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FESIG League Preview – (Barca’s LaLiga Triumph edition)

Barcelona can secure their seventh league title in the last 10 seasons if they earn a victory over Levante at the Camp Nou on Saturday evening with the Catalans dominating the Spanish league in the last decade. It’s time for Derby d’Italia; Juventus have been crowned champions but the Nerazzurri should expect no favors in their bid for a Champions League place when the Old Lady visits the Giuseppe Meazza. In Germany, Borussia Dortmund will be targeting for a first league double over struggling Schalke in the Ruhr derby seven years. The wheels are certainly coming off for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United but can they sustain their top-four ambition when Chelsea come calling on Sunday?

We begin in France;

AS SAINT ETIENNE v TOULOUSE – SUN. 28 APR 2019, 16.00HRS
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Saint-Etienne are still alive in the race for a place in the Champions League, but they will have to be at their sharpest in the season finale if they are to secure a top-three finish. Les Verts have been in a fine form, winning four of the last five league matches and are favorites to win against Toulouse. The visitors did well to hold second place Lille to a goalless draw last weekend, with the team moving one step closer to securing the Ligue 1 survival. However, Sunday’s clash against the Sainte at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard is an uphill task for Les Pitchouns.

VERDICT – Les Verts have a strong home form in Ligue 1 (11W, 2D, 3L) this season compared to the visitors away stats (4W, 4D, 8L). Saint Etienne’s Wahbi Khazri is lethal in front of the fans; he has scored 11 league goals at home, he should lead the line for Jean-Louis Gasset. Toulouse are poor travelers, averaging 0.88 goals per game in the league away from home. Toulouse haven’t won on their last three trips to Saint Etienne and are unlikely to cause an upset this time.

OLYMPIQUE MARSEILLE v NANTES – SUN. 28 APR 2019, 20.00HRS
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Fifth place Marseille welcome Nantes to the Orange Velodrome for the final fixture in week 34. Rudi Garcia’s team is making a late rally for the Champions League but will have to overtake Saint Etienne and Olympique Lyon. OM have won back-to-back wins over Nimes and Guingamp on their last two fixtures but are still five points behind third place Lyon who occupy the final Champions League spot. Nantes are one of the poorest teams on the road in the French top flight, managing three victories all season. However, Vahid Halilhodzic’s team will travel to down south in supreme confidence having won their last three league matches against PSG, Lyon and Amiens so they would fancy their chances at the Velodrome.

VERDICT – Regardless of Nantes current form, 10 defeats in 16 league matches on the road shows les Canaris weakness. Marseille have turned the Orange Velodrome into a real fortress losing twice at home in Ligue 1 all season. Nantes do not have fond memories of travelling to Marseille, in their last 10 trips, they have managed just one victory which came in December 2013. Marseille have European ambitions and that should propel them to seek maximum points.

To Germany;

BORUSSIA DORTMUND v SCHALKE 04 – SAT. 27 APR 2019, 14.30HRS
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The battle for this season Bundesliga title has been one of the most interesting in recent years. Title chasing Dortmund will be entertaining their neighbors Schalke this weekend in the Ruhr derby. The last time Dortmund beat the Royal Blues home and away in the Bundesliga was in 2011/12 season, in that particular season Die Borussen won the German league. Lucien Favre’s team is much better than their rival and the Swiss tactician will be eyeing their first Revierderby double over Schalke in seven years. Ahead of the derby, Dortmund have won six of their last eight league games compared to the miserable run of one win in 12 for Schalke. Huub Stevens will hope his players can rise to the occasion with the threat of relegation looming over the Miners.  

VERDICT – Second-place Dortmund continues to trail Bayern by a single point and will hope to put more pressure by securing a win in the derby against a spineless Schalke. The Royal Blues have only won one of their last eight Bundesliga meetings with Dortmund, a 2-0 home victory last season. Schalke struggle is well documented this season, they would be expected to give their all in the derby but Dortmund are clear favorites for this one.

FC NURNBERG v BAYERN MUNICH – SUN. 28 APR 2019, 17.00HRS
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It has been a disastrous season for Boris Schommers team. Der Ruhmreiche have won just three league matches all season and look to be heading back to the second division after one season in the top flight. They are nine points adrift of 15th position and three from the relegation play-off place before playing Bayern Munich at home. The visitors are on top of the pile but could be down to second spot at kick off should Dortmund win the derby which leaves Nico Kovac’s team having to make up two points on their title rivals. Last weekend one nil victory over Werder Bremen saw Bayern undefeated in 10 league matches as they battle on for title. Die Roten are unbeaten in their last four away trips and have won 11 of 15 on the road.

VERDICT – Nuremberg have only won one of their last 24 Bundesliga outings, they are only three points off the relegation play-off place. They have failed to beat Bayern in their last 14 competitive meetings (4D, 10L), losing the last four without even scoring a goal. Their last victory over the visitors was in February 2007. Bayern have the best attack in the Bundesliga this season with 79 goals scored; Nuremberg have the second most porous defense – 66 conceded. This game is a complete mismatch; Bayern would be expected to win this easily.

To Italy;

INTER MILAN v JUVENTUS – SAT. 27 APR 2019, 19.30HRS
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Derby d’Italia brings fierce enemies Inter Milan and Juventus together at the San Siro on Saturday evening. Luciano Spalletti’s team host champions Juventus with Inter hoping to lay claim to third place. The home side are currently five points ahead of city rivals Milan in third, and could still catch Napoli who are only six points ahead in second. The Nerazzurri come into this one after dropping points at home to Roma last week and will be looking for a response. With no cup and European distraction, Max Allegri would be demanding maximum performance from his team having failed to win their last match on the road.

 VERDICT – Inter scored two goals in their last two home games against Juventus, but haven’t managed three of these fixtures in a row with multiple strikes since 1954. A win for the home side would all but confirm their place in the Champions League next season. Juventus have already secured the title and can play for pride, which is never lacking in the Derby d’Italia. We are expecting a balanced approach from both teams but Juventus have the slight edge in quality. It’s up to Internazionale to go for it.

TORINO v AC MILAN – SUN. 28 APR 2019, 19.30HRS
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Sunday game at Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino sees two teams eyeing European qualification square off against each other. Seventh placed Torino are three points off Milan who occupy the final Champions League spot.  Both teams are not in great form; the Granata have two wins in their last six while the Rossoneri can boast of one league win in six outings. Walter Mazarri has done wonders with Toro, he should be credited with the team success as they have been one of the surprise package of the season. Same cannot be said of his opposite number, Milan Coppa Italia semi-finals defeat has ignited speculations about his future and anything short of a top-four finish will not save him.

VERDICT – Torino prepare for the visit of Milan with knowledge that a victory will see them go level with their visitors on the same points. Milan’s away record in the league this season (5W, 7D, 4L) but in their last three trips, they suffered two defeats at Sampdoria and Juventus, securing a draw at Parma. Five of the last seven meetings between these two at Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino have ended in draws. The reverse fixture this season in Milan was a draw so this could follow familiar trend.

To Spain;

BARCELONA v LEVANTE – SAT. 27 APR 2019, 19.45HRS
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Ernesto Valverde’s team will retain the league title if they manage a victory at home against Levante. It would be their seventh in the last 10 years and 26th in the club’s history. Barcelona have been the most consistent and dominate team in the Spanish top flight with leading scorer Leo Messi scoring the same amount of league goals as 12th placed Leganes (33 league goals). Struggling Levante have the unenviable task of stopping the victory party at the Camp Nou but it is unlikely for Paco Lopez and team to put the champagne on ice much longer regardless of their 4-0 demolition of Real Betis during the week. With one eye on next week’s Champions League semi-finals against Liverpool, the Basque coach might be tempted to rotate his team.

VERDICT – Levante are huge underdogs for this game; they have lost two of their last three on the road and have been sucked into the relegation scrap. With three points above the dreaded drop zone, the Granotas would be looking for help from others. Barcelona have won the last four home matches against Levante scoring 15 goals and conceding once. In the reverse fixture last December, Barcelona smashed five past helpless Levante at home. There is no price for guessing the winner here.

GIRONA v SEVILLA – SUN. 28 APR 2019, 13.00HRS
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Girona are in serious trouble; the Catalan club have slipped into the drop zone having lost their last six league matches as they welcome Champions League chasing Sevilla. The Andalusia club are back in the race following midweek results; they beat Rayo Vallecano while Getafe could only managed a draw against Real Madrid. Both teams are on same point but Geta have the better head-to-head therefore occupy fourth place. There is huge pressure on Eusebio Sacristán, the former Real Sociedad coach needs a magic wand to turn the situation around at Montilivi with four games to save a campaign that started so brightly but has dark clouds hovering over right now.

VERDICT – Sevilla have dominated this fixture in LaLiga; winning all three encounters till date and will look to make it four against the strugglers. Joaquin Capparos team love to put the pressure back on Getafe in the race by securing all three points in Catalonia. Girona haven’t scored against Sevilla in all previous meetings; they will need to do so if they aim to stop the bad run. It’s difficult to count on that has scored just twice in the last four league outings. An away win is on the cards.

To England;

LEICESTER CITY v ARSENAL – SUN. 28 APR 2019, 12.00HRS
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Leicester City are seeking a first win in three matches as they aim to stay in the hunt for seventh spot while Arsenal, who have lost three of their last four will be targeting a victory to the top four after slipping to fifth place. Leicester have won only one of their last 24 Premier League meetings with Arsenal (7D, 16L), although it was in this fixture last season. The good omen for the Gunners is the fact that they have never lost Premier League match that has kicked off at 12 noon, winning 15 and drawing four of them. The last of such match was a 5-1 win at Fulham this season. The Foxes are on a strong end of season run under Brendan Rodgers with Jaime Vardy is good goal scoring form. They are still in the hunt for seventh place which could secure European football for season.

VERDICT – Leicester lost their last home game against Newcastle which was a surprise but they face a team that has struggled on the road this season. Leicester have failed to win in two league outings while Arsenal have lost ground in the race to secure a top-four finish as they lost to Crystal Palace and Wolves. This is a game where both teams would feel they can return to winning ways so we should be in an excellent display. Goals will be guaranteed from both teams.

MANCHESTER UNITED v CHELSEA – SUN. 28 APR 2019, 16.30HRS
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Manchester United are seeking a return to winning ways after back-to-back defeats hit their hopes of a top-four finish. Chelsea are three points above their hosts and know a victory would keep them in control of UEFA Champions League qualification with two matches remaining. The Red Devils have won their last two Premier League home matches against the Blues, however, they have not managed three in a row at Old Trafford against their visitors from London since January 1957. It has been a difficult week for Ole Gunnar Solskajer and the reality check for his club in terms of where they belong seeing their neighbors move in leaps and bounds ahead of them. Maurizio Sarri is enjoying his own fair share of pressure which was visible in his fallout with Burnley backroom staff on Monday.

VERDICT – Manchester United have lost four of their last six in the Premier League but are still in with a shout to finish fourth as their rivals are also dropping points. Anything other than three points against Chelsea on Sunday would surely be curtains for their top-four hopes. Chelsea have won three of their last six Premier League matches, though have also suffered two defeats and one draw as well. United are unbeaten in their last five home matches against Chelsea but are in a bad place at the moment. This is an incredibly tough game to call. Both teams cannot afford a defeat so a draw might just settle it.

This wraps up our preview for the week. Predict and win big by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers in league matches across top five European leagues this weekend. 

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