This weekend’s action is dominated by top of the table clashes in Spain and derbies in England and MLS. Even though Barcelona has all but sewn up La Liga, their match on Sunday at Villarreal is a tough one. Losing to Sevilla last week, winless in three, and in danger of dropping out of the Champions League spots, the Yellow Submarine need some kind of result to spark them back into life. Barcelona may have their eyes on the Champions League Quarter-finals and their next league match, El Classico. Real Madrid will also be focused on that upcoming match against Barca but will face a dangerous Sevilla side that beat Villarreal 4-2 last weekend first. Sevilla also won 3-2 against Madrid earlier in the season. Both matches are worth watching.
Considering it's the beginning of the season and how flat the league ended last year, it's harder than ever to see which teams will make the playoffs this year. San Jose, RSL, and Dyanmo all missed out on the playoffs last year but have started this year strong. Eastern Conference finalists Red Bulls and Crew are both winless after two. Dynamo trounced last-year'sbest team in the West, FC Dallas, 5-nil last week, four of those goals coming in the first half hour. Impact have been playing well and I think FC Dallas will respond this week against them. Columbus Crew have started the season poorly, playing well but losing to Portland followed by playing poorly and losing to Union. There will be no lack of effort in this week's matchup against Fire, a team they haven't lost to in almost two years. The last MLS matchup is the Califronia Clásico, Galaxy v Quakes. San Jose have a perfect record while Galaxy lost 1-nil to Rapids, perhaps still suffering from Champions League hangover.
It's derby week in England with the West London, Tyne-Wear, and Manchester all happening and all doubly important. A win for West Ham would see them at least temporarily in Champions League places and with City's form and injuries, they could make that spot theirs. In the Northeast, one of these two teams is going to be relegated. Smart money would be on Big Sam's experience and the Black Cats' six game winning streak in this derby. Newcastle hasn't beaten them since 2011 but they do have a new manager in Rafa Benitez and a squad filled with good enough players for them be mid-table. The last derby is in Manchester. The reverse fixture this year was a nil-nil snoozefest and I don't see this one being any better.
The last match is a Serie A battle for Champions League spots. Since firing Rudi Garcia and hiring former manager Luciano Spalletti, they've won eight games in a row. This will be their toughest match in that run, Mancinci's side playing a very tight, defensive game.
Saturday March 19
- 1100 - EPL - Chelsea v West Ham - NBCSN
- 1545 - Serie A - AS Roma v Inter Milan - beIN Sports
- 1700 - MLS - Chicago Fire v Columbus Crew - MLS Live, Stream
- 2100 - MLS - FC Dallas v Montreal Impact - MLS Live, Stream
- 2230 - MLS - LA Galaxy v San Jose Earthquakes - MLS Live, Stream
Sunday March 20
- 930 - EPL - Newcastle v Sunderland - NBCSN
- 1100 - La Liga - Villarreal v Barcelona - beIN Sports
- 1200 - EPL - Manchester United v Manchester City - NBC
- 1530 - La Liga - Real Madrid v Sevilla - beIN Sports
Let me know what you think!