4/5 Recap: It seems the Europa League has surpassed its big brother in terms of unpredictability. Arsenal ran riot in the first half, scoring 4 in 35 minutes. CSKA got an away goal, but that won’t matter heading back to Russia. In my other pick, I thought I was golden when Salzburg netted an equalizer in the 71st minute. That all went out the window as they fell asleep at the back shortly thereafter. Red Bull conceded two in a minute and a half. It killed the draw and give them a steep climb to progression back in Austria. So Friday has got me feeling a bit off. Nevertheless, I have two picks to make from domestic leagues. But where oh where should I go when I’m feeling down? How about to Spain for a match with two teams going down?
My Picks: Arsenal 2 CSKA Moscow 1 (CSKA Moscow +1.5 goals [-125])
Lazio 1 Red Bull Salzburg 1 (Red Bull Salzburg +0.5 goals [EVEN], DRAW [+260])
Actual Results: Arsenal 4 CSKA Moscow 1
Lazio 4 Red Bull Salzburg 2
Joining the La Liga relegation coronation on today’s picks will be PSG inching one step closer to wrapping up Ligue 1.
FRENCH LIGUE 1
Paris Saint-Germain @ Saint-Etienne (2:45 PM ET/beIN Sports USA, beIN Sports Connect, fuboTV, iGol)
PSG may be out of the Champions League, but they can move three points closer to the second piece of a domestic treble today. The Parisians head to Saint-Etienne on autopilot. They are thinking of what could have been and what chaos may come in the summer.
After their summer expenditures, PSG was pretty much guaranteed a clean sweep in France. With the Coupe de la Ligue already in the trophy case and the Coupe de France nearly there, the Ligue 1 crown needs sealing. They’ve won five of their last six and will presumably cruise today. They beat ASSE 3-0 at the Parc des Princes earlier in the year and throttled the Saints 5-0 in this fixture at the end of last year.
However, Saint-Etienne has been on a bit of a good streak lately. They’ve dragged themselves out of the Ligue 1 doldrums to within striking distance of a Europa League place. But I just can’t see this mishmash of loan players and unproven attackers putting a substantial dent in PSG, even if they are looking ten steps ahead of them.
And that philosophy isn’t totally unwarranted for PSG. With Thomas Tuchel set to take over in the summer, or maybe earlier, and a potential Neymar saga bubbling, the future is more intriguing for the league leaders than the here and now. Either way, I like Edinson Cavani to score at least once today and for PSG to cover the 1.5 goal spread (per Bovada) fairly comfortably.
PREDICTION: Paris Saint-Germain 3 Saint-Etienne 1 (PSG -1.5 [-110], Edinson Cavani scores [-170]
SPANISH PRIMERA DIVISION
Malaga @ Deportivo La Coruna (3:00 PM ET/beIN Sports en Español, beIN Sports Connect, fuboTV, iGol)
I know there are many worse things in life, MUCH worse, but having to know you are getting relegated has to be one of the worst feelings. Knowing that all the work you put in and sacrifices you made weren’t enough to keep your team at their current status. The lack of relegation in American sports is a tangent I can’t go on right now for the sake of this paragraph’s length. But to wrap it up, the second of my picks, Malaga and Deportivo, have about two months left before they say adios to La Liga.
It was only five years ago that Malaga were Champions League quarter-finalists. They were a mid-table side since then, but everything fell apart this year. Years of mismanagement by their foreign owners leave them heading back to the second tier for the first time since 2007-08. As a team, Malaga would be tied for fourth in the Pichichi race. They have won one game away from home all season.
Deportivo’s resume isn’t much better. They are three points ahead of Malaga, but seven goals worse in the differential. 61 goals have hit the back of their net, tied for worst with fellow relegation candidates Las Palmas. They lost to Malaga 3-2 in the reverse fixture back in November. Depor has scored that many goals in a game just twice more in the league since then.
So I think this game could go one of two extremes. The two teams play out the ninety minutes unceremoniously, take their point and go home. Or they could go balls to the wall as their final top-flight salvo and let the goals ring out. I’m leaning towards the former.
PREDICTION: Deportivo La Coruna 1 Malaga 0 (Depor -0.5 goals [EVEN])
If you have any games you’d like me to pick over the rest of the week, you can contact me on Twitter @TREVORutley. In addition to the available media listed for each game, be sure to try out our Gameview service while watching as well. Also, here is a link for my results throughout and the points system. Cheers!