Premier League: Chelsea vs. Manchester United (live, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET)
Reasons to watch: Without a doubt, this is THE stand-out game in the Premier League this weekend. Chelsea have three tough games during their run-in and the clash with Manchester United is the first to test their title credentials. Win and Jose Mourinho can sit back and take a satisfied sip of that Portuguese wine he loves so much. Why? Because the Blues will be 10 points clear of their nearest rivals Arsenal, who are in FA Cup action. Incidentally, the Gunners will be Chelsea’s next opponents after the United game, so victory is essential for the Blues. But what if United triumph? It’s a tall order, but that scenario would even open the door for Louis van Gaal’s men, who are eight points behind. Dare to dream? Miss this open at your peril.
FA Cup: Reading vs. Arenal (live, Saturday, FOX, 12:20 p.m. ET)
Reasons to watch: It’s FA Cup weekend in England, and as is the norm these days, both ties will be played at Wembley. The first is a real David and Goliath affair as Reading, still not mathematically certain of avoiding relegation from the second tier, take on the current holders Arsenal. Arsene Wenger isn’t happy that this game clashes with the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United. However, he won’t be too concerned if his players book their place in the final for the second straight season. The last three matches between these sides have produced 24 goals, which included a 7-5 win for Arsenal in a League Cup tie in 2012. Expect goals.
La Liga: Barcelona vs. Valencia (live, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)
Reasons to watch: It’s squeaky bum time in Spain as the title race becomes more tense with every weekend that passes. Barca should be four points clear at the top of nearest rivals Real Madrid, but they let slip a 2-0 lead against Sevilla to draw in Andalucía last week. We suspect Barca coach Luis Enrique won’t be making the mistake of substituting Neymar, as was done last week; Neymar was far from pleased with the coach’s decision. Should Barcelona draw or lose and Real Madrid beat Malaga by three goals, it will be all change at the top. Squeaky bum time, indeed.
La Liga: Real Madrid vs. Malaga (live, Saturday, 2 p.m. ET)
Reasons to watch: Carlo Ancelotti’s men get back to La Liga action after a feisty first-leg encounter with Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. That game finished goalless, but no-one is expecting that score-line repeated, when Malaga visit the Santiago Bernabeu. The wheels have come off Malaga’s outside chance of a Champions League place, and even the Europa League is starting to look unlikely, but they held Atletico to a 2-2 draw last weekend. Real Madrid could sit atop the table if results go their way. All eyes will be on Spain this weekend.
Serie A: Juventus vs. Lazio (live, Saturday, 2:45 p.m. ET)
Reasons to watch: Juventus put their shocking 1-0 defeat by Parma behind them by defeating Monaco in the Champions League midweek. Their return to Serie A action couldn’t be tougher, though. The Old Lady goes head to head with Lazio, who are on an eight-match winning run, which has seen them overtake Roma into second place. Juventus are 12 points clear of Lazio at the top, so even a defeat probably wouldn’t damage their title hopes too much. Stranger things have happened though.
FA Cup: Aston Villa vs. Liverpool (live, Sunday, FOX Sports 1, 10 a.m. ET)
Reasons to watch: Part two of the FA Cup extravaganza sees Aston Villa face Liverpool. Both teams have won the competition seven times, four less than Manchester United and Arsenal, who are in the other semifinal this weekend. Aston Villa’s main priority is avoiding relegation from the Premier League, but Christian Benteke’s return to fitness and form has put them within touching distance of achieving that aim. Liverpool still harbor top-four aspirations but there’s no doubt both sides will be at full strength for this match.
Neville Williams (Aston Villa FC
Premier League: Manchester City vs. West Ham (live, Sunday, 8:30 a.m. ET)
Reasons to watch: The wheels have come off City’s season, but Manuel Pellegrini needs to get his spanner out if he is to ensure a top-four finish and keep his job. The situation is that the defending champions are in fourth place and just four points ahead of Liverpool, who are in FA Cup action this weekend. City have lost three of their last four Premier League games, but face a Hammers side that have not won away in the league since the first week of December. City simply have to win this match.
Alex Livesey & Tom Dulat/Getty I
Bundesliga: Hoffenheim vs. Bayern Munich (live, Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET)
Reasons to watch: Josep Guardiola's side will try to bounce back after a surprising loss against FC Porto in the first leg of UEFA Champions league quarterfinal tie. Having won their last two games in the Bundesliga, Bayern should have no problem maintaining, and possibly extending the 10 point lead they have on second place Wolfsburg, who will be facing the always difficult side of Schalke this weekend. Struggling Hoffenheim shouldn't pose a threat but then again, you never know what can happen in this crazy Bundesliga campaign.
Matthias Hangst (Bongarts) & Len
Bundesliga: Wolfsburg vs. Schalke 04 (live, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET)
Reasons to watch: This weekend's Bundesliga showpiece pits two of the best that Germany has to offer. With only two points ahead of sixth place Augsburg, Schalke will look to take advantage of a tired and beaten Wolfsburg team, who will be play two games in four days fresh off their 4-1 loss to Napoli in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday. The Wolves will try to close the double digit gap on leaders Bayern Munich but it won't be easy with Schalke coming to town.
Stuart Franklin (Bongarts) & VI
Major League Soccer: New York City FC vs. Portland Timbers (live, Sunday, FOX Sports 1, 7 p.m. ET)
Reasons to watch: In this East meets West matchup, both sides will try to get back in winning form as New York City FC -- having lost their last two and currently sitting seventh in the Eastern Conference -- host a struggling Portland Timbers side at Yankee Stadium. Caleb Porter's men lost their last encounter against Orlando and need three points after struggling to put the ball back of the net. Desperate times call for desperate measures and both teams will indoubtedly look to turn their fortunes around.