MATCHDAY: Liverpool plays Chelsea in FA Cup final
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Saturday:
The next step in Liverpool’s quest for an unlikely quadruple of trophies is the FA Cup final against Chelsea. Jürgen Klopp’s side is looking to repeat the League Cup final triumph over the same London club in February. Winning world football’s oldest competition would complete the set of major trophies for Klopp since taking charge of Liverpool in 2015. There’s still a Champions League final to come against Real Madrid on May 28 after the end of the Premier League, where Liverpool is three points behind Manchester City with two games remaining. Chelsea is almost certain to qualify for the Champions League by finishing third, so winning the FA Cup -- after Thomas Tuchel’s side was beaten in last season’s final by Leicester -- would provide a welcome lift. Chelsea has endured weeks of off-field turmoil thanks to its forced sale. An investment group led by Todd Boehly looks to complete the takeover from sanctioned owner Roman Abramovich. Tuchel has reached every major final since being hired by Chelsea at the start of 2021, winning the Champions League last season and the Club World Cup in February. The FA Cup final is celebrating 150 years since the start of the competition.
Bottom club Venezia could find itself relegated even before it kicks off against Roma in the evening match. Venezia was awarded a stay of execution last week after it beat Bologna 4-3 to end a run of 10 straight defeats and record its first win since February. Also, fellow stragglers Salernitana and Cagliari drew. However, anything but a defeat for Salernitana at Empoli would send Venezia straight back to Serie B before its match in the Italian capital. Victory for Salernitana would lift it four points clear of the relegation zone, with Cagliari and Genoa not playing until Sunday. Spezia can assure itself of safety with a win at Udinese. Hellas Verona hosts Torino.
No more chances. The Bundesliga’s relegation scrap will be decided in the final round with Hertha Berlin, Stuttgart and Arminia Bielefeld all fighting for survival. The last Champions League qualification place is also up for grabs, while Union Berlin and Cologne are striving for Europa League qualification. Bielefeld is the favorite to join already relegated Greuther Fürth in the second division, but it still has a chance of survival if it beats visiting Leipzig, which needs a point to reach the Champions League. Stuttgart, in the relegation playoff spot, could yet escape and leave Hertha in its place with a win over visiting Cologne if Hertha loses at Borussia Dortmund. Hertha just needs a draw to clinch survival. Freiburg could yet squeeze into the Champions League with a win at already-qualified Bayer Leverkusen – if Leipzig loses in Bielefeld. Union Berlin can clinch its place in the Europa League with a win at home over Bochum, but Cologne can capitalize on any Union slip-up by beating Stuttgart – which is fighting for survival.
In the penultimate round of the league, the race for second place and an automatic Champions League spot is between Marseille and Monaco. Although second-placed Marseille holds a three-point lead over third-placed Monaco, it faces a tougher-looking trip to Rennes, which is battling with Nice to finish in fourth and the Europa League entry place. Confident Monaco aims to make it nine straight wins when it hosts mid-table Brest and striker Wissam Ben Yedder will look to add to his 21 league goals. Nice is at home to mid-table Lille, last season’s champion, while champion Paris Saint-Germain is at Montpellier. Elsewhere, six-time champion Bordeaux will be relegated if it loses at home to Lorient. Bordeaux has conceded the most goals in the league, 89.
Espanyol hosts Valencia with both sides near the middle of the able with two rounds remaining. Espanyol will play under caretaker Luis Blanco a day after it fired coach Vicente Moreno. Neither side is able to reach the European qualification spots. Valencia is in 10th place, and Espanyol is 13th.
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