This weekend had promised to be a mouth-watering one prior to the death of Ex-Barcelona boss, Tito Vilanova who passed on after a long battle with cancer aged 45. Our condolences to his family and friends and the Barcelona football family. Back to action, we have some key games to look forward to seeing this weekend in Italy, England and Spain.
Our first stop is Italy where we have a big clash on friday night.
ROMA VS AC MILAN
Roma will be looking to muster the motivation to make it nine wins in a row when they welcome AC Milan this evening at the Stadio Olimpico. With neither side dropping points since mid-March, Friday night’s matchup features the two hottest sides in the league considering their results in the last six matches, Milan has won five of those six matches, scoring 12 goals and conceding 2 along the way while Roma has taken all 18 points, banging home 15 goals in the process. The difference between the two teams in the standings is big though, Roma have guaranteed their Champions League place for next season as they will finish 2nd, 8 points behind league leaders Juventus. AC Milan instead is sixth on equal points with Parma and they are embroiled in the fight for Europa League qualification.
Roma (4-3-3): De Sanctis, Maicon, Toloi, Castan, Dodò, De Rossi, Nainggolan, Pjanic, Gervinho, Totti, Ljajic. Manager: Garcia
Milan (4-2-3-1): Abbiati, Abate, Rami, Mexes, Bonera, Montolivo, Muntari, Taarabt, Kakà, Poli, Balotelli. Manager: Seedorf
Prediction: Roma 3-2 AC Milan
Our next stop is England where we will be looking at two games quickly, Liverpool VS Chelsea and Crystal Palace VS Manchester City. Following Moyes’ sack earlier in the week, four members of the “class of 92” will lead United against Norwich City on saturday while the battle for survival heats up as Sunderland tackles Cardiff City and Fulam hosts Hull City.
LIVERPOOL VS CHELSEA
Liverpool host Chelsea on Sunday aware that victory over the Blues would eliminate them from the race for the Premier League title. The Merseyside club lead Chelsea by five points with three games remaining, and a win at Anfield would take Liverpool to within four points of their first league trophy since 1990.
For manager Brendan Rodgers, Daniel Sturridge will face a late fitness test, On-loan winger Victor Moses is ineligible against his parent club and midfielder Jordan Henderson serves the second game of a three-match ban.
Jose Mourinho is considering wholesale changes for Chelsea’s trip to Anfield due to the proximity of the Champions League semi-final second leg with Atletico Madrid next Wednesday. The Blues are hit by injuries to goalkeeper Petr Cech (shoulder), captain John Terry (ankle), playmaker Eden Hazard (calf) and Samuel Eto’o (knee), while midfielder Ramires’ season is over after he received a four-match ban.
Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are ineligible in Europe so are likely to feature, while Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel are available ahead of European bans, with all four likely to be selected at Liverpool.
Possible starting lineups
Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Flanagan, Skrtel, Sakho; Gerrard, Lucas, Coutinho; Sterling, Sturridge, Suarez
Chelsea: Hilario; Kalas, Mikel, Christensen, Ake; Matic, Van Ginkel, Baker, Lampard; Salah, Ba
Prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea
Crystal Palace VS Manchester City
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini will hope to remain in the title race when his team travel to Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon. City sit six points adrift of leaders Liverpool with a game in hand, and anything other than victory at Selhurst Park will damage the club’s hopes of a second Premier League crown in three years.
Crystal Palace have now won 5 games a row; only 3 teams (including this week’s opponents Manchester City) have enjoyed better winning runs all season in the Premier League and Tony Pulis has led them to guaranteed safety.
For Pellegrini, his team will be without David Silva, Jesus Navas and Matija Nastasic for the trip to Selhurst Park on Sunday but Yaya Toure may be available for selection after missing the games against Sunderland and West Brom.
Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis has guided the Eagles to five successive wins in the Premier League to guarantee their top-flight status for another year. Their ascent from relegation favourites to mid-table safety has been one of the stories of this Barclays Premier League season.
Last weekend’s 1-0 win at West Ham United strengthened Palace’s hold on 11th position, and a sixth victory in a row could see the London outfit move into the top half of the table.
Pulis is unlikely to make any alterations to the team that won at Upton Park.
Possible starting line-ups
Crystal Palace: Speroni; Mariappa, Ward, Dann, Delaney; Dikgacoi, Puncheon, Jedinak, Ledley, Bolasie; Jerome
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Clichy, Kompany, Demichelis; Fernandinho, Nasri, Javi García, Milner, Jovetic; Aguero
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester City
Finally in Spain, Real Madrid will be in action against Osasuna with Ronaldo getting the nod to start while Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema remains doubtful. Valencia welcomes Atletico Madrid and Barcelona will be away at Villareal.
Prediction: A comfortable win for Real Madrid. Atletico will struggle against their hosts but they should edge it and should Barcelona drop points against Villareal, it would be no surprise.