Today is ‘Good’ Friday, the day that intelligent, grown adults across the Western world commemorate the fact that their god sacrificed himself to himself to allow himself to forgive humanity for a sin made up by himself.
If you’d rather pray at the church of football, here are three must-see games today:
1) English Premier League: Swansea City vs Newcastle Utd., 17.30 CET/11.30 EST
Swansea, transforming the traditional cliché uttered about promoted clubs into a ‘breath of Welsh air’, look to be pretty safe from the drop now, while Newcastle are playing well, possess one of the most in-form strikers in Papiss Cissé, and aren’t quite yet out of the hunt for Champions League football, such has been the level of
crapness inconsistency shown by Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea. It should be an Easter Egg of a match – tempting, enjoyable and horribly addictive.
2) Belgian Pro League, play-offs: Standard Liege vs Anderlecht, 20.30 CET/14.30 EST
Anderlecht’s draw with Kortrijk in the first week of the much-maligned play-off format was a big shock, and it cut their lead over Club Brugge to just one point. The Brussels-based club really need a win in Liege, as otherwise they may be looking at Brugge’s swaggering behinds by the time the final whistle of their rivals’ own match with Kortrijk sounds on Sunday.
3) French League 2: Monaco vs Nantes, 20.20 CET/14.20 EST
Ten years ago, this match would have paired the reigning French champions with the champions of the preceding year. As recently as 2004, Monaco were playing in the flippin’ Champions League final, for goodness sake. It’s not been the best time to be a fan of Les Canaris or Les Rouge et Blanc, but things are looking up – the once-rich-but-now-not-so-much-Monegasques have moved up the table to put to bed nightmares of a second successive relegation, and Nantes have finally put themselves in with a shout of escaping the Ligue 2 quicksand. For that reason alone, we’re taking the away side to sneak it in front of a bumper crowd of, um, 4,000 hardy souls at Stade Louis II.
Today’s three matches to keep an eye on are brought to you by Football Clichés, taking one game at a time.
1) French Ligue 2: Lens vs Nantes, 20.30 CET/14.30 EST
‘How the mighty have fallen’.
Really? This is one of today’s picks? Well, it’s certainly the most symbolic encounter of Monday’s fixture list. French champions in 1998, desperate to return to the big league so that their fervent supporters can once again fill their 40,000 capacity stadium, Lens have fallen on hard times recently. French champions in 2001, desperate to return to the big league so that their fervent supporters can once again fill their 40,000 capacity stadium, Nantes have fallen on hard times recently.
2) English Premier League: Manchester United vs Fulham, 21.00 CET/15.00 EST
‘A six-pointer for United’.
Given that those big-spending baddies across town dropped two points to Peter Crouch FC on Saturday, a win would put Man U three points clear with eight games to go. Clint D and Co., who have turned mid-table mediocrity into an art form in recent years, should put up
some stiff no resistance whatsoever at Old Trafford.
3) Spanish Primera División: Granada vs Sevilla, 21.00 CET/15.00 EST
‘Too big to go down’.
No not, Granada, who came up from the second division last year and are doing well to be lying (just) outside the relegation zone. Sevilla have had an awful second half of the season so far, and although they currently appear well clear of trouble, a defeat to El Graná would not augur well for the run-in. The 2007 UEFA Cup winners would seem to have more match-winners in their side (Jesus Navas, Manu del Moral), but Granada may prove to have more cojones over 90 minutes.