Football Across Europe: April 1-2

Premier League (England)

Liverpool vs. Everton: It’s the second edition of this season’s Merseyside Derby, and this one is the weekend’s opening kickoff at Anfield on Saturday. Coming out of the international break, Liverpool sit fourth in the table, six points up on neighbors Everton. Liverpool won 1-0 just before Christmas this season at Goodison Park with a stoppage time dagger from Sadio Mané. The Reds have not lost a derby at Anfield since 1999 and are unbeaten in the contest since 2010. But the Blues boast the Premier League’s top scorer in the form of striker Romelu Lukaku and are dealing with a host of injuries, including captain Jordan Henderson and in-form England attacker Adam Lallana. It promises to be yet another memorable derby on Saturday.

Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace: If anyone is going to catch Chelsea for the Premier League title, their collapse must begin on Saturday when they welcome Crystal Palace to Stamford Bridge. In very real relegation danger a few weeks ago, Palace have rattled off three straight league wins to see themselves four points safe entering this weekend, but there is no tougher test than visiting the league leaders. Chelsea have won every match at home since a September loss to Liverpool, their only home loss of the season. Antonio Conte hopes to have Belgian star Eden Hazard and the ever-dangerous Diego Costa back fit for the match, but has an enviable host of weapons to choose from should they not be ready, including N’Golo Kanté, Willian, and Michy Batshuayi.

Arsenal vs. Manchester City: It’s put up or shut up time for Arsenal, who have fallen from title contention to the fringes of European qualification entering a pivotal battle with Manchester City Sunday at the Emirates. The futures of Gunners stars Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil are being heavily debated. Another defeat would not only push Arsenal down the table further, but may also push Sanchez and Özil closer to the exit door. Meanwhile, Manchester City still have a five-point cushion in the top-four race but need to keep racking up points with top clubs, including Arsenal, hot on their tails.

La Liga (Spain)

Granada vs. Barcelona: Their Champions League hopes were revitalized after a historic comeback to Paris Saint-Germain a few short weeks ago, but Barcelona‘s league hopes are still on life support as they visit Granada over the weekend. La Blaugrana remain two points back of rivals Real Madrid, who have a game in hand. Pundits like Lionel Messi, Neymar and crew to make easy work of the relegation candidates who have dropped three straight, but Granada could escape the drop zone with a win and will be a desperate side with their home fans backing them.

Real Madrid vs. Alaves: Real Madrid CF are still the league favorites entering a home bout with Alaves on the weekend, but can’t afford to slip up with Barcelona only two points back. Los Blancos haven’t dropped many points over the last month, but appear far from the wrecking crew that they were throughout the season’s opening half. Alaves are one of the surprises of the league, currently sitting mid-table, and should give Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos everything their side can handle.

Serie A (Italy)

Napoli vs. Juventus: Italian giants Juventus are at the top of the Serie A table yet again, ten points clear, and seem to have another title in hand. But that won’t change the electric atmosphere when they travel to the Stadio San Paolo to play Napoli under the lights Saturday night in Naples. Juve stumbled away from home earlier this month at Udinese, and Napoli have won four of their last five league matches and will be looking to beat the league leaders as they battle with Roma for second place in the league and Champions League security.




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