Weekend Boxset: Surprise packages

This week's selection sees us looking at some sides that have started the season surprisingly well (and some that certainly haven't).

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

All times are GMT


Friday



Championship: Barnsley v Bristol City


19.45 on Sky Sports Football & Main Event


Bottom and managerless Barnsley take on a side led by a former head coach. Having poached him from Oldham, Lee Johnson spent just short of a year in charge of The Tykes before going to Bristol City in 2016. Barnsley have yet to appoint a replacement to the sacked Daniel Stendel and have failed to see any significant bounce back under caretaker Adam Murray, losing their last game to a corner-turning Huddersfield side. Murray is still considered favourite to take over full time, though Jan Siewart is hotly tipped and don't be surprised if the cameras pick out the aforementioned Stendel in the ground - he's 16/1 to be reappointed. For the Robins, finishing their last campaign in 8th place meant they had improved on their league position for a fifth season in a row. Sitting just three points off the top they will be looking for more improvement and at least a tilt at the play-offs for the first time since 2008.  GS
 



Saturday



Premier League: Bournemouth v Manchester United


12.30 on BT Sport 1


By rights this should be a clash between a small but effective south-coast Bournemouth and a sitting in a top four Champions League spot United. In reality Eddie Howe’s boys haven’t hit the back of the net in their last three games, and they’ve not won in over a month. Their guests have three consecutive wins across the same number of competitions, but this masks their inconsistent form in the league. Hope lies in the return to form of both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, but, with the exception of de Gea, it’s the lack of any real world-class talent behind them that’s worrying. I suppose, if you’re going away to Bournemouth, now is the best time to do it, but United only recorded their first league away win of the season last week, which should give Eddie a little confidence. In addition, he’s not the one under pressure, here - United have to win this one. One consolation for you United fans is that this game is on BT, so you won’t have to listen to Gary Neville banging on about some auld bollocks for two hours of your weekend.. JB
 



Bundesliga: Union Berlin v Hertha Berlin


17.30 on BT Sport 2


The two big Berlin clubs meet in the top flight for the first time ever. In recent years FCU and BSC have become rivals but they used to be mates, playing in regular friendlies back in the day. Before it came down, lots of people on the east side of the Berlin Wall used to look out for Hertha’s results. Even today the two club’s rivalry is only results-based. Neither side represents an existential threat to the other. Union, while being a proudly left-wing club don’t seek to export their brand outside their district, Köpenick. Whereas Hertha are trying to position themselves as representing the rest of the city. After a difficult start to the season, the West Berliners have rallied thanks to interventions from Javairo Dilrosun, Vedad Ibisevic and new signing Dode Lukabakio. But they are only four points above their hosts and won’t be heavy favourites to win in front of a partisan home crowd. Union lost their last game to Bayern but they made the Champions work for it. That said with both teams in the bottom half of the table this game is to be watched for the atmosphere and narrative rather than the quality of play. TD
 



Ligue 1: Toulouse v Lyon


19.00 on BT Sport Extra 2


Two clubs that have had very ordinary starts to the season and both replaced their head coaches during the international break. Having left Marseille in the summer at the end of his contract, Rudi Garcia has joined their fierce local rivals Lyon with what some may still describe as indecent haste. Antoine Kombouare has taken over at Toulouse after a string unspectacular appointments from his career high of winning the Coupe De France with PSG in 2010. The two managers met in what must now be seen as the biggest turning point in the recent history of French football. The Coupe de France final in 2011 saw Kombouare's PSG looking to retain the Coupe against Garcia's rampant Lille. The only goal came very late, substitute Ludovic Obraniak's in-swinging free-kick from near the corner flag deceiving Gregory Coupet. That great Lille side went on to win the double but the real news was happening in Paris. The following month the Qatari state bought a controlling interest in PSG. Kombouare was immediately replaced by Carlo Ancelotti in a wave of incoming fossil-fuel finance that has seen the side win seven of the next eight league titles and four trebles. This game will have nowhere near the narrative of those events but will offer a measure of the journey French football has taken over the last decade. GS
 





Sunday



Serie A: Atalanta v Cagliari


11.30 on Premier 1


It is refreshing to see these two form teams among the traditional big-name clubs populating the upper reaches of the Series A table. Despite an underwhelming start to their maiden Champions League campaign Atalanta are having a good go at returning to the European stage next season. The Bergamo club finished the stronger in their 2-2 draw at Napoli on Wednesday which followed an impressive 7-1 win over Udinese. Joao Pedro was at the double in Cagliari’s 3-2 win against Bologna, also on Wednesday, and the Sardinian club are now eight games, unbeaten in the League. They are boosted this season by the return of Belgian international Radja Nainggolan on loan from Inter. The 31-year-old midfielder played 137 times for the Red & Blues earlier in his career and is something of a legend on the island. Perceived as something of a maverick, Nainggolan will be hoping to take the team to new heights.. TD
 



Premier League: Crystal Palace v Leicester City


14.00 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event


I’m biased but I can’t escape the feeling that Palace are in a false position. With or without VAR, the Eagles could have easily lost their game at Arsenal last Sunday. From what I’ve seen they’ve been just about on the right side of the line when the full-time whistle blows. Mind you, Burnley finished in the top seven a couple of seasons ago without being the seventh-best team so maybe Roy Hodgson’s squad are in for a lucky campaign. They will certainly need as much good fortune as the Football Gods will bestow against Leicester. That 9-0 win at St Mary’s last weekend was in equal parts, the story of Southampton’s combustion and the reestablishment of The Foxes as a force in the English game under Brendan Rodgers. Chilwell, Ndidi, Tielemans and old man Vardy up front have been in sensational form, vindicating Rodgers’ decision to leave Glasgow last season. I wonder if the former Liverpool coaches head will be turned when higher-profile positions become available in the coming months? TD
 



La Liga: Granada v Real Sociedad


20.00 on Premier 2


With last week's El Clasico postponed due to the continuing political unrest in Barcelona, the other sides had a chance to put table pressure on the two giants. Newly promoted Granada were the ones to take the fullest advantage and topped the table until they lost midweek to Getafe. While no one is thinking that they will remain title challengers in the long run, the Andalusian side have already won more games this season than in their disastrous last campaign in the top flight in 2016/17. That season saw them lose their final seven games with Tony Adams as their manager. The squad and the manager are inexperienced but look more than capable of finishing higher than 15th for the first time since Franco was alive. Sat just a point behind them, Sociedad are also enjoying a good start to the season. Having also lost in the midweek round, to Levante, they will want to get back on track here. This game should be a great opportunity to catch two promising sides with everything to play for. GS
 



Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.



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



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