Editors' Picks: Semi-finals, derbies and a league title at stake in massive few days


Editors' Picks: Semi-finals, derbies and a league title at stake in massive few days

Inter could clinch the Serie A title on Monday in the derby
Inter could clinch the Serie A title on Monday in the derbyAFP, Flashscore
With the FA Cup semi-finals, El Clasico and the Milan derby all in the coming days, it's safe to say it's going to be a huge weekend of football. Plus, there are plenty of other sports to keep you entertained. Here's what our editors are watching!

Saturday, April 20th

Snooker World Championship - 11:00 CET

Snooker’s most prestigious tournament is back this weekend, with Belgium’s Luca Brecel looking to defend the title he won so impressively last year. The ‘Belgian Bullet’ will have his work cut out, however, as a star-studded field of players make their way to Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre to compete for the £500,000 prize cheque. 

World number one and seven-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will be targeting a record eighth world title. Having already won the UK Championship and the Masters this season, O’Sullivan is favourite to become snooker’s oldest world champion - breaking the record he set himself back in 2022 at the age of 46. 

O’Sullivan faces Jackson Page in the opening round, with other notable clashes including Ding Junhui against Jack Lisowski and Ali Carter versus Stephen Maguire. However, the standout tie of the opening round is 2019 champion Judd Trump up against Iranian Hossein Vafaei

Trump, ranked second in the world, has endured somewhat of an inconsistent year on tour, although he did recently win the World Open in China last month. Vafaei is a divisive character with his often outspoken views, but he remains one of the most entertaining players in the sport, so their match on Saturday afternoon promises to be a thrilling watch!

Here's everything you need to know about the tournament. 

Danny Clark

Manchester City vs Chelsea - 18:15 CET

Saturday sees the first of the weekend’s two FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley Stadium in London, with holders Manchester City taking on Chelsea. With a repeat of last season’s treble now off the table following their Champions League elimination, Pep Guardiola’s side will have their focus fully on securing an FA Cup and Premier League double. However, Chelsea present a tricky hurdle.

Mauricio Pochettino’s expensively assembled team are a little inconsistent, as their position in the league (ninth) demonstrates. However, they are capable of outstanding performances powered, principally, by ex-City man Cole Palmer. Palmer is having the season of his young life with 20 league goals to his name to date, including four in his last outing against Everton.

What's more, Chelsea have proven twice already this season that they can match City, drawing both league fixtures between the two. With Palmer firing and with a point to prove against the club that let him go, you cannot discount Chelsea causing City some serious headaches at Wembley. The question is, will Guardiola’s incredible collection of stars let another trophy opportunity pass them by? You wouldn’t want to bet against them.

On Sunday, the second semi-final will take place between Manchester United and second-tier Coventry.

Pat Dempsey

Sunday, April 21st

Chinese Grand Prix - 09:00 CET

The Chinese Grand Prix is back! Yes, after five years, Formula 1 is finally returning to the circuit that was previously a stalwart of the calendar and has played host to a number of thrilling races over the years, and there's reason to believe we're about to get another one.

Having not raced there for half a decade at the least, every driver is heading into the unknown, and with it being a sprint weekend and therefore only containing one practice session, they'll have precious little time to get familiar with the track before the sprint race and qualifying for the main event. As a result, we could end up with a mixed-up starting grid come Sunday.

Max Verstappen is expecting "chaos", and while he's undoubtedly the driver most likely to conquer that chaos, Charles Leclerc and Ferrari are confident that they can take the fight to the Dutchman and Red Bull on race day. If the Monegasque can perform as well as teammate Carlos Sainz has been, they should indeed be able to give the reigning champion something to think about at the very least.

Even if there isn't much in the way of racing at the front, you can rest assured that there will be everywhere else because, with the longest straight in the sport and plenty of corners that provide opportunities for drivers to go wheel to wheel, it's one of the most, if not the most overtaking-friendly circuits on the calendar, which is great news for us spectators.

Finley Crebolder

Real Madrid vs Barcelona - 21:00 CET

El Clasico, probably the most famous sporting rivalry in the world, needs no introduction, and as is so often the case with it, there's far more than just pride at stake in the latest edition.

Barcelona head into the match eight points behind arch-rivals and league leaders Real Madrid with seven matches to play, meaning that their hopes of retaining the title will just about still be alive if they win, but will be all but dead if they don't.

Given that, they'll need to quickly put the disappointment of their midweek Champions League exit, in which they threw away a 4-2 aggregate lead to PSG after both Ronald Araujo and Xavi were sent off, behind them. If they suffer a similarly catastrophic defeat to Los Blancos, it will be one of the lowest points for the club in a long time.

The opportunity to send them to that point will only serve as extra motivation for Real Madrid, who very much look like Spain's top dogs right now after beating Manchester City on penalties to move into the final four of Europe's flagship competition. If they can heap the misery on Xavi and co. even with 120 minutes of gruelling football behind them, that will be a real statement.

Finley Crebolder

Monday, April 22nd

AC Milan vs Inter Milan - 20:45 CET

The Milan derby, known locally as ‘Derby della Madonnina’, is one of the most prestigious matches in Italian and, by extension, European football. It doesn’t get much bigger than this one. But how’s this for context, Inter can clinch the Serie A title with a win in the derby on Monday evening!

Far and away the best side in the league this season, Simone Inzaghi’s team are cruising towards the Scudetto as they currently have a 14-point cushion at the top of the standings. Milan are second and should comfortably finish in the top three. Winning their first league title since 2021 should be a formality for Inter but to do it in the derby would be so much sweeter. A draw won’t be enough to wrap up the league title this round.

Serie A's top five
Serie A's top fiveFlashscore

When the sides met in September in the fourth round, both had won their opening three matches to share top spot. Inter crushed Milan 5-1 that day to lay out their intentions for the season ahead. They haven’t let up since, losing just once (to Sassuolo, curiously) in the 32 rounds played. Bayer Leverkusen’s Bundesliga title has hogged the headlines of late but let’s not understate just how brutal and brilliant Inter have been in Italy this campaign.

To whet your appetite before that potential title decider, fifth-place Roma host fourth-place Bologna from 18:45 CET in a match with big ramifications in the race for European places.

Pat Dempsey


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