Title races have ended in England, Germany, France and Holland – so, what now?
With title races ending left, right and centre across Europe, what is left to look out for across the continent before the season ends?
So… Is that it? Is the excitement over for the season?
We search for stories at home and abroad that are worth looking out for as the campaign comes to a close…
The battle to avoid the drop
At home: West Brom’s victory at Manchester United has come a little late for the Baggies, who look destined to be playing Championship football come August. There’s a danger Southampton and Stoke could well join them before May, with the Potters squandering a lead at the death at West Ham to leave them five points adrift – all that after Southampton threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to Chelsea on Saturday.
Abroad: Look no further than Switzerland. In the 10-team division that is the Swiss Super League, just one point separates the bottom half – or five clubs – with just one team facing the drop. The joy of just 10 clubs means you face the others four times in a season - six-pointer central with seven games to go. Lausanne are currently the club in 10th, on 31 points alongside Sion, while Grasshopper, Thun and Lugano are a could-turn-out-to-be-crucial point ahead.
With Hamburg and Koln likely to go down, the aforementioned trio are in a three-way battle to avoid ending the season 16th – finish there and you face a horrible two-legged affair against the third-placed team in Bundesliga 2, with the victor guaranteed top-flight football the following season.
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The kind of magic of the domestic cup
At home: Ah, the FA Cup. Who’s in the semi-finals again? Oh yes, it’s Manchester United v Tottenham and Chelsea v Southampton – and that’s happening this weekend actually.
United head to the home of football, and Spurs’ current residence, with the winner likely to be favourite against Chelsea or Southampton, which has since become an exciting match-up given their entertaining five-goal affair on Saturday.
Abroad: The Copa del Rey final is this Saturday, as Sevilla take on Barcelona. Surely Barca’s to lose, I suppose. Then there’s the DFB Pokal semis on Tuesday and Wednesday – Bayern’s to lose, I suppose. The Coppa Italia final is between Juventus and AC Milan on May 9 – for the sake of using the rule of three, that’s Juventus’ to lose, I suppose.
The race for Champions and, er, Europa League?
At home: Chelsea sit in fifth, seven points behind Tottenham, so the Champions League spots appear virtually sewn up bar a Spursy collapse.
Meanwhile, the outcome of who will be playing Europa League football next term very much depends on how Southampton fare in the FA Cup. Should they fail to lift the trophy, then fifth, sixth and seventh in the Premier League standings will book a spot in Europe’s secondary competition next term. Sadly, that doesn’t make for an exciting race, with seventh-placed Burnley a mighty nine points ahead of Leicester with five games to go. So, come on Southampton, give us something to shout for.
Abroad: There’s a tasty race for Champions League football in Serie A. Just one point separates Roma (61), Lazio (61) and Inter (60), while the final day of the season sees, drumroll please, Lazio host Inter. Glorious stuff, particularly with fifth place missing out.
Third in Ligue 1 gets you into the third qualifying round of the Champions League, while fourth hands you Europa League football. Lyon and Marseille are currently locked on 66 points apiece behind PSG and Monaco, meaning that’s a race which could well go down to the wire. Marseille have the Europa League semi-finals to contend with too, so should they overcome Red Bull Salzburg and then Arsenal/Atletico Madrid in the final and then finish behind Lyon – everyone’s a winner/in the Champions League next season.
Title races still to look out for
Those three Turkish teams we can all name are locked in a four-way battle for Super Lig glory alongside Istanbul Basaksehir. Galatasaray narrowly lead the way on 60 points, with Besiktas and Basaksehir one point behind – Fenerbahce a further two off the pace.
Meanwhile, we head west to Portugal, where there’s what we’d argue is a three-way fight for top spot. Porto leapfrogged Benfica into first after beating them 1-0 on the weekend, and now have a two-point gap over their rivals. Sporting are still sniffing around in third, five points behind Porto – with just four games to go, that could be too much to overhaul.
In a nutshell: Bring on the World Cup – and of course the Champions League semi-finals and final – which kind of goes without saying, hence why we didn’t say it, until just now…