SINGAPORE — As the major European leagues draw to a close, there are still a few outcomes to be decided in the final week of domestic action, before the attention turns to the Europa League and Champions League finals.
Cup finals are the centres of attention in the German and Spanish leagues, while in the Italian Serie A, the battle for the final two Champions League spot will climax in the final round of matches. And while the English Premier League and FA Cup have both ended, there is still the matter of the third and final club to be promoted from the Championship, which will be decided at Wembley between two once-great clubs.
Which clubs will taste success right at the end of the league seasons? Yahoo News Singapore analyses the crucial fixtures that will shape the tail end of European football.
German Cup final: RB Leipzig v Bayern Munich
After wrapping the German Bundesliga title last week with a 5-1 thrashing of Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern will be gunning for their second domestic trophy in the DFB Cup final against RB Leipzig.
RBL finished third in the league behind Bayern and Borussia Dortmund, and will be keen to sign off this season with a deserved Cup title. Timo Werner and Yussuf Poulsen have been plundering goals aplenty, and they will look to cause damage to the Bayern back-line.
For Bayern, they will feel that this has been a season of transition under first-year coach Niko Kovac, and their round-of-16 Champions League exit shows they have plenty of rebuilding to do before returning to the top of the European elite clubs again.
Still, they have Bundesliga’s top score Robert Lewandowski (22 goals) leading the line, and they will want to give a fitting send-off to two of their biggest stars of the past decade, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Can these two add an exclamation mark to their Bayern careers with a goal or two?
Spanish Copa del Rey: Barcelona v Valencia
Since Singapore millionaire Peter Lim bought over Valencia five years ago, they have managed to qualify for the Champions League in three of the seasons, including this past season. This should qualify Lim’s ownership as a successful one, yet the club hasn’t won any trophy during his term yet.
That could change on 25 May in the Copa del Rey final, and much will depend on Valencia’s well-drilled defence, which conceded the second fewest goals in the Spanish La Liga behind Atletico Madrid.
Can they hold off a Barcelona side, which may still be licking their wounds after their dramatic capitulation in their Champions League semi-final clash with Liverpool? The Barca forward line is awesome, boasting the Spanish league’s top two scorers Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. They scored a whopping 90 goals in the league, and will be confident of breaching Valencia’s defence. Will Barcelona win their fourth straight Copa del Rey?
Battle for Champions League spots in Serie A
To the only major European league still not completed, the Italian Serie A. And it has very crucial unfinished business in its final round of matches, with the third and fourth Champions League spots still up for grabs among four clubs: Atalanta, Inter Milan (both with 66 points), AC Milan (65 points) and AS Roma (63 points).
On paper, Inter Milan may look to have the easiest tie, coming up against relegation-battling Empoli, who are just one point away from the drop zone. Yet, this is precisely why this is the trickiest tie, as Empoli are sure to put every ounce of effort to stave off relegation.
The other three clubs have clashes with mid-table teams: Atalanta against 10th-placed Sassuolo, Milan against 11th-placed SPAL and Roma against 12th-placed Parma. Will all four clashes end in victories for the clubs chasing Champions League qualification?
Promotion play-off final: Aston Villa v Derby County
There is also unfinished business in the English leagues, even though the English Premier League (EPL) and the FA Cup were done and dusted by last week. The promotion play-offs are in full swing, and on 27 May, the final promotion spot to the EPL will be decided when Aston Villa and Derby County meet at Wembley.
These are two once-illustrious clubs which have fallen on hard times recently, and a promotion back to the lucrative EPL could kick-start a revival which will be welcomed by their long-suffering fans. Yet, as recent history goes, promoted sides often struggle to stay afloat in the elite league, and both clubs should definitely invest in quality after gaining promotion.
Villa have the better form heading into the match, with five wins in their last eight matches. Key men Jack Grealish and Tammy Abraham will be eager to fire the seven-time English top-division champions back to the Premier League. Meanwhile, two-time English champions Derby will rely on the set-piece prowess of Harry Wilson to topple Villa. Who will grab that precious final promotion spot to the Premier League?