Across the Continent weekend preview: 29 March -1 April

There’s plenty of European football to look forward to this weekend, so here’s a selection of games not to be missed from La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1.

La Liga

With nine games to go, there isn’t much of a title race in La Liga, with Real Madrid eight points clear of the rest, still having lost just one league match this season, beaten by Atlético in the derby way back on 24 September.

Carlo Ancelotti’s team will get the chance to extend their unbeaten streak to 24 matches on Sunday night when Athletic Club visit the Bernabéu, although this won’t be a procession, as the visitors have plenty to play for too.

Before the international break, Ernesto Valverde’s team beat Alavés 2-0 at San Mamés, a result that saw Athletic climb into fourth, desperate to end their decade-long exile from the Champions League.

The side they dislodged are Atlético Madrid, who are in horrendous league form, smashed 3-0 by Barcelona last time out, suffering back-to-back league defeats for the first time since December 2021.

This is also the first time ever Atleti have been defeated by a three-goal margin at the Metropolitano, suffering their biggest home defeat since November 2016, this against Real Madrid at the Vicente Calderón.

On the road meantime, Diego Simeone’s side have yielded a measly five points from their last nine La Liga away games, only beating bottom three dwellers Granada since 21 October on their travels.

So, could Villarreal, who are hardly consistent themselves, spring a surprise at Estadio de la Cerámica?

Just above, could Girona be the team who miss out on Champions League qualification, given that Blanquivermells have lost each of their last four away games, most-recently beaten by Getafe.

Back at home this weekend, Míchel’s men welcome Real Betis to Montilivi, hoping to extend their six-point cushion over Athletic.

Across Catalonia, Barcelona should swat aside Las Palmas at Montjuïc, although they’ll be taking nothing for granted, having required a 93rd minute İlkay Gündoğan spot-kick to win in Gran Canaria in January.

At the bottom, Almería finally claimed their first win of the season a fortnight ago, beating Las Palmas, so can new boss Pepe Mel make it two wins out of two as his side host Osasuna on Saturday?

Second-to-last Granada sacked boss Alexander Medina during the international break; adios, we hardly knew you.

José Ramón Sandoval has come in but, with el Graná 13 points from safety, it’s surely too little too late, or can he revitalise their survival bid against Cádiz on Good Friday?


Real Madrid to win

Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Bilbao


Barcelona half time/full time

Barcelona vs Las Palmas


Both teams to score

Villarreal vs Atlético Madrid


Girona to win

Girona vs Real Betis


Under 2.5 goals

Deportivo Alavés vs Real Sociedad


Under 2.5 goals

Almería vs Osasuna


At 17/1, a £10 bet would return £181.85

La Liga acca of the week

Serie A

This weekend’s Serie A action comes to you on Saturday and Monday, with Easter Sunday a sacred day in Italy.

In only a matter of weeks, Internazionale Milano will have a second star on their crest, courtesy of winning a 20th Scudetto, beating their fierce rivals to this landmark.

Simone Inzaghi’s side are 14 points clear of the rest, so could rubber stamp the title in the Derby della Madonnina coming up on 22 April, which would be quite something wouldn’t it?

This weekend, I Nerazzurri welcome relegation-threatened Empoli to Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Monday night, very likely to claim yet another win.

Below Inter, there is a fascinating fight for Europe, especially given that fifth is set to be enough for Champions League qualification, with the Europa Conference League place, potentially, dropping down to eighth.

Bologna are this season’s revelations, sat fourth, having won seven of their last eight, with Thiago Motta’s team widely-expected to swat rock-bottom Salernitana aside in Monday’s early kick off.

In contrast form are Juventus, who’ve won just one of their last eight, so can la Vecchia Signora get back on track when they take on Lazio, under new management, with Igor Tudor having replaced Maurizio Sarri?

Elsewhere on Saturday, Napoli take on Atalanta and Fiorentina host AC Milan in two more key head-to-head encounters between European contenders.

Lastly, Daniele De Rossi’s Roma currently occupy that all-important fifth spot, having won seven of their last nine, making it vitally important I Giallorossi continue their excellent form against Lecce.


Inter to win and over 2.5 goals

Internazionale Milano vs Empoli


Over 2.5 goals

Napoli vs Atalanta


Under 2.5 goals

Lazio vs Juventus


Bologna to win

Bologna vs Salernitana


Both teams to score

Fiorentina vs AC Milan


Under 2.5 goals

Lecce vs Roma


At 17/1 a £10 bet would return £181.12!

Serie A acca of the week


The marquee match-up happening anywhere in Europe this weekend comes from the Bundesliga, even if this iteration of der Klassiker isn’t quite as important as recent meetings.

Bayern Munich are a whopping ten points adrift the leaders, their 11-year stranglehold over the Meisterschale will surely come to an end, despite winning their last two league games, in which they’ve scored 13 goals.

With Thomas Tuchel already confirmed to be leaving at the end of the season, die Roten’s only hope of silverware is the Champions League, with Arsenal coming up in the quarter-finals in just ten days time.

Their opponents here Borussia Dortmund are also involved in that competition, facing Atlético Madrid in the last eight, but need Bundesliga points to ensure they’re back in Europe’s premier competition next season.

Die Schwarzgelben have won each of last three league games, so sit fourth, just one point above RB Leipzig, with Edin Terzić's still set to visit Saxony on 27 April.

Ahead of this clash, Dortmund have lost each of their last eight visits to Allianz Arena, conceding 31 times across these matches, but they’ve not had a better chance to defeat Bayern on the road for a long while.

Earlier on Saturday, Bayer Leverkusen could open up a 13-point gap at the top, assuming they beat Hoffenheim at BayArena.

Given that Xabi Alonso’s side are still yet to taste defeat in any competition this season, on course for a remarkable treble, a die Werkself victory seems a formality.

The other top four candidates should also enjoy routine home wins, with RB Leipzig hosting Mainz, while third-placed Stuttgart welcome Heidenheim to Neckarstadion on Sunday.

Before the international break, Christian Streich announced he would step-down at Freiburg manager at the end of the season, after 12 years in charge.

Despite this shock news, Breisgau-Brasilianer do have something to play for, just two points below the potential European positions, ahead of their visit to Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Lastly, a team with a new manager at Wolfsburg, sacking Niko Kovač a fortnight ago, with Ralph Hasenhüttl taking charge of die Weißgrünen for the very first time at Werder Bremen.


Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals

Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund


Bayer Leverkusen to win and over 2.5 goals

Bayer Leverkusen vs Hoffenheim


RB Leipzig to win and over 2.5 goals

RB Leipzig vs Mainz


Stuttgart to win

VfB Stuttgart vs Heidenhem


Eintracht Frankfurt to win

Eintracht Frankfurt vs Union Berlin


Both teams to score

Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Freiburg


At 15/1, a £10 bet would return £156.61

Bundesliga acca of the week

Ligue 1

Ligue 1 fans are in for a treat this weekend, with the league’s undisputed two biggest rivalries both taking place.

First up, on Friday night, it’s the Derby du Nord, contested between Lille and Lens, two clubs located only 20 miles apart, while currently sat a point apart in the table.

LOSC Lille are a point better off, currently occupying the final Champions League position, and Paulo Fonseca’s side will fancy their chances of victory, given that they’re unbeaten in 13 at home in all competitions.

Lens though would love to leapfrog their fierce rivals and Franck Haise’s side will be optimistic, having won five of their last eight in the league.

Eight of the last 16 Derby du Nords have seen two or fewer goals scored so, while this clash at Stade Pierre-Mauroy may not be high-scoring, you’ll be entertained, even if predominately by off-field events.

Then, on Sunday night, it’s time for le Classique, so can a resurgent Olympique de Marseille claim a rare victory over Paris Saint-Germain at Stade Vélodrome?

Under Jean-Louis Gasset, les Phocéens have won three on the spin in Ligue 1, and reached the Europa League quarter-finals, albeit their 2-0 defeat at Rennes last time out was a bit of a reality check.

Paris Saint-Germain meantime are 12 points clear at the top, so will win a tenth title in 12 seasons, on course for yet another domestic treble, although their campaign will be defined by the Champions League, as always, with Luis Enrique’s team facing Barcelona in the quarter-finals in 11 night time.

Les Rouges-et-Bleus are currently unbeaten in 25 domestic matches, while PSG have also won 22 of the last 27 le Classiques, with OM enjoying only two victories since 2011, a trend that’s likely to continue.

Away from the two headline fixtures, nine teams are in the hunt for a record seven European spots, with tenth-placed Lyon, who are in the relegation zone not so long ago, just five points off seventh.

Pierre Sage’s side, having won nine of their last 12, needing to continue this kind of form when Reims visit on Saturday night.

Earlier, Monaco travel to Metz, hoping to maintain third spot, while this season’s surprise package Brest travel to Lorient in a game they’re likely to win, while Nice host Nantes, currently in the relegation play-off.


Paris Saint-Germain to win

Olympique Marseille vs Paris Saint-Germain


Under 2.5 goals

LOSC Lille vs RC Lens


Olympique Lyonnais to win

Olympique Lyonnais vs Stade de Reims


Monaco to win

Metz vs Monaco


Brest to win or draw

Lorient vs Stade Brestois


At 14/1, a £10 bet would return £152.99!

Ligue 1 acca of the week

Ben Gray

Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".