Preview: Can Wolfsburg go one better this season?
Last season, VfL Wolfsburg overcame many tough opponents en route to the Pokal semifinals. However, once there, they were undone by Jupp Heynckes’ all conquering, high-flying Bayern, 6-1. This time, they have been drawn in the opposite half, away from Bayern. However, their opponents recently beat the Bavarians 0-3. Dortmund will be coming into this match on the back of a very spirited and satisfying performance against the title winners. More importantly, the result helped keep Dortmund in second ahead of Schalke in third in the Bundesliga.
Season falling apart for Barcelona
After being tactically outclassed in the second leg of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderón, Barcelona suffered another heart-ache as Yacine Brahimi’s solitary goal of the match subjected the Blaugrana to their second successive loss on Saturday against Granada.
In the course of the two matches, Barcelona have been knocked out of the Champions League a competition they have fared well in recently having made it to the semi-finals in each of the last six seasons.
Unlike ahead of the first Clasico of the year 2014, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are not in top form. Leo has gone missing lately while CR7 is out injured. So which players will leave a mark on the game?
Two stars under pressure to perform are Neymar and Gareth Bale. Both completely rocked the 2013 summer transfer window and are expected to justify their astronomical price tags. Indeed, the stage has been set for Neymar and Bale to strengthen their rivalry and overshadow, at least for a day, the mouth-watering Messi-Ronaldo clash which cannot take place in the 2014 Copa del Rey final.
Preview: The Bianconeri resume their Scudetto challenge against the Zebrette
On Thursday, Juventus moved one step closer to the Europa League final in Turin by defeating Lyon 2-1 on the night, 3-1 on aggregate. Yet, while the score-line may look like a straightforward win for the side that has yet to lose a game at home, Bianconeri midfielder Claudio Marchisio admitted that his side were fortunate to have secured their position in the semi-finals.
"It wasn't easy. We started off well tonight, but then Lyon equalized and fortunately I was able to score a goal...but it was really lucky," the 28-year-old remarked to Mediaset following the game. Nonetheless, the team is still on course to lift two trophies in May, but will be keen on staying far ahead of second-placed Roma with a win later this evening.
Preview: Les Parisiens hope to wrap up title race against Les Gones
On Tuesday, despite holding a 3-1 advantage from the first leg, PSG were dumped out of the Champions League by a resurgent Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Two days later, Lyon saw their European dreams go up in smoke after being defeated in the second leg of their clash with Juventus.
Hence, both sides will be eager to put this week's disappointments behind them as they turn their attention towards the domestic campaign. For hosts Lyon, they are just four points behind fourth-placed Saint-Etienne who occupt the last European football spot--albeit whichever team makes it will have to secure a spot in the Europa League via the playoffs. As for PSG, Laurent Blanc's troops can clinch the league title should they win--and should Rennes do them a favour by beating second-placed Monaco.
Preview: Chelsea looking for three vital points at the Liberty
With either of Liverpool and Man City poised to drop points as the two title contenders go head to head on Sunday, Chelsea will be hoping to take advantage of the situation by grabbing all three points during their weekend encounter against Swansea City.
A win coupled with a Liverpool loss could allow the Blues to return to the Premier League summit.
Preview: Liverpool host City in potential title decider
The outcome of the match could verily decide who runs away with the Premier League title this season with only five matches left to play. Whereas Chelsea will remain in the mix of things Liverpool and Man City both have been in ravishing form as of late and have remained undefeated in their last five matches.
Liverpool in particular have been nothing short of spectacular and have won all of their last nine games in the Premier League. Much of their good form has been inspired from their magnificent strike duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge who share 49 goals between them in the league.
Preview: Weak Real Madrid looking for robust win
Cristiano Ronaldo was supposed to play one half of this game but it appears he will not spend a single minute on the field. Already, physios are trying to get him ready to face Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey final next Wednesday.
Reports suggest Ronaldo may need a bandage under his knee to control the pain. Ancelotti has not ruled his biggest asset out of El Clasico yet, but it is certain that CR7 will not kick a ball this weekend.
“I had the same injury and I had to strengthen my knee with a lot of gym work with massages to reduce the inflammation,” Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos explained.
Preview: Granada will try to take advantage of a frustrated Barcelona
The chase for the La Liga title continues on Saturday evening, as Barcelona travel to Granada. Bouncing back from a mid-week disappointment will be the priority, but the Catalans also have a Copa del Rey final coming up.
After a 1-0 defeat against Atletico Madrid, which eliminated Barcelona from the Champions League, many are questioning Martino’s future at the club.
He is now asking for his players to respond on Saturday, against a Granada side that are just three points clear of the relegation zone. With six league games remaining and one point between separating them from the top spot, every point is important.
Borussia Dortmund has been criticized sometimes this season for not being as strong as last season. In their final appearance in the Champions League this season, they overturned quite a few opinions. With Robert Lewandowski back in the side following a dubious…
Preview: Arsenal faces a must win at Wembley Stadium
It has been nine long years for Arsenal fans, and on Saturday, they have a chance to see their club at Wembley. Taking part in the semifinals of the competition will not be good enough, and they will expect the Gunners to progress to the final.
All the pressure is on their side, and Arsene Wenger will be on the radar.
The Frenchman knows that he is up against his best chance to claim a title, since their last piece of silverware in 2005. All their injuries will not help, but it should not be an excuse.
Preview: West Brom hopeful of moving away from the relegation zone
Two wins in the last four games have ensured that the Baggies remain five points clear of 18th placed Fulham who currently occupy the final relegation spot. Pepe Mel who replaced Steve Clarke at the helm has played a vital role and should be given credit if his side is to avoid relegation this season.
Their 1-0 victory over Norwich City last time out has allowed them to leapfrog the canaries in the league table, but the relegation battle is hardly over for the throstles who are yet to play Manchester City and Arsenal in the league.
There will be no all-Spanish final come May 14, 2014. However, Sevilla coach Unai Emery is content with Friday's results of the draw. Here is why:
“We think it is going to be a really attractive tie and one that will take a Spanish team through to the final, which is good for the national game.”
Likewise, Valencia defender Ricardo Costa was happy with the outcome of the Europa League semis draw. He said:
“I wanted us to face Sevilla because we can beat them and get to the final, where I would like to meet Benfica.”
Before the month of May begins, the names of the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League’s two finalists will be revealed. See when and how to watch the semi-final matches live through LiveSoccerTV’s recap of Friday’s Champions League semis draw.
First leg match dates
They will be played on 22 April 2014 and 23 April 2014.
The two remaining Spanish clubs will be at home. Atleti will get the Last 4 adventure underway with a spicy clash against 2011/2012 UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea at the Vicente Calderon.
The following day, city rivals Real Madrid will affront Bayern Munich in a re-match of their 2011/12 Champions League semi-final clash.
Probabilities are very few with only four teams left, yet many fans are lost in predictions. How will Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Real Madrid be paired on Friday in Nyon?
Atletico Madrid arguably provided the biggest result in the Last 8 by kicking giants Barcelona out of the competition. The Rojiblancos needed a lone goal from Koke in the second leg to beat the Catalans 2-1 on aggregate.
This sealed the fact that “Barca are out whereas Bayern, Atletico, Real…
Preview: La Vecchia Signora take on Les Gones in what should be a closely-contested second leg
Following PSG's exit from the Champions League at the hands of Chelsea, Remi Garde's men find themselves in an interesting similar position to the side they will be facing in Turin. Both Juventus and Lyon are now Serie A and Ligue 1's sole representatives remaining in any kind of continental competition this season, and each squad has their respective reasons for trying to make it into the final four.
For the Bianconeri, who were consigned to the Europa League after failing to get out of their group stage campaign, they will be keen to make it to the final in May as it's being held at their home ground. As for Lyon, their 5th-placed standing puts them four behind Saint-Etienne and the last continental football berth, so naturally, they will look to overturn the deficit and take one step closer to winning their first European title since claiming the now-defunct Intertoto Cup back in 1997.
Preview: Benfica out to end AZ Alkmaar's dreams of a Europa League Final
The Estadio da Luz will be the venue for the Champions League final this season. But before that can happen, Benfica will welcome Dutch side AZ Alkmaar to the Portuguese capital, for a Europa League quarterfinal match.
A 0-1 victory in the first-leg for Jorge Jesus’ side has them in the driver’s seat heading into Thursday night. Eduardo Salvio’s side volley beat AZ’s goalkeeper in the second half, marking his first goal since a lengthy recovery from a knee injury.
Benfica’s home form will be a concern for the visitors. Undefeated in their last 44 matches at the Estadio da Luz, the Portuguese League leaders will aim to make it 45 on Thursday night. Their last defeat in Lisbon came on October 2, 2012, against Barcelona, where the Catalans came away with a 0-2 victory.
Preview: Sevilla have a one goal deficit to overturn
Sevilla will welcome Porto to Andalusia on Thursday night for yet another fascinating Europa League match. The Sevillistas gave their fans hope, after defeating Betis in the previous round in a penalty shootout. They will now be up against the current Portuguese champions, who have plenty of experience.
The Portuguese side was matched up with Napoli in the previous round; with a lot of football fans expecting the Italian’s to go through.
Manchester United perhaps could not have asked for this tie to take place at a better time than it did. They are finally stringing results together; their performances, while not altogether convincing, seem more jointed. Their showing in the first leg was spirited…
Preview: Atletico hoping to make full use of away goal advantage
Diego Simeone’s men unfazed by an energetic home crowd in the first leg put an emphatic showing at the Camp Nou. Despite a setback which saw star man Diego Costa stretched off due to an injury Atleti remained the most dangerous side in the first half and could have taken an early lead had David Villa been more clinical. It was a wonder strike from Brazilian midfielder Diego Ribas which gave the visitors the lead and Atletico were poised to end the first leg with a goal advantage until Neymar leveled the scores in the 71st minute.