Predictions: AC Milan win derby, Bayern to bounce back with a victory
Europe’s elite clubs turn their attention towards domestic commitments this weekend, after an exhaustive schedule in UEFA’s continental competitions. Here are our latest predictions on how the biggest names will fare over the weekend.
In England, the Premier League and FA Cup quarter-finals kick-off simultaneously with Manchester United’s clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers being the biggest of the weekend. United’s loss to Arsenal on Sunday was their first in 12 league games, but the Red Devils will be confident about sealing a place in the semi-finals, given their form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Espirito Santo’s men, on the other hand, have held their own against England’s big boys this season and head into the contest on the back of a draw against Chelsea last week. Based on their previous meeting in September, one can expect the contest at Molineux to be a tight affair, but the visitors should do just about enough to edge the tie.
United’s neighbours Manchester City are poised to steamroll into the semi-finals as they take on Championship side Swansea City. Back in the Premier League, Liverpool will look to steal a march in the title race when they visit strugglers Fulham. Chelsea, meanwhile, can momentarily go fourth on the table with victory at Goodison Park against Everton.
The Serie A plays host to one of the oldest, and fiercest derbies in its history as AC Milan square off against Inter Milan at the San Siro. The Rossoneri are on a 10-match unbeaten run in the league since December and start with the favourites tag in the derby. Inter, on the other hand, are having an indifferent season and are amidst an injury crisis that’s sidelined five first-team players. While the Nerazzurri haven’t lost to their city rivals since 2016, Luciano Spalletti’s men face a daunting task to stop the attacking threat of Milan, who are eyeing a sixth straight Serie A win on the trot.
Over in Spain, all eyes will be on Real Madrid, who welcome Zinedine Zidane back into the dugout in place of the sacked Santiago Solari. Los Blancos, who returned to winning ways at Real Valladolid in Solari’s final game in-charge entertain Celta Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu. League leaders Barcelona travel to Real Betis, hoping to strengthen their lead at the top of La Liga. Betis emerged victorious in a seven-goal thriller against the Blaugrana in November, and are likely to trouble Lionel Messi and co. once again, given the attacking talent in their squad.
Elsewhere, Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich should shrug off their European disappointment by registering a win against Mainz 05. The Bavarians lead the points table on goal difference and head into their meeting with Die Nullfünfer with 12 wins from their last 13 league games. Borussia Dortmund go up against Hertha Berlin and they need a win to stay in the title race. With just nine games left this season, two of the country’s biggest rivals will certainly give it their all in what is the Bundesliga’s tightest title race since 2011/12.
Words: William Paul