Predictions with Mark Young and James Richardson: Aston Villa to shock Arsenal in FA Cup final and Barcelona to beat Athletic Bilbao

By Mark Young.

With the domestic season drawing to a close in most European countries, this week the predictions are for cup finals from England, Spain, Scotland, Germany and France, so who better to ask than European expert James Richardson?

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English FA Cup Final

Arsenal 1-2 Aston Villa (aet)

This fixture on Saturday has all the hallmarks of a very entertaining contest. Following a struggle for goals, Arsenal’s 4-1 victory against West Brom last Sunday will have given the Gunners a new-found belief, with Arsene Wenger now seemingly having an embarrassment of attacking riches at his disposal.

What will give the Villans hope is that Arsenal’s last three FA Cup appearances at Wembley have been tough going. Last season’s final needed an Aaron Ramsey extra-time winner. Combine that with the extra-time struggle against Reading in this year’s semi-final and Tim Sherwood’s men have a real chance.

In Christian Benteke, Villa have a striker that, on his day, can make the difference – just ask Liverpool, who had no answer to him in the semis. And if there is a type of striker that Arsenal have problems with, it’s a quick, strong, powerful one. Then there’s Jack Grealish and the hard-working midfield of Tom Cleverley and Fabian Delph, to contend with. I predict this year, Arsenal won’t be the ones celebrating.

James Richardson’s Prediction

Arsenal 1-2 Aston Villa

Arsenal got away with it against Hull last year, and against Reading in the semi. They won’t get away with it against David Cameron’s 2nd favourite team.

DFB-Pokal Final

Borussia Dortmund 2-3 Wolfsburg

Jürgen Klopp’s last game in charge of Borussia Dortmund takes place this Saturday in the German Cup final against Wolfsburg. It would be fitting for their legendary manager to finish the season with a trophy, but one of the last teams that they would want to come up against is the highly-talented Wolfsburg.

Dortmund finished a disappointing seventh in the Bundesliga this term, with their rivals runners-up after a very impressive season. Their attacking play has been superb, with Kevin De Bruyne key in attack, and Bas Dost, although struggling for goals recently, enjoying a superb run of goalscoring form at the start of 2015.

Klopp’s men have struggled to replace Robert Lewandowski, showing just how important he was to this Dortmund side. Marco Reus has been out with injuries, and Mats Hummels seems to have had his head turned in certain quarters. But neither of these teams really defend that well, so a thriller could be on the cards.

James Richardson’s Prediction

Borussia Dortmund 0-2 Wolfsburg

Klopp’s goodbye aside, Wolfsburg are by far the better team. Plus Dortmund won at the weekend and they can’t string results together this season.

Coupe De France

Auxerre 0-4 PSG

The French Cup final should be a one-sided affair as Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain play Ligue 2 side Auxerre. PSG finally overtook Lyon to retain their league title, and have bounced back since their Champions League campaign ended in disappointment at the hands of Barcelona.

The team have been scoring goals and winning games with ease, with top attackers such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore. The go into this game in fantastic form against a team that finished ninth after conceding 42 goals in 38 games.

The underdogs have it all to do; and if they were to pull off an upset, it would be quite a magnificent achievement but Laurent Blanc’s men are likely to run riot.

James Richardson’s Prediction

Auxerre 1-4 PSG

They’re in another league . . .

Scottish Cup Final

Falkirk 1-1 Inverness (Bairns win on penalties)

The Scottish Cup final pits Scottish Championship side Falkirk against Premiership club Inverness on Saturday. John Hughes’ men are the favourites to lift the silverware after their dramatic semi-final win against Scottish champions Celtic.

The Hoops were ahead until the 58th minute when Craig Gordon was sent off and Greg Tansey equalised with a penalty. Edward Ofere then put the underdogs 2-1 up in extra-time, with John Guidetti equalising, but with three minutes to go, David Raven scored the winner that sent Caley to the final.

Bairns’ journey to the final has saw them win the last three rounds by a single goal, including a 1-0 semi-final win over Hibs. Although Falkirk don’t score many, they also don’t concede a lot, and I reckon this could go all the way to penalties with the Championship team triumphing.

James Richardson’s Prediction

Falkirk 1-3 Inverness

They’re also in another league . . .

Copa del Rey

Barcelona 3-1 Athletic Bilbao

The team from Catalonia faces the team from the Basque country in the Copa del Rey final, with Barca hoping to get one step closer to a treble. The champions have won 26 of these famous finals, while their opponents this weekend have won 23, making them the second most successful club in the competition’s history.

What works in the favour of Luis Enrique’s side is the fact that it is going to be played at the Camp Nou. The big pitch coupled with Barcelona’s impressive attack could very mean curtains for Bilbao, but they won’t go down without a fight.

The visitors have Aritz Aduriz up front, with Iker Muniain providing the bullets for the striker to fire. Bilbao should be able to breach the Barcelona backline, but with Luis Suarez back in training, that favoured front three of the Uruguayan, Neymar and obviously, Messi, should see Barca one week and 90 minutes away from a treble.

James Richardson’s Prediction

Barcelona 4-0 Athletic Bilbao

Have a feeling the underdogs might just pull this one off, though.

Read more by Mark Young here!

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