Source: Imago Images
Source: Imago Images

Weekend football: Fighting for a place under the sun

Football OlyBet 10.05.2024

With all the top leagues coming to an end over the next few weeks, some teams are playing meaningful games week in, week out while others are just waiting for a nice vacation and already planning for what lies ahead. In Serie A, the former applies.

Every other league has more or less fizzled out. Yes, the Premier League title fight is still on, but we can not talk about it every week (yeah, sure we can, but we will be a lot smarter in a week’s time). Most of the important places – the title, the Champions League spots – have been pretty much dealt out in the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1.

Those looking for a good last-minute battle should turn their heads to Serie A. After being the pre-eminent league from the late 1980s until the early 2000s, Serie A fell hard after Calciopoli and has arguably never recovered, now competing against wealthy foreign investors. But by UEFA club coefficients, they have been the strongest league in Europe in 2023/24 (and thus earned an extra Champions League spot) while the local battle is as heated as ever.

So what is going on? Inter are the worthy champions, confirmed weeks ago. Their city rival AC Milan has also guaranteed a Champions League spot. But behind them … Juventus (66 points) are third, having drawn their last four games. Bologna (64) are still very much in it, the surprise package of the season.

However, Atalanta (60 with a game in hand) have won their last three games and are holding the last Champions League spot while Roma (60) and Lazio (56) are not out of the running yet. Napoli (51), maybe the best team in the world just twelve months ago, have fallen behind. And we should not forget Fiorentina (50), who are going to a second successive Conference League final.

Who will finish in the Champions League spots and which other games to enjoy over the weekend?

All times listed below are in Eastern European Summer Time (GMT+3).

Napoli – Bologna

Saturday 19:00

Napoli are currently eighth, which could help them to a Conference League spot – but since there are many variations (e.g. Fiorentina winning it or Atalanta/Roma the Europa League), they do not hold the keys themselves. Catching Lazio could still be realistic, but having earned just three points from their last four games (and one win in eight), it is difficult to see Napoli resurge.

Bologna meanwhile are on the verge of history, but it is far from done yet. After visiting Napoli, they will host Juventus; two games that will prove whether they are the real deal. Recent draws against Torino and Udinese are particularly worrying since they did not deserve anything more (with an xG of 0.15 and 0.77 respectively). They have not scored in three of their last five games.

Manchester United – Arsenal

Sunday 18:30

Can Manchester United interfere with the title race? After a 0-4 drubbing at the hands of Crystal Palace, things can not get much worse for them. They will have to put up a fight in front of the home crowd and showing they are still capable should be enough for motivation. In September, they lost at the Emirates to late, late goals after going 1-0 up.

Arsenal are hosting in-form Everton in the last round but will definitely see this game as the crucial one. With City playing on Saturday (Fulham away) and Tuesday (Tottenham away), Arsenal can either put the pressure on themselves or City; a draw here could allow City to seal the title against Tottenham.

Atalanta – AS Roma

Sunday 21:45

Atalanta made it to the Europa League final and are now just 90 minutes from their first trophy since 1962-63 (but remember, they first play in the Coppa Italia final). This means they can reach the Champions League via two routes, but their chances of catching either Juve or Bologna seem realistic, and even keeping fifth place would help them. Much will come down to this match.

Roma could not do what Atalanta will be tasked with in the final – breaking down Bayer Leverkusen. They led 2-0 on the night only to draw 2-2 and come to the disappointing conclusion that finishing fifth is their best (and only) bet to reach the Champions League. In January, the teams played out a 1-1 draw that would suit neither at the moment.

The Betis Babble

OlyBet is the proud betting partner of Real Betis.

Next game: Sunday 22:00 vs Almeria

Last weekend, Osasuna went a man down inside the first half, and from there, Betis controlled the game (more or less) on their way to a 2-0 win with goals from Ayoze Perez and Pablo Fornals. Unfortunately for Betis, Real Sociedad did the same vs Las Palmas, meaning an Europa League spot is still two points away.

Things should be different this week, as Sociedad will be visiting Barcelona while Betis are welcoming an already-relegated Almeria side. The opponent has won just two games this season, but both of them have come recently, with a 1-0 win against Rayo Vallecano last time out. They kept Betis to a 0-0 draw at home as well, so remaining calm and composed should be a priority to avoid any slip-ups.


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