Top Matches of the Weekend

For those keeping track, we have one of Europe’s top 5 leagues wrapped up for the season, with the rest yet to be played out. However, among the remaining four only one title is still up forgrabs. Thankfully we’ll be free of this problem bright and early Saturday morning.

Bundesliga Title Race

Much like in the Premier League last week, the Bundesliga title will be decided on the last matchday of the season. Unlike last week, we’re covering both games implicating the title race. The reason is the matchups for the Bundesliga contain an extra element of uneasiness since all teams involved are in the top six.

Bayern Munich vs Eintracht Frankfurt

Bayern Munich squandered the chance to wrap the title up last week after settling for a point in Leipzig. The stumble opened the door to Borussia Dortmund to climb within two points of the league leaders, setting up the final day to settle the race once and for all.

Munich return to the Allianz Arena for the deciding match. Niko Kovac’s side hasn’t lost at home in the league since the first week of October, winning their last 10 straight in Munich. Bayern also has the edge against Frankfurt historically.

The Bavarians have beaten Frankfurt four of the last five times the clubs collided. Over the span of those five games Munich outscored Frankfurt 14-4, holding a definite advantage over the quickly rising club.

However, Munich hasn’t been as automatic against the rest of the top six this season. Apart from taking the reverse fixture over Frankfurt, Bayern had a record of 4-3-1 against the rest of the teams at the top of the table this year. There have been plenty of Munich vulnerabilities exposed this season which they’ll need to control to see out the title.

Eintracht Frankfurt have had plenty of headlines this season and it’s not hard to understand why. Currently one point behind in the race for the top four, Frankfurt have put together one of the most successful seasons in recent history on a lot of fronts.

Two Kepa Arrizabalaga penalty saves away from a Europa League title, Frankfurt made an international mark along with a strong domestic campaign. Forward Luka Jovic established himself among the leagues best scoring threats, sitting third with 17 goals as it stands.

Among the teams poised for the last Champions League spot, Frankfurt have the most difficult path. Not only do they need to rely on the results of two other games, but they also need to take care of business at Munich.

Frankfurt have confirmed some representation in the UCL next season, indirect as it may be. Jovic has reportedly sealed a lucrative deal to join Spanish giants Real Madrid once the season ends. The young forward has impressed time and time again throughout the season and will undoubtedly want to leave the club on a high.

Title races are always a bit funny, right? Most given weeks I’d write this game off as a comfortable-ish Munich win and peruse the list for more matches. But this weekend has a lot of big variables thrown into the equation. Frankfurt will press the issue without a doubt, and Munich have shown slip ups in not respecting opponents before. But it’s hard to see them not do just enough.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 2, Eintracht Frankfurt 2

Borussia Monchengladbach vs Borussia Dortmund

In the one of the other lanes in the three horse race, Monchengladbach are eyeing a return to UCL play as well. In fact, Dortmund’s third fiercest rivals are currently in the best position to secure a top four finish this season.

Holding fourth place heading into the weekend, Monchengladbach has the upper hand over Leverkusen on goal differential and sit a point above Frankfurt. Among the three shooting for the one spot, Die Fohlen are the only one finishing the season out at home.

Recent form doesn’t bode particularly well for Dieter Hecking’s squad, going 2-2-3 in their last seven league games. Results are especially spotting away from home, as Monchengladbach has alternated wins and losses in their last five league travels. According to the pattern this weekend calls for a loss, but we’ll get to that later.

The Gladbach shirt with the most eyes on it will likely be Thorgan Hazard, who is heavily rumored to be set to join BVB next season. Hazard, who has a brother Eden that plays in England I think, has made his presence felt with 10 goals and 10 assists so far this season.

Before Dortmund can worry about who to attract for next year, they need to finish out this season the way they started. Saying they fell from grace would be an understatement, but getting preoccupied with the title slip does nothing. Dortmund need a win and a Munich loss. A Munich draw could potentially do, but BVB would need to make up the +18 goal differential Munich has.

Five months ago, Dortmund would have figured they’d have suitable leverage in a situation like this. Snap back to reality and the Yellow Wall is starting down the barrel, praying on external forces to help create a miracle. As far as to what Lucien Favre’s squad can control from here on out, there should be little doubt in Dortmund.

Dortmund have gotten the best of Gladbach in each of the last seven times the two clubs met, all presiding in the Bundesliga. However, the German Liverpool has had their fair share of slip ups in recent games. The loss to Schalke and draw with Bremen dealt major blows to their title hopes, leaving BVB in a desperate situation come the ultimate week.

In what will likely be Christian Pulisic’s last Dortmund appearance, the stars of the BVB squad will need to show out to carry out the result. Jadon Sancho has proven elite abilities through the season but will need to come up clutch come Saturday morning at Borussia-Park.

Dortmund need a lot to happen in Munich in order for anything at Monchengladbach to be meaningful. Though they’ve been seemingly plagued by preoccupation at unfortunate times this season, I feel this might be the one time they perform under pressure. I also see the irony in it not mattering as I have Munich doing enough, but even Liverpool believed for 83 seconds.

Prediction: Borussia Monchengladbach 1, Borussia Dortmund 3

Philadelphia Union vs Seattle Sounders

In a season neither the MLS nor Union fans themselves expected, Philly sits second in the Eastern Conference. With a game in hand and a only a point behind D.C. United, its likely the Union will reclaim their spot atop the East eventually. That’s what we’re here to answer.

After shaky start to the season, Philly has gone unbeaten in eight of their last nine matches in the MLS. The thrashing of New England at home and the gritty win in Toronto has shown both sides of Philly’s ability to be potential contenders. This weekend would be the cherry on top in validating the Union’s climb to the top.

The most frightening part of Philly’s success this season is that, at least offensively, there’s no real focal point. While the Western Conference leaders LAFC find success through the Carlos Vela cheat code, Philly bears all of its arms to help contribute to the team’s success.

The Union have had 10 different players on the scoresheet, with Kacper Przybylko leading the way with three goals of his own. The mass contribution and widespread focus of the attack has produced 23 goals in total so far, the most for a team in the Eastern Conference.

On the other hand, Seattle also have no problem finding the back of the net. In fact, the Sounders have amassed 22 goals of their own through nine different scorers. Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz lead the lines with four goals each, but Cristian Roldan has been feeling screamer fever lately.

Seattle’s trajectory has been almost the opposite of Philly’s approaching Saturday night. The Sounders shot out to an impressive start, going unbeaten in their first five. Ever since, Seattle has had to settle for two wins in the last five.

Brian Schmetzer’s side recently held off Orlando City at home, marking their second straight win. However, Seattle has only registered one win in four away games so far this season. Despite inconsistencies popping up in recent weeks, Seattle are steadily keeping second place in the West.

Seattle has traditionally had a tough time traveling to the East Coast. On top of that, the Sounders’ league record against Philly doesn’t exactly spell success either. They’ve dropped three of their four matchups, failing to register a goal in Chester.

The Union are suddenly figuring it out. Slowly but surely the Sons of Ben are finding their voice again. As soon as Talen Energy stadium syncs the famous Philly atmosphere with the success on the field, Philadelphia will be a place teams will want to avoid. Games like these help build towards that.
Prediction: Philadelphia Union 4, Seattle Sounders 2

Galatasaray vs Istanbul Basaksehir

Featuring for what I believe is the second time on Top Matches, we are presented with a pretty much title deciding match on Sunday afternoon. Looking to repeat as Super Lig champions, Galatasaray would be on track to claim their 23rd domestic title with a win.

The season medal would also mark Galatasaray’s fifth Super Lig title in eight years, reaffirming the domination they have over the Turkish game. Rolling off the momentum of the Turkish Cup win during the week may be enough to carry them through the season.

Tied with their weekend rivals with 66 points, Galatasaray do have a sizable 36-28 advantage in goal differential. Seeing as this weekend is the penultimate week in the Super Lig, the wiggle room for results is enough to make fans comfortable approaching Sunday.

Recent form will further calm the nerves of fans for the league leaders. Even not so recent form, considering Galatasaray hasn’t lost in the league since December. To make matters better, they have yet to suffer a league loss at home this season as well.

If ever there be a team to knock the kings from the throne, this year’s Istanbul Basaksehir squad might be the ones for the job. With the likes of Robinho, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Adebayor and Demba Ba, the early 2010s Premier League revival project could actually work.

In fact, Basaksehir held the lead in Turkey for quite some time. Recent slip ups and dropping points unnecessarily has found them facing a do-or-die situation. One win in the last four doesn’t really scream league champions, so the fix needs to come quickly if the teams wants to be able to next weekend.

What has kept Basaksehir afloat in this title race has been their stellar form away from home. They have only suffered two league losses away from home throughout the season. Though a win puts them in an obviously more advantageous position, earning any result away from home can go far in a title race.

The reverse fixture in December saw the teams draw 1-1 when Basaksehir hosted, though they may have felt they could have gotten more from that match. Galatasaray has only beaten Istanbul once in the last six meetings, vindicating Basaksehir’s status as a legitimate roadblock on the way to the title.

In what can be considered all but a final, this match has little to suggest one way or another. The edge I see is Galatasaray’s ability to get results in big games, which they’ve managed lately to keep up with the title race. Regardless of the result, I’m sure that the tension will be tangible and that reports will be littered with headlines once the whistle blows.

Prediction: Galatasaray 2, Istanbul Basaksehir 1


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