After omitting some of the biggest names in European football last weekend, it’s time to check in on the progress of a few this week as things start to get serious across the continent.
The title race in France is gripping, so it’s no surprise that two games from Ligue 1 make this weekend’s cut. There’s also a clash from La Liga, where there’s a four-team fight for top spot, as well as games from the Premier League and Bundesliga, where Champions League places are still up for grabs.
All kick offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lens
The Champions League feels like it’s been the focus for PSG in the latter weeks of the campaign, but they approach this game with Lens facing the prospect of winning neither the European Cup nor the Ligue 1 title.
On Wednesday, PSG were beaten 2-1 by Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final, meaning they have a mountain to climb to keep their chances alive. It’ll be intriguing to see how Mauricio Pochettino’s team react to that setback and what changes are made to the team on Saturday with the second leg in mind.
PSG can’t afford to take too many chances with their lineup though, as anything other than a win here would leave their hopes of another Ligue 1 title in tatters. Lille remain a point clear of the Parisians with four games to play; they are in action against Nice later in the evening.
A win for PSG would heap the pressure on the current leaders, but getting over the line against Lens will not be straightforward. The visitors sit in fifth this season after a campaign of encouragement under Franck Haise and will want to consolidate their place as the best of the rest in the final four matches.
Borussia Dortmund vs. RB Leipzig
Saturday, May 1, 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Borussia Dortmund will be out to continue their recent revival in a crucial game on Saturday, with second-place RB Leipzig the visitors to the Westfalenstadion.
BVB were able to get the better of Wolfsburg last weekend, putting them within touching distance of the top four again. They are in fifth, but just two points behind last week’s opponents who are in third and one off Eintracht Frankfurt, who also lost in their previous outing to put their hopes of Champions League qualification in some jeopardy.
Dortmund deserve credit for the way in which they’ve managed to thrust themselves back into the race for fourth, with four wins in succession in the Bundesliga. After a recent lean spell, Erling Haaland is back among the goals too, with four scored in the last three games.
It’ll be intriguing to see what kind of opposition Leipzig pose to Dortmund, as they are pretty secure in second place. The club have also had a significant week, with confirmation coming that their current manager Julian Nagelsmann will take over as Bayern Munich manager at the end of the 2020-21 campaign.
Manchester United vs. Liverpool
Liverpool’s hopes of finishing in the top four have suffered a couple of significant blows lately, making this trip to Manchester United on Sunday crucial for Jurgen Klopp’s team.
The Reds were stunned by Newcastle United last weekend, with Joe Willock’s stoppage-time equalizer earning the visitors a point at Anfield. The likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota were far too profligate with their opportunities and the defending Premier League champions paid a harsh price.
The draw with Newcastle and another tie against Leeds in similar circumstances have left the Reds as outsiders in the fight for the top four. Should Chelsea beat Fulham on Saturday, Klopp’s team will be seven points back on a Champions League place ahead of their trip to Old Trafford.
United will want to add to the misery of their north-west rivals. However, given they are comfortable in second spot and this game is sandwiched by two legs of their Europa League semi-final against Roma, Liverpool may feel as though they are playing the Red Devils at an opportune time, that despite their six-goal mauling of the Italians on Thursday.
Monaco vs. Lyon
Although Lille and PSG lead the way in Ligue 1, Monaco are not out of the fight for the title yet, while their opponents on Sunday are clinging on to the coattails of the top three.
Lyon supporters will head into this game feeling immense regret. Last weekend their team appeared poised to surge into a strong position, as they were 2-0 up against Lille. However, a collapse from Rudi Garcia’s men saw the leaders roar back and win, leaving Lyon trailing the summit by six points.
Meanwhile, Monaco are keeping themselves in the hunt, with just two points separating them and Lille. They are the most in-form team in France at the moment, winning their last five in succession and putting themselves in a position to pounce if either of the top two slip up in the remaining weeks.
With Lyon secure in fourth, they should approach this game in an attacking mindset and an open contest should follow. Given Monaco’s array of firepower, that kind of approach might make this the standout game on the continent this weekend.
Valencia vs. Barcelona
It was anticipated that Barcelona would be in the driving seat in the La Liga title scrap by the time they took the field against Valencia on Sunday, but this remarkable race took another twist ahead of a crucial round of matches.
Barcelona needed to beat Granada on Thursday to jump to the top of the table ahead of Atletico Madrid and they appeared on course for a comfortable win when Lionel Messi put them in front in the first period. But Granada responded magnificently after the break and fought back to win 2-1, leaving the Blaugrana in third spot.
The frustration on the night clearly got the better of Ronald Koeman, who was dismissed from the dugout for his protestations. After such a huge blow to their title chances, it’s going to be a big challenge to get the players prepared for their trip to the Mestalla on Sunday night.
Valencia are in 14th and have had a campaign to forget, with relegation still technically a possibility with five games to go.