Last weekend was a good one for the leaders in the big five leagues and really wonderful for Porto who were crowned Portuguese champions with five games remaining in the schedule.
Of the big five leaders Barcelona enjoys the largest advantage with an 8 point gap on Real Madrid with 8 games left. Borussia Dortmund are sitting comfortably at the top of the Bundesliga and are 7 points up on Bayer Leverkusen with 6 games left.
Manchester United are also 7 points up on nearest rivals Arsenal but have played a game more. United have seven games still to play.
In Ligue 1 it has the look of a two horse race after the challenges from Rennes, Lyon and PSG seem to have run out of steam. That leaves Lille with a four point advantage on reigning champions Marseille with nine games still to go.
Milan may have shaken off Inter and Udinese last weekend but pesky Napoli just won’t quit. With seven games left to play in Serie A Milan leads Napoli by three points.
Wolverhampton v Everton, (early game)
Wolves took a heavy shot to the head last weekend with 4-1 defeat at Newcastle. But this weekend’s game is at home and there is a definite sense that if Wolves are to stay afloat then their home form will be their life-preserver.
Wolves have won seven of 15 home games and none of the bottom nine teams have collected more home points. After this match Fulham, West Brom and Blackburn have visits scheduled.
Wolves will not have Kevin Doyle and Everton are also short of a striker with Louis Saha injured.
Everton’s away form has been less than stellar – only five losses but that masks seven away draws and only three wins. Nonetheless Everton are sitting 7th which is amazing when you consider how many poor and disappointing results they have racked up this season.
But an in-form Everton could yet have something to say about how the top five finish this season. They still have Manchester City and Chelsea to come to Goodison while a trip to Old Trafford in on Everton’s card.
Blackburn v Birmingham
This game has two teams that are just 2 points above the relegation zone and both with a goal difference of -12. Birmingham do have a make-up game against Chelsea to come however.
Both teams came away with something from games last weekend. For Blackburn it was a back-to-the-wall effort that was rewarded with a scoreless draw at the Emirates. It was a second consecutive draw for Blackburn after they recovered from 2-0 down to draw with Blackpool 2-2.
Birmingham came up with a first win since winning the Carling Cup when they beat Bolton last Saturday 2-1. Both teams look to their centre back partnerships as key elements in any success they may have. For Blackburn it is the uncompromising Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen.
In the case of Birmingham Roger Johnson has been an ever present this season although his side-kick from last season Scott Dann is a long-term injury casualty. Liam Ridgewell has slid over to replace Dann as has Jiranek although he is also struggling with an injury problem.
Other matches scheduled for Saturday are Bolton v West Ham, Chelsea v Wigan, Manchester United v Fulham, Sunderland v West Brom, and Tottenham v Stoke.
Udinese v Roma
This a game of 4th v 6th and Udinese leads Roma by 6 points. Roma cannot afford to lose and still maintain hopes of a Champions League spot next season.
After losing away to Lecce last week Udinese need a miracle to catch Milan – they are now 9 points behind.
Roma also lost – at home to Juventus – and it was their first loss under new coach Vincenzo Montella. Prior to the visit from Juventus Roma had won 3 and drawn 2 under the post-Ranieri regime. Interesting that the change in leadership also revitalized Francesco Totti who scored five goals during that undefeated run.
The other Saturday match in Serie A is Inter Milan v Chievo.
Hamburg faces the Bundesliga champions-in-waiting Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund do not have a difficult run in to the title with none of their opponents currently in the top five. Hamburg is currently seventh and inconsistent.
With Champions League games set for Real Madrid and Barcelona next week – although after the first legs they should not be causing sleepless nights – the top two are scheduled for Saturday games.
Real Madrid has to travel to the always intimidating Athletic Bilbao. However, Real may take some confidence from the fact that Bilbao has had trouble at home this season against the top teams in Spain. Villarreal, Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have all left with full points.
Barcelona is at home to bottom-of-the-table Almeria who are danger of being cut adrift. This game and Tuesday’s away match at Shakhtar Donetsk might offer Pep Guardiola an opportunity to rest some of his key players.
Xavi – take a rest from making a hundred odd passes, Lionel put that left foot up on the couch, Dani Alves – go run a couple of marathons this weekend.
The other match has Mallorca at home to Sevilla.
New England Revolution v Real Salt Lake
After reaching the final of the CONCACAF Champions League this past week it might be a temptation for Jason Kreis to rest some players with Monterrey coming up soon.
This MLS match brings together two undefeated sides although only one, Real Salt Lake, has a 100% record. Real Salt Lake have won both of their games so far while New England Revolution have one win and three draws.
New England were in Vancouver on Wednesday and drew 1-1 in a crazy game. They played 11 v 9 for 18 mins then 10 v 9 for 16 mins but needed a goal from Stolica in added time to snatch a draw.
Real Salt Lake won both meetings last season, a 5-0 win at Rio Tinto Stadium and a 2-1 victory in New England.
Other Saturday games in MLS are Seattle Sounders v Chicago Fire , Philadelphia Union v New York Red Bulls, D.C. United v Los Angeles Galaxy, Chivas v Columbus and San Jose Earthquakes v Toronto FC.
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