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“Final” in England, trap matches in Italy

Football Europe has its eyes on the Manchester City-Liverpool clash, the summit of the Premier League in the form of a “final”, this weekend. In Spain, Germany and Italy, the “big guys” fear a misstep in the final sprint, while the race to maintain will punctuate the French Ligue 1.

– England: the 32nd day of the Premier League will be dominated by the clash on Sunday between the leader Manchester City and their runner-up Liverpool, separated by one point. In mid-January, when the Reds were 11 points behind the Citizens, no one imagined that their confrontation three months later would have such a stake. But the Reds, who remain on 10 straight league wins, have caught up and given the Premier League some title suspense it has been largely deprived of for the past two years. With six days left to play after this one, but seven games to play for City and the Reds who have a late meeting, nothing will be settled mathematically, but an eventual winner would have a clear psychological advantage, as the two clubs s will face off again in the FA Cup semi-finals six days later. The other posters seem insignificant in comparison, but the Southampton-Chelsea tomorrow Saturday will also be very popular after the two routs of the Blues at Stamford Bridge, against Brentford (1-4) in the league and Real Madrid (1-3) in Champions League (C1). Arsenal, which hosts Brighton at the same time, and Tottenham, which will also go to Aston Villa tomorrow, are on the lookout for the slightest misstep to get even closer to the podium. Manchester United will try to cling to European places again, traveling to Everton. In addition, current Ajax Amsterdam manager Erik ten Hag is emerging as the big favorite to become United’s next manager, which could end the hopes of Paris SG technician Mauricio Pochettino, British media claimed. yesterday Thursday. Manchester United, coached on an interim basis by Ralf Rangnick since the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last November, is currently 7th in the standings, 3 points behind Tottenham who occupy the 4th and last qualifying place for the C1.

– Spain: who will be Real Madrid’s runner-up at the end of this 31st day of LaLiga? FC Barcelona (Barça), Atlético Madrid and Sevilla FC are tied with 57 points, each eight days from the end, 12 lengths behind Real, to whom the coronation seems promised. Barça seems best placed to claim this 2nd place: the Catalans have played one match less, which they will make up for in 15 days against Rayo Vallecano, and travel to the Levante field on Sunday, penultimate in the championship at equality of points with the red lantern, Alavés (22 pts). Atlético, which is coming out of a closed and lost duel against Manchester City (1-0) in C1, should be able to recover in Mallorca tomorrow Saturday. Ditto for Seville, which has nothing else to play for but the championship and which receives Granada, in the fight to maintain, for an Andalusian duel at the start of the night. After his recital at Chelsea (3-1) in C1, Real will have an easier challenge, on paper, with the reception tomorrow evening of his neighbor Getafe, current 14th in LaLiga.

Wednesday evening, in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, Bayern Munich fell (1-0) to Villarreal. The goal was scored by French midfielder Francis Coquelin, who surprised goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP

– Germany: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen, who make up the top three, face poorly ranked teams on the 29th day of the championship this weekend. But beware ! The Bundesliga is full of surprises. Dortmund, dolphin 9 points, opens the ball tonight in Stuttgart. The latter is only one point ahead of the first relegated, but has not lost any of his last four meetings. And Borussia, known for its devastating “air holes”, has just lost (4-1) at home against RB Leipzig. Tomorrow Saturday, Bayern receives Augsburg (13th). Apparently easy. But the Bavarians remain on a disastrous performance at Villarreal in C1 (1-0 defeat). If the 9-point gap remains for two more days, the title could be played on April 23 during the “Klassiker” Bayern-Dortmund, during the 32nd day. Sunday, Leverkusen (3rd) moves to Bochum, a modest promoted who had shaken up the hierarchy in February by beating Bayern (4-2).

– Italy: watch out! Trap matches for the leading trio of Serie A, during the 32nd day, against teams renowned for their intensity and their ability to hinder the big cars this season. Inter Milan (3rd), cheered up by their difficult victory against Juventus Turin (1-0), will open the ball tomorrow at San Siro against Hellas Verona (9th), being particularly wary of striker Giovanni Simeone, author of his best season in Italy (16 goals). Naples (2nd), far from being imperial in its Diego-Maradona stadium, will also be on its guard on Sunday against Fiorentina (8th), in the race for European places. The leader AC Milan will try to catch up on Sunday on the ground of Torino the points lost against Bologna (0-0) last Monday. Juve (4th), out of the race for the scudetto by the admission of its coach Massimiliano Allegri and now focused on defending the 4th qualifying ticket for the C1, will move for its part to Cagliari.

– France: the race to maintain will punctuate the 31st day of Ligue 1, with in particular a duel of fear between Lorient and Saint-Étienne this opening night, while the battle for the podium will continue at a distance between Marseille, Rennes, Strasbourg and Nice. Eight days from the end of the championship, the last five teams only stand on 5 points, and this Ligue 1 weekend could well mark a turning point in the season. The fight to stay in the elite will also continue with Bordeaux-Metz on Sunday, which has everything of a last chance for the last two formations of the championship (23 pts). They have not tasted victory since January and are five units behind Clermont, the first non-relegation player. The situation is also very worrying for the Clermontois, who have lost their last four meetings and welcome the ogre Paris SG.

UEFA reforms its FPF

More flexible but more targeted: UEFA reformed its financial fair play (FPF) yesterday Thursday, allowing European clubs an increased deficit while prohibiting them from blazing all their income in wages and transfer fees. As expected, the executive committee of the body modified the budgetary rules introduced in 2010 to clean up a lucrative European football, but which often puts sporting ambitions before financial rigor. “The main innovation will be the introduction of a control of team costs”, implemented gradually and intended to limit the flight of salaries, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin told the press. .

The body moves away from the strict accounting logic of the first era FPF, by doubling the deficit allowed over three years for each club (to 60 million euros), even bringing it to 90 million euros over the same period for a club “in good financial health”. But at the same time, the organization introduced a very attenuated form of “salary cap”, a rule dear to North American sports franchises, but which it was impossible to transpose identically with 55 federations with separate legislation. Concretely, clubs will have to limit the salaries of their players and coaches, transfer fees and agent commissions to 70% of their income from the 2025-2026 season. If the deadline is so far off, it is because the contracts in progress have an average maturity of nearly three years, requiring gradual implementation: 90% of revenues in 2023-2024, then 80% of revenues for the 2024-2025 season. Clubs at fault will have to pay fines previously established according to the extent of the overrun and which will then be distributed among the virtuous clubs.

In addition, and for serious or repeated infringements, UEFA provides for sporting sanctions: ban on using a specific player acquired on the market, limitation of the number of players or withdrawal of points during the mini-championships which will replace the group stages of the European Cups from 2024. The demotion from one competition to another, for example from the Champions League to the Europa League, is still under discussion. The new rules will necessarily play into the battle between historic clubs and new ogres with unlimited resources, especially since the gradual lowering of the salary cap will allow the latter to burn for another two seasons.

Source: AFP

Football Europe has its eyes on the Manchester City-Liverpool clash, the summit of the Premier League in the form of a “final”, this weekend. In Spain, Germany and Italy, the “big guys” fear a misstep in the final sprint, while the race to maintain will punctuate the French Ligue 1.– England: the 32nd day of the Premier League will be…

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