• Friday, 25 May 2012

    Marking your card #10

    What we'll be watching this weekend.

    First up, the Copa del Rey final. It's Athletic v Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon in Madrid and it's already causing problems with one senior Madrid politician calling for it to be played behind closed doors in case either of these clubs partisan and nationalistic support dare boo the Spanish anthem. Yeah, whatever. When these sides met at San Mamés, they played out a wonderful 2-2 draw described by some as a hymn to football. More of that please. It's Guardiola's last game - for now at least - in charge of the Blaugrana against the man whose advice he sought before taking the job. Athletic haven't been on a good run and a defeat here will leave them not just exhausted, but also potless which would be an incredible shame. Barca have 'only' won three of the five competitions they've completed so far, but would of course love little more than to send off their favourite son with one more piece of silverware for the mantle.
    There are still two rounds remaining in the Segunda División and Deportivo La Coruna can seal a return to the Primera with a draw at home to Huesca. The other automatic spot is between Celta Vigo and Valladolid - locked together on 81 points. Celta are away to relegate Nastic while Valladolid play Alcorcon who are in the mix for the play-offs. They, Hércules, Córdoba and Almería are the three clubs fighting for the other two places for that final promotion spot.

    It's the final round of Serie B fixtures in Italy. The top two - Torino and Pescara - are already up with Torino needing a win over rock bottom AlbinoLeffe to make sure of taking the title. The play-off places for the remaining promotion spot are already sealed - Sassuolo, Hellas Verona, Varese and Sampdoria - but not the order or who will play whom for that final Serie A spot next season. Of the four, it's Verona in the best form.

    The other two games in Europe concern promotion in England. On Sunday, Cheltenham play Crewe for a place in the third division while there's an all-Yorkshire affair the day before as Huddersfield Town play Sheffield United for a second division place. It's all gone a bit wrong for United after two of their strikers displayed differing levels of mindless idiocy to deprive the club of their services - one for three matches, the other for five years (minus good behaviour). Town, meanwhile, struggled to find their feet after replacing their manager, but began to come into form in the final weeks of the season. It should be fun.

    Further afield, the Chilean Championship play-offs begin with leaders Universidad de Chile against Cobreloa. Two points cover the top five in Argentina, but none of them play each other this weekend. It's the final round in Colombia with loads of teams trying to make the top eight play-offs . Pretty much every game has something ridin on it on a great weekend for lovers of the word 'permutations'. It's the last round in Peru with Universidad César Vallejo top by three from Sporting Cristal who must beat Juan Aurich and hope for Universidad de San Martín to overturn UCV.

    The Toulon tournament and U19 European Championships rumble on as well with loads of games over the weekend. We'll pick Czech Republic against Netherlands in the latter and Netherlands v Turkey in the former.

    There are international friendlies galore as well as the Euros - just a couple of weeks away - loom on the horizon. Germany v Switzerland looks a particularly nice one.

    The season may be over, but the football never stops. Have a good one.

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