Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Final Countdown

There's plenty at stake this weekend as the league seasons in Italy, France, Germany and Spain come to a close. Here's a preview.

Italy: The scudetto is on the line as Inter Milan looks to hold off Roma. Inter, who hold a one-point lead, are at Parma, while Roma are at Catania Calcio. Those two sides will join third-place Juventus in next year's Champions League, with the fourth spot going to Fiorentina or AC Milan. Fiorentina hold a two-point lead and are away to Torino. AC Milan, who hold the advantage on goal differential, host Udinese. All games kickoff Sunday at 9 AM Eastern.

France: A draw should be enough to give Lyon a record seventh-straight Ligue 1 crown when they travel to Auxerre. Bordeaux will look to erase the two-point gap when they visit Lens. Both games are slated for 2:50 PM Eastern on Saturday.

Germany: Bayern Munich have already won the Bundesliga, but the jockeying continues for European positions. Werder Bremen will look to hold off third-place Schalke for an automatic spot in the Champions League group stages. Even if Schalke can't erase the two-point deficit, they'll still head to Champions League qualifying. Four teams are tied at 51 points for two UEFA Cup slots- Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg currently lead on goal differential over Wolfsburg and Stuttgart. The finales kickoff Saturday at 9:30 AM Eastern.

Spain: Real Madrid clinched the title two weeks ago. Villarreal and Barcelona will join them in next year's Champions League. Atletico Madrid will only need a point against Valencia to top Sevilla for the fourth spot, but if Atletico lose and Sevilla defeat Atheltic Bilbao, Sevilla will earn fourth on goal differential. The final games start Sunday at noon Eastern.

Scotland: Due to a series of scheduling quirks, Glasgow Rangers, trailing rivals Celtic by four points, will play three league games on the road in six days beginning Saturday. With two games in hand on Celtic, Rangers will be at Motherwell on Saturday, at St. Mirren on Monday, and at Aberdeen on Thursday. Celtic finish on Thursday at Dundee United. Two days after the league season ends, Rangers face Queen of South in the Scottish Cup Final.

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