Weekend Boxset: The dress rehearsal



The top four in La Liga face off, Derby and Sheffield Wednesday could both be relegated, and City and Chelsea get a chance to size each other up before the UCL final.

Seven great matches to take you from Friday to Sunday. It's the Sound of Football Weekend Boxset.

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All times are BST

Friday

Ligue 1: Lens v Lille
20.00 on BT Sport 2
Last week we told you to keep an eye on Lens as they would be the kingmakers of this Ligue 1 season: sitting in fifth spot and playing each of the top three in their final four games. They lost the first of those matches to PSG, who remain just one point behind the leaders Lille, but showed enough to prove that they still have a say in where the title will be going. This match is more than just about the title race, this is the Derby du Nord a fixture that has as much to do with social differences as it does football. The two towns are just 40 kilometres apart but whereas Lille is the pretty, cosmopolitan, middle-class gateway to Europe, largely spared from the ravages of two world wars, Lens is an old coal-mining town that was flattened when it became a point on the Great War's Western Front. Semi-finalists in the UEFA Cup as recently 2000, Lens have been a side in decline while Lille's recent history is one of success. Lens were promoted back to the top flight after last season's curtailment. They had spent five seasons in Ligue 2, having been relegated because of financial irregularities. The title is Lille's to lose. They look stronger than PSG and are less likely to implode than the current champions. A win in this game and they can start to feel that it's job done. GS


Saturday

Championship: Derby County v Sheffield Wednesday
12.30 on Sky Sports Football & Main Event
This weekend sees the final round of fixtures in the EFL with this match as one of only two relegation deciders across the three divisions.With relegation already decided in Leagues One and Two, the other game to finalise who will go down is Rotherham's trip to Cardiff. A point for the Miller's in their game in hand against Luton in midweek saw them move between these sides in table, which means that Wednesday could be relegated even with a win here. Broken down the permutations are this: Derby are the only side in control of their own destiny - win this game and they're safe. Wednesday's superior goal difference means that they will go above Derby if they win, but that will only be enough to stay up if Rotherham don't win. For all you fans of schadenfreude, the only other situation that would see both of these sides drop to the third tier is Rotherham winning and this game ending in a draw. Expect plenty of twists and turns in this one. GS


La Liga: Barcelona v Atlético Madrid
15.15 on LaLigaTV
It's a big weekend at the top of La Liga. With four games to go, six points separate the top four with all four clubs play each other this weekend. The title run-in might have been even closer but it looks like Sevilla have dropped out (more on that later). The leaders, Atletico Madrid, partly through their own shortcomings, have had their lead cut to just two points. Last weekend, Diego Simeone's team managed to squeeze past Elche but good grief did they have to work for it, surrendering so much possession in the second half as they attempted to defend their first-half one-goal advantage. Their lack of ambition almost cost them two points as they conceded an injury-time penalty only for Fidel to hit the post. Barcelona meanwhile kept up the pressure with an equally hard-fought but much more entertaining 3-2 win at Valencia. You just feel that in spite of the Catalan's shortcomings, the Madrid club are running out of steam. I think if Messi can rustle up yet another masterclass then it's curtains for Atleti. TD


Premier League: Manchester City v Chelsea
17.30 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
Well, where do I start with this one? Guardiola’s sublime side could become English champions with a win in this fixture, while Chelsea may do their top four hopes no harm if they come out as victors. There is also the small matter of the Champions League final, in which both sides managed to book their place in impressive fashion earlier this week. It’s been an odd season for both sides with City struggling early on and Chelsea forced to break their ties with club legend, Frank Lampard. It’s all worked out in the end, though; both sides are only a few games away from two major trophies. What makes this so exciting for football fans is that something will have to give at the end of May for one of them to grab the double. City have much easier games after this one, so even if they come away empty handed, they’ll still become champions within a matter of days. However, something tells me that both sides will want to do well here, not just for domestic reasons, but because they could potentially inflict a psychological blow ahead of, what is really, the main event. Only a fool would attempt to predict which way this one could go. Fortunately, you have one on hand: City win. JB


Sunday

Scottish FA Cup Semi-final: St Mirren v St Johnstone
14.15 on BBC One Scotland and Premier Sports
Returning to Hampden Park just two weeks after beating Rangers on penalties in the League Cup final, St Johnstone are in the chase for a cup double. While Callum Davidson's side can now be classed as cup specialist, the outcome of this one is a tough call as the meetings between the sides this season have all been strongly contested. In the league, the sides are completing their seasons in the opposite halves of the table, with St Johnstone reaching the split point above St Mirren by just two goals difference. For both sides, the final could potentially be a repeat of their last success in the competition: St Johnstone's win in 2014 and St Mirren's in 1987 both came at the expense of Dundee United. The other semi-final, Dundee United v Hibernian is on Saturday at 16.00 on Premier Sports 1. GS


Premier League: West Ham United v Everton
16.30 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
While the title and relegation battles in the top flight are pretty much done, the matter of who qualifies for Europe, and in which competition, is still to be decided. With a few different names in the mix, that contest is more interesting than it may at first sound. David Moyes, who led Everton to their last top four place in 2005, is within touching distance of doing the same with West Ham, a side that finsihed 16th last season. After the fall-out of the European Super League, many neutrals might feel these sides are more deserving of European football next season than the two would-be breakaway clubs that sit between them: Spurs and Liverpool. If West Ham are to hold on to a European spot, it certainly won't be down to luck. Twice this season, a West Ham player has been shown a straight red only for it to be later overturned. You could argue, that VAR is somehow to blame for making incidents look worse than they are but the Hammers went through a simliar patch in an eighteen month period around the time they moved to the London Stadium, which saw four out five reds shown later rescinded - two to one player! VAR may not be at fault this time but it obviously hasn't changed anything. GS


La Liga: Real Madrid v Sevilla
20.00 on LaLigaTV
Mathematically Sevilla can still win the league of course. However, after Inaki Williams popped up at the last minute on Sunday for Athletic Club to sink Los Palanganas there is very little money on them to finish the season as Champions. And that's OK because, as fun, as they can be to watch, they are flawed. Lopetegui's a winge-bag and the players don't have their shit-housing properly deployed. I love watching Papu-Gomez, Rakitic and En-Nesyri but it's not proved to be enough in the long run. That said, even if they don't win La Liga I'm sure that Lopetegui would love it if they beat his once short-lived employers... Love it. And beat them they might. On Wednesday, against Chelsea, Real were a shadow of the great team that has dominated the Champions League in recent years. Can Zidane lift his players to close out the season and successfully defend their La Liga title after their surrender to Chelsea? Perhaps after his 88 minute shakedown at the Bridge, Eden Hazard will be sufficiently conditioned to make an intervention. In view of the public reaction to his post-match behaviour following Wednesday's defeat, Los Blanchos' latest scapegoat is likely to be under additional scrutiny. TD

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry, Graham and Jan

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