Erik ten Hag’s Ajax trophy chance, La Liga title on the line and 5 huge European games to watch on Easter Sunday



The Premier League and FA Cup semi-finals mean there’s plenty of big action to come in England this weekend, but looking further afield there are some massive games which could prove decisive for the 2021/22 season.

In the Bundesliga and Portugal’s top flight, Champions League spots are at a premium and up for grabs with a big result this weekend, while in Spain it’s the title race itself which comes under the spotlight. Manchester United fans will have an eye on a different giant of European football this weekend, with silverware on the line in Rotterdam.

Here are the five huge clashes to tune in for around the continent this weekend.

PSV vs Ajax: KNVB Beker final, 5pm BST

Dutch football first and the biggest modern rivalry – and a game of particular probable interest to Man United supporters.

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is widely expected to take over as the Red Devils’ new head coach at the end of the campaign, but before that he’s trying to win the domestic double with his current side.

Having won the Dutch Cup final last year, Ten Hag is technically looking for a third straight success in the competition, as the final wasn’t played in 2020. PSV haven’t won the cup in a decade and are four points behind Ajax in the Eredivisie, while their boss Roger Schmidt is himself set for a switch to Benfica.

Bayer Leverkusen vs RB Leipzig: Bundesliga, 6:30pm BST

In Germany, just one point separates Leverkusen and Leipzig, third and fourth respectively as the Bundesliga’s Champions League fight heats up.

It’s looking increasingly like two from three now with Freiburg the other side in the running – so victory here is of paramount importance for both this year’s ambitions and next year’s finances. Europa semi-finalists Leipzig have been mostly free-scoring domestically and have the second-best defensive record in the league, significantly improved under Domenico Tedesco.

Star names on show include the excellent Christopher Nkunku for the visitors and the league’s second-highest scorer Patrik Schick for the hosts.

PSG vs Marseille: Ligue 1, 7:45pm BST

Le Classique has often been a reference point for French football’s closest battles and rivalries; it might be the latter still, but there’s no meaningful closing the gap at the top this time around.

PSG are 12 points clear of their rivals, but Jorge Sampaoli’s team are the most in-form in Ligue 1 of late in terms of recent wins, looking a good bet to hold onto second and secure a return to the Champions League in the process.

More than a handful of games involving the visitors this season have been eventful and fiery on the pitch; add in Kylian Mbappe being in irrepressible form, a draw between the sides at the Velodrome earlier this year and a PSG red card on the day and it’s easy to see how it could be a very watchable game indeed.

(AFP via Getty Images)

Seville vs Real Madrid: La Liga, 8:00pm BST

If there is to be a late and dramatic change in the title race in Spain, it probably has to start at the Sanchez Pizjuan this weekend.

Sevilla have dropped off the pace after three draws and a defeat recently, but if they beat the league leaders and Barcelona beat relegation-threatened Cadiz on Monday night then the gap will be down to nine points with a game in hand for the Catalan side.

The Andalucians are level with Barca but have played the same games as Real, so although a win doesn’t put them back in the frame immediately, it might just open the door given los Blancos have Champions League distractions too.

Maybe, just maybe, there is League.

Sporting CP vs Benfica: Primeira Liga, 8:30pm BST

Finally, across the border and into Lisbon, the local derby takes place which sees Sporting host Benfica, with the home side still in with a shout of retaining their title.

Benfica haven’t won the league since 2019 and they’re not going to this year either – it’s instead looking like successive third-place finishes for them even if they triumph.

For Sporting though, there’s six points to make up on Porto – who they play in the cup semi-final in midweek – and they need to effectively win out from here on, as well hoping as Benfica later do them a favor when they host the league leaders on the penultimate weekend. Even that might not be enough, but they have to get it right here to keep the fight alive.


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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