Sunday's European predictions: Inter face another tough test
Another pivotal weekend in Europe is rounded off with three games holding huge implications in the Eredivisie, Serie A and LaLiga.
PSV Eindhoven vs Willem II — Gakpo to score
PSV Eindhoven managed to get the better of title rivals Ajax 2-1 in the Dutch Cup final but they have a four-point gap to bridge in the race for the Eredivisie crown — and only four games in which to do it.
When tracing back the dropped points that saw them fall behind, they may start with their 2-1 defeat to Willem II last September.
This reverse fixture is a must-win clash if they are to keep alive their faint hopes of rounding off Roger Schmidt’s stint as manager with a league title.
Key to PSV’s attacking hopes has been attacker Cody Gakpo — and he looks likely to have another big say here.
The 22-year-old ace is the club's joint-top scorer alongside central striker Eran Zahavi.
And he will be confident of getting on the scoresheet against a Willem II side staring relegation in the face.
Udinese vs Inter Milan — over 3.5 goals
The Serie A title race has been arguably the most exciting across Europe and Inter Milan passed up a golden opportunity to return to the top when they were beaten 2-1 by Bologna in midweek, thanks in part to a bad goalkeeping error.
Simone Inzaghi’s men remain two points behind city rivals AC Milan but do have the benefit of a much easier run-in.
All four of their remaining games are against teams currently in the bottom half, while Milan have to take on both Fiorentina and Atalanta.
Inter’s toughest assignment is probably this trip to in-form Udinese, who have netted 17 times in their last six games and won four of those.
This game pits the top scorers in the division against the top scorers in the bottom half and it is reasonable to assume a high-scoring affair will follow.
Four of Udinese’s last six games have seen four goals or more and the same looks likely in this crucial encounter.
Rayo Vallecano vs Real Sociedad — away win
Rayo Vallecano pulled off a huge shock by beating Barcelona 1-0 at the Camp Nou last time out but they look unlikely to follow that up against classy Real Sociedad.
The home side had only won one of their previous 13 games in all competitions before that victory over Barca and Sociedad were unlucky to have been beaten by Xavi’s men themselves most recently.
Only the top three have lost fewer games this campaign than Sociedad and they have the second-best defensive record in the division, conceding just 31 goals in 33 matches.
In contrast, only three teams have suffered more than Vallecano’s 15 defeats this season.
The visitors are chasing European football and should be able to pick up three points to keep their faint hopes of making the top four alive.