- Three of the biggest derbies in Europe take place this week.
- In London, all eyes will be on Chelsea hosting Spurs.
- Meanwhile Bayern play Dortmund in the Bundesliga, and Inter meet AC Milan in Serie A.
It’s derby day all across Europe this week.
Chelsea and Tottenham are both clamoring for a top-four finish, and the upcoming London derby may tip the scales for next season’s Champions League qualification. Over on the continent, Bayern Munich and Dortmund meet for another der Klassiker, while AC Milan and Inter Milan head to San Siro for the derby della Madonnina.
After a wild and exhilarating international break, this is the perfect way to welcome back the domestic season. Time for some previews, odds, and picks.
Chelsea (+130) vs Tottenham (+215)
Sunday, April 1st at Stamford Bridge
Both Chelsea (17-5-8, 56 points) and Tottenham (18-7-5, 61 points) flared out of the Champions League at the round of 16. Now, with all their full attention centered on the Premier League (and the FA Cup, I guess), the two London clubs must seal a top-four finish in order to qualify for the Champions League next season. Spurs are sitting at fourth with a comfortable five-point lead over Chelsea in fifth. With only eight league fixtures remaining, this is a must-win for the Blues.
It’s an uncomfortable time to be associated with Chelsea. The club has only won two of their last six games in all competitions, Antonio Conte is almost definitely walking at the end of the season, and Eden Hazard is seriously reconsidering his future with the club. It almost seems like Chelsea are content with running down the clock and regathering for next season.
Tottenham were eliminated from the Champions League in humiliating fashion, but their recent record in the Premier League is quite impressive. They’re unbeaten in their last 12 league games, which includes wins over Arsenal and Manchester United.
Harry Kane is expected to miss the trip to Stamford Bridge this weekend, which is always a huge blow for Tottenham. There’s really no one in the Spurs lineup who can fill his place when he’s missing. Son Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen, and Dele Alli are all remarkable players in their own right, and are all proven goalscorers, but they’re more comfortable when playing a deeper role.
Kane’s predicted absence is probably why the odds clearly favor Chelsea to win. Spurs have long been branded a “one-man team,” and sadly it’s kinda true. Sure, a Kane-less Tottenham recently demolished Swansea 3-0, with Son as a perfectly competent target man. But against a top-tier Premier League club, they’ll have a tough time finding the back of the net.
This is a great chance for Chelsea to grab some much-needed points.
Pick: Chelsea (+130)
Bayern Munich (-240) vs Borussia Dortmund (+600)
Saturday, March 31st at Allianz Arena
Usually, this would be a must-see game. But Bayern Munich (21-3-3, 66 points) are currently so far above the rest of the German top flight — both in terms of points and raw talent — that it’s hard to imagine how this game could be competitive. Especially now that Dortmund (13-9-5, 48 points) are without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, their star striker and top goalscorer.
Bayern Munich lost 2-1 to RB Leipzig in the last round, showing that the well-oiled Bavarian machine is still prone to slip ups. But that still only marks their third domestic loss of the season, and they’ve yet to lose a single match at Allianz Arena this season.
This will be the third der Klassiker of the season, with Bayern comfortably winning the last two. Marco Reus remains injured and Andriy Yarmolenko isn’t expected to return until April. On top of that, Shinji Kagawa and Omer Toprak are both nursing injuries and may not be cleared to travel to Munich. Meanwhile, the Bayern squad is largely injury free.
It’s boring and unadventurous, but I have to pick Bayern to beat Dortmund for the third time this season.
Pick: Bayern Munich (-240)
AC Milan (+150) vs Inter Milan (+180)
Wednesday, April 4th at San Siro
The Milan derby finally has a date!
The game was postponed following the tragic death of Davide Astori, and the busy domestic schedule coupled with AC Milan’s Europa League campaign made it difficult to reschedule the fixture. Serie A have managed to sneak the game in next Wednesday, nestled between two weekend games. This will be the third derby della Madonnina of the season, with both clubs with one win apiece.
Inter got the better of their city rivals in their first encounter, with Mauro Icardi scoring a hattrick to snatch a 3-2 win. The match was decided by a controversial penalty in the 90th minute, resulting in a crushing loss for AC Milan, who were arguably the better side that night. All up, it was a thrilling and hard-fought match, with five goals and eight cards between the two clubs.
AC Milan got their revenge two months later with a 1-0 win over their rivals. Patrick Cutrone scored the sole goal in extra-time, eliminating Inter from the Coppa Italia. That leaves the San Siro clubs in need of a tiebreaker.
Neither club are at their best at the moment. The Italian league is a two-horse race between Juventus and Napoli, with clubs like Inter and Milan lowering their sights to a top-four finish.
Inter began the season with a serious shot at the title, opening with a 16-game unbeaten streak. But they’ve since only won three of their last 13 games. Milan’s season has been the mirror opposite. They opened the season with an extremely patchy run, but have since won eight of their last ten games (and they drew the other two).
The momentum is definitely on AC Milan’s side. The mega-bucks they spent in the preseason and the wild managerial overhauls throughout the last few seasons may finally be paying off. It’s always close to a toss-up when these clubs meet. They seem pretty evenly matched on paper, but Milan are certainly in better form right now.
Pick: AC Milan (+150)