Games, games, games, as always there are lots of games this weekend, as most of the European leagues enter the “business end” of the season. Of course, most of the “business” is already done, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch! Jae will be casting his eye over one or two matches this weekend, read on to find out which ones. There are lots of other matches to watch so, which one should you watch? Check out the listings below!
Jae’s featured game #1: Borussia Monchengladbach vs Augsburg
I watched Augsburg play a couple weeks ago against Dortmund and was impressed with the play of Ji Dong-Won, and Augsburg in general. Unfortunately they lost that one, but they bounced back nicely to claim a 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt last week. Augsburg is still in the relegation playoff spot, but a win here, and a loss by Dusseldorf, would see them take a massive step towards safety (Augsburg would likely still be in the relegation spot as the first tie breaker is goal difference where Dusseldorf currently holds a +7 advantage).
Gladbach is an interesting team. A German power back in the 70’s, but a team that was experiencing difficulty when I first started watching the Bundesliga a few years ago. Relegated at the of the 2006-07 season, but promoted the following year.They would struggle for the next few years, seemingly always flirting with relegation, only to escape at the end. Then in 2010-11 they started putting some good results together, and moved up the table to mid-tier status. The next season was even better, as Gladbach finished 4th and made it to the qualifying rounds of the Champions League (they were eliminated however). One of the key players for Gladbach’s success was a talented young winger, Marco Reus. Reus left Gladbach for his old club Borussia Dortmund in the summer, and Gladbach isn’t quite the force they were last season. They are still good however, currently sitting in 7th place alongside Hamburg. To replace Reus, Gladbach brought in talented Dutch forward Luuk de Jong who was very impressive for FC Twente last season. De Jong hasn’t quite been able to replicate his form from last year, but is still a quality forward.
Augsburg’s tale is well-known for regular Tavern readers. With fans requiring another miracle escape should they want to avoid dropping down to the Bundesliga 2. It’s certainly possible, but it will take a bit of good fortune and a good play, for them to overtake Cha Du-Ri’s old club Fortuna Dusseldorf. Neither club has an easy run-in for the last five matches of the season, as Augsburg faces a trip to champions Bayern Munich, as well as matches Stuttgart, Freiburg, and Greuther Furth. Of the remaining five, you’d figure that Augsburg will need to win at least three to give themselves a real chance of getting out of the playoff spot.
German magazine Kicker is predicting the following line-ups for the match:
Gladbach: ter Stegen – Jantschke, Brouwers, Alvaro Dominguez, Wendt – Marx, G. Xhaka – Herrmann, Arango -Younes, L. de Jong
Augsburg: Manninger – Verhaegh, Callsen-Bracker, Vogt, Ostrzolek – Baier – Hahn, Moravek, Ji, Werner – Mölders
Jae’s featured game #2: Celta Vigo vs Real Zaragoza
My second game features the other team that features a Korean that is facing relegation fears. Celta Vigo vs Real Zaragoza. There is a good chance that Park Chu-Young will not start this game, and will be on the bench. Following Iago Aspas’ dismissal in the Galician derby against Deportivo la Coruna (and his subsequent four match ban), Park was given the chance to impress. He has for the most part, failed to live up to those expectations, and last week, in Celta’s 1-0 loss to fellow relegation candidates Mallorca, Park was once again on the bench, as Abel Resino decided to play Mario Bermejo instead.
Zaragoza, like Celta, is currently in the relegation zone. Although sitting in 18th on 27 points, just one shy of safety, Zaragoza may feel a bit better about the possibilities of survival. Also given their “miracle survival” last season when Zaragoza sat in the relegation zone from week 13 all the way through week 37, only escaping on the final day of the season. Will it happen again? Time will tell. Right now though, Zaragoza are in a terrible run of form. The team has not won since the second half of the season began in January. 11 matches played, 5 of them draws, 6 losses. More recently in their last five matches, Zaragoza have drawn twice (against Madrid and Granada), and lost three times (against Barcelona, Deportivo, and Sevilla).
Celta is of course, also seeking their own miracle escape. Los Celestes have dropped down to the very bottom of the table needing at least four points to even draw level with the current 17th place team. On recent form that would seem unlikely. In the past five matches Celta has lost four matches and drawn once (surprisingly against Barcelona). Celta has certainly struggled to replace the loss of star man Iago Aspas, scoring just 5 goals in those five games. Park Chu-Young was given his chance to show he’s not a complete bust, but last week he was dropped for the match against Mallorca.
Marca predicts that Park will once against be on the bench for the Zaragoza match.
Celta Vigo: Varas – Jonny, Cabral, Tunez, Lago – Oubina, Lopez – Fernandez, Insa, Krohn-Dehli – Bermejo
Real Zaragoza: Roberto – Sapunaru, Loovens, Alvaro, Abraham – Movilla, Romaric – Rodri, Apono, Montanes – Postiga
>>The old tavern owner here, to interrupt with an apology: I’m totally dropping the ball, didn’t get up the weekend listings. Let me catch you up right now for Saturday (times in us est, broadcast us, streaming should be available worldwide):
First game of the day already in the books, Burnley 1: Cardiff 1, the draw all the Bluebirds needed to secure their first Championship trophy, an exclamation mark to their triumphant promotion on Tuesday, their first climb back to the top flight in England in over 50 years. Kim Bo-Kyung and company will be in the premiership next season! The Tavern owner got in a post about this in the New York Times Goals earlier this week. Back to today’s draw: Kim got an assist in Conway’s goal, had an outstanding game, and from what we understood from CJay, our man in Cardiff, he won Cardiff’s Man of the Match. Here’s a video of Cardiff’s goal:
England, Bolton vs. Middlesbrough, 10 am. Spoiler alert: Lee Chung-Yong absolutely vital for Bolton with an assist to Chris Eagles who opened the score in the 2nd half. Despite the late equalizer, the Wanderers comes out on top when the Blue Dragon gets fouled in Middlesbrough’s penalty area. Sordell takes the PK and voila… Bolton 2: Middlesbrough 1. A crucial win as Bolton hunts for playoff promotion spot to join Cardiff for a trip to the Premier Leagues.
England, QPR vs. Stoke City 10 a.m. foxsoccer2go.com (tape at 2 on Fox Soccer). Spoiler alert, Stoke wins it 0-2. Harry Redknapp doesn’t put Park Ji-Sung in the game and Yun Suk-Young doesn’t make the 18 man roster. They are just a hair away from relegation.
England, Swansea City vs. Southampton 10 a.m. foxsoccer2go.com (tape at 3 on Fox Soccer Plus).
Germany, Hamburg vs. fortuna Dusseldorf, spoiler alert: Hamburg is up, 2 goals by Rafael Van der Vaart. Son had 3 good shots at goal. Hamburg 2: Dusseldorf 1 in the 76th minute.
MLS, FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps 8:30 p.m. Direct Kick, MLS Live. Will Lee Young-Pyo make the match? For his last year in pro football he has in his contact extension the right to forgo long away matches.
South Korea, Ulsan vs. Seongnam 3 a.m. One World Sports
Switzerland, FC Thun vs. FC Basel 7:45 am. Park Joo-Ho is making a strong case to be included in the Taeguk Warriors squad as the left back of choice, what with several strong performances for Basel in their return to the top of the table in the Super Swiss League as well as their swashbuckling display in the Europa League. They beat out Tottenham in the quarterfinals to advance to their first semifinal appearance in a European competition- facing Chelsea on April 25th.
Portugal, CD Nacional de Madeira vs Maritimo, 11 am. Suk Hyun-Jun and his Maritimo side are in the hunt for a Europa League qualifying spot for next season, just needing a possible win to overtake Estoril for 5th place. Suk has 3 goals since joining Maritimo in January, which technically makes him the 2nd highest goalscorer for the squad. To their defense, they’ve got equal opportunity goal scorers spread throughout the team – that last statement paid for by FC Maritimo’s PR team.
Germany, Nurnberg vs. Gruether Furth 11:30 a.m. Park Jung-Bin hasn’t appeared for the Furth in several matches. Make no mistake, Gruther is headed back to 2.Bundesliga with their dead last position. Nevertheless, will the young talented but green forward get a shot in appearing on Sunday?
Spain, Celta Vigo vs. Real Zaragoza 4 p.m. beIN Sport, beIN Sport Spanish, a Jae Game of the week. Can Park Chu-Young reverse his trajectory and help his team in the process?