the southerners don't play until Wednesday as the league allowed Marseille to reschedule in order to better prepare for Champions League football. Fat lot of good that did...

    In Poland, two of the traditional powerhouses meet on Friday night when Wisła Kraków host Legia. Wisła are down in seventh, eleven points behind leaders Legia who are having a bit of a wobble having drawn the last two. Both have parsimonius defences, so this looks like being a cagey affair - well as cagey as it ever can be.

    Having been denied by Rangers last week, Celtic can seal the Scottish title this week, though they'll need a helping hand from Motherwell who play their Glasgow rivals. Even if it doesn't happen this week, there's always the week after.

    In the US, Sébastien Le Toux returns to Philadelphia - the club he didn't want to leave - with the Vancouver Whitecaps and a win for the Canadians would heap pressure on Piotr Novak. Chile's version of Rangers travel to play Universidad de Chile who are still quite incredible to watch. The big one in Russia sees leaders Zenit take on fourth-place Spartak Moscow. And if English non-league football is your bag, York City's trip to Luton on Friday night is a massive game. These sides met in the FA Trophy semi-finals, York sneaking through over two legs, securing a dramatic draw at Kenilworth Road to edge it 2-1 on aggregate. Further down the ladder, Chester FC celebrate two years since their rise from the ashes of Chester City with a home game against Whitby Town. 11 points clear with seven games to go, a win for Chester puts on foot in next season's Conference North. Our new best friends at 1.FC Magdeburg have a tough trip to Halmstad to take on Germania.

    Finally, in Belgium Westerlo and Sint-Truiden begin their five-game series to determine which of them gets relegated. They will be utterly fed up of the sight of each other by the end of April.

    You should find something to suit your tastes from that little lot. Wherever you end up, have fun.

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