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Weekend Boxset: RIP Butch

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

All times are GMT


Bundesliga: Hannover v Werder Bremen
19.30 on BT Sport 3
This fixture is traditionally the mini-northern derby. The big northern derby is between Werder and Hamburg. But HSV are going down this season so we will have to settle for this one for the foreseeable future. Werder, after having spent a few seasons in the dole-drums are looking up. So much so that they’ve had the confidence to extend the contract of their 35 year old coach, Florian Kohfeldt. However, the Bremen club’s improvement is not just down to the coach. It is down to smart recruitment of the sporting director Frank Baumann who has brought in affordable and valuable additions to the squad such as Thomas Delaney, Sebastian Langkamp, Ludwig Augustinsson, and to my mind at least, one of the best goalkeepers in the Bundesliga, Jiri Pavlenka. Hannover have consolidated nicely since their return to the first division and sit just one place below Werder in thirteenth. Both teams are probably safe so can focus of bragging rights.


Premier League: Everton v Liverpool
12.30 on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event
As impressive as Liverpool’s first half performance was against Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday, the real clincher may prove to be the second half and clean sheet. Taking a three goal lead certainly gave the Reds an advantage but an away goal would have put the foot in the door for City. Now that it’s game set and nearly match, Liverpool can focus on the Mersey derby with fewer distractions. Of concern to Jürgen Klopp will be the health of Mo Salah who was substituted during the game on Wednesday. Even if the Egyptian is fit you wonder if Klopp might use it as an excuse to rest him for the second leg against City. After all, one moment of magic from him and the tie is over. Surely Klopp will feel he has enough to beat a flat Everton side without him?

Premier League: Manchester City v Manchester United
17.30 on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event
The wounded lion returns to its den, only to find the older male they thought they’d kicked out years ago, back and eyeing up the place. After a humbling 3-0 defeat to Liverpool in the Champions League the last thing City want is a Manchester derby, particularly when there is the prospect of winning the Premier League at stake. Imagine the kudos United coach Jose Mourinho will claim if his team can pile more pressure on City by postponing their title celebrations? Similarly imagine the boost it will give City if they can triumph, lift the Premier League trophy and send the old lion packing. There’s more at stake here than just pride.

MLS: Atlanta United v Los Angeles FC
22.00 on Sky Sports Football
LAFC’s first ever city derby against the Galaxy last week could only have been ruined if something truly bizarre happened like Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming off the bench and scoring the second most viral goal in the history of the last seven days. Their thunder well and truly stolen Bob Bradley’s team continue their road trip with a trip to another recent expansion club, Atlanta. That set back aside, LA can be pleased with their two wins from three to start the season. Atlanta rallied after a 4-0 opening day thumping at Houston and have won their last three. We’re set fair for a packed house and an even contest then.


La Liga: Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid
15.15 on Sky Sports Mix
There are a few other options in this time slot. Namely Arsenal v Southampton, Dortmund v Stuttgart, the Checkatrade Trophy and Chelsea v West Ham. I’ve opted for the Madrid derby for the spectacle and contrasting playing styles. Neither team can realistically catch Barcelona and both are embroiled in European encounters so not for the first time this weekend we find ourselves watching a derby being played under duress. Easing off isn’t going to be much of an option, particularly for the home side who have disappointed in the league this season and whose coach is under pressure. Atleti’s defensive counter attacking approach is not for everyone but coach Diego Simeone’s tactics are weaved into the fabric of the club to the point where their fans celebrate defensive play almost much as a goal. A note of caution though, while they managed to keep a clean sheet against Depor last week, they could easily have conceded three goals in the first half. Given the opportunity, Ronaldo, Bale and co will not be so charitable.

Bundesliga: Eintracht Frankfurt v Hoffenheim
17.00 on BT Sport 3
There’s lots of speculation surrounding both of these coaches who are doing a decent job with their over achieving clubs. Niko Kovac’s Eintracht have spent much of the season in the Champions League spots and may yet make it to the big show next season as they’re only two points off the top four. Kovac is one of the names mentioned as a successor to Jupp Heynkes at Bayern. He will be missing Ante Rebic for the rest of the season which is a blow. Also, their striker Sebastian Haller has gone off the boil somewhat. It looks like Frankfurt are running out of steam. Hoffenheim’s coach is the 30 year old Julian Nagelsmann. He continues to get the best of his squad despite having to cope with the sale of key players in the summer and winter (he’s also going to lose Mark Uth in the summer). Bayern is also a potential destination for him, or perhaps Dortmund, if they can qualify for the Champions League. There’s still a ton to play for in this game as sixth meets seventh with European spots up for grabs.

Serie A: Milan v Sassuolo
19.45 on BT Sport 1
“You may not remember it, Sir, but I remember your only appearance for Crystal Palace,” I oafishly enquired to Ray Wilkins who sat next to me at Stamford Bridge during the second half of Chelsea 4-1 Palace, back in the dim and distance past. “Of course I remember, fella,” he replied, “I broke my leg and it almost ended my career.” Despite my bone-headed introduction, Ray continued to sit with me and discuss, football, life and Alex Kolinko’s dreadful distribution while patiently listening to my lukewarm takes. He remained gentlemanly and avuncular until he suddenly whispered into my ear “good to meet you, fella” and with that he was gone. So ended my brush with greatness. In the days since his tragic passing the recollections of ‘Butch’ Wilkins have universally been about what a decent chap he was: generous of spirit, supportive and kind. Yes his TV punditry was responsible for more than a few memes but more significantly, he was an outstanding midfielder who could be dynamic and direct or considered where appropriate. The fact that his former AC Milan team mate, the great Franco Baresi, laid a wreath in his memory before the Milan Derby on Wednesday tells you all you need to know about him as a player and as a human being. Given the breadth of his career and with 84 caps for England, Wilkins’ career needs little reassessment. Truly he was one of our greatest. RIP Butch.

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend


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