Soccer News and Notes: Champions League Down To The Wire
The domestic battles in England, Spain and Italy are coming down to the final weeks of play with Champions League spots, relegation battles, and trophies on the line. In addition, the Champions League and Europa League are scheduled to finish in August with the draws being completed last week.
Champions League on the Line in England
While we know Liverpool has won the Premier League for the first time ever, and Norwich City have clinched relegation down to the Championship, everything else is up for grabs in England’s final two games. After winning their appeal this week, Manchester City’s second-place finish will see them allowed in the Champions League next season after UEFA tried to ban them for two seasons on a Financial Fair Play ruling.
Chelsea is in third with 63 points, while Leicester City and Manchester United each have 62 points before they face each other in the final week of the season.
Aston Villa and Bournemouth are in danger of going down as they sit a full three points behind both Watford and West Ham United. There’s also a battle for Europa League spots as one of Chelsea, Leicester City, and Man United will head to that competition.
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Wolverhamption, Tottenham, Sheffield United, and Arsenal are all still alive for the final spot, separated by just three points for sixth place.
Juventus on the Brink
Juventus have been in position to clinch a ninth straight Scudetto for a few weeks but are limping to the finish line in Serie A. They haven’t won in the last three games with a loss and two draws, allowing Internazionale to close the gap to six points.
Inter have jumped over both Lazio and Atalanta in recent weeks. Those four are well-positioned to represent Italy in Champions League play next year with fifth-place Roma 12 points behind their rivals from Lazio.
Napoli know they are headed to Europa League courtesy of their Coppa Italia title, and with five games left in Serie A play, Roma leads the race for the other spot, four points ahead of AC Milan. The relegation battle is on as SPAL and Brescia are way off the pace at the bottom, but Lecce is just one point behind Genoa.
Real Madrid Cap Comeback
Real Madrid for left for dead early in the season, but they rallied behind coach Zinedine Zidane and now lift their first major trophy since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus. A 2-1 win on Thursday was their 10th straight in La Liga since the restart and, coupled with Barcelona’s loss to 11th-place Osasuna, Los Blancos are champions for a record 34th time.
The title also ends Barca’s two-year run as Spanish champions, but Lionel Messi and company are still ready for Champions League play.
Champions League Return is Set
Champions League action returns on Aug. 7-8 with four second-legs from the Round of 16. Manchester City hosts Real Madrid with a 2-1 lead while Bayern Munich leads 3-0 as they host Chelsea.
Lyon has a 1-0 advantage from the first leg as they head to Juventus while Napoli and Barcelona play in Spain following a 1-1 draw in Italy.
The quarterfinals, semifinals and final will all take place in Lisbon, Portugal, between Aug. 12 and Aug. 23. Man City and Bayern Munich are the favorites to win it all at +300 just ahead of PSG and Barcelona. If you like a dark horse, keep an eye on Real Madrid at +2000 with the way they are playing since the restart.
The Europa League resumes Aug. 5 as the Round of 16 matches conclude across the continent. The final eight teams will meet up in Germany starting Aug. 10 with the final in Cologne on Aug. 21.
Man United is the betting favorite to lift the Europa League trophy at +275, while Wolves and Bayer Leverkusen are +500 followed by Internazionale (+600) and Sevilla (+800).