Soccer

Man City, Monaco and Atletico to win

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By Mark Ssali

Posted  Thursday, April 10  2014 at  18:50
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PREMIER LEAGUE
Swansea vs Chelsea
This is the kind of banana skin on which Chelsea have slipped up every so often away from home this season. Coming from the high of midweek Champions League heroics, this is a dampener for which Jose Mourinho is going to have to call on all his motivational powers to lift his team. Working in his favour are two factors: i) that Liverpool and City face off and points will be dropped by title rivals, and ii) that Swansea play the open end-to-end game that Willian, Schurrle, Oscar and his strikers will love. Away win

Liverpool vs Man City
In a clash of the league’s most goal-happy teams, the one that defends best will come out on top. For Liverpool, Lucas Leiva has timed his return to perfection, for Henderson and Gerrard would have had a hard time tracking Yaya Toure, and for Man City the need to slow down the game and play patient like they did in the first half at Arsenal will be more crucial here. Play it at frantic pace and they will be taken apart by the quicker, more youthful and agile Liverpool, exposing holes in City’s rear third. Somehow, it is a game I don’t see the Reds winning…

Man City vs Sunderland
Should Man City get a result at Anfield (even a draw works in their favour), they will be quite inspired for the first of their games-in-hand, on Wednesday night. Even if Sunderland have turned themselves into some sort of bogey team for City, they would find Manuel Pellegrini’s men in uncompromising mood. Were City to be beaten by Liverpool they would still be determined to beat Sunderland in the hope that Chelsea would get something from Anfield the following weekend. So … home win

FA CUP
Wigan vs Arsenal
That loss to Birmingham in the Capital One Cup final must still haunt Arsene Wenger, and there have been other Cup ejections by lowly teams which have got in the way of Arsenal and a trophy since 2005 (remember Swansea last season?). As if they needed any reminders about the possibility of such an upset again, Wigan provided it by felling the mighty Man City to get here. It is for this reason that they cannot let their guard slip this time, as they are potentially 180 minutes away from finally ending the drought. Away win

SERIE A
Roma vs Atalanta
The champagne remains on ice in Turin because Roma are doing a good job of holding off Juve’s title celebrations. They are expected to continue in the same vein when they host Atalanta in Italian capital, the Romans most likely to prevail over their visitors with the same beautiful football they have displayed for most of the season. Anything else would be a shock really. Home win

Udinese vs Juventus
I have got just about the same feeling for this one as I did when Juventus were due to travel to Naples a couple of weeks back, and I was right they wouldn’t win over there then. Udinese are not quite as talented and formidable as Napoli I must admit, but if they put their minds to it they can just about hold the Old Lady at bay. I don’t see why they shouldn’t put their minds to it, so no win for Juve I reckon.

AC Milan vs Catania
Three wins on the trot have belatedly put Milan in contention for a Europa League place, and even if the race involves five other teams I fancy them to get a slot. This is not anywhere near as strong as the Milan teams of the past, but there is some useful attacking talent in there that can cause damage, especially now that the confidence levels have been raised by a run of good results. This will be fourth in a row.

BUNDESLIGA
Bayern vs Dortmund
Had Bayern not lost at Ausburg last weekend, this game would have been fiercely contested with the Bavarians looking to make Bundesliga history by finishing the season unbeaten. But now there is not that much to play for except pride, and hopefully the rivalry between the two can ensure a competitive edge. What is not in doubt is the quality on either side, and good football is a given. Goals too. ‘Over’

Schalke vs Frankfurt
There is plenty enough incentive for Schalke to finish the season strong, and it is not just about hanging onto a Champions League place. Should Dortmund lose to Bayern, Schalke can draw level with them on points by beating Frankfurt, with another four games to play. It would represent a great opportunity for them to finish above their eternal rivals in second place, a rare occurrence in recent years when they have had to watch on as Dortmund won titles. Home win and ‘Over’

LIGUE ONE
Lyon vs PSG
Completely demoralised by the manner of their Champions League ejection by Chelsea in midweek, PSG must lift their spirits and haul themselves across the finish line for the consolation prize of their second straight league title. It will not be easy, and they will not have Zlatan Ibrahimovic to push them along, but thankfully for them the stature of the opposition will help. Lyon have quality, and something to fight for, and so this should eventually turn out to be a thriller. ‘Over’

Rennes vs Monaco
Monaco have no motivational problems as they look to finish second and seal their return to the Champions League, the stage on which the talent their money is ushering in deserves to play. It won’t be easy away to Rennes, but Claudio Ranieri’s men have so much technical quality that it shows even on the road, in front of bigger audiences than they can manage back home in the principality. Away win

LA LIGA
Real Madrid vs Almeria
For the three Spanish rivals locked in a grueling battle for the La Liga title and who until a few days ago still all had eyes on the Champions League crown too, it should come as a relief that the weekend’s fixtures are not the hardest they could get. Relatively easiest of all is this one, mostly because Real Madrid play at home, unlike the other two. Home win and ‘Over’

Granada vs Barcelona
The heartache of Champions League elimination must be cast aside quite quickly, for the destiny of the La Liga title is still very much in their hands. It might take sweet revenge on Atletico Madrid for the league trophy to head to the Camp Nou, but that is only if they take care of the other business in the meantime. First up is this trip, and they should do so comfortably. Away win and ‘Over’

Getafe vs Atletico Madrid
On paper they have the tougher of the matches for the title chasing trio. But like they have been grinding out results against tricky opposition all season and most notably recently when they overcame Celta Vigo and Villarreal last weekend, they are likely to sort this one too. Besides, they are high on momentum right now, in no small part thanks to the monumental ejection of Barca from the Champions League on Wednesday night. Away win

Osasuna vs Valladollid
Home win

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