The long road to the end of the season in European football has finally arrived, as the curtain will be closed on the domestic seasons in the major leagues this weekend. But, which soccer picks should gamblers make for the final rounds of games?
Borussia Dortmund vs Bayer Leverkusen
Borussia Dortmund have achieved their target for the season ahead of the arrival of Marco Rose as their new coach in the summer. A Champions League finish in the Bundesliga looked unlikely a month ago, but Dortmund can wrap up third place with a home win against Bayer Leverkusen this weekend.
Dortmund have finished the season in their strongest form of the campaign, as they have won their last six. As well as that, the German giants were able to win the DFB-Pokal against RB Leipzig last week to add some silverware to their trophy cabinet. The strong end of season form by Dortmund has seen them move up to third, as they have claimed the Champions League spot at the expense of Eintracht Frankfurt. Their top-four place was secured last weekend, as they beat Mainz 3-1 away from home.
Bayer Leverkusen would have certainly been aiming for a place in the top four at the beginning of the season, but troubles on the pitch mean that they will be quietly appeased with their Europa League spot. Leverkusen have lost once in their last six, but they have picked up just two wins during the same stretch of games. They have drawn their last two, which includes the 1-1 draw that they picked up against Union Berlin last weekend.
Dortmund will be looking to end the season as strongly as possible, and we wouldn’t back against them claiming the win against Leverkusen to secure the third spot.
Real Valladolid vs Atletico Madrid
The most important game in Europe this weekend will see Atletico Madrid look to wrap up their first LaLiga title since the 2013-14 season. All they need to do this weekend is claim a final win of the season, and the domestic title is theirs.
This season hasn’t been without its nervy moments for Atletico, and there would have been genuine fear last weekend that the title was slipping out of their hands. The final 15 minutes of their game against Osasuna were the most important of the season for Atletico. They went behind with 15 minutes remaining, which coupled with Real Madrid’s win would have sent Atletico second. However, Diego Simeone’s side continued to fight in the final ten minutes, and managed to turn the game on its head. Renan Lodi equalised with eight minutes to go before Luis Suarez caused frantic scenes as he scored the winner with just one minute of normal time remaining.
Real Valladolid will be looking to crash the Atletico party this weekend. They still have important points to fight for themselves, as they need the win to stand any chance of staying in LaLiga. They are currently two points from safety, with an inferior goal difference. Valladolid need to win and hope that the two sides directly above them lose their fixtures on the final day of the season. It’s a big ask, but stranger things have happened in football.
All eyes in Spain will be on the events at the Jose Zorrilla Stadium this weekend, but it looks a big ask for Valladolid to get the win they need to stay up. We expect Atletico to get the victory they need to win a first league time in seven years.
Bologna vs Juventus
Very few people would have believed that Juventus would be coming into the final round of fixtures desperately needing a win to secure Champions League football. However, that is the position that we find ourselves in on the final round of games in Serie A.
Juventus could face the ultimate embarrassment of being a part of the Super League plans, only to miss out on Champions League qualification. Off-the-field issues are still to be resolved, as the Old Lady are clinging to the plans, but they must take a back seat as only a win will do this weekend. Juventus have won three of their last four, but defeat against AC Milan during that run has handed the advantage to Milan in the battle for the top-four. They will need Cristiano Ronaldo at his very best this weekend.
Bologna are set to finish in the middle of the table, and their recent results would suggest that they are just playing out their remaining games as they wait for the end of the season. They are without a win in six, and have been held in four games during this run.
Juventus must win this weekend to stand any chance of finishing in the top four. We expect them to get the win, as Bologna have been in disappointing form over recent weeks.
Liverpool vs Crystal Palace
The race for the Champions League places in the Premier League will go down to the final day. Manchester United and Manchester City have already booked their spot, but Chelsea, Liverpool and Leicester City will find out their fate on the final day.
Liverpool and Chelsea hold all their cards, as wins for the Reds and Blues will be enough to seal their spot. Anything other than a win for either side would leave the door open for Leicester City, who need to beat Tottenham Hotspur at the King Power regardless. Liverpool have surprised many by getting themselves back into a prominent position, as it looked nearly impossible that they would be in the fight to finish in Europe just a couple of weeks ago. However, four wins from four see them standing on the cusp of what would be a remarkable achievement this term.
Roy Hodgson’s final game in charge of Palace will see him take his side to his former club. Hodgson announced in mid-week that he would be stepping back as manager, and it has been rumoured that Frank Lampard is being lined up to replace the former England boss. Palace will finish in the bottom half of the standings this season, but a win on the final day could see them finish in 12th.
Liverpool eased to a 3-0 win against Burnley on Wednesday evening, and they could pick up a similar scoreline on the final day to book their spot in the Champions League next season.