With the first round of fixtures of the Champions League quarter-finals now done and dusted, top teams in Europe set their sights on the league games once again.
In England, Manchester City will be seeking for an immediate response when they confront City rivals Manchester United after their shocking defeat at Anfield. A win in this fixture will all but seal the Premier League title and earn them the bragging rights. Across the Mersey River, Liverpool fresh from a Champions League triumph will try to compound the woes of their bitter rivals Everton.
In Spain, the Madrid derby may go a long way to determine where both teams will finish at the end of the season.
EVERTON VS LIVERPOOL
The Reds are currently basking in the euphoria of the 3–0 thumping of rivals Man City in Europe, which was the last thing any Evertonian will be hoping for going into this lunch-time kick-off. The Toffees saw the Champions League clash with City as a welcomed distraction in what they felt their team will capitalize on to get one over their neighbours.
Everton has so far experienced a turbulent season having changed managers three times and are currently struggling to cement their stay in the league. On the other hand, bitter rivals Liverpool are having a smooth campaign and are now closing in on another Champions League spot.
Jurgen Klopp may likely make some changes in this one after the win over City which didn’t come without a price considering the anxious wait over Mohammed Salah’s fitness. However, Big Sam and his team suffered a 3–1 loss last weekend at the hands of the same opponent.
Verdict: You have to rewind to 2010 to recollect the last time the Toffees won in this fixture. The stakes are high in this one and with defender Seamus Coleman claiming a win over the Reds is long overdue. You can sense blood all over! Draw or Away win.
MANCHESTER CITY VS MANCHESTER UNITED
Forget about the 3–0 loss at Anfield, and there wouldn’t be a better occasion to right the wrongs than in the Manchester derby. There is no better incentive than this one where City has the opportunity to seal the title over their rivals and rub it in their faces.
Many will argue that the loss may hamper their momentum, but it’s glaring Pep Guardiola is too experienced to handle this situation having played and managed in one of the fiercest derbies in world football (El Classico).
The Cityzens have been in scintillating form this campaign despite the blip in the F.A Cup and the loss in Europe recently. Guardiola rediscovered his style once again this season which has helped his side to produce performances that will see them etch their name in the history books of English football.
United have stuttered this season irrespective of the big money signings and a blistering start to the campaign where everyone thought they would push City to the end. Even though they still have a chance for a silverware in the Cup, United fans have moaned about some of their displays under Mourinho.
Verdict: City will have to roll up their sleeves and go again like they’ve done all season. Like the saying goes form is thrown out the window in derby games considering the Red Devils are looking like the form team now. It’s a tough one to call. A hard-fought draw or a slim margin for a home win.
REAL MADRID VS ATLETICO MADRID
The La Liga title seems to be a forgone issue with Barcelona closing in on another league triumph. However, the supporters of both sides will have lots of talking points ahead of this encounter.
Real Madrid seems to have rediscovered their form heading towards the tail end of the season with Cristiano Ronaldo breaking records in the Champions League. They have one foot in the semi-finals and a massive opportunity of winning the competition three times in a row.
Atletico Madrid’s best chance of landing a trophy is in the Europa league. Diego Simeone’s boys are unplayable particularly when the likes of Griezmann and Diego Costa are in top form. This game presents the best chance for them to finish above Madrid.
Verdict: Los Blancos will approach this game full of confidence after their victory over Juve. The reverse fixture produced a barren draw, but there will be lots of fireworks in this one.