Leaders approach finishing lines
The Bundesliga takes a break this weekend as Borussia
Dortmund and Bayern Munich dispute the German Cup final, but the
action promises to be intense elsewhere in Europe. Bordeaux and
Roma will attempt to pile even more pressure on Lyon and Inter
Milan, the respective leaders of Ligue 1 and Serie A, before they
run out of games.
Manchester United and Real Madrid may enjoy more comfortable cushions, but the defending English and Spanish champions will be wary of giving their pursuers a glimmer of hope. FIFA.com looks ahead to the pick of the forthcoming action on the Old Continent.
Premier League: United aiming to keep clear
Chelsea's win at Everton in midweek reduced table-topping Manchester United's gap to two points, although Sir Alex Ferguson's side do possess a game in hand. The Scottish manager will take his charges to Blackburn Rovers in Round 35 of 38, hoping to restore their five-point advantage ahead of their title decider at Stamford Bridge next weekend.
At the opposite end of the table, 19th-placed Fulham entertain Liverpool, in fourth, while the three sides ahead of them - Bolton Wanderers, Birmingham City and Reading - will all be battling for their top-flight lives away from home. That could allow Wigan Athletic to take a giant leap towards survival, providing they take maximum points from the visit of Tottenham Hotspur.
The question: Victorious in just three of their
last ten games, can Arsenal get back to winning ways to consolidate
The big match: Manchester City-Portsmouth, Sunday 20 April, 17:00
The quote: "Despite the disappointment, we're going to continue down the same road. The goal now is to keep my team together. My players are absolutely fantastic and the trophies will follow - I'm convinced of it." Arsene Wenger after his Arsenal side lost at Manchester United.
Ligue 1: Can Lyon last the distance?
Holding just a four-point lead over Bordeaux going into their 34th game, Lyon have less room for manoeuvre at this stage in the season than they have had in four years. Unsurprisingly, the reigning six-time champions will therefore settle for nothing less than all three points at 19th-placed Strasbourg on Saturday.
Any slip-up in that encounter would allow Laurent Blanc's men to close the gap when they contest the Garonne derby at 16th-placed Toulouse the following day. Toulouse's home form has been disappointing this term, but they will be desperate to deny their neighbours as they struggle to stave off relegation, just as Strasbourg will surely be hungry for an upset in their match.
The question: Beaten 3-2 by Nice last Sunday,
despite leading 2-1 with eight minutes to go, will Paris
Saint-Germain be able to lift their spirits when they visit Caen?
The big match: Toulouse-Bordeaux, Sunday 20 April, 18:00
The quote: "Nothing is lost in the race for third place, contrary to what some people are saying. There's still a month of competition left and it's going to be a difficult month for both us and Marseille." Frederic Biancalani, Nancy defender
Serie A: The chase continues
Still four points behind Inter, Roma continue to believe they can snatch the Scudetto away from Roberto Mancini's troops. Hosting basement side Livorno this Saturday, Francesco Totti and Co will be confident of reducing the deficit to just one point ahead of the defending champions' journey to Torino the following day.
In the tussle for survival, meanwhile, no fewer than seven sides are separated by a mere five points (Livorno, Empoli, Reggina, Parma, Cagliari, Catania and Torino). Sunday brings together relegation rivals Cagliari and Empoli in a critical 'six-pointer'.
The question: Will Roma be able to see off
visitors Livorno on Saturday and put the pressure on Inter, who
travel to Torino a day later?
The big match: Cagliari-Empoli, Sunday 20 April, 15:00
The quote: "When I arrived at Milan, I wanted the No10 shirt but Rui Costa had it. I waited for my time to come, just like everybody else. The number's mine now, so if Ronaldinho joins us he'll have to pick another one." Clarence Seedorf responds to rumours that Ronaldinho has asked to be given the No10 shirt if he signs for AC Milan.
La Liga: Real on course for glory
Real Madrid have bolstered their lead over Barcelona by five points in the last three games and now look to be cruising towards the title. Nine points clear in all, Los Merengues have been able to prepare for their trip to Santander in the best possible circumstances, whereas Barça face a local derby when neighbours Espanyol arrive at Camp Nou on Saturday. The hosts can at least draw confidence from the fact Espanyol's last win in this fixture came on 28 March 1982.
At the bottom, the supporters of 18th-placed Zaragoza and 17th-placed Recreativo Huelva face a nerve-racking Saturday evening when their teams clash. The outcome could well prove decisive with only three points separating the two sides.
The question: A solitary point ahead of
Villarreal, will Barcelona hold on to second spot this weekend?
The big match: Zaragoza-Huelva, Saturday 19 April, 20:00
The quote: "Don't forget that Real Madrid haven't won the league yet. I know what it means to lose a title everyone thinks is in the bag just 45 minutes before the end of the season." Paco Buyo, former Real star.
PSV Eindhoven need just one more point to wrap things up in the Netherlands, and they will be hoping to claim that at Vitesse Arnhem when the league draws to a close this Sunday. Second-placed Ajax will look to take care of business against Heracles at the Amsterdam ArenA and hope Vitesse do them a favour.
Belgium is gearing up for the biggest match on its calendar, meanwhile, with Standard Liege due to meet Anderlecht on Sunday. Still unbeaten after 25 matches, Standard would dearly love to keep their record intact and move a little closer to sealing the Jupiler League title.
The last five rounds of matches are certain to be
thrilling in the Czech Republic, with city foes Sparta and Slavia
Prague level on points at the summit. The same is also true of
Istanbul rivals Fenerbahce and Galatasaray in Turkey.
If you haven't already, don't forget to sign up for the FIFA World Leagues Predictor. Have you got what it takes to claim this week's prize? Why not play today.