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Weekend Boxset: Championship Special

Seven great matches to take your from Friday to Sunday, it’s the Sound of Football Weekend Boxset.

All times are GMT


Championship: Wolverhampton Wanderers v Birmingham City
19.45 on Sky Sports 1
This may not seem to be the obvious choice for Friday night viewing given both team’s position in the Championship. Wolves had a decent run in the FA Cup but continue to disappoint when it comes to the bread and butter stuff. Recent defeats to Wigan, Newcastle and Burton have left the Molineux club sixth from bottom, only five points off the relegation places. Birmingham’s form is truly calamitous with five defeats from their last six. Both of these faded midland giants are recently monied from overseas investors and both have made some peculiar recruitment choices. The current incumbents (Paul Lambert at Wolves and Gianfranco Zola at Birmingham) will be aware that they are not meeting their employers’ considerable ambitions and we are about to head into the final stretch of the season. Both teams need this win pretty badly. Never mind the quality, feel the narrative.


Championship: Leeds United v Sheffield Wednesday
12.30 on Sky Sports 1
The Owls boss, Carlos Carvalhal, was lamenting the referee’s first half performance in Sheffield Wednesday’s 2-1 home defeat to Brentford on Tuesday. According to him, his team should have had a penalty and Brentford’s second goal should not have stood. Despite that demoralising defeat, Carvalhal’s side go to Elland Road for a big Yorkshire derby in sixth place and level on points with their opponents. There is a six point gap between them and Fulham in seventh. Leeds have won only one in their last four league games and Garry did you spill my pint Monk has had to watch his nemesis David Wagner at Huddersfield overtake him. With each passing week it looks more realistic for both teams to cement a place in the top six and then duke it out in the play-offs.

Championship: Brighton & Hove Albion v Reading
17.30 on Sky Sports 1
Another first rate fixture in England’s second tier. With Huddersfield Town on a tear, Brighton fans will be fearful of their players getting the collywobbles and surrendering their automatic spot. The gap between the Seagulls and the Terriers is just four points; it could be down to one if Hud beat Barnsley and the Albion slip up against a Reading side that still have their eye on the top two. Jaap Stam’s men suffered their own Huddersfield horror on Tuesday and need to bounce back. It’s turning into quite the promotion race.

La Liga: Eibar v Malaga
19.45 on Sky Sports 3
Eibar are La Liga’s surprise package this season. They have risen to eighth in the table, four points off the Europa League spot, by beating the teams around them. The Basque club are traditionally a second division set up who rose to the top flight for the first time in 2014. Part of coach José Luis Mendilibar’s success this season is due to getting the best out of Jose Leon, Sergi Enrich and Dani Garcia who scored this belter in his team’s win at Valencia earlier in the month. Last weekend, Malaga needed a man advantage against Las Palmas in order to register their first league win since November. On paper this should be no trouble for the home side.


Championship: Norwich City v Ipswich Town
12.00 on Sky Sports 2
The final stop on our Championship special is at Carrow Road for a cracking East Anglian derby. The home side are desperate to get themselves back in the Premier League quicker than you can say “parachute payment”. At times, their boss, Alex Neil, has felt the pressure to deliver but the Norwich board have kept faith with the young Scot. As things stand, the Canaries need to get a move on; there may be plenty of fixtures left in the season but, as mentioned above, there is something of a gap between the last play-off team and the rest. Ipswich, on the other hand are mediocrity personified. At stake for them is local bragging rights and the pleasure in dragging their rivals back into the mid-table mire. But history is not their friend in this fixture; Norwich have won five of the last seven derbies. The other two being draws.

La Liga: Atlético Madrid v Barcelona
15.15 on Sky Sports 2
Despite their fourth and second places both of these clubs are considered to be below par this season. In the first half against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, we saw what a dangerous side Atléti can be. In the second half we saw why they have let themselves down this season. Diego Simeone’s men were 2-0 up and humming at the interval but defensive errors cost them two goals. Thankfully, for them, B04 are even worse at the back and so the Madrid club look set for a place in the quarter final. Barca’s debagging by PSG is said to be symptomatic of a club that has an unbalanced squad and whose senior players are lacking motivation. Coach Luis Enrique is under pressure and may not be around in the summer. A match of great significance then for two teams in their Champions League interval.

Ligue 1: Marseille v Paris Saint Germain
20.00 on BT Sport 2
A weekend that will see some great derbies in prospect concludes with Le Classique between France’s two great rivals. PSG coach, Unai Emery, has had to tread something of a tightrope since taking over this season. The Spaniard took charge of a club that sees itself as being Champions almost by default. Emery’s pedigree in European football as Sevilla coach must surely have been what attracted him to the Parisians as they seek to break through to the final stages of the Champions League. Sure enough, their spectacular result against Barcelona suggests that Emery is getting the job done. The trouble is they’re being upstaged on the home front, first by Nice and then Monaco. Results have improved but nothing short of total victory in Europe would excuse PSG losing the domestic title. Marseille are not having a vintage season by their usual standards and their recent record in this fixture is atrocious. However, they are at home and it is PSG so the players can be relied upon to give 100% commitment.

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