European leagues set for title duels, top-of-table showdowns

GENEVA (AP) — Title duels, top-of-the-table showdowns, and runaway league leaders set to be crowned.

European soccer has multiple stages set for drama this weekend entering the final month of a season that will peak with the Champions League final on May 28.

Real Madrid is poised to seal the Spanish league title on Saturday, three days ahead of Manchester City taking a 4-3 lead into their second-leg semifinal game in the Champions League.

City’s compelling fight with Liverpool for the Premier League title resumes Saturday with five rounds left and just one point separating teams. Each has lost only one league game in the past five months.

Leader AC Milan is two points ahead of city rival and defending champion Inter Milan with four rounds left as it seeks a first Serie A title in 11 years.

Sunday showdowns in Scotland, the Czech Republic and Denmark will see league leaders play second-place rivals.

Here’s a look at the state of play in domestic leagues around Europe:

TITLE RACES

The intensity of title races in England and Italy helps make up for lack of drama in the other big leagues.

Bayern Munich sealed a 10th straight Bundesliga trophy with three rounds left and Paris Saint-Germain cruised to an eighth in 10 years in Ligue 1.

Madrid’s next La Liga title — just its third in a 10-season period when it already won four Champions Leagues — looks a formality. It hosts Espanyol on Saturday with a 15-point lead in the standings and five rounds left.

City and Liverpool have away games on Saturday, visiting Leeds and Newcastle, respectively.

The English heavyweights’ rivalry could carry on to the Champions League final in Paris, while the Milan clubs have no European distractions during the final four rounds.

Milan hosts Fiorentina on Sunday before Inter, which slipped up midweek losing at Bologna, travels again to Udinese.

A dominating duel in Serbia has Belgrade rivals Red Star and Partizan more than 30 points clear at the top. Red Star and Partizan already drew 0-0 in the championship playoff group. Red Star holds a two-point lead with four rounds left.

In Portugal, Porto is six points clear of defending champion Sporting Lisbon with three rounds left, and Dutch champion Ajax is four points ahead of PSV Eindhoven with four rounds to play.

SUNDAY SHOWDOWNS

It’s Super Sunday in three of Europe’s midranking leagues.

Celtic host Rangers with a six-point lead and such a superior goal difference that a win will effectively seal a 52nd Scottish league title.

Czech defending champion Slavia Prague hosts Viktoria Plzen days after losing the lead and now trails by two points in the championship playoff group. Three rounds are left after Sunday.

In Denmark, Copenhagen takes a three-point lead to Midtjylland with five rounds left.

RUNAWAY LEADERS

The title destiny looks clear in Switzerland and Turkey where leaders appear sure to end long waits.

Zurich is 13 points clear and needs just a draw at second-place Basel on Sunday.

Trabzonspor is 11 points clear of Fenerbahce before hosting Antalyaspor on Saturday.

Zurich’s 13-year wait for the title is outweighed by the 38 seasons since Trabzonspor was officially champion of Turkey. However, Trabzonspor considers itself the rightful winner of the 2011 title that Fenerbahce kept despite match-fixing allegations.

In Greece, Olympiakos is 11 points clear of PAOK Thessaloniki. They face each other twice in the final six rounds of the championship playoff group.

ALREADY CHAMPION

Salzburg was the runaway winner in Austria and goes direct into the Champions League group stage, where it is now an established regular.

Ferencvaros, Slovan Bratislava and Ludogorets Razgrad already retained their titles in Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria to head back into the Champions League qualifying rounds.

Bodø/Glimt and Malmo will join them after winning the 2021 calendar year seasons that are played in Norway and Sweden, respectively.

UPSTART CHAMPION?

The potential fresh face in the next Champions League group stage is long-time Belgian league leader Union Saint-Gilloise.

Union is playing its first top-tier season for 48 years and won the last of the club’s 11 league titles in 1935.

Union is three points clear of Club Brugge in the four-team championship playoff group. They will meet home and away in the final five rounds of a season that ends May 22.

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