Barcelona take next step towards title, Napoli face must-win game: Five matches to see this weekend

The best action this week focuses at the top end of the table in Germany, Spain, England, UAE and Italy.

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BUNDESLIGA: Hertha Berlin v Bayern Munich, beIN Sports HD, Saturday, 5.30pm

If Borussia Dortmund are to get one final chance to close the gap on Bayern Munich it has to be this weekend as the Bundesliga leaders travel to fourth-placed Hertha Berlin, while Dortmund take on struggling Stuttgart. Dortmund may also take heart from the likelihood of Pep Guardiola resting some of his key players, with the Uefa Champions League semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid next Wednesday. Hertha, who are aiming to claim a place in next season’s Champions League, will look to 14-goal forward Salomon Kalou to fire them to victory. Easier said than done when facing Bayern, who are seven points clear with four games remaining.

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PRIMERA LIGA: Barcelona v Sporting Gijon, beIN Sports HD, Saturday, 10.30pm

Welcome back, Barcelona. After a run of three successive defeats that saw Barca knocked out of the Champions League and see their lead in the Primera Liga vanish, Luis Enrique’s side responded in brutal fashion to beat Deportivo La Coruna 8-0 on Wednesday. With wins for Atletico Madrid, who are level at the top on 79 points, and Real Madrid, who are a point behind, Barca still have no margin for error. Sporting should pose few problems for the might of Barcelona, and Lionel Messi and Co should fill their boots. Still, a draw or worse, as unlikely as it may seem, could put Barcelona’s title Primera Liga defence under serious threat.

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PREMIER LEAGUE: Leicester City v Swansea City, beIN Sports HD, Sunday, 7.15pm

Leicester City will be appearing in most must-see match lists until the end of the season as the club that was rooted to the bottom of the Premier League with 10 games to go last season closes in on the most unlikely title triumph in living memory. Their run-in may contain tricky away fixtures to Manchester United and Chelsea, but with a five-point cushion, the title remains Leicester’s to lose. A home win against Swansea City will go some way to tightening their grip on the trophy. Claudio Ranieri will have to do without star striker Jamie Vardy, who is serving a suspension. Leicester still should have too much for a team that just lost 3-0 to Newcastle United, though.

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ARABIAN GULF LEAGUE: Al Nasr v Al Ahli, Abu Dhabi Sports HD, Sunday, 8.30pm

Al Ahli took a major step towards winning the Arabian Gulf League title last week with a 1-0 win over rivals Al Ain, and travel to third-placed Al Nasr on Sunday aiming to edge closer towards the trophy. Al Ain host bottom-club Al Shaab earlier in the evening and will surely move to within three points of Al Ahli, at least temporarily. A win for Cosmin Olaroiu’s side, which will put them six points clear with two games to go, will all but guarantee the title, given their superior goal difference. Al Nasr may be third in the table and enjoying a strong season, but they remain a whopping 22 points behind Al Ahli. Given what is at stake, this should be another win for Al Ahli.

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SERIE A: AS Roma v Napoli, beIN Sports HD, Monday, 5pm

Arguably the biggest match in Europe this week as second in Serie A travels to third in an encounter that could end Napoli’s fading title hopes. They are five points behind leaders Juventus with four fixtures remaining, but a win in AS Rome will keep the dream alive at least for another week. Crucially for Napoli, 31-goal striker Gonzalo Higuain is available after his suspension was reduced to three matches. The Argentine may just prove the difference between the two sides. Roma legend Francesco Totti will likely take his place among the substitutes again despite his late heroics against Torino on Wednesday. This could be a cracker.

Published: April 21, 2016 04:00 AM

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