Thursday April 3 2014

Atletico to drop points, wins for Liverpool, PSG

By Mark Ssali

Man City vs Southampton
The title run-in has heated up now, the countdown is truly on. Man City are still playing catch-up, in both the games-played and points columns, with their biggest rival’s colour having changed from blue to red following the drama of last weekend. All they can do is play their part, first up a potentially tough game against a high-scoring, in-form side. City to win but with goals from either side.

West Ham vs Liverpool
The possibility of coming from the high of assuming table leadership to the low of a momentarily derailed title charge inside one week is huge here. West Ham are in form, have a manager who loves to play spoiler, two Liverpool rejects looking for some revenge in Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing, and a dangerous aerial ball on a narrow pitch. Goals on either side, but Liverpool usually get more than the other side. Away win

Chelsea vs Stoke
Jose Mourinho is disappointed that the destiny of the title is no longer in his hands, but don’t be fooled by his talk of giving up the fight altogether. This is a race that has several twists still left in it, and nobody knows that more than the Chelsea manager, who must inwardly harbour hopes of getting some favours from Man City and Liverpool’s remaining opponents. Two away losses, hard to see Mourinho losing three games on the bounce. And this is at the Bridge. Home win

Everton vs Arsenal
There is a thrilling six-pointer on the cards here, with Arsenal getting the proper dress rehearsal for their upcoming FA Cup games. There is so much at stake this game will be fought out like a knock-out Cup game, with the reward for Arsenal some breathing space in the fight for fourth, and the reward for Everton a great chance to snap up that Champions League place at the end of it all. Evens out, doesn’t it? Score Draw


Juventus vs Livorno
You call for goals galore in the Serie A at ‘owner’s risk’ really, for there is not the one game that guarantees that beforehand, not even top vs bottom. This current team however has more goals in it than some great Juventus sides of the past, perhaps because the attack-minded players are allowed to be exactly that, and defences are not as mean as in yester-years. For that reason, I call for the ‘Over’

Cagliari vs Roma
Roma were involved in some very tough midweek action against in-form Parma and will feel the fatigue factor creep into their game away to Cagliari at some point. What is helping them right now is momentum, and the fact that it is not just the results but the football itself that the players are enjoying at the moment. That should somehow see them through. Away win


Augsburg vs Bayern
A few injuries creeping in, coupled with the unfinished business of Man United in the Champions League would have meant that Bayern would put out a significantly weakened side for this game, but such is the strength of arguably Europe’s best squad ensemble that there will be quality (and goals too) to ensure that the quest for an unbeaten league campaign is not deterred. ‘Over’

Dortmund vs Wolfsburg
Here is a squad not deep enough to ably cope with the same chase on two fronts, with injuries and a return date with Real Madrid conspiring to suggest that Dortmund will not have anything close to their best out there. However, with that Madrid tie seemingly out of reach (or is it not), Jurgen Klopp might just decide to go strong against a side strong enough to fancy a belated fight for Champions League football (they are just a point behind floundering Leverkusen). Goals I see. ‘Over’

Hamburg vs Leverkusen
An extended wretched run has brought Leverkusen to a previously unthinkable point where they risk losing out on Champions League football entirely, with Wolfsburg just a point behind and advancing with intent. They still have the same players who scaled such heights earlier in the season however, and a kick up the backside from Sami Hyypia has never been more desperately needed. Away win


PSG vs Reim
Thankfully for PSG, this one is at home in Paris. With their minds in London on the Champions League second leg against Chelsea, this is a fixture that would have been unwelcome if it had been away. It is still a major distraction for a squad clearly built to impact on Europe, and now they have lost Ibrahimovic to injury. Laurent Blanc likely to protect the remaining stars, and I don’t see PSG winning this one.

Monaco vs Nantes
Some recent wobbles have widened the gap between them and PSG at the top and made the title more unreachable, but at the very least Monaco should return to winning ways in the Principality. Promises to be an open game this one, and it should suit the style of several technical players that will be on display. An early goal either side will open it up even more. ‘Over’


Atletico Madrid vs Villarreal
These are extremely tough times for the three clubs in hot pursuit of the La Liga title, with tight Champions League games thrown into a mix that has even tighter league matches. None will be more affected than Atletico, both because of their squad resources and the physically demanding style they have adopted under Diego Simeone. I know I’ve said this before, but I don’t see them winning this one.

Barcelona vs Betis
The defence is depleted and the games – very important ones – are coming thick and fast. With Atletico threatening to knock them out of the Champions League and also dethrone them in the La Liga, Barcelona are going to have to dig deep. Time for Pedro, Tello, Adriano, Alex Song and Sergi Roberto to step up then, isn’t it? Home win

Sociedad vs Real Madrid
The La Liga title’s destiny is no longer in their hands, and with a trip to Germany in midweek this is not the league fixture they would have fancied. As it is with Atletico and Barca though, Madrid are going to have to call the depth of their squad to the rescue, and for them Morata, Jesse, Isco, Illarramendi, Arbeloa, Varane and the rest have to chip in. Will be a hard one to win, but there will be goals. ‘Over’

Malaga vs Granada
Home win

Sevilla vs Espanyol
Home win

Valladollid vs Valencia
Away win

Vallecano vs Celta Vigo
Away win


Dundee vs Celtic


Zwolle vs Groningen

Heerenveen vs PSV
Away win

Heracles vs Ajax
Away win

Feyenoord vs Waalwijk

Vitesse vs Go Ahead Eagles
Home win

Roda vs Alkmaar


Pacos vs Sporting Lisbon
Away win

Olhanense vs Braga
Away win

Porto vs Academia Coimbra


Spartak Moscow vs Ural
Home win

PFK Samara vs CSKA Moscow
Away win

Zenit vs Rubin Karzan