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Weekend Boxset: Scottish Cup, Atalanta and Betis

Seven great matches to take you from Friday to Sunday. It’s the Sound of Football Weekend Boxset.

All times are GMT


Bundesliga: Hertha BSC v Borussia Dortmund
19:30 on BT Sport 1
So while you were watching Liverpool end City’s unbeaten run an Sunday I was watching Dortmund draw 0-0 with a pretty average Wolfsburg side. The result came despite creating more than enough chances to win the game, the Dortmund front line hit the post twice and Andriy Yarmolenko managed to find the Südtribüne when it would have been easier to score. Borussia gave a full debut to 17 year old Englishman, Jadon Sancho who was mostly superb and should have scored. However, the big miss was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, dropped for the third time at Dortmund for a breach of club discipline. Perhaps by the time you read this, the Gabonese will be at or on his way to Arsenal. This would be a blow to Dortmund as there are few strikers as prolific as he in the league, let alone the club. Meanwhile, in Berlin, Hertha need to bounce back from a disappointing 1-0 loss at Stuttgart. Pal Dardai’s team have won 6, drawn 6 and lost 6 and are at a crossroads. A couple of wins will see them hunting for a Europa league spot. A couple of defeats and they’re in for a relegation scrap.


Scottish FA Cup 4th Round: Aberdeen v St Mirren
12:15 on BBC One Scotland
The second placed team in the Premiership welcomes the the top side in the Championship. Things are looking up for the Dons. Their coach Derek McInnes turned down a chance to manage Rangers late last years which is a measure of the optimism of Aberdeen as well as a sign as to how far the Glasgow club have fallen. The club have also put in for a brand new stadium and training facility which would give them further grounds for optimism. The thing is, the proposed site is in a town called Kingsford which is not in Aberdeen. It’s about 30 miles from their current stadium, Pittodrie. Aberdeenshire Council have objected to the move and it appears that some of the citizens of Kingsford (a place so small it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page) are non too pleased about the idea: "The proposed stadium stadium would be situated close to residential areas." say the No Kingsford Stadium campaign on their website. "We are concerned that this stadium would fundamentally change the nature and perception of our town." The SFA are behind the move claiming that Pittodrie may lose its international venue status once the Nations League kicks off. So it’s all to play for. St Mirren have no such concerns and will be relishing the chance to go up against a team they hope to be playing in the league next season. All eyes will be on 21 year old Lewis Morgan who will join Celtic in the summer after signing for Brendan Rodgers’ team before Christmas and was immediately loaned back to the Buddies.

Bundesliga: Hamburg SV v FC Köln
17:30 on BT Sport 2
Simon Terrode’s injury time winner for Köln in last week’s Rhinederby against Borussia Mönchengladbach may prove to be a transformative moment. The fact that the win was against their biggest rivals and was on the first game back after the winter break has altered the mood in a club that, while still bottom is now six point away from Hamburg and who are their next opponents? Well you already know, it’s written up there. If, sufficiently energised, the Billy Goats can get a result against a HSV team that has lost it’s last three league games then Köln can legitimately claim to be back in the game. Remember, only two go down automatically in the Bundesliga. The third spot means a play off with the third placed team in the second division. Word on the street is that Hamburg coach, Markus Gisdol, is likely to be sacked and that defeat here will cut out some of the paperwork, so to speak.

La Liga: Las Palmas v Valencia
19:45 on Sky Sports Football/Sky Sports Main Event
This is the only match on the telly in this time-slot. Serie A does not go back to work until Sunday so if you absolutely positively have to watch some football then now is the time to see just how bad Las Palmas are. I listened to some interesting analysis about them on Sky’s latest La Liga podcast: They were decent enough up to the point in the last season when they knew they were no going to be relegated. After that they dropped off and enjoyed the Gran Canaria sun. The trouble came with the start of the new season and the players were still on the beach, metaphorically speaking of course. The other issue is the gradual changes in the squad with fewer local lads that got the team promoted moving on. They are second from bottom on 11 points few seem to think they’ll be in La Liga next season. That said, a new coach is in situ. Paco Jémez has previous experience of relegating Rayo Vallecano and overseeing Granada’s worse start to a season in more than 70 years. Unsurprisingly he was a free agent when Las Palmas signed him. Valencia have fallen back a little since their blistering start to the season but are still third. A straightforward three points is on the cards.


Serie A: Atalanta v Napoli
11:30 on BT Sport 2
Italian football returns from its winter slumber with a bright and breezy restorative between to of the most entertaining teams in the league this season. Who are we to take issue with the likes of Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon, Lorenzo Insigne, Marek Hamsik, Josip Ilicic and Papu Gomez.We’ve waxed lyrical about the attacking style of both teams in previous newsletters enough that we don’t need to spell it our again here. Napoli are top of the table but by a single point over Juve. In that respect this game could prove to a banana skin. The home side have only lost twice at home all season, one of which was their last home game: a 2-1 defeat to Cagliari. Roared on by a passionate Bergamese public the league leaders are in for a tough time. However, if this does not take your fancy then switch over to Sky Sports Football at midday for Rangers trip to Highland League club Fraserburgh. Can The Broch upset the Glaswegian giants? (No)

Scottish FA Cup 4th Round: Hearts v Hibernian
14:05 on Sky Sports Football/Sky Sports Main Event
These two great Edinburgh rivals have been drawn out of the hat for the third year running with Hibs knocking out the Jambos on both occasions. In fact the Hibees have not lost in the last nine Edinburgh derbies. Hearts plans for revenge may be set back by the absence of Northern Ireland international, Kyle Lafferty who hopes to get the red card he picked up against Aberdeen overturned in time for the game. However, even if the appeal fails, Craig Levein may well call upon new loan signing Steven Naismith who has come back up the road from Norwich City. The Scottish international, whom Norwich are keen to get off the wage bill, was widely tipped to opt for Rangers but he’s chosen to move to the capital over a return to his boyhood club. Curious. Anyway, given the recent history between the two, the rivalry and the fact that a place in the next round goes to the winner, the stakes could not be higher. Must watch.

La Liga: Real Betis v Barcelona
19:45 on Sky Sports Football
Betis are another regular on this newsletter. Quique Setién’s team are bursting with attacking talent such as Fabián Ruiz, Joaquin, Sergio León and Antonio Sanabria who are encourage to outscore the opposition. Last week they put three passed Leganes and the week before they score five against Sevilla in the derby. Of course there is a cost to pay and that is at the back. The Green and Whites conceded five goal in those two games. Only Villarreal and Las Palmas concede more shots per game that Betis. This is why they’re likely to come a cropper against the current league leaders, Barcelona, a team playing so well at the moment that they even managed to win at Socieded, a place that they have struggled to get points in the recent past. Barca are without Dembele again and waiting on Coutinho. However, there will still be plenty of space for Messi and Suarez to run into and Iniesta (if he plays) to pick a pass. Should be a fun way to end the weekend.

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend


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