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Saturday, May 19, 2018

European football weekend: What to watch in main competitions

There are cup finals in England and Germany, while the final rounds are played in the leagues in France, Italy and Spain where the titles have already been settled.
What to watch in the leading soccer competitions in Europe this weekend:
Even if Chelsea beats Manchester United in the FA Cup final, Antonio Conte appears to be on his way out of the west London club.
Conte completed his first season in charge a year ago by losing the cup final to Arsenal but he had just collected the Premier League trophy. Relations with the club’s hierarchy soured in the offseason and Chelsea mounted a pitiful defense of its title to finish last weekend in fifth place, missing out on Champions League qualification.
Even though United is yet to collect silverware this season, Jose Mourinho at least guided the team to second place, its highest finish since Alex Ferguson’s final title win before retiring in 2013.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” United defender Phil Jones said, pointing to last season’s Europa League and League Cup successes under Mourinho. “We’ll always have our critics because we’re Man United and ultimately it’s been like that since I’ve been here, but it shows that we’re moving in the right direction under him.”
By Rob Harris in London.
Eintracht Frankfurt will try and deny Bayern Munich a domestic double when the sides meet in the season-ending German Cup final in Berlin’s Olympiastadion on Saturday.
Bayern, which clinched the Bundesliga with five rounds to spare, is aiming to send coach Jupp Heynckes off into his latest retirement with a final trophy. The return of Heynckes turned around Bayern’s faltering start to the season.
Bayern’s players will be facing their new coach as Niko Kovac completes his spell as Frankfurt coach. He lost last year’s final to Borussia Dortmund.
“We don’t need to be afraid,” Frankfurt midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng said, sending out a message to his teammates: “Concentrate on how you played football before in the park. It’s just a bit bigger here.”
By Ciaran Fahey in Berlin.
It’s winner takes all at the Stadio Olimpico as Lazio hosts Inter Milan in the final Serie A match of the season, with both sides fighting for the last remaining Champions League berth.
The top four teams qualify for the Champions League. Juventus clinched a record-extending seventh successive league title last week, with Napoli second and Roma third.
Lazio is fourth but three points ahead of Inter. The teams drew 0-0 earlier so an Inter win on Sunday would see the Nerazzurri qualify thanks to a better head-to-head record.
Matters are as tense at the other end of the table with five teams desperate to avoid joining Benevento and Hellas Verona in being relegated.
Crotone, which visits Napoli, is 18th but level on points with Spal, which hosts Sampdoria.
Cagliari has a point more and it entertains Atalanta, which needs a point to beat Fiorentina into the final Europa League spot.
Chievo Verona and Udinese are two points above the drop zone and host Benevento and Bologna respectively.
The only other match on Saturday will be an emotional one as Juventus captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon plays his 656th and final game for the club when it hosts Hellas Verona.
By Daniella Matar in Milan.
Is Marseille going to lose everything?
Beaten 3-0 by Atletico Madrid in the Europa League final on Wednesday, Marseille has only a few hopes left of gaining direct qualification to the Champions League.
Ahead of Saturday’s final round of the French league, the former European champion is in fourth place, three points behind second-place Monaco.
The top three teams qualify for the Champions League and Lyon, which has a one-point lead over Marseille, is primed to book the final automatic spot.
Seven-time champion Lyon plays Nice while Marseille hosts Amiens at the Velodrome. The team that misses out will qualify for the Europa League. Fifth-placed Rennes is 17 points behind Marseille.
Monaco is at Troyes, which needs a win hoping that Toulouse does not beat Guingamp to avoid direct relegation and play the relegation playoff.
Paris Saint-Germain sealed the title last month with five matches left and Unai Emery’s final match in charge is at Caen. Despite being named the league’s best coach, Emery will be replaced by Thomas Tuchel next season after failing to get close to Champions League glory.
By Samuel Petrequin in Paris.
The only thing left to settle in the final round is whether Real Madrid will be able to overcome Atletico Madrid for a symbolic runner-up finish behind Barcelona.
In the last five seasons, Atletico has finished third on each occasion apart from when it won the title in 2014. All the newly crowned Europa League champion requires to finish second is a draw at Eibar on Sunday as it is three points ahead of Real Madrid.
Given its superior goal difference, Real Madrid would finish second with a win at Villarreal on Saturday if Atletico loses the next day. The head-to-head tiebreaker would not come into play because the Madrid teams drew both derbies.
Barcelona completes the season against Real Sociedad on Sunday, having missed out on the chance to go through the season unbeaten when it lost at Levante last weekend.
The fourth Champions League place has already been secured by Valencia.
Villarreal, Real Betis and Sevilla will be playing in the Europa League.
Deportivo La Coruna, Las Palmas and Malaga were relegated.