Teamwork makes the dream work

Discovering Champions League closing 4, extra: April viewing information

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Georgia certified for the Euros. Bayern Munich‘s title streak all however ended (and so they did not even steal the coach accountable for it). Manchester Metropolis did the reverse of seizing management of the Premier League race. We obtained ourselves a lopsided Champions League quarterfinal draw (and one other “Dos a Cero” between the U.S. and Mexico).

March was a lot, and it gave us quite a bit to maintain observe of as we enter the penultimate month of the 2023-24 European soccer season.

April will give us our Champions League semifinalists and a few lower-division home cup finalists. It is going to seemingly present us champions within the Spanish, German, Italian and French title races. It may also present some readability within the epic three-way Premier League title combat between Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester Metropolis, to not point out races for Champions League spots and relegation.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, extra (U.S.)

It is time to as soon as once more set the desk. Competitors by competitors, listed here are the 5 or so largest matches of a very big month.


European competitions

  • April 9 & 17: Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich (Champions League)

  • April 9 & 17: Actual Madrid vs. Manchester Metropolis (Champions League)

  • April 10 & 16: Atletico Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund (Champions League)

  • April 10 & 16: PSG vs. Barcelona (Champions League)

  • April 11 & 18: Bayer Leverkusen vs. West Ham (Europa League)

It is like there was a seeding error. In case you record the Champions League quarterfinalists by their present ClubElo.com rankings, you get No. 1 Manchester Metropolis, No. 2 Actual Madrid, No. 5 Arsenal, No. 6 Bayern, No. 8 PSG, No. 9 Barcelona, No. 11 Borussia Dortmund and No. 14 Atletico. These are additionally the quarterfinal pairings. The 2 greatest groups play one another within the quarters, together with the subsequent two greatest, et cetera, and the highest 4 groups are in the identical half of the draw. That can guarantee us of an upstart finalist — or no matter qualifies as an upstart today in European soccer — and it’ll additionally guarantee that probably the most high-quality matchups of the knockout rounds occur within the quarterfinals.

So be it. Metropolis vs. Actual Madrid will give us all of the uncooked technical expertise and tactical distinction we might need. Arsenal vs. Bayern can be a captivating battle between a practical Gunners staff on the lookout for its first Champions League semifinal in 15 years and a Bayern staff that wins the xG battle about in addition to ever however is, um, cursed. PSG vs. Barca offers us two scorching groups and an excuse to have “La Remontadaflashbacks. BVB vs. Atletico will give us two demonstrative dwelling environments and a transparent semifinal underdog.

In the meantime, within the Europa League, we get the newest episode of Will Bayer Leverkusen Ever Lose? Late heroics have develop into a behavior of late, and a treble stays on the desk for Xabi Alonso’s squad.

  • April 6: Ipswich City at Norwich Metropolis (English Championship)

  • April 7: Liverpool at Manchester United (Premier League)

  • April 14: Aston Villa at Arsenal (Premier League)

  • April 21: Manchester United at Coventry Metropolis (FA Cup)

  • April 28: Arsenal at Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League)

Each the oddsmakers and Pep Guardiola agree: Liverpool, with a two-point lead over Arsenal and a three-point lead over Man Metropolis, are the Premier League title favorites in the intervening time. However the Opta energy rankings say Metropolis are nonetheless the most effective staff on the planet, and for the reason that begin of 2024, Arsenal have comfortably been the most effective staff.

Previous three months:

– Arsenal: 2.78 factors per recreation, +1.88 xG differential per match
– Liverpool: 2.50 PPG, +1.56 xGD
– Manchester Metropolis: 2.40 PPG, +1.07 xGD

The Gunners even took 4 factors in head-to-head matches in opposition to the 2 this yr as nicely, with Metropolis managing two and Liverpool only one.

In different phrases, with simply 9 matches to go within the race, you possibly can nonetheless see no matter you need. Whoever you assume is the favourite, you have obtained stable logic in your facet. The three groups are performed taking part in one another, however between Liverpool visiting Outdated Trafford (the place the Reds misplaced within the FA Cup simply a few weeks in the past), Arsenal taking part in each fourth-place Villa and fifth-place Spurs, and Metropolis welcoming Villa as nicely, there are nonetheless loads of alternatives for plot twists. In the meantime, on the weekend of April 21, we have got considered one of many alternatives for a lower-division staff (Haji Wright‘s Coventry Metropolis, on this case) to make a cup closing.

play

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Are Liverpool now favourites to win the Premier League?

Steve Nicol and Jan Age Fjortoft talk about Liverpool’s remaining Premier League fixtures.

Talking of decrease divisions, it is value mentioning that (a) Leicester, Leeds and Ipswich are all on tempo for at the least 97 factors within the Championship in the intervening time, (b) within the final 20 years, solely considered one of 39 groups with even 86 factors did not earn promotion, and (c) since there are solely two automated promotion spots, considered one of these three will find yourself within the random final result generator often known as England’s promotion playoff. This might be an all-time end within the second division. None of those three contenders have notably demanding April schedules, although Ipswich’s Saturday journey to sixth-place Norwich is noteworthy.

  • April 2: Kaiserslautern at Saarbrucken (DFB Pokal)

  • April 6: VfB Stuttgart at Borussia Dortmund

  • April 21: Bayer Leverkusen at Borussia Dortmund

  • April 27: Borussia Dortmund at RB Leipzig

  • April 27: VfB Stuttgart at Bayer Leverkusen

Following Saturday’s late plot twists — Bayer Leverkusen’s late flip of a 1-0 deficit in opposition to Hoffenheim right into a 2-1 win, mixed with Bayern Munich’s first dwelling loss to Borussia Dortmund in a decade — Leverkusen’s magic quantity is now 9. In the event that they win or Bayern drop 9 extra mixed factors, the title is theirs.

Late within the Leverkusen-Hoffenheim match, it was nonetheless fairly simple to speak your self right into a Bayern comeback. If Leverkusen misplaced to Hoffenheim and Bayern beat BVB as they usually do, the Leverkusen lead would have been all the way down to seven factors with Leverkusen going through upcoming matches in opposition to fourth-place BVB on April 21, third-place Stuttgart on April 27 and sixth-place Eintracht Frankfurt on Could 5. There could be loads of alternatives to clam up. As a substitute, Leverkusen pulled off extra late magic, Bayern upset once more, and now we’re going through a when-not-if coronation.

Even with out a lot title drama, nevertheless, there stays loads of intrigue forward. The battle for fourth place between BVB and RB Leipzig (and perhaps Stuttgart, 4 factors up on BVB) might go all the way down to the wire — Stuttgart vs. BVB and BVB vs. RBL within the coming weeks are huge — and third-division Saarbrucken, conqueror of Bayern, Eintracht and Borussia Monchengladbach in an all-time cup run, makes an attempt to succeed in the DFB-Pokal closing in opposition to a Kaiserslautern staff that may quickly be part of them within the third division.

It is a good factor the Premier League title race is so gripping as a result of it is nearly the one one we have got. In Spain, Actual Madrid lead by eight factors with eight matches remaining and, per Opta’s energy rankings, boasts a 98.7% title probability in the intervening time. Sunday’s snug win over fifth-place Athletic Membership all however put issues to mattress, however hey, we have nonetheless obtained an El Clasico to look ahead to in April.

We have additionally obtained a super-tight fourth-place race — Atletico path Athletic by a degree with a recreation in hand (Opta top-four odds: Atletico 62%, Athletic 40%) — and this coming Saturday, we might see Mallorca elevate a cup. They face Atletico of their first Copa del Rey closing since a 3-0 win over Recreativo de Huelva in 2003. A younger Samuel Eto’o scored twice for Los Piratas in that one.

(*Serie A schedules for the weekend of April 27-28 haven’t but been decided.)

Completely different nation, identical story: Inter have all however locked up the Scudetto — they lead by 14 factors with eight matches remaining, and their magic quantity is 11 factors — however we have nonetheless obtained lots to observe additional down the desk. There are eight groups inside three factors of the relegation zone, and with Italy more likely to land a fifth Champions League berth subsequent season, the race for the highest 5 is in an attention-grabbing spot.

Odds of a top-five end, per Opta energy rankings:

– Juventus 97% (86% of top-four)
– Bologna 87% (60%)
– Atalanta 78% (41%)
– Roma 31% (11%)
– Napoli 3% (0.4%)
Lazio 2% (0.2%)
– Fiorentina 1% (0.1%)

Three of these seven groups will qualify if a fifth berth is certainly secured, and whereas Opta favors Juve, Bologna and Atalanta, Roma are presently holding the No. 5 spot within the desk — they’re two factors forward of Atalanta (although Atalanta have a recreation in hand) — and get big matches in opposition to each fourth-place Bologna and eighth-place Napoli. Atalanta’s big 3-0 win at Napoli this previous weekend, mixed with a fairly simple home-stretch schedule, offers them a stable probability of finally overcoming Roma for fifth.

Atalanta even have a Coppa Italia to play for. It is Atalanta-Fiorentina in a single semifinal and Juve-Lazio within the different. If Tenth-place Fiorentina desires to play in Europe for a 3rd straight season subsequent yr, it seems like this is perhaps the most effective obtainable path to a bid.

Different

I used to be exaggerating above after I stated the Premier League was about the one title race we have got. It is perhaps the one one among the many Massive 5 leagues — PSG are nearly able to wrap issues up as nicely, although the battle for second between upstart Brest, Monaco and perhaps Lille is tight — however we have got some potential thrillers brewing just under the Massive 5.

In Portugal, Sporting lead Benfica by one level with a recreation in hand and have a head-to-head matchup approaching Saturday. In Scotland, Sunday’s Outdated Agency might determine issues in Scotland: Rangers path Celtic by only a level with a recreation in hand. There are few issues on the planet extra watchable than a Rangers-Celtic match with excessive stakes.

Then there’s Belgium. I’ve remarked on Union Saint-Gilloise’s title pursuit many instances all through these month-to-month previews, and now the rubber meets the highway. In 2021-22, freshly promoted, they topped the desk heading into Belgium’s title playoff — the highest 4 groups minimize their factors in half and play a spherical robin in opposition to one another to complete the season — however misplaced to Membership Brugge by 4 factors.

In 2022-23, that they had a hand on the trophy with simply minutes to go within the season, however collapsed in opposition to Membership Brugge and watched Royal Antwerp seize its first title in 66 years. This time, they took a three-point lead over Anderlecht into the playoff, however watched it instantly disappear with a 1-0 loss to Genk on Monday. They will face their derby rivals away on April 14. That would determine whether or not this story ends in heartbreak but once more.

Additionally, if you happen to did not get sufficient lower-division glory above, Valenciennes are about to get relegated from France‘s second division, having gained simply two league matches all yr. However they’ve gained 4 matches and two penalty shootouts within the Coupe de France to one way or the other attain the semifinals. Will they beat an especially in-form Lyon this afternoon? Virtually definitely not. However it’s important to watch, simply in case.

Ladies’s soccer

One boring spherical can typically arrange a set of classics within the subsequent. That is eternally been a lesson for March Insanity, and it might apply to the Ladies’s Champions League as nicely. The quarterfinals had been lower than superb: Due to a few group-stage surprises (which adopted some qualification surprises), we noticed some mismatches and 4 groups advancing by a mean of three.5 targets. However now these 4 groups — heavyweights, all — should face one another.

In a single semifinal, we have got Emma Hayes’ closing Chelsea staff needing to beat mighty Barca to maintain its Treble hopes alive. Within the different, we have got eight-time European champions and 16-time French champions Lyon in opposition to a PSG staff that upset early this season, with 5 blemishes of their first 12 matches (together with losses of their first two Champions League group stage matches), however hasn’t misplaced since falling 1-0 to Bayern on November 23. The French title is all however gone — Lyon have dropped simply two factors all yr and lead by seven — however a win right here would put PSG again within the Champions League closing for the primary time since 2017 (once they misplaced to … Lyon).

Earlier than we get to the Champions League, although, we have got a collection of massive worldwide matches. Qualification for the 2025 Euros begins in just a few days, and the strategy for qualification ensures some early heavyweight matchups. The highest 16 groups in Europe had been break up into 4 teams of 4; the highest two from every group will qualify, whereas the underside two will enter a large playoff, and we come flying out of the gate with matchups like Netherlands at Italy (April 5), Sweden at England (April 5), Germany at Austria (April 5), Norway at Netherlands (April 9) and France at Sweden (April 9).

April schedule

If we take all of the matches listed above and lay them out in chronological order, we get our viewing schedule for the month.

April 1-7

– April 2: Kaiserslautern at Saarbrücken (DFB Pokal)
– April 2: Valenciennes at Lyon (Coupe de France)
– April 3: Atalanta at Fiorentina (Coppa Italia)
– April 5: Netherlands (W) at Italy (W) (Euro qualification)
– April 6: VfB Stuttgart at Borussia Dortmund
– April 6: Athletic Membership vs. Mallorca (Copa del Rey)
– April 6: Benfica at Sporting CP
– April 6: Ipswich City at Norwich Metropolis
– April 7: Liverpool at Manchester United
– April 7: Celtic at Rangers

April 8-14

– April 9: Bayern Munich at Arsenal (Champions League)
– April 9: Manchester Metropolis at Actual Madrid (Champions League)
– April 9: France (W) at Sweden (W) (Euro qualification)
– April 10: Borussia Dortmund at Atletico Madrid (Champions League)
– April 10: Barcelona at PSG (Champions League)
– April 11: West Ham at Bayer Leverkusen (Europa League)
– April 13: Girona at Atletico Madrid
– April 14: Aston Villa at Arsenal
– April 14: Union Saint-Gilloise at Anderlecht
– April 14: Chelsea (W) at Manchester United (W) (FA Cup)

April 15-21

– April 16: Atletico Madrid at Borussia Dortmund (Champions League)
– April 16: PSG at Barcelona (Champions League)
– April 17: Arsenal at Bayern Munich (Champions League)
– April 17: Actual Madrid at Manchester Metropolis (Champions League)
– April 18: Bayer Leverkusen at West Ham (Europa League)
– April 20: Chelsea (W) at Barcelona (W) (Champions League)
– April 20: PSG (W) at Lyon (W) (Champions League)
– April 21: Manchester United at Coventry Metropolis (FA Cup)
– April 21: Bayer Leverkusen at Borussia Dortmund
– April 21: Barcelona at Actual Madrid
– April 21: Monaco at Brest

April 22-28

– April 22: Inter Milan at AC Milan
– April 22: Bologna at Roma
– April 24: Fiorentina at Atalanta (Coppa Italia)
– April 27: Borussia Dortmund at RB Leipzig
– April 27: VfB Stuttgart at Bayer Leverkusen
– April 27: Barcelona (W) at Chelsea (Champions League)
– April 27: Lyon (W) at PSG (W) (Champions League)
– April 28: Arsenal at Tottenham Hotspur
– April 28: Athletic Bilbao at Atletico Madrid
– April 28: Actual Madrid at Actual Sociedad
– ~April 28: AC Milan at Juventus
– ~April 28: Roma at Napoli
– April 28: Chelsea (W) at Liverpool (W)

The primary males’s Champions League semifinal kicks on April 30, too, and since this was largely Europe-based, we did not even get into the SheBelieves Cup (April 6-9), CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinals (April 2-10) or the beginning of Brazil‘s parity-friendly Serie A season. That is one hell of a month.