Good morning, Fear the Wall! Happy Friday, or as we might call it, Championship Weekend Eve.
In a slightly unusual turn of events, all five of Europe’s top leagues will have their final match days on the same weekend. Just the idea of lazing on my couch for two straight days day-drinking while watching high-stakes football has my heart beating already. Not only are all five leagues this weekend, but they’re mostly at separate times, so you won’t really have to worry about splitting your attention between multiple leagues, at least on Saturday. I’ve decided to give you an hour-by-hour breakdown of when exactly there’s going to be exciting football, what the stakes are, and what you should look out for.
Let’s start out on Saturday morning:
Part 1: The Bundesliga
When: 9:30 am on Saturday.
What to bring: Coffee and a handkerchief to wipe your tears away at Lukasz Piszczek’s final appearance for BVB.
Kicking off is our beloved Bundesliga. Naturally, the main focus for all of us will be Borussia Dortmund’s game against Bayer Leverkusen, but the stakes itself for this game are pretty minimal, as BVB are guaranteed a spot in the top four, and Leverkusen can’t finish above or below sixth place. There are, however, a few different story lines you can follow.
The first is the relegation fight. This is the bottom of the table prior to matchday 34:
Schalke, of course, are done for, but no other team is doomed. Of the teams in the fight for survival, Cologne have the easiest way out, because they can potentially leapfrog both Bielefeld and Werder Bremen with a win against lowly Schalke. Meanwhile, Bremen and Bielefeld have much more difficult matches, against Borussia Monchengladbach and Stuttgart respectively.
There’s also the fact that Robert Lewandowski will be trying to break Gerd Muller’s Bundesliga goal record. Which... whatever. My roommate and I ate forty McNuggets in one sitting once, you don’t see me rubbing everyone’s face in it.
My Picks: Werder Bremen and Cologne both leapfrog Bielefeld, with Bremen landing automatic safety and Cologne making it into the relegation playoff spot. Lewandowski has the single biggest xG underperformance in history and fails to make it to 41 goals.
Part 2: La Liga
When: 12:00 pm EST on Saturday.
What to bring: Red and white feathers to stuff in your mattress.
With your coffee drank and your Bundesliga fix satisfied, the next course is the Spanish league. One of the two leagues this weekend for which the winner hasn’t yet been determined, La Liga features the most star-studded championship weekend. All eyes will be on Atletico Madrid. If Diego Simeone’s men can beat 19th-place Valladolid, they will be crowned champions of Spain. If they don’t, then their arch-rivals Real Madrid can snatch the title away if they beat Villareal - a much tougher opponent than Valladolid.
Atletico have looked like they were going to bottle the season a half-dozen times over the course of the season, but they find themselves still in a position to win the league on the final day.
These matches will kick off at 12 pm EST on Saturday, about 40 or so minutes after the Bundesliga matches end.
My picks: Real Madrid and Atletico both lose and Atletico win the title in the most laughable way possible.
Part 3: English Premier League
When: 11 am EST on Sunday.
What to bring: Full English and an Earl Grey, two sugars please.
Sunday morning’s action starts at brunch time, at 11 am, with the EPL. Like with the Bundesliga, the champion of England, Manchester City, has already been crowned. Unlike the Bundesliga, the race for the top four is still very much alive. The three clubs in question are Liverpool, Chelsea, and Leicester City. The foxes spent almost the entire year looking like they would easily qualify for the Champions League, only to slowly succumb to pressure from Chelsea and Liverpool down the final stretch of the season.
To make the top four, Leicester will need to beat Tottenham, surely a simple formality, while hoping that Crystal Palace or Aston Villa can take points from Liverpool or Chelsea respectively. While Leicester only need to gain a single point on the Reds to pass them, they would need to gain two or more points on Chelsea to pass them.
As for the relegation race, don’t bother. The fates of three clubs: Fulham, West Brom, and Sheffield United, are sealed.
My picks: Leicester blow by Tottenham with ease, but Liverpool and Chelsea win as well and Leicester win the Europa League next year.
Part 4a: Serie A
When: 2:45 pm EST on Sunday (all the important matches, anyway)
What to bring: The remote, to switch the channel to Ligue 1 after 15 minutes.
For whatever reason, Serie A had to screw everything up by holding half of their matches on Sunday instead of putting them all in the last open time slot, 2:45 pm on Saturday. The Italian league has a few matches on Saturday, but their most important matches will be on 2:45 pm on Sunday. The race for the Champions League will come down to three big and historic Italian clubs: AC Milan, Napoli, and Juventus. The first two clubs sit one point above the third, so with a win each they can secure their spots in the Champions League next season. Of the two clubs currently in the top four, AC Milan have a much tougher final game, against second-place Atalanta, while Juventus and Napoli have much easier opponents in Bologna and Hellas Verona respectively.
My picks: AC Milan narrowly beat Atalanta and Napoli win as well to make the Champions League, because I have decided they are the club most like BVB in this scenario.
Part 4b: Ligue 1
When: 3:00 pm EST on Sunday
What to bring: A bottle of 2015 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion
In my humble opinion, the football gods saved the best for last. At 3 pm EST on Sunday, we’ll get to see whether Lille LOSC can pull off a highly unlikely title victory over Paris Saint Germain. Even though Lille have had a number of French clubs including PSG, Olympique Lyon, and Monaco biting at their heels all Spring, Lille have just barely managed to keep their noses out in front, and are now in a position where they can secure a title. All that stands between them and glory is 12th-place Angers. They’re probably not going to get much help from PSG’s opponent, 16th-place Brest.
If Lille win, it will be a massive upset. It won’t quite be at the level of Leicester City’s title run, and in the context of wider French footballing history, not even that unusual. After all, Lille themselves have won a French title as recent as 2011. But in the context of recent French history, in which PSG has been an unstoppable machine, only falling once in the last decade due to Kylian Mbappé leading Monaco to a trophy in 2017 (fitting that they then bought him up). Their financial clout has allowed them to brush aside almost all domestic competition. According to Transfermarkt, Lille’s squad is worth only a third of PSG’s squad, so to see them beat their Parisian competitors would be awesome.
My picks: Lille beat Angers, confirming once and for all that there is still hope in the universe.
The Daily Buzz
What are your picks for all five leagues this weekend?