European Leagues preview
After the English and German championships drew to a close last week it is the turn of Italy, Spain and France to deliver their final verdicts. Marseille have already been crowned champions in Ligue 1, but everything is about to be decided at the top of the standings in Serie A and La Liga, with Inter Milan and Barcelona still on target to retain their titles.
FIFA.com previews the upcoming action in Europe one last time this term, also looking forward to this weekend's cup finals.
La Liga: Title and record at stake
Whether frontrunners Barcelona or their closest challengers Real Madrid come out on top in Spain this weekend, the eventual champions are destined to enter the record books for amassing the highest La Liga points total of all time. Both need the title to save their seasons too, having been dumped out of Europe and the Copa del Rey. The advantage lies with Barça ahead of the final round of fixtures and they welcome 16th-placed Valladolid, while Los Merengues travel to Malaga, in 18th. Neither side will make it easy for the title hopefuls as they will both be fighting to stave off relegation.
The tussle to seal the final Champions League spot will occupy the attention too, with fourth-placed Sevilla in the driving seat ahead of their match away against Almeria, who are 12th. Mallorca, in fifth, have not given up hope yet, however, and will look to defeat mid-table Espanyol to make things interesting. In the struggle to avoid demotion, just three points separates the bottom five teams from Xerez to Valladolid, with second-bottom Tenerife scheduled to visit Valencia, third, and third-bottom Racing Santander hosting Sporting Gijon.
The question: Will Barcelona clinch their 20th title or will Real Madrid secure their 32nd?
The big game: Barcelona-Valladolid, Sunday 19:00, Camp Nou
The words: "I’m pleased with the season I’ve had. It’s been a great campaign, but it’s not necessarily going to end with the title – even if anything can still happen mathematically,” Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid forward.
Serie A: Inter’s treble march
Having already lifted the Coppa Italia and with their Champions League final against Bayern Munich coming up next weekend, Inter can lay their hands on their second trophy of the season this Sunday, when the scudetto will be on the line. Victory at already-relegated Siena would guarantee Jose Mourinho’s men their 18th Italian crown and fifth in succession, but should they slip up, Roma could leapfrog them on the final day assuming they come out on top away to Chievo.
Lower down the table, fourth-placed Sampdoria welcome Napoli, sixth, desperate to cement their grasp on the Champions League play-off ticket, while fifth-placed Palermo travel to already-relegated Atalanta hoping they can wrest it away. The weekend’s biggest match ought to have been between third-placed AC Milan and Juventus, in seventh, but little more than bragging rights will be at stake as both teams put an end to poor seasons.
The question: Will Sampdoria or Palermo accompany Inter, Roma and Milan in the Champions League next term?
The big game: Siena-Inter, Sunday 15:00, Stadio Artemio Franchi
The words: "It’s difficult to think about Siena when you have to play a Champions League final a few days later. I want all my players to become champions of Europe,” Jose Mourinho, Inter coach.
Ligue 1: Trio vying for one spot
Still toasting their league success, Marseille will sign off against Grenoble, who are already certain to finish bottom of the heap. The champions will no doubt approach the match as a celebration, while their opponents will want to exit the top flight in style. Providing real suspense, however, is the tussle to secure France’s two other UEFA Champions League berths for next season. Second-placed Lille are in the strongest position to take an automatic group-stage place as they gear up for their final fixture at Lorient, in seventh, but Lyon climbed to third by downing Monaco on Wednesday and will pounce on any slip from their rivals to the north.
With relegated Le Mans due at the Stade de Gerland, Lyon will be confident of at least sewing up a berth in the Champions League play-offs next term, meaning fourth-placed Auxerre – who travel to Sochaux – may have to settle for the UEFA Europa League. Montpellier, in fifth, find themselves in a similar position ahead of their journey to take on Paris Saint-Germain, though the promoted side must also remain wary of Bordeaux. The deposed champions lie sixth and need to win at Le Mans, in 14th, while hoping Montpellier fail to prevail in the capital.
The question: Who will finish top scorer between Mamadou Niang, on 17 goals, Kevin Gameiro, on 16, and Lisandro Lopez, on 15?
The big game: Lorient-Lille, Saturday, 21:00, Stade du Moustoir
The words: "The win against Monaco helped us. Now we’re going to concentrate on the match against Le Mans, which will be in front of our own fans once again. We hope to win that game to finish second,” Miralem Pjanic, Lyon midfielder.
The German and English leagues may have concluded last weekend, but in both cases their newly crowned champions still have duties to perform. Bayern Munich will look to lift the German Cup against holders Werder Bremen, a few days before heading to Madrid for the Champions League showpiece, while Chelsea will contest the FA Cup final against Portsmouth. For the Blues, that will mean coming up against an old acquaintance in Pompey manager Avraham Grant, who led the Stamford Bridge side during the 2007/08 season.
In Turkey, finally, the last instalment of games will determine who clinches the title this season. Bursaspor led from the front for most of the campaign before cracking as the finishing line approached, but the second-placed outfit can still spring a surprise as long as they get the better of Besiktas, in fourth. Leaders Fenerbahce remain masters of their own destiny, however, and will look to press home their advantage by sweeping aside fifth-placed Trabzonspor.