Source: Imago Images
Source: Imago Images

Weekend football: The last relegation scrap

Football OlyBet 24.05.2024

We should be thankful for Italy. Not just for pizza and pasta, but for Serie A. While most top teams in England, Germany, and France are now in full vacation mode and there is literally nothing meaningful to play for in Spain, the Italians will save the weekend with a hearty relegation scrap.

The Premier League title race was indeed a fun-to-follow storyline that kept us on our toes for… well, months. But then again, title races can be a little tiresome – have we not seen it already? Manchester City and Arsenal were there the season before and will most probably go for it in another twelve months. It is like watching sequel after sequel with most of the characters reappearing.

Then there are the feel-good stories. Girona in Spain, Bologna in Italy, Aston Villa in England. They will play in the Champions League next term, but will any of them go to achieve greater things? Unless a title is won Leverkusen-style, those teams will be soon forgotten. Take Union Berlin, who played in the Champions League just five months ago, for example. Like them, most teams return to mediocrity rather quickly after losing their best players and/or coach.

But relegation hits different. Some take it on the chin and get straight back up – Leicester has just done it –, but many spiral downwards. Remember the back-to-back relegations for Sunderland? Hamburg was the only team that played in every Bundesliga season until 2017-18, but will remain in the second division for a seventh straight season. Deportivo La Coruna, Champions League semi-finalists just 20 years ago, spent the last three seasons in the third tier of Spanish football.

It will be between Frosinone, Udinese, and Empoli in Serie A. One will go down, two will keep their place. Frosinone have never survived a season in Serie A before. Udinese have been Serie A regulars since 1995-96. Empoli are somewhat of a yo-yo club.

Who will go down and which other games to enjoy over the weekend?

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

Manchester City – Manchester United

Saturday 17:00

Again? For a second straight season, The FA Cup final will be played as a Manchester derby. Climate activists will not be happy to see both making the trip to Wembley again… It took City just twelve seconds to take the lead a year ago and City duly won 2-1. They can make history, as no English team has ever won back-to-back league and cup doubles.

Erik ten Hag will hope that a first FA Cup win for the club since 2004 – United have lost four of their last five finals – could save his job, but there will be no guarantees even then after United had their worst Premier League era season ever, finishing eighth with a negative goal difference. They have lost six of their last seven derbies vs City.

Empoli – AS Roma / Frosinone – Udinese

Sunday 21:45

Empoli have taken seven points from their last three home games, but Roma certainly have the pedigree to be considered favourites in this game. They can not finish higher than sixth, but with Atalanta winning the Europa League, even that spot could help them to a Champions League spot. Empoli are currently 18th, but would be safe with three more points.

A draw would help Empoli if Frosinone clinches safety with a win; in that scenario, Empoli and Udinese would meet for an additional game. Frosinone would also be safe with a draw, but it might not be enough for Udinese. There are plenty of variations, so expect both teams to keep an eye on what is happening in Empoli.

Fortuna Düsseldorf – Bochum (1st leg 3-0)

Monday 21:30

The last weeks of Bundesliga action could not have been worse for Bochum, as 0-5 (vs Leverkusen) and 1-4 (vs Werder) defeats allowed Union Berlin to usurp them in the table by goal difference. A dispute with the manager following those losses leaves first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Riemann on the sidelines, as 37-year-old back-up Andreas Luthe took his place for the 1st leg.

Düsseldorf came into the play-offs with a seven game unbeaten streak (5W, 2D) and wasted no time, going ahead via an own goal. Bochum could not take their chances, and Düsseldorf struck again in the second half, taking a healthy 3-0 lead to their own home. Bochum are on the verge on dropping.

The Betis Babble

OlyBet is the proud betting partner of Real Betis.

Next game: Saturday 22:00 @ Real Madrid

Just like that, it is all over. Betis hosted Sociedad without the injured Isco and still offered plenty, but succumbed to a 0-2 loss with xG 1.91 to 0.44 in favour of Betis… Sociedad took an early lead from a free-kick and then doubled it before half-time. A missed penalty and a goal disallowed by VAR made sure Betis came away empty-handed.

Betis will finish seventh and miss the Europa League for the first time in four seasons, but will at least contest the Conference League. Travelling to the Santiago Bernabeu for what will most certainly be a packed house – Madristas will bid farewell to Toni Kroos and Nacho Fernandez – is surely not ideal but there will be no pressure to deliver either


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