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. But we are back to domestic football here on Saturday with two titles potentially being decided on Saturday. Will England or Germany have a title winner by the end of the day? Let’s see.
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
Let’s begin in Germany where Bayern Munich could have their title sealed up before Schalke even take the field. But if they slip against Augsburg, they’ll need some help from the worst team in Germany to take the crown.
Schalke 04 @ Hamburg SV (12:30 PM ET/Fox Sports 2, Fox Deportes, fuboTV)
As I just said, this game will only be a title decider if Bayern can’t take maximum points from Augsburg on the road. I don’t foresee that happening, but stranger things have happened. So if the odd occurs, Bayern is going to need the rock-bottom club of the Bundesliga, Hamburg, to help. And it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Hamburg has been dodging the drop for years now. They won the relegation playoff twice in the past four years. A couple late results last year took them out of playing in the tie a third time. But it seems barring a Wolfsburg or Mainz meltdown the final month and change, Hamburg is finally going to be relegated. But what does every team going down want to do? Pile on the misery elsewhere that’s what.
Schalke has had a resurgent campaign under Domenico Tedesco. They have a firm grip on second place at the moment and are winners of six on the trot. They beat Hamburg 2-0 at the Veltins-Arena in the reverse fixture, and look raring to repeat the result again. But while they are flying high at the moment, could the team hit some black ice looking forward? Key players, such as Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer, have made it well known that they are gone at season’s end. Does Schalke see this game as a chance to try out new bodies preparing for 2018-19?
If so, I think Hamburg could sneak up on them. I just am not willing to bet on a team that hasn’t won since November. I’ll take Schalke to cover the 0.5 goal spread (per Bovada) to potentially keep Bayern’s party at bay.
PREDICTION: Schalke 2 Hamburg 0 (Schalke -0.5 goals [-110])
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Manchester United @ Manchester City (12:30 PM ET/NBC, Telemundo, fuboTV, SiriusXM FC 157)
While Schalke can only hope to prolong Bayern’s title celebration remotely, Manchester United can stop their neighbor’s parade directly today at the Etihad. Jose Mourinho will have his big red bus firmly parked as he tries to keep from having to watch the blue side of Manchester rejoice.
Manchester United are facing a doomsday scenario. Manchester derbies are charged games, to begin with, but today’s pressure has been ramped up. The title is on the line and this is a wounded City team returning home. They are going to want to make the Red Devils present them with the Premier League trophy after an Anfield night to forget in the Champions League.
While Liverpool will rotate their squad measurably in their derby against Everton, I don’t see City making many changes in this one. They’ll want to squash their crosstown rivals on home ground. The returning Sergio Aguero will be chomping at the bit to score after not seeing the field at Old Trafford in December.
I think that City doesn’t want to let the title chase linger. They want it to be over with before they host Liverpool next week with the Champions League semi-finals at stake. Mourinho’s men may try every negative footballing exploit to stop it, but it won’t be enough.
PREDICTION: Manchester City 1 Manchester United 0 (Man City -0.5 goals [-135])
If you have any games you’d like me to pick over the weekend, 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!