Europe’s top soccer leagues: What’s at stake this weekend?

The 2023-24 season is drawing to a close and the battle for the major honours, relegation and promotion is starting to become clearer.

Title: It remains a three-horse race, but defeat for Liverpool (74 points, 34 games) at Everton in midweek has left them as outsiders.

Arsenal (77, 34) hold a one-point lead over Manchester City (76, 33), but Pep Guardiola’s side have a game in hand.

It’s a crucial Sunday for the Gunners, as they play first and face a tough north London derby trip to Tottenham Hotspur. It’s a real test of their ability to lay down a marker, with City expected to respond when they travel to relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest later that day.

Champions League: Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool will take the first three spots, and with the Premier League highly unlikely to claim an additional place through its performance in Europe this season the fight is on to finish fourth.

Aston Villa (66, 34) are in control of fourth place and can move further ahead with a victory at home to Chelsea on Saturday. Tottenham (60, 32), six points behind with two games in hand, must then react — but they have two difficult matches against huge London rivals, first that home game against Arsenal, then they go to Chelsea on Thursday.

It could be a pivotal few days in the race for Champions League (UCL) football.

Europa League: Either Aston Villa or Tottenham appear certain to finish in fifth and take the league place.

Manchester United (53, 33), who are sixth, take on Manchester City in the FA Cup final. If Erik ten Hag’s team lift the trophy then they will be in the UEFA Europa League (UEL). If City win the cup, then the position transfers to the sixth place in the Premier League — so it could still go to Man United.

There’s probably three other teams in contention to finish sixth: Newcastle United (50, 33), West Ham United (48, 34; outsiders as they have played more games) and Chelsea (47, 32).

If Aston Villa win the UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL), which earns a place in the Europa League, that place cannot be passed down to the Premier League table.

Europa Conference League: At the moment, sixth will go into the Europa Conference League but that’s also dependent on the FA Cup winners.

If Man City win the FA Cup then the place in the UECL will drop down to seventh, and it would still be one of Man United, Newcastle United, West Ham and Chelsea.

The UECL place will also drop to seventh if Man United win the FA Cup and finish sixth.

Relegation: Four teams look to be fighting it out for one survival place, with three clubs to be relegated.

An immediate return to the Championship for Sheffield United (16, 34) will be confirmed on Saturday if they lose at Newcastle. If they avoid defeat, they could still be sent down by positive results for Luton Town (25, 34) at Wolverhampton Wanderers, or Forest (26, 34) at home to Man City.

Burnley (23, 34) still have a chance of avoiding the drop but have a difficult run in, facing Man United, Newcastle and Spurs before a possibly huge game at home to Forest on the final day.

LaLiga

Title: Real Madrid (81, 32) have an 11-point lead over Barcelona (70, 32) and need a maximum of seven points to secure the title.

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Champions League: Real Madrid and Barca will take two places, with Girona (68, 32) needing at most three more wins to seal a first UCL campaign.

It’s a two-horse race for fourth place between Atlético Madrid (61, 32) and Athletic Club (58, 32) — and the two teams meet in the capital on Saturday.

Europa League: Athletic won the Copa del Rey and are almost certain to finish in the top six, which means the place for the cup moves over to the league — fifth and sixth will enter the UEL.

Either Atlético or Athletic will take one of the places, with Real Sociedad (51, 32) sitting in sixth. La Real, who take on both Real Madrid and Barcelona in their next three fixtures, are being chased by Real Betis (48, 32) and Valencia (47, 32).

Real Sociedad also have to play both Valencia and Betis in their final three fixtures.

Europa Conference League: This will go to seventh in the league, between Real Sociedad, Real Betis and Valencia, while Villarreal (42, 32) are outsiders to sneak a run.

Relegation: Almería, with one victory all season, will be relegated if they fail to win at home to Getafe on Saturday. Even if they do get three points, they can still go down if Mallorca beat Cádiz and Celta Vigo get at least a draw vs. Alavés.

Granada (18, 32) are also doomed and will be relegated if they lose at home to Osasuna and both Mallorca and Celta Vigo win this weekend.

That leaves one relegation spot to be decided, with Cádiz (25, 32) needing to make up six points on either Mallorca (31, 32) or Celta Vigo (31, 32). They get an immediate chance to halve the deficit with Mallorca visiting on Sunday.

Bundesliga

Title: Bayer Leverkusen (80, 30) have already secured the first championship in their history.

Champions League: Joining Leverkusen will almost certainly be Bayern Munich (66, 30) — in fact they will seal it if they better Borussia Dortmund‘s result on Saturday. Bayern host Eintracht Frankfurt and Dortmund go to RB Leipzig.

VfB Stuttgart (63,30) sit third and are in a strong position.

There’s then a battle for fourth between RB Leipzig (59, 30) and Dortmund (57, 30) ahead of their meeting this weekend.

However, the Bundesliga is almost certain to get the second extra place through the European Performance Spot, which will send the team that finishes fifth to the UCL too.

If Dortmund win the UCL and finish fifth, then sixth in the Bundesliga will also be in the UCL — one to keep an eye on if Dortmund get past PSG in the semifinals.

Europa League: As it stands either Leipzig or Dortmund will take fifth, the place for the league — but there are a few complicating factors.

Firstly, the final of the DFB Pokal sees Leverkusen take on Kaiserslautern — who, incredibly, could win the cup and be relegated to the third division, as they sit in the 2. Bundesliga relegation zone. If Kaiserslautern pull off an almighty shock and do what no other team has done all season (beat Leverkusen) on May 25, the league slots will be unaltered.

If Leverkusen win the final, sixth will get a place in the UEL. That’s quite firmly held by Eintracht Frankfurt (45, 30), who are chased by SC Freiburg in sixth (40, 30), FC Augsburg in seventh (39, 30) and eighth-placed TSG Hoffenheim (39, 30).

If fifth place in the Bundesliga does qualify for the UCL, that potentially pushes the UEL place to seventh (if Leverkusen win the cup).

Europa Conference League: This is also a battle between Eintracht Frankfurt, SC Freiburg, FC Augsburg and Hoffenheim.

At present, Frankfurt hold the UEL place in sixth, but depending on the cup winners and the extra UCL place it could be eighth that takes it.

Relegation: Two teams are relegated, and third-bottom takes on third place in the 2. Bundesliga in a playoff for the right to play in the top flight.

SV Darmstadt 98 (17, 30) will definitely be relegated if they lose at home to 1. FC Heidenheim on Sunday, though other results could send them down earlier that day.

FC Cologne (22, 30) are second-bottom and will need a strong run in their final four games to get out of it.

That seems to leave five clubs trying to avoid the playoff place: VfL Bochum (27, 30), Mainz 05 (27, 30), Union Berlin (29, 30), VfL Wolfsburg (31, 30) and Borussia Monchengladbach (31, 30). There are two huge games this weekend: Mainz vs. Cologne and Gladbach vs. Union.

Serie A

Title: Internazionale (86, 33) wrapped up the Scudetto on Monday when they beat AC Milan 2-1 at San Siro.

Champions League: Italy has secured an extra place in next year’s competition through its clubs’ performance in Europe this season, meaning at least five clubs will qualify.

Inter will almost certainly be joined by AC Milan (69, 33); in fact it will be mathematically certain if they win at Juventus on Saturday and Atalanta fail to beat Empoli on Sunday.

Juventus (64, 33) and Bologna (62, 33), third and fourth respectively, have a sizeable cushion to sixth and should also qualify, which leave a battle for fifth.

AS Roma (54, 33) are currently fifth, followed by Atalanta (54, 32) and Lazio (52, 33).

In a quirk of the new regulations for next season, if either Roma or Atalanta win the UEL then Italy will have six clubs in the UCL — the top four, the UEL titleholders and the European Performance Spot.

Europa League: Atalanta face Juventus in the final of the Coppa Italia, which means it’s highly likely that sixth and seventh will qualify for the UEL.

Roma, Atalanta and Lazio are the main contenders, but there’s still hope for Napoli (49, 33) — who host Roma this weekend — and Fiorentina (47, 32).

If either AS Roma or Atalanta win the UEL to qualify for the UCL and finish sixth or seventh, Italy will surrender a place in the UEL.

Europa Conference League: Eighth place will enter the UECL, which is currently held by Napoli but could yet be filled by Atalanta, Lazio, Fiorentina or Torino (46, 33)

If either Roma or Atalanta win the UEL to qualify for the UCL and finish eighth, Italy will surrender its place in the UECL.

Relegation: Salernitana (15, 33) are on the brink and their relegation will be confirmed if they draw or lose at Frosinone on Friday.

It’s then a tight battle for the other two places between Sassuolo (26, 33), Frosinone (28, 33), Udinese (28, 33), Empoli (31, 33), Hellas Verona (31, 33) and Cagliari (32, 33).

Ligue 1

Title: Paris Saint-Germain (69, 30) will secure the title if they can win at home to Le Havre AC on Saturday.

If PSG fail to win, they will still be crowned if AS Monaco (58, 30) draw or lose at Lyon on Sunday.

Champions League: France gets three automatic places, with fourth place entering the UCL in the third qualifying round.

PSG are almost certain to be joined by Monaco, but there’s a real battle for the third automatic place between Brest (53, 30) and Lille (52, 30).

If Marseille, who are in eighth, win the UEL then France will have five teams in the UCL.

Europa League: While Nice (48, 30) still have an outside chance of the UCL, they are realistically targeting fifth and the UEL spot.

In sixth (as it stands a UECL place), Lens (46, 30) are the one team who look capable of catching them.

PSG take on Lyon in the final of the Coupe de France on May 25, and a victory for Les Parisiens will send sixth place into the UEL too.

Europa Conference League: Much will depend on who wins the Coupe de France. If it’s Lyon, who are in ninth (41, 30), then sixth will very likely be the UECL place. Stade Rennais (42, 30), Marseille (41, 30), Stade de Reims (40, 30) could sneak above Lens for that.

However, if PSG win the cup, or Lyon do so and finish sixth, then seventh gets the UECL place. Lens, Stade Rennais, Marseille, Lyon, Reims and perhaps even Toulouse (37, 30) could be left waiting on the result of the final.

If Marseille win the UEL and finish in a European position, France will surrender the place for the league position.

Relegation: Two teams are relegated, with third-bottom facing a playoff with a team from the second division to remain in Ligue 1.

Clermont Foot (30, 22) are last and face an uphill task to retain their top-flight status.

Lorient (26, 22), Le Havre (28, 22), Metz (29, 22) and Nantes (31, 22) are also in contention for relegation.