Think back to just a month ago. The only sporting events that were going on were a few UFC fights and the German Bundesliga. Fast forward to now, it is crazy and exciting how quickly things have picked up. Soccer is in full swing across Europe. Last weekend featured games with some big implications in each competition. Let’s take a look at the highlights from the top action around Europe
English FA Cup
Four games across England in the country’s most prestigious tournament saw four big names advance into the semi-finals. Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal all picked up victories over the weekend, some easier than others.
Manchester City had no problems with Newcastle earning a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling. The Citizens are the favorites to win the tournament and will face Arsenal in the next round.
Arsenal defeated Sheffield United after some fireworks in the final 10 minutes. Arsenal held a lead for most of the game, but Sheffield found an equalizer with just under 10 minutes to play. It looked like Sheffield stole all the momentum and would win the game in regulation after the goal, but Arsenal on a piercing counterattack took back the lead in stoppage time. Thrilling finish to an otherwise lackluster contest.
Manchester United took on Norwich City in what was another actionless affair until late. United started their “B” team as they try to balance minutes during a crowded fixture period. Despite that, they held a lead until a late Norwich City goal made things very interesting. On came the big names, like Rashford and Pogba, for United. Norwich were handed a red card for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity just before the end of regulation, which essentially sealed their fate. United pushed on in extra time and eventually Harry Maguire found the winner with 3 minutes left before penalties. Crisis averted for United.
Chelsea took on Leicester City, which has struggled to score goals since the return to play. They only have one goal in three games. Chelsea continued their good run, having the game’s only goal in the 63rd minute. Ross Barkley put the Blues ahead and that was all they needed to advance to the semi finals.
The semis will be held at Wembley Stadium over the weekend of July 18th and 19th, still without fans.
English Premier League
Not much action in the Premier League this weekend as a result of the FA Cup, but there were a couple relegation zone games of note. Both Aston Villa and Watford lost their games to Wolves and Southampton respectively. Watford are just 1 point clear of the relegation zone on 28 points. Villa remain tied with West Ham and Bournemouth in the relegation zone on 27 points, but both are now behind on goal differential and both have one less game to play. The race to be the best of the worst will be an intriguing battle to close out the season. Wolves slipped into 5th place with their win over Villa having played an extra game than Manchester United that now are in 6th.
Germany Bundesliga Closes Up
The Bundesliga got this all going again, as it led the way for the rest of Europe to return to play. Bayern Munich had already locked up the title, Dortmund already clinched second place and the relegation battle was already settled. The only item left to be decided in the Bundesliga was the battle for 4th place, the final Champions League spot. Borussia Mönchengladbach held a two point lead over Bayern Leverkusen heading into the final weekend. Both sides had home games against weaker opponents and both teams took care of business. Unfortunately for Leverkusen, that means they settle for 5th place and the Europa League in 2020-2021.
There still is some action left out of German football as Bayern Munich will take on Bayern Leverkusen in the German League Cup Final on July 4th.
Italy Serie A
The big news out of the Serie A this past week was Juventus opening up a 4 point lead over Lazio. When the league resumed, Juve only had a 1 point lead. A clash between the two sides in July looked to be a potential title decider. However, Lazio slipped up. They had a 2-0 lead over a high octane Atalanta side, only to find themselves on the wrong side of a 3-2 result. Juventus, that has two wins in two games in its return, now has a commanding 4 point lead. Barring unforeseen slip ups, they should be crowned champions of Italy.
Spain La Liga
Some drama in La Liga last week saw Real Madrid become the favorites to win the league. They entered the restart two points behind Barcelona, have since reversed that advantage within the span of five league games. Barcelona dropped points to Celta Vigo and Sevilla last week with draws in each fixture. Meanwhile, Madrid is five for five since the league resumed with no real tough opponent on their remaining schedule. Barcelona has to play Atletico Madrid midweek, a team that’s been in great form and has essentially locked up third place in La Liga. Hard to imagine Real Madrid blowing this advantage given their remaining opponents.
Soccer Every Day
There are games almost every day, and for a soccer fan, it is a beautiful thing. Most Premier League games can be found on NBC Sports. Serie A games can be found on ESPN and ESPN+. La Liga games are generally on BEiN Sports. Be sure to catch all the action as we head into a July full of matches.