Friday April 25 2014

Giggs’ Man Utd, Barca, Juventus to register wins

By Mark Ssali

PREMIERSHIP

Liverpool vs Chelsea
Jose Mourinho has threatened to field a weakened team for this game in protest over the game’s scheduling relative to his Champions League second leg meeting with Atletico Madrid. Chelsea has strength in depth, and the so called weakened team will have Matic, Lampard, Salah, Oscar, Ba, Schurrle, Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic, Obi Mikel and the likes. Strong enough to fight out a draw.

Crystal Palace vs Man City
Should Liverpool win against Chelsea earlier on Sunday, Man City will have nothing to fight for and will go into this game very deflated. A Chelsea result would inspire them, but it is going to be difficult all the same going against a team bang in form without Yaya Toure and David Silva, perhaps even Sergio Aguero. There is enough armoury left though to ensure goals on either side. ‘Over’

Man United vs Norwich
It has happened at virtually every top flight English club where there has been a change of manager, and Man United are not likely to buck that trend. There should be a positive buzz at Old Trafford, and whichever player new boss Ryan Giggs puts out there will be chomping at the bit, as will the terraces which have largely wanted David Moyes out all along. Norwich have a lot to fight for, but are most likely to fall prey to the occasion. Home win

Arsenal vs Newcastle
The return of Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil has visibly lifted the level of Arsenal’s game from the recent slump, and the shackles have come off the whole team now that they don’t have to bear the burden of title challengers anymore. The fight for fourth is one they are accustomed to and never lose out on, and a few extra days of rest will have them full of energy and invention. Home win and ‘Over’.

SERIE A
Roma vs AC Milan
When two teams in form as good as this come up against each other, something has got to give. It is not beyond Clarence Seerdof’s Milan to win a sixth game in a row, what with their attack getting goals with a lot more consistency now. But Roma are a tough opponent for any Serie A team at home, and Milan’s midfield will find it hard to contain their free-flowing opposite numbers. Goals then, right? ‘Over’

Sassuolo vs Juventus
Whatever Roma manage to do on Friday, Juventus will have time enough to counter on Monday night. By then they will have got plenty of time to recover from their tough Europa League encounter with Benfica, and with the right use of some of their quality reserves will be fresh enough to edge ever closer to the Scudetto. Should Roma lose to Milan, this will be the crowning. Away win

BUNDESLIGA
Bayern vs Bremen
Of what purpose is this game to Bayern except to loosen up any muscles that might have tightened up at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night? And with the second leg of that Champions League semifinal up next Tuesday, why would Pep Guardiola risk his key men’s health on a dead rubber? Bayern’s reserves on the other hand, led by record setting Claudio Pizzaro formerly of Bremen, will be eager. As will the opponents. ‘Over’

Leverkusen vs Dortmund
By the time Leverkusen take to the pitch, they will most likely have been overtaken in the all-important fourth place by Wolfsburg who play earlier against Freiburg. It will thus be desperate times for the hosts who have been up and down lately, against a Dortmund side now in scintillating form and unlikely to have any sympathy for their cause. Should provide for excitement, which in the Bundesliga also means goals. ‘Over’

Schalke vs Monchengladbach
Third placed Schalke will be keen not to be dragged into the fierce battle for fourth just behind them, and will be looking to put some daylight between them and that chasing pack. But they are up against a Gladbach side that has a remote chance of gate-crashing fourth. This game should therefore have a Cup feel to it, and again that translates into goals in Germany these days. ‘Over’

LIGUE ONE

Ajaccio vs Monaco
Monaco are evidently keen on finishing the season strongly and must be enjoying keeping PSG waiting for their crowning. Playing a day earlier again, they can continue to put any Parisian parties on hold by winning this one, and they are most likely to oblige. Dimitar Berbatov for one is enjoying the escape from a relegation dogfight in England, and has providers here of the kind of quality he lacked at Fulham. Away win

Sochaux vs PSG
It is inevitable however that PSG will get to be crowned, and if there were any doubts about that for any odd reason, Laurent Blanc’s men will prove them unfounded yet again. We have seen late drama in title races before, as indeed we are seeing in England and Spain, but PSG are not about to let that happen in France, not this season. Away win

Lille vs Bordeuax
They have put some good distance between themselves and the two traditionally bigger clubs St Etienne and Lyon in the fight for that third and last Champions League slot available to the French Ligue One, and Lille will want to cement that further as they can’t be too sure until it is over. Expect them to keep it tight at the back as usual, for a narrow victory. Home win

LA LIGA
Villarreal vs Barcelona
Out of the Champions League and with the Copa Del Rey final behind them, Barcelona have got only one thing to play for, the La Liga title. They are third favourites as it is, but they know they have to hang in there with the hope that Champions League chores will derail the two Madrid sides. There is also the small matter of Lionel Messi looking to overtake the limping Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the Pichichi and the European Golden Boot. Away win

Real Madrid vs Osasuna
Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are flying at half mast right now, which poses a serious selection headache for Carlo Ancelotti considering that there is a lot of hard work to do in Munich on Tuesday. With defenders Pepe and Arbeloa injured, there are no options for rest there, but Modric and Alonso in the middle need a breather and so Illarramendi and Casemiro should play, as should Lopez in goal, Marcelo at the back and Morata upfront. Won’t be easy but can be done. An early goal would do the trick, because if they trail they might not recover. Home win

Valencia vs Atletico Madrid
Jose Mourinho is complaining about the scheduling of his league game in England, but his Champions League opponents face the same dilemma in Spain. The only difference is that Chelsea’s opponents Liverpool are well-rested, while Atletico face a Valencia side that will have played a Europa League semifinal on Thursday night. That is welcome respite for Atletico, or this one would have been too hard to maneuver even for Diego Simeone’s seemingly tireless lot. Away win

Bilbao vs Sevilla
Home win

Espanyol vs Almeria
Home win

Betis vs Sociedad
Away win

Getafe vs Malaga
Draw

SCOTLAND

Celtic vs Inverness
‘Over’

NETHERLANDS

Heracles Almelo vs Ajax
‘Over’

NEC Nijmegen vs Twente
Away win

ADO Den Haag vs Alkmaar
Away win

Feyenoord vs Cambuur Leeuwarden
‘Over’

Zwolle vs PSV
Away win

RUSSIA
Zenit vs Volga Novgorod
‘Over’

Krasnodar vs Lokomotiv Moscow
Away win

CSKA Moscow vs Rubin Karzan
‘Over’

TerekGroznyvs Dinamo Moscow
Away win

TURKEY
Trabzonspor vs Gaziantepspor
Home win

Fenerbahce vs Caykur Rizespor
Home win & ‘Over’

Sivasspor vs Besiktas
Away win

Elazigspor vs Galatasaray
Away win

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