MATCHDAY: Chelsea faces Crystal Palace in FA Cup semis
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Sunday:
Chelsea and Crystal Palace meet in the second FA Cup semifinal with the winner taking on Liverpool. Chelsea, the 2018 FA Cup winner, has already reached one final, losing the League Cup to Liverpool. Palace has lost both FA Cup finals it has reached, most recently in 2016. This is Chelsea’s chance to ensure a season when its ownership is in flux ends in a final, having been knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. The semifinal takes place with the remaining three bids for the club being assessed by bankers as sanctioned Russian owner Roman Abramovich has to sell after 19 years. There are two Premier League games on Sunday. Seventh-placed West Ham, which reached the Europa League semifinals on Thursday, hosts Burnley trying to ensure European qualification through a Premier League placing. Burnley is without a manager after firing Sean Dyche on Friday in a bid to try to stay in the Premier League, with the team four points from safety with eight games remaining. Newcastle, which is 10 points above Burnley in the drop zone, places Leicester.
Sevilla has what is likely its last chance to revive its dying bid for the league title when it hosts runaway leader Real Madrid. Madrid is 12 points clear of Sevilla and Barcelona with seven games remaining. The trip to Seville is Madrid’s biggest hurdle along with a game against defending champion Atlético Madrid next month. Sevilla, which has been hard hit by injuries, has fallen further behind Madrid after winning just once in its last five league games. But Sevilla is still the only league team undefeated at home after 15 games. Atlético hosts Espanyol looking to bounce back from its elimination in the Champions League to Manchester City. Diego Simeone’s team is in a tight fight for a top-four finish and a return to Europe’s elite competition next season. Athletic Bilbao also hosts Celta Vigo needing a string of victories to hope for a Europa League berth, while last-placed Levante is at Granada in a relegation fight.
Runaway leader Paris Saint-Germain is out of European competition and so the players are fully rested for the visit of bitter rival Marseille, which played in Greece on Thursday night to reach the semifinals of the Europa Conference League. Marseille won in Paris 1-0 last season and the sides drew in Marseille 0-0 earlier this campaign, so PSG fans will be demanding goals from star strikers Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar. Some of Lyon’s fans won’t even be watching the home game against Bordeaux, however. Two prominent fan groups — Bad Gones and Lyon 1950 — have decided to boycott it. They are unhappy with the players and how the club is being run. Fans deployed an insulting banner toward the players during Thursday’s home defeat to West Ham in the quarterfinals of the Europa League, and some tried to invade the field afterward.
Relegation candidate Arminia Bielefeld won’t be thanking Villarreal after the Spanish side surprisingly knocked Bayern Munich out of the Champions League leaving “only” the Bundesliga among the remaining titles the Bavarian powerhouse can win this season. Bayern will hope to wrap up its record-extending 10th successive German league title as quickly as possible and could potentially do so against Borussia Dortmund in Munich next weekend. To do that, Julian Nagelsmann’s team will need to beat Bielefeld first. Bielefeld has been struggling with injuries and a lack of goals, just 23 in 29 games so far. Union Berlin hopes to build in its derby win over Hertha Berlin with another victory when it hosts Eintracht Frankfurt. Also, last-placed Greuther Fürth visits Hoffenheim before third-placed Bayer Leverkusen hosts fourth-placed Leipzig to complete the 30th round.
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