Only twenty-seven days until the World Cup kicks off and the excitement is rapidly building. But before we turn our attention completely to South Africa, there’s still one last set of domestic fixtures to be played around Europe and anything can happen.
Five questions for the last competitive weekend:
Will it be Manuel Pellegrini’s final game in charge at Real Madrid? All signs point to Yes. Real Madrid are infamous for collecting managers. Apart from a four-year stint by Vicente del Bosque (who was famously let go after winning the league), no manager has lasted two full seasons since the early 1990s. Following a summer of spending in which the club broke the world transfer record twice, so much was expected from the new generation of Galacticos. But barring a miracle, Barcelona will get the three points they need this weekend, leaving Real to spend another summer without any silverware to polish. Surely, someone’s head will roll.
Will Inter Milan’s Champions League ambitions trip them up at home? Inter have one of the biggest matches in their history next weekend, when they meet Bayern Munich in Madrid. But with Roma nipping at their heels, they also need to win their final league game this weekend to guarantee a fifth-consecutive Serie A title. Can they keep themselves focused? Jose Mourinho may be the master of team management, but after months of inflating his players’ egos and stoking their dreams of Champions League glory, has the damage already been done?
Would it be in bad taste if Chelsea scored seven in the FA Cup final? Chelsea have scored at least seven goals five times this season – so it’s not completely out of the question that they could do it again at Wembley against lowly Portsmouth. However the tournament carries a certain prestige, and begs a certain amount of respect and clearly that should be respected. Cup final thrashings have been few and far between. Chelsea were beaten 4-0 by Manchester United in 1994, but to find a more lopsided score you’d have to go back all the way to 1903, when Bury beat Derby County 6-0. Chelsea have been breaking all kinds of scoring records lately, so we wouldn’t put it past them this Sunday.
Who will fall in Spain? Four teams head into the final weekend in La Liga level on points and staring down the barrel of relegation: Malaga, Tenerife, Valladolid and Real Santander. Two will survive; two will go down. With Malaga home to Real Madrid, Tenerife squaring up against Valencia, Valladolid heading to Barcelona and Santander playing Sporting Gijon, there’s a strong possibility that none of them will pick up the points they need to reach safety. In that case it will come down to goal difference. As they say in Spain , un fin de semana loco!
Who will be the most unlucky player in the game? With essentially the last competitive weekend of European club football now upon us, everyone who was picked for a World Cup squad this week will be suiting up tomorrow crossing their fingers that they don’t get injured at the final hurdle. But there’s bound to be at least one big name who will find themselves on the wrong end of a tackle and face a frustrating summer watching the big tournament on the telly. Could it be Andrés Iniesta? John Terry? We shall see.
Manuel Pellegrini missed the target this season with Real Madrid