The final match week in European club football: Here’s what to expect
European club football enters its final week in the domestic circuit, with La Liga and Ligue 1 set for a blockbuster finish not seen in recent years.
Real Madrid, the most successful team in La Liga history with 34 titles and also the defending champions, will battle it out with neighbours Atletico Madrid for the league crown.
FC Barcelona, who have endured a difficult season under new coach Ronald Koeman, are no longer in the title race after a 2-1 loss at home to Celta Vigo officially ended their hopes.
When was the last time Atletico Madrid won La Liga?
Atletico Madrid last won the La Liga title in 2014 and became just the first team since Valencia in the 2003-04 season to deny Real Madrid or Barcelona the Spanish league crown.
Diego Simeone’s men, with 83 points, are two points ahead of Real and in pole position to repeat the feat and deny Zinedine Zidane’s Los Blancos the opportunity to claim a record-extending 35th La Liga title.
Elsewhere, Ligue 1 is awaiting a new champion for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
Who has won Ligue 1 the most?
Saint-Etienne is the only club in French football to win 10 Ligue 1 titles, with their last success coming back in 1980-81. Paris Saint-Germain, who have won seven of their nine league crowns in the last eight seasons, will hope table-toppers Lille drop points at Angers and they themselves win their game to propel Les Parisiens to a record-equalling 10th title.
Three-time Ligue 1 winners Lille have 80 points from 37 games, putting them a point ahead of PSG. They are on the verge of sealing the championship for the first time since 2010-11.
Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG must win at all costs to keep their faint hopes of retaining the title alive.
Battle for Champions League football
In the Premier League and Serie A, the battle for the remaining UEFA Champions League spots is set to have a dramatic conclusion this weekend.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United, who are due to play the UEFA Europa League final next week, secured second place in the 2020-21 Premier League standings after a 1-1 draw against relegated Fulham at home. This means only two spots are up for grabs and the likes of Chelsea, Leicester City and Liverpool will battle it out.
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea, currently third in the league and a finalist in this season’s Champions League, will be assured of a top-four finish should Liverpool lose away at Burnley in MW37.
Leicester City, recently-crowned winners of the FA Cup, will also pray that Liverpool hit a stumbling block so that the Foxes can enter the final match week in pole position for the last Champions League spot.
Should Liverpool fail to get the better of Burnley, all Brendan Rodgers’ men will need is three points against Europa League-chasing Tottenham Hotspur.
Liverpool will also be in the Europa League next season if they can’t beat Burnley and Leicester beat Tottenham. Spurs and West Ham’s bleak Champions League hopes were dashed after Chelsea’s midweek win over Leicester City.
Lastly, we come to Serie A where Juventus, who saw their nine-year reign as domestic champions end at the hands of Inter Milan, are on the verge of missing out on Champions League football for the first time since 2011-12.
The Biaconeri, fifth in the Serie A points table with 75 points after 37 matches, need to win at Bologna and hope that AC Milan and Napoli either lose or draw their respective games.
The only instance of the head-to-head record helping to decide UCL spots in the Serie A arises if AC Milan or Napoli lose and Juve draw their game. However, this scenario is still in favour of Milan as they lost 3-1 and won 3-0 against the Old Lady earlier in the season.
Napoli would also be in a similar position and thus the deciding factor in this three-way deadlock would be goal difference, meaning Juve must win at all cost.
Featured photo: AFP / Javier Soriano