Weekend Boxset means Boxset

After the International break the Boxset and club football returns to distract us all from the freak show that is British politics.

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

Friday and Saturday times are GMT, Sunday times are GMT+1


Friday



Championship: West Bromwich Albion v Birmingham City


20.00 on Sky Sports Football & Main Event


Relegated from the Premier League, last season, West Brom are a club in a hurry to get back. Why? Well possibly for the glory and prestige of top flight football but I suspect it’s because they’ve looked at the books and found something of a funding gap. That’s why they took the controversial decision to sack coach Darren Moore with the team in fourth place. The Baggies cannot afford even a modest downturn in results. In fairness, under caretaker boss James Shan they are two for two so perhaps they made the right call.  As for Birmingham, well we discussed their nine point deduction in our most recent podcast. There are those who feel the Blues have got off easily. “I think Birmingham have got away with murder,” said Millwall boss Neil Harris. Now in 18th place, Garry Monk has to change his beleaguered squad’s mindset and break a four game losing streak that last week hampered their promotion push and this week has put them into a relegation battle. A week is a long time in football. TD
 



Saturday



A-League: Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory


11.00 on BT Sport Extra 2


If you’re looking for a mid-morning match to fill your Saturday, you could do a lot worse than watch what’s likely to be a dress rehearsal for May’s grand final. Perth and Melbourne Victory are comfortably the two best sides in the A League this season, and while Glory all but have the regular season title wrapped up following Sydney’s slip up at home to Melbourne City last week, reigning champions Victory will be looking to get a psychological blow in ahead of the the finals. Kevin Muscat’s side has been inconsistent this season but on their day, and with their attacking trio of Ola Toivonen, Kosta Barbarouses and Keisuke Honda firing, they're a match for any team in the League. But Glory have had a habit of making late comebacks a speciality, and Tony Popovic has turned an already attacking team into a side with a strong spine. Neither side are likely to hold back, and with Victory keen to avenge their early season loss, this has all the makings of a classic. GA
 



Championship: Middlesbrough v Norwich City


17.30 Sky Sports Football & Main Event


Seeing them at the top of the table and sweeping aside all opposition, it's easy to forget what a terrible start to the season Norwich had. When Boro went to Carrow Road in September they'd won just one of their six opening fixtures. Their 1-0 victory that day against a side that was level at the top of the table with Leeds is seen as the turning point of their season. It was a bit of a turning point for Boro too: since then they've averaged just a goal a game and have won only four of their 15 home games. Despite all that they still just about hold on to fifth place - exactly where they finished last season. Competition for those last two playoff spots is hot and while Boro's run-in looks kinder than many of their rivals, their confidence will have been shot by their defeat to Aston Villa, their third in row. Villa are on a strong run, as are Sheffield Wednesday and Preston. Defeat for Tony Pulis' team won't see them out of the race but there'll be few outside of Teesside backing them to make it to the knockout phase. GS
 



La Liga: Alaves v Atletico Madrid


19.45 on Eleven Sports 1 and Premier 1


Along with Getafe, Alaves are one of two insurgents in the top six of La Liga. This season they beat Real Madrid for the first time since 1931. Since former Barcelona centre back, Abelardo, took over as coach in 2017 the team has gone from strength to strength. The player most likely to be hoovered up by a bigger club in the summer is 24-year-old Chilean international centre back Guillermo Maripan. West Ham are believed to have expressed an interest. I'm delighted to see former Eintracht Frankfurt journeyman, Takashi Inui getting some minutes. Can't wait to see him scoring against his old team in the Champions League Group Stage next year, if all goes to plan. They face an Atleti side that is slowly losing its way under Diego Simeone. The Argentine faces criticisms for poor judgement in the transfer market and for not adapting his uber belligerent playing style to fit with the times. There’s talk that Antoine Griezmann questioning his choice to sign a new contract. The last thing they need right now is to lose to another plucky outsider. TD
 





Sunday



Checkatrade Trophy Final: Portsmouth v Sunderland


14.30 Sky Sports Football


There’s a very good reason why the FA Cup is falling in popularity across the footballing world. Some would argue that Premier League scheduling or the Champions League have conspired to knock the world’s oldest cup competition off its top spot. However, if the real reason for this sad demise is something that keeps you up at night, then I might suggest taking a trip to London’s Trafalgar Square on Saturday afternoon where thousands of northern sages, resplendent in their ceremonial red and white robes will gladly furnish you with the answer as they dance among the fountains, intoxicated by their ceremonial brews. If you can’t get to the Smoke, then I’ll tell you now: it’s the Checkatrade Trophy; which, I might add, definitely isn’t a Mickey Mouse Cup. Portsmouth and Sunderland are two sides with a rich history currently playing  in the third tier of English football. Both are challenging for promotion and may potentially meet again at the home of football in the play-off final in late May. Following an impressive start, Pompey suffered a dip in form after the new year and now are, annoyingly, back to winning ways. The Lads sit a point behind with two games in hand. Not that any of that will matter come Sunday afternoon where the prospect of cup success could signal a renaissance for either of these famous old clubs. The Checkatrade has had its critics, not least for the participation of U21 and U23 sides, but I doubt if you’re from the South coast or the North-East coast it will matter come Sunday, because it’s cheesy chips on Wembley way. JB
 



Premier League: Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur


16.30 Sky Sports Premier League & Sky Sports Main Event


With City starting the weekend's Premier League fixtures at Fulham on Saturday lunchtime, it's almost certain that Liverpool will start this game a point behind the Champions having played the same number of games. This match and their following home game against Chelsea will be the ones that decide whether Klopp's side can be Champions. City do have have big games coming up too, most of which involve today's visitors. Spurs will play City three times in the space of 11 days next month with their Champions League quarter final preceding their league match. Spurs go into this game hoping that all the excitement of the international break, the opening of their new stadium and those funky bottom-filling beer taps will have taken everyone's mind off the fact they have managed to take just one point in their last four games - and that one point was a bit of a bonus at that. Both sides are immensely watchable but can both wobble once the nerves start to jangle. And because of that I have the feeling this game has the makings of a classic. GS
 



Serie A: Inter v Lazio


19.30 FreeSports


Having been knocked out of the Europa League by Frankfurt, Inter bounced back before the International break with a 3-2 win in the Milan derby. Inter could be without both of their Argentine strikers with Lautaro Martinez pulling up with a thigh injury in Argentina's 1-0 win over Morocco while Mauro Icardi is still recovering from a knee injury. Lazio will have top scorer Ciro Immobile available again having he missed the match against Parma through suspension. A bit of a misfit in his one season at Dortmund and then Sevilla, he's become one of Serie A's most consistent strikers, scoring 84 goals for Lazio since joining in the summer 2016. Though he was hardly missed in that Parma game with Lazio scoring four before half time. The derby win has made Inter's march to secure a Champions League a lot easier. Lazio's main concerns are for the teams below them poised to snatch their Europa League spot should they lose here. GS
 



Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.



Terry (@terryduffelen), Graham (@grahamsibley), Jan (@janbilton) and Gary (@gafootbl)



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