• Friday, 27 April 2012

    Marking your card #7

    Herewith our picks of the more interesting games around Europe this weekend.

    After the fun and games of title deciders last weekend, there could be a few more this week too. There are also some cup final shenanigans.

    First to Russia, where long-time leaders Zenit just need a point at home to second-placed Dinamo Moscow to seal the title. They're 12 points clear with four games to go including this one, so Dinamo need to win everything while hoping Zenit lose everything. If not this week for Zenit, it will surely come soon. They've been the best all season by some distance. The chase for second place and a Champions League spot is perhaps more interesting. Dinamo are a point ahead of Spartak with CSKA two further back. Spartak are away to CSKA this week.

    Ajax need a win to seal a second successive championship in the Netherlands. When all around have faltered, they've kept on keeping on. Frank de Boer has already been spoken about in terms of the Barcelona job should Pep Guardiola step down (not confirmed at time of writing) and two Eredivisie soup dishes isn't a bad way to start your managerial career, especially given the state Ajax were in when he took the reins. They are in Enschede this week to play FC Twente who are in a similar hunt for points to make it to that second Champions League spot. It's third v second at De Kuip where Feyenoord host AZ and PSV aren't out of the hunt for second either. They're in Kerkrade to play Roda JC. Heerenveen are still in with a shout of European qualification and are away to Heracles this week.

    It's the French Cup final on Saturday with minnows US Quevilly playing the giants of Lyon. Quevilly getting this far has been one of those feel-good stories that cup football throws up occasionally and it's sure to be quite a party in the tiny Norman village whatever the outcome. It's all on Lyon, a no-win situation in many respects.
    Ligue 1 continues as well and PSG's trip to nearby Lille is the big clash of the round. Lille need the points to maintain a Champions League spot and any hope of overhauling their near neighbours. PSG need points for their title push. Montpellier have a tough Friday night assignment in Toulouse, though TFC have dropped off the pace a little of late.

    Olympiakos sealed the Greek championship a while back and get the opportunity to make it a double this weekend in the Cup final against Atromitos. Olympiakos have only lost one of their last twelve against domestic opposition while Atromitos - fourth place in the Super League table - haven't won for a month. It should be a formality. Should be...

    Basel are technically champions of Switzerland at the moment, but for an appeal by second-placed Luzern over points docked in relation to FC Sion's ineligible player row, specifically points they think they should have been awarded for a game against Sion. Basel, diplomatically and sensibly, aren't claiming anything, but a win over eighth-place Lausanne will be enough no matter what happens to Luzern either at CAS or away to Grasshopper this weekend.

    The Spanish title is all but decided after last week's clasico and it would take a choke of spectacular proportions to deny El Real now. The big race is on for third place and Valencia go to Málaga this weekend. Málaga trail Los Che by three, but Valencia beat them 2-0 in the Mestalla. Málaga therefore need to win this by three to go ahead on the head-to-head. Should Valencia win, there's a real push for fourth with Levante, Athletic, Atlético and Osasuna all in the frame.

    The English championship could be decided in all but name on Monday where the two Manchester clubs meet at City's ground. A draw will pretty much do for United, allowing them a mulligan in the final two games. City have to win and, at home, the onus is very much on them. It promises to be quite a game.

    Us? Well it's the final round of games in the Blue Square Premier. We're off to York's home game with Forest Green Rovers. York are sealed in the play-off places, but who they play is open to question. It could be Mansfield - safe in third - or it could be Wrexham - ina lonely second. Who the fourth team in those play-offs is yet to be decided as well. Luton are fifth at the moment and are away to runaway champions Fleetwood. Kidderminster are two points behind them and play Mansfield at home. Intrigue right the way through. Who Fleetwood plus one replace in the football league is two of Macclesfield, Hereford and Barnet. That picture won't become a lot clearer until five o'clock tomorrow.

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