Preview: Dortmund need a miracle, Los Blancos want an early goal
Even with the expected absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, who left Dortmund’s pitch after only 15 minutes of training on Tuesday morning, Real Madrid are virtually free from pressure. Thanks to the big win at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg, Los Blancos are confident about sealing their 2013/14 UEFA Champions League semi-final spot on German soil.
This time, a repeat of the 4-1 victory they clinched over Real Madrid last season will not be enough for Borussia Dortmund to go through. The away goals rule would see them crash out from Europe on aggregate. Still, Dortmund are not giving up as football is full of surprises.
Preview: The Rossoneri look to make it three straight wins against the Grifone
It's not something that many fans would have anticipated after last season's miraculous turnaround, but Milan has yet to win three consecutive games in Serie a all season. They can do so against Genoa, a side that they have not lost to since back in September 2008, but due to their dismal form this season, their opponents are just three points behind them in the league table in 13th place.
Additionally, despite their 39 points, Gian Piero Gasperini's men have fared well at home, with seven victories out of ten at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. However, Milan, who are well out of contention for a Champions League berth, could close the gap on city rivals Inter to just five points with a win against the Grifone. The Nerazzurri were held to a 2-2 draw with Bologna and sit just eight ahead of the 11th-placed Rossoneri in fifth--showing how close the teams ranging from just outside the top four to fourteenth place are presently.
Preview: League leaders look to get back to winning ways against the relegation candidates
Juventus has nearly triple the total points of their opponents, with their haul of 81 giving them a 56 point lead over struggling side Livorno. Hence, this should be an easy way for Antonio Conte's men re-establish a comfortable margin over Roma after their 22-match streak was snapped by Napoli this past weekend.
Suffice it to say, history is not on Livorno's side. The Amaranto are currently in 18th place with a dismal 25 points earned from 31 games, and one would have to go back to a time well before many Serie A fans--or even their parents--were born to find out when they were able to defeat the Bianconeri. In fact, they have only won four times against Juventus, with just one in Turin, and the last time they were able to emerge victorious against La Vecchia Signoria was in 1942, the same year in which they earned their best ever result in Italian football--a second place finish behind Torino.
It is clear to see which position both Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata prefer to function in. Just behind the main striker in the number ten role, with the freedom to distribute the ball to the flanks, supply Robin van Persie to finish or to shoot from in and around the penalty box.
Mata's Man of the Match performance against Newcastle United on Saturday 5th April proved to be the Spaniard's best outing in a United shirt, scoring two goals including a stunning curling free-kick. However, should Wayne Rooney have not been injured Mata would have undoubtedly been moved over to the right or left hand side of the formation.
Preview: Liverpool expected to hammer the hosts
The Hammers have been floating in the middle of the Premier League standings, waiting to break into the top half at the expense of Stoke City against whom they lost 3-1 in mid-March.
However, Liverpool have been invincible in 2014. Not only are they yet to lose a league match this year but they have also picked maximum points in each of their last eight encounters. The last team to steal points away from the Reds was West Bromwich Albion on February 2nd. Kolo Toure was to blame as an horrific error in defence allowed Victor Anichebe to cancel Daniel Sturridge’s first-half opener.
Preview: Both sides battle for Champions League football
Toffees and Gunners square off at Goodison Park on Sunday; with both clubs aiming for a top four finish. Everton are just four points back of Arsenal, but also have a game in hand.
Winless in their last fourteen attempts against the North London side, Roberto Martinez’s men will have to put in a solid performance if they want to change that streak. The last time Everton defeated Arsene Wenger’s side was in March of 2007.
On Sunday, the three points up for grabs will feel like more than that. A victory for the hosts would put them one point back of Arsenal, with a game in hand. That could see Wenger’s side fall out of the top four if Everton were to win their game in hand.
Preview: Los Cementeros hoping to stretch their lead on the top
Cruz Azul will be hoping to maintain their place on top of the table when they face arch rivals América in what is expected to be a fierce encounter.
The last five meetings between the two sides have yielded mixed results, Cruz Azul have emerged victorious once, America twice whereas the other two encounters including the most recent one ended with the scores leveled at 1-1.
Preview: A must-win game without CR7
Cristiano Ronaldo will be rested. As reported on Thursday, the Portugal captain has a slight patellar tendon problem. Although victory is a must at the Anoeta this weekend, Carlo Ancelotti prefers to avoid taking risks with CR7’s health.
The Italian manager will have to count on hungry youngster Morata who netted an amazing curling goal against Rayo Vallecano last Saturday. Gareth Bale, whose synchronization with Cristiano Ronaldo seems to have broken a bit since the Clasico defeat, will be able to exhibit his freedom in the left wing and cut inside to shoot.
Preview: Blues looking to bounce back from consecutive defeats
Just when it seemed nothing could go wrong for Chelsea, the Blues have not only conceded their place at the top of the Premier League, but as things stand Chelsea’s place in the last four of the Champions League remains in jeopardy.
Mourinho’s men suffered their second defeat in four games in the league when an own goal from captain John Terry resulted in Chelsea dropping all three points at the Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace. Four days later the Blues were at the receiving end of another defeat as PSG got the better of the London side, subjecting Mourinho’s men to a 3-1 loss.
Preview: Forgetting the negative news surrounding the club is key for Barcelona
The La Liga campaign is coming to an end, but things just do not get any easier for the Blaugrana. After their injury blow to Victor Valdes, the Catalans are now facing a transfer suspension from FIFA.
On top of a possible suspension, Barcelona drew mid-week at home against Atletico Madrid, in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals. A wonder goal from Diego put the visitors ahead, but Neymar slotted a ball past the Atletico goalkeeper, but that was all the hosts could do.
Preview: Has Manchester United turned a corner?
After every positive display of United, the question always seems to be whether the old United has returned. A positive display in midweek against Bayern will of course see that question asked yet again. United defended tightly and despite conceding the lion’s share of possession at home, managed to spring some surprise attacks on their opponents. They even took the lead through Nemanja Vidic but saw it cancelled out. Nonetheless, David Moyes was appreciated for the tactics he used including bringing on Shinji Kagawa in the second half to counter Bayern’s somewhat limited threats.
Preview: Citizens continue their title chase
The club from Manchester has played two games less than title rivals Chelsea and Liverpool and should the Citizens successfully manage to win both their games in hand they can overtake Liverpool on the top of the table.
With Arsenal no longer considered being in the race for the title, it has become a three horse race on the top for the Premier League crown and Liverpool seemingly look the side most likely to emerge victorious.
FC Barcelona’s 2013/14 pre-season campaign was tarnished with tax fraud allegations against Lionel Messi. As if it wasn’t enough, the mighty Spanish club was then accused of transfer fraud concerning Neymar’s move away from Santos. The intensity of this transfer issue led to the resignation of Sandro Rosell as club president in January.
Problems continue to hurt Barca under new president Bartomeu. On Wednesday, the Catalans were slapped with a two-transfer window ban for “illegal buying and selling of players under 18” according to FIFA.
However, Barcelona vice president Javier Faus is certain that “enemies” are behind all the controversies to fall down the club.
Speaking to the Spanish press on Thursday, Faus boldly declared:
Preview: Benfica and AZ Alkmaar meet for the first time in an official match
Benfica’s current run of form has been fantastic, and they will look to continue that on Thursday night in Holland.
Jorge Jesus’ side is currently sitting top of the Portuguese League with a seven point lead over Lisbon rivals Sporting CP. They continued their fine form at the weekend with a victory over Braga, after coming up short mid-week against Porto in the first leg of the Taça de Portugal quarterfinals.
After getting eliminated from the Champions League in a group that saw PSG and Olympiakos go through, the Eagles are looking to make their way back to the Europa League final.
Preview: Porto try to bounce back after a defeat to Nacional
In comparison to what has been normal for Porto over the last 10 or 20 years, their current campaign has been mediocre at best. They find themselves eight points off second placed Sporting CP, with rivals SL Benfica top of the league, 15 points clear.
The Dragons defeated the league leaders mid-week in the first leg of the Taça de Portugal quarterfinals, but they will now have to get past Sevilla.
Having been defeated in their last domestic match away to Nacional 2-1, interim manager Luis Castro is calling on his players to have their sights set on goal.
Preview: Les Gones take on La Vecchia Signoria as they hope to keep European football hopes alive
Lyon currently sit in fifth place in Ligue 1, six points away from a Europa League spot and nine from third-placed Lille and a Champions League berth, whilst Juventus have already secured European football as the Serie A leaders. However, both sides are coming into the match after losing their respective league matches this weekend and will be keen to put those negative results behind them.
Bianconeri midfielder Claudio Marchisio offered his thoughts on his team's 2-0 defeat to Napoli and slammed reports that the team is now in crisis whilst stating his opinion on their French opponents.
Preview: The USMNT and Mexico renew their rivalry in Arizona
The heated and historic rivalry between Mexico and the USA will continue on Wednesday night in Arizona. When this friendly fixture was announced, it was looked at as an opportunity to make money.
But from how it looks now, both squads will use this friendly to take a look at some players who have still not cemented their place in the World Cup squad.
Mexican club Peubla have earned themselves some negative attention surrounding Wednesday’s friendly. Since this match is not being played on a designated international day, Puebla have not allowed DeMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco to take part in this historic rivalry.
Preview: Los Blancos obliged to fight boos
Real Madrid were one goal away from creating a sensational comeback against Borussia Dortmund last season. After emphatically falling 4-1 in Germany due to the exploits of four-goal hero Robert Lewandowski, “La Remontada” (The Comeback) became the most popular term in Madrid-based paper Marca.
Los Blancos were asked to find motivation from historical records while Jose Mourinho was sweating over the fitness of star man Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese, who netted a goal in the first leg, failed to get on the scoring sheet at the Bernabeu. Late goals by Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos were not enough as the Spanish giants suffered a heart-breaking exit from Europe.
Preview: Blues face stiff test against French Champions
Two unexpected defeats in the last four games have resulted in Chelsea surrendering their lead at the top in the Barclays Premier League.A 1-0 loss at Villa Park on the 15th of March was followed by a defeat at Crystal Palace by the same score line last Saturday and the Blues really need to pull their socks up if they are to achieve anything this season.
However Chelsea have no time to ponder over their league situation as they face a stiff test in the form of a PSG side who are undefeated in their last 13 matches in all competitions and have won their last nine.
Preview: Giallorossi take on Europa League hopefuls Parma at home in a replay match
The clash between Roma and the Crociati was scheduled to take place exactly two months ago on 2 February, only to see Mother Nature have other plans and as a result, was suspended due to a downpour. As is the case in football, both sides will play out the remainder of the game rather than restarting at the full 90, but their objectives could not be any more different.
For Rudi Garcia's men, they will be looking to keep out of range of a hungry Napoli side and ensure they keep their lock on second place and automatic Champions League qualification. Meanwhile, for Roberto Donadoni, his team, are hoping to get back on track after their impressive 17-game winning streak snapped by Juventus. Interesingly, the Bianconeri have halted their winning runs twice this season: first ending a 7-match one in the first half of the season followed by the result on 26 March.