After a thrilling international hiatus the European leagues now enter the home stretch of their domestic seasons, and from now on every game is a big game (except the ones that aren’t).
The marquee fixture on Saturday is undoubtedly Milan against Inter in Serie A. Not so long ago it looked as though Milan were going to run away with the title but since the appointment of Leonardo as manager Inter have gradually whittled down the lead and it now stands at just two points. Even more interesting is that both Napoli and Udinese are still within striking distance at the top, and if they both win their games on Sunday we could be facing a rare four way race for the scudetto.
In England most of the excitement is weighted toward the bottom of the table with as many as ten teams still involved in the fight against relegation (MLS take note that relegation is really just play-offs in reverse). What makes it even more fascinating is that some of the teams that a few weeks back looked the most likely to go down (West Ham, West Brom, Wolves) have suddenly found their mojo and have started picking up points, which has dragged teams that once seemed to be safe back into the equation.
At the top Manchester United must feel that if they win can win at a resurgent West Ham then they will have taken a huge step towards the title, even if they lose though the smart money is on Arsenal figuring out a new way to mess things up, so a draw would probably suit United just as well.
In Spain the big news is that Lionel Messi (above) has picked up a slight injury but it is nothing too serious and Barcelona are good enough to not have to risk him until they have to. They have an effective six point gap at the top of La Liga to play with and will want to make sure that he is fit for the Champions League quarter-final and upcoming games against Real Madrid.
There are two fascinating stories in the Bundesliga. Firstly, will Dortmund throw away their lead (it was twelve points and is now seven points)? It seems unlikely but this set of players have little experience of winning titles and stranger things have happened. Secondly, will Bayerm Munich make the Champions League next season? They currently sit in fourth place which would mean that they miss out. Failure to qualify would not only be disastrous from a sporting and financial point of view, but would also mean that they would almost certainly lose many of their star names.
It will be nice to get back to bread and butter of league games.Tags: AC Milan, Inter Milan, Manchester United, Serie A, World soccer