This week saw the conclusion of the English FA Cup and the setting up of an epic final in Wembley, pitting bitter rivals Mourinho and Conte’s Manchester United and Chelsea.
And while these two sides put on a show in their respective semi-finals, Arsenal, Real Madrid and Bayern had a mixture of emotions in their preparations for the next stage of their European campaigns. Here we round up last week’s top games.
English Premier League 2017/18 Week 35
20 April 2018
Burnley 1 – 2 Chelsea
Antonio Conte’s 100TH game with Chelsea, brings about another win for the Blues. Kevin Long scored an own goal, deflected from Victor Moses’ cross at the 20th minute, allowing the Blues to take the lead in the first half. Burnley, however, managed to get level through Barnes at the 64th minute, but sure enough, Chelsea came back and restored their lead five minutes later.
Despite the loss for Burnley, they are still on track to qualify for the Europa League next season, which is going to be an incredible achievement for the club. This match also sees Chelsea’s continual push for the top 4, with their hopes qualifying for the Champions League increase.
22 April 2018
Arsenal 4 – 1 West Ham
Arsenal were without key men in Cech, Kolasinac, Ozil, Wilshere and Aubameyang – who was left on the bench. It was open day for the Hammers who knew this and with Wenger on his way out, Moyes would have thought that the Gunners would have been served on a silver platter, and decided to field a lineup featuring more attacking players than defenders.
This worked well for West Ham to some degree and they were literally hammering at the Arsenal defence, but unfortunately they couldn’t make it count. Arsenal saw through their frailties in the second half and took advantage of half-ditch defending. Hart was forced to make important saves, but there’s only that much a keeper can do when dealt with poor defensive protection.
And while Hart’s chances for a World Cup spot look good, West Ham’s Premier League survival took a dent. One big loss for Wenger however, besides his job at the end of the season, was Elneny who was forced off the pitch with an injury – leaving his spot in the Europa League semi-final tie against Atletico Madrid in jeopardy.
FA Cup 2017/18 Semi-Finals
22 April 2018
Manchester United 2 – 1 Tottenham
Manchester United have proven to be the comeback kings of the season, having come from behind to beat Chelsea at Old Trafford, recovered from 2-0 deficits to win at Crystal Palace and, most notably, at Premier League champions Manchester City – and now, this!
Tottenham were in total control from the get-go and deservedly took the lead through Alli. However, dark clouds hung over Spurs who gave away possession too often to the fortune of the Red Devils, who capitalised and equalised via Sanchez.
While Tottenham continued to be wasteful in front of goal, Mourinho’s side took advantage and scored the winner, before defending deep to conserve the lead. With this result, Spurs extended their record run of consecutive FA Cup semi-final defeats to eight.
La Liga 2017/18 Week 33
19 April 2018
Real Madrid 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
This is indeed a poor result for a team that are contending for their 13th Champions League title. In what would have been an easy win for Real Madrid, their poor showing in the final third cost them dearly.
Defensively, Los Blancos were again too complacent, and this allowed Athletic Bilbao’s Williams to slip through and score with a confident chip over Navas. Ronaldo did not put his shooting boots on, having missed several chances, but this changed towards the end of the match.
After pressing the Athletic Bilbao defence for the umpteenth time, Real Madrid finally got the equaliser when Ronaldo got a touch on Modric’s shot from outside the box, leaving the goalkeeper rooted.
Zidane’s team did show the ability to hold the ball and get into good attacking positions, but their failure to convert saw them share the points and put a dent in their chase for a second-place finish in La Liga.
Bundesliga 2017/18 Week 31
21 April 2018
Hannover 96 0 – 3 Bayern München
Just like champions do, Bayern München absolutely dominated Hannover even without their first-team regulars to cruise to comfortable 3-0 win. The home side had little of the ball as they failed to string together half-decent passes against a team that did the exact opposite.
If it wasn’t for Tschauner’s heroics in between the sticks, Hannover would have conceded a lot more goals. Both Muller and Lewandowski found the net to build momentum ahead of their Champions League tie with Real Madrid. And based on how confident Bayern are building up attacks from the back, Los Blancos could be in trouble.
Ligue 1 2017/18 Week 34
23 April 2018
Bordeaux 0 – 1 PSG
Nothing less than a win was expected for PSG after they mauled second-placed Monaco 7-1 to claim their seventh Ligue 1 title. But on this night, PSG were out of sorts and did not show the same hunger to win – maybe because they had nothing to play for.
Bordeaux however, had a point to prove and they constantly threw bodies at the Parisian’s defence with Malcom threatening with his nifty runs and shots on goal. And while PSG had majority of the possession they were constantly thwarted by the defensive combination of Kounde and Pablo.
Pastore and Cavani’s threat was limited and eventually it was Celso who broke the deadlock with some luck, after slamming a shot from outside the box off – going through a sea of players along the way. However, PSG’s key man on this evening was Areola, who was called upon to make important saves on at least 11 occasion.
The closure of last week will see us shift gears for the restart of European competition with the Champions League and Europa League. It’ll be exciting to see if Roma can continue their fairytale season and cause an upset against Liverpool, or if Bayern can overcome title-holders Real Madrid and put another wedge in the Spanish side’s far-from-perfect season. And then there’s Arsenal too – will Wenger’s dream of a European trophy live on?