Weekend Boxset: Concentrating on domestic competitions

With all the talk about legal action, UEFA bias and financial irregularities it'll be nice to put on some actual football this weekend.

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

All times are GMT


Friday



Championship: Derby County v Fulham


19.45 on Sky Sports Football & Main Event


The Championship's habit of throwing up surprise results was in full effect last weekend when bottom side Barnsley beat Fulham 3-0 at the Cottage. A result that left manager Scott Parker "shocked", "bitterly disappointed" and "gutted". That defeat, along with most of the other chasing pack dropping points has allowed Leeds to reopen a three point gap to the second automatic promotion spot. Derby's unlikely charge to grab a playoff spot has taken a couple of knocks in recent games. Having lost to Bristol City, they let a lead slip against lowly (but improving) Huddersfield last Saturday. That leaves them now nine points shy of sixth placed Preston with a lot of teams in that gap to get past. Derby's midfielf dynamo and betting company billboard Wayne Rooney is set to celebrate his 500th English League match here. GS
 



Saturday



Bundesliga 2: Hamburg v St Pauli


12.00 on BT Sport 2


Yet another big city derby between the dinosaur of HSV and the punks of St Pauli. Oh, how the home fans wish they didn’t have to see any more of these. Not because they’re scared of their neighbours but because the club can’t seem to find a way back into the Bundesliga, a league that St Pauli rarely trouble. Hamburg sit second, three points behind surprise leaders Arminia Bielefeld but level with Stuttgart, another club that is “too big for the second division”. Dieter Hecking's team have not scored at home in the last two derbies. Given their unspectacular away form, it's their record at the Volksparkstadion that's keeping their promotion challenge alive. For St Pauli, it's all about the relegation. After nearly going up last season, Der Kiezkicker, are now two points off the bottom three. There’s more at stake than pyro bragging rights. TD
 



Premier League: Leicester City v Manchester City


17.30 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event


In some kind of metaphor for the current English psyche, Leicester seem to be doing their best not to be involved in Europe next year. Their blistering form at the end of last year has given way to a period of stuttering performances, losing out to teams they should be battering. There are signs they’re turning a corner with a decisive win against West Ham (ok, not too challenging) and draws against Chelsea and Wolves. Brendan Rodgers continues to have concerns about the availability for Wilfred Ndidi, and Hamza Choudhury is suspended following a red card in their goalless draw against Wolves last time out. Another side with a troubling relationship with Europe is today’s visitors Manchester City. Quite how many of their current stable of glittering stars will still be around should their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport fail is anyone's guess; however, Pep has apparently said he'll stick around no matter what. This is a little like saying "I'm never drinking again" when faced with the horror of a paint-stripping hangover; it may be sincere at the time, but everyone knows it’s utter bollocks. JB
 



Serie A: Fiorentina v Milan


19.45 on FreeSports


Lightning fast Croatian attacker Ante Rebic is finally finding some form with six goals in his last seven games for Milan after not scoring at all since joining on loan from Frankfurt when the summer transfer window closed. The 26 year old spent most of his time at Frankfurt on loan from today's hosts who signed him from RNK Split as a teenager in 2013. He only turned out a dozen times for I Viola, spending the rest of his five years on their books playing for RB Leipzig (back when they were in the second divison), Verona and finally Frankfurt. While the Champions League is probably beyond Milan, another 5th place finish isn't, a win today will do a lot to restore their confidence after that spectacular derby defeat. We still won't be seeing Franck Ribery turn out for Fiorentina against Zlatan as he's still out with an ankle injury he sustained before Christmas; though he is back in training and should return for the start of next month. Comfortably lower mid-table, he can see out the season without too much effort and enjoy those Italian tax breaks for footballers before he eventually decides to retire. GS
 





Sunday



Women's Super League: Manchester City v Chelsea


14.00 on BT Sport 2


With both sides beating the current champions Arsenal in recent weeks, this season's WSL has effectively become a two horse race that could well be decided here. Emma Hayes' Chelsea side have come out on top in all three encounters against their title rivals but unlike CIty and Arsenal have dropped points against teams they should be pasting. Another win for them here will see them go into the run-in top with a game in hand. UEFA's decision to ban City's men's team from Europe doesn't extend to the women's side but the repercussions could affect the WSL as whole. Should the Abu Dhabi royal family look to find a different vehicle to sanatise their regime if faced with further footballing sanctions, City's women's side may be left by the wayside. Losing one of the biggest sides in the WSL would be another backward step for the game on its way to embedding professionalism. GS
 



Premier League: Arsenal v Everton


16.30 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event


These two met only last month and couldn't muster a goal between them. However, there’s no need to change channels as recent form suggests there are goals in this game as both try to force their way back into the European reckoning. Since Mikel Arteta took over as the Gunners' coach you've got the sense that the ship is on the right course but it's not left the dock yet. While beating Man United must have been fun, draws against Burnley and Bournemouth is the result of a mid-table mediocre side. Of more significance was the latest win against Newcastle. A convincing 4-0 and a rare performance from Mesut Ozil has given Gooners a glimpse of what's possible. Now to do it again against an improved Everton side. Despite his achievements, Toffee's coach Carlo Ancelotti had his reputation repaired somewhat in his last post at Napoli after being criticised by his own players at Bayern for not training the team hard enough. But the games come thicker and faster in England and the veteran Italian seems at home at Goodison and the team seem to be responding. TD
 



La Liga: Atletico Madrid v Villarreal


20.00 on LaLigaTV


Having unlocked the mighty Liverpool midweek in the Champions League, today’s hosts will go into this one feeling pretty confident. Indeed, their form of late has been far from consistent and any hope of catching third-place Getafe will require a change of tack. That said, they are strong on home soil and few could argue against the depth of talent available to Diego Simeone. Correa and Morata are doing most of the heavy lifting in front of goal involving themselves in seventeen of their side’s twenty-five in La Liga. That might sound impressive, but their visitors have massively outscored them so far this season with only Real and Barca netting more. Despite their form, Atletico have been fairly stingy at the back, while Villarreal have the worst defensive record in the top six. That aside, they have put together a decent run, losing only once in the league since early December. Simeone will need to be wise to the exploits of in-form former Arsenal star, Santi Cazorla, who is very much enjoying his football this term. The form of these two is so crazy, I'm struggling to even guess at the outcome of this one. Never mind, I'm usually wrong anyway. JB
 



Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.



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



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