It’s a quick start back from international break with some key games for several players as RB Leipzig look to stay within striking distance of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund cling to hopes of Champions League play next season, and Lille look to fend off PSG for the Ligue One title. It starts though with Championship side Barnsley continuing their promotion push on Friday afternoon.
Barnsley v Reading - 12:30p on ESPN+
Barnsley suffered their first defeat in eleven matches since Daryl Dike joined the club when they lost a shocker to relegation candidate Sheffield Wednesday two weeks ago. Barnsley are now an impressive 9-1-1 in league play since Dike joined and have moved solidly into the promotion playoff picture. They remain eleven points back of Watford for automatic promotion which seems unlikely even with their current streak with just eight games to play. This weekend they will face fellow promotion contender Reading who are looking for their first win in four tries. Dike, who is rumored to be heading just about everywhere this summer, has scored five goals in his eleven matches and has been a regular force for the team.
RB Leipzig v Bayern Munich - 12:30p on ESPN2
RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich get the full network treatment in a match with serious Bundesliga title implications. Coming into the match Bayern have a four point lead over Leipzig in the title race. While Bayern can’t lose the title this weekend, and would in fact remain in first even with a loss, they can put a stranglehold on the competition with a win that would open up a seven point gap with seven games remaining. If Leipzig are to remain within reasonable distance moving forward they need at least a draw but realistically if they are hoping to make a push for the title they need to take matters into their own hands with a victory rather than hoping for results from other clubs that would push them ahead. Tyler Adams looks to have cemented a regular role for himself with his only two appearances off the bench in the past two months having been either just before or just after the clubs Champions League matches with Liverpool. Adams will need to play a key role in stymieing the Bayern offense if Leipzig are to get the needed result.
- Chances are you can catch an extra hour of sleep Saturday morning and still wake up in time to catch Christian Pulisic off the bench for Chelsea. The clubs match with West Brom starts at 7:30a and will be on NBCSN but Pulisic has seen just one league start for Chelesa since Thomas Tuchel took over, though it did come in the clubs last league match prior to the international break.
Looking through the paywall:
- Bryan Reynolds has made the bench for three straight matches for Roma though he’s only seen the field once in a 30’ appearance. The club play eighth place Sassuolo at 9a on ESPN+. It will be intriguing to see what type of playing time Reynolds sees down the stretch with his team holding a one point advantage on Europa League qualification and just five points back of Atalanta for Champions League qualification.
- John Anthony Brooks and Wolfsburg are solidly in the Champions League qualifying positions with an opportunity to take an additional step forward as they face Koln at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Chris Richards should continue to see plenty of time for a Hoffenheim side that is solidly middle of the table with no threat of relegation and no real shot at gaining European qualification. They face a similar side in Augsburg at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Matthew Hoppe and Schalke continue their difficult season with a match against sixth place Bayer Leverkusen at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt face off in a match with major Champions League implications. Similar to the Bayern v Leipzig match Frankfurt come in with a four point advantage so the balances cannot totally swing but a result for Dortmund is necessary if they really want to maintain any hope of qualifying. The match will be played at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Paris Saint-Germain and Lille are tied at the top of the Ligue 1 table though PSG hold a sizeable goal differential advantage. This should be a fantastic match and with Timothy Weah’s minutes recently expect him to be right in the thick of things when the teams kick off at 11a in a match that can be seen on beIN Sport or Fanatiz USA.
- Ten points back with eleven matches to play Juventus’ hopes of a league title have all but disappeared but they still have quite a bit to play for this season as they hold just a two point lead for securing Champions League play for next season. The club will face a Torino side that is just outside of the relegation spots at Noon on ESPN+.
Aston Villa v Fulham - 11:30a on NBCSN
Antonee Robinson and Fulham remain two points back of Newcastle (who also have a game in hand) for relegation safety. Fulham had put together a decent stretch to pull themselves up a bit from the bottom of the table but have now lost three of their past four and are slipping again. Robinson’s playing time has been a bit more erratic over the past couple of months though he did start the last time out and went 90’ in the teams 2-1 loss to Leeds. This weekend the club will be facing an Aston Villa side that are in tenth place and looking for their first win in five matches.
Looking through the paywall:
- Josh Sargent’s Werder Bremen face Stuttgart at 9:30a on ESPN+ in a matchup of teams that have been mildly surprising this season in their ability to avoid the relegation slog, that’s the power of low expectations for you. Sargent has started to heat up the second half of the season, unfortunately he will miss this match due to yellow card accumulation.
- Yunus Musah has seen minutes with club hard to come by recently though perhaps there will be more opportunity down the stretch for a club that looks safe from relegation but is also out of the European competition qualifying. This weekend would be a good opportunity as the club faces 15th place Cadiz at 12:30p on beIN Sports and Fanatiz USA.
Bonus Monday action:
- Sergino Dest and Barcelona look to continue their push for a Spanish title when they face Real Valladolid at 3p on beIN Sports and Fanatiz USA Monday afternoon.