Thursday May 1 2014

AC Milan, Bayern and Man City to register wins

By Mark Ssali


Everton vs Man City
Without Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin Everton leaked at the back in a must-win game against Southampton. Those two could be back but are not likely to be fully match-fit, and yet they will not have the dependable cover Gareth Barry has given them all season, because he is ineligible to play against Man City. Everton look to have lost out on fourth place, but without that added pressure they could actually hurt City. With the title a great possibility again though, City will want this more. Away win

Crystal Palace vs Liverpool
Selhurst Park has not been an easy place to visit lately, with Tony Pullis and Crystal Palace positively buzzing and playing good football. They mix craft and graft really well, the muscle of Cameron Jerome and Marouanne Chamakh complimented by the pace of Bolasie and Jason Puncheon. To survive this visit and hang onto table leadership, Liverpool have got to emulate Man City last weekend and score early. But then Liverpool have been the masters of that all season. Away win

Chelsea vs Norwich
It will not be easy flashing the Atletico Madrid loss out of the system, knowing very well that the Champions League was a better bet for a trophy than the Premiership title whose destiny is out of their control. Thankfully for Mourinho, he still has plenty of individuals in there with personal ambitions mostly centered around booking World Cup places, keeping or getting fit for Brazil. Cole, Torres, Mikel, Luiz, Oscar and Hazard, to be joined by rested Matic and Salah. Norwich will fight but Home win

Man United vs Sunderland
Ryan Giggs and his class of ’92 assistants are going to find their second game in charge a lot harder than the first. Yes Norwich were fighting relegation too, but Sunderland have been putting up a better fight for the same cause and have elevated themselves out of the zone quite doggedly. The buzz around Old Trafford hasn’t quite died down yet however, and there are players in there fighting for their futures who see this as a golden opportunity to prove their worth. Home win


Catania vs Roma
Like they have done for weeks on end, Roma will be playing before Juventus and looking to prolong the coronation of the champions-in-waiting. It will not be easy away to Catania who can be plucky, but the attacking flair and potency of Garcia’s men can be irresistible. For what it is worth, they will play their part. Away win

Juventus vs Atlanta
But Juventus cannot be kept waiting much longer anymore, and 24 hours after Roma’s game they will step out on their home turf to a crowd excited in anticipation and claim what has been theirs all along. Pirlo, Pogba, Tevez, Llorente and their sidekicks are not likely to be in the mood to lend more drama to the Scudetto race, even if they will be fresh from a gruelling Europa League second leg battle with Benfica. Home win

AC Milan vs Inter Milan
I have always confessed here that this is a tough call for me, I never seem to read it correctly. That is because it is hard to be rational about it when it does not go along with any logic. AC Milan have the superior firepower with Balotelli, Kaka, Pazzini, Taarabt, Honda and Robinho, but Inter Milan will more likely work harder in midfield which is where games are usually won. I will still go with the Home win

Hamburg vs Bayern
One wonders what Pep Guardiola will have to do and say to motivate his charges after the disaster in midweek. One thing he can use is the impending German Cup final, for which the players have to stay fit and focused if they are to take home the consolation of the domestic double. In their ranks they have many players who have the mental strength to take out their frustration on Hamburg anyway. Away win

Leverkusen vs Bremen
They still hang onto fourth place by the skin of their teeth do Leverkusen, and they must win this one to continue to hold Wolfsburg and Borussia Monchengladbach at bay. It won’t be easy and Leverkusen are inconsistent at best, but they should at least be able to exploit home comforts and have their goal scorers feeling good. Home win

PSG vs Rennes
The cloud of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules hangs heavy over PSG and has overshadowed their title push this week, but there is no better response than to go out on the pitch and get the job done. Considering the firepower they possess, PSG have surprisingly found goals hard to get by since Zlatan Ibrahimovic got injured. But they should be able to take care of this one. Home win

Monaco vs Guingamp
For Monaco however the goals have been flying in lately, largely off the boot of Dimitar Berbatov, but the Bulgarian has plenty of helpers should they be needed. Claudio Ranieri will be keen for a strong end to what has been a great first season back in the top flight, and there is no reason why his players shouldn’t oblige. Home win

Levante vs Atletico Madrid
I have long since given up on expecting to see Atletico Madrid slip-up, and rather than be tired from their midweek chores in the Champions League away in London, they will be buoyed by their heroics in dumping Chelsea and reaching a first final in decades. And there will be some fresh legs should they be required, as David Villa and Brazilian midfielder Diego didn’t play at Stamford Bridge, and Raul Garcia only got a few minutes. Oh, and the title is two wins away! Away win

Real Madrid vs Valencia
Real Madrid will in the meantime try their best to keep up the pressure on their cross-town rivals, in hope of a late slip-up allowing them back in. With that Champions League final still a few weeks away, they will not worry too much about fitness and so are likely to unleash Ronaldo, Bale, Di Mari and Benzema. Ronaldo is locked in a fight for the Pichichi and European Golden Boot with Messi and Luis Suarez, and will need no prompting. Home win and ‘Over’

Barcelona vs Getafe
That comeback victory over Villarreal last weekend will have worked wonders for a Barcelona side that was first running out of motivation to keep going in a season that is certain to end with them empty-handed for the first time in ages. And like I said earlier, there is the small matter of Messi chasing after yet another individual accolade which would be consolation however scant. Home win & ‘Over’

Malaga vs Elche
Home win
Sociedad vs Granada
Sevilla vs Villarreal
Valladollid vs Espanyol
Vallecano vs Bilbao
Away win

Celtic vs Aberdeen

Ajax vs NEC Nijmegen
Home win & ‘Over’

PSV vs NAC Breda
Home win
Alkmaar vs Feyenoord
Twente vs Zwolle
Home win

CD Nacional vs Sporting Lisbon
Away win
Benfica vs Vitoria Setubal
Home win & Over
Olhanense vs Porto
Away win