Weekend Boxset: The Premier League player break: Week 1

With the Premier League starting their mid-season break there are only four top flight games being played this weekend in England. They're all on live but we've decided to only pick one of them. There's plenty more action around...

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

All times are GMT


Friday



Championship: Bristol City v Birmingham City


19.45 on Sky Sports Football & Main Event


Any club that improves its league position five season in a row has got to be doing something right. Having finished 12th in League One in 2014, Bristol City have slowly risen, an average of six places per season, to finish just one place short of the playoffs last campaign. For fans it will not have seemed such a smooth progress, with periods of feast and famine in that time and in recent seasons this stage has usually seen the start of a drop off in results. The Robins sit in the fourth playoff spot, six points off the top and are on a run of four straight wins. Admittedly all of those wins have been against sides in the bottom half but their rivals for promotion have been struggling in those types of fixture of late. Having survived their point deduction last season, it's been another slow season for a recuperating Birmingham but a run of four games undefeated has allowed them to open an eight point gap between themselves and the relegation zone. Having had the better of Forest last weekend they could fancy their chances of getting at least a point here. GS
 



Saturday



Premier League: Everton v Crystal Palace


12.30 on BT Sport 1


The Toffees’ revival under Carlo Ancelotti can continue with a win against an out of form Palace side, travelling in the reverse direction. Theo Walcott’s last gasp comeback winner against Watford put the Merseysiders into ninth and just four points off fifth place which has to be the target albeit a hard one to see in such a crowded field. Roy Hodgson is not happy that little work was done in the transfer market by his employers during the transfer window. The odds on his departure shortened dramatically after losing 1-0 at home to Sheffield United. Perhaps because of the injuries and lack of recruitment, part of the problem is also the Palace team’s inability to distract the opposition from their rotational fouling of Wilf Zaha. Presumably, one of the club’s few winter signings Cenk Tosun, on loan from Everton, is not available to play against his parent club. Another defeat and Roy will be under the greatest pressure since returning to South London. TD
 



Championship: Nottingham Forest v Leeds United


17.30 on Sky Sports Football & Main Event


It must have been just a few weeks before Christmas when we joked on the pod that it’d be more than a little funny if Leeds were to cock up their charge towards the Premiership. Back then they were on an incredible run of form which saw them unbeaten in eleven games. Since we gave them the kiss of death, they’ve lost four of eight leaving Fulham and today’s hosts within striking distance of them. In the interests of full disclosure, as a Sunderland fan, I have absolutely zero love for Leeds and sincerely hope their season continues to fall apart on Saturday. I’m not a massive Forest fan either, but the Brian Clough connection is enough to keep me interested. Indeed, since Boxing day, Forest have picked up five wins in eight, including a victory against an impressive Brentford, following a forgettable December.  Both sides slipped up against lower lying opposition last time out so this could be anyone’s, but I think Forest will have this. JB
 



Primeira Liga: Porto v Benfica


20.30 on Premier Sports 2


They call this one O Clássico down our way, and the extent to which these two giants have dominated Portugese football across the years, it’s easy to see why. As far as it goes, today’s visitors are blowing (nearly) everyone away, winning eighteen out of their nineteen Liga NOS matches this season. In any normal season Os Dragões would be in with a shout of the title, but despite sitting fourteen points clear of third place Braga, their guests tonight are an untouchable seven points away and not showing any sign of wavering. True, As Águias made hard work of their first-leg cup semi against Famalicão in midweek, but Porto stumbled to a 1-1 against second tier Académico de Viseu on the other side of the draw. Porto may welcome a return to league action hoping they can recapture the form that saw them thrash Vitória de Setúbal 4-0. Sadly for them, it’s not going to happen; Benfica are unstoppable - sinto muito. JB
 





Sunday



Scottish FA Cup 4th Round: BSC Glasgow v Hibernian


12.00 on BBC One Scotland


When Hibs won the Cup in 2016, it was also an important season for today's hosts: their first in the competition. Broomhall Sports Club was formed in 2004 by the parents of children at a local primary  school. Providing a number of sports for local children, the club has gone from strength to strength and in 2014 formed an adult football team for their maturing players. The team was elected into the Lowland League where it has competed since - finishing second last season. While the sports club is based in Glasgow, the football team share Alloa Athletic's Recreation Park - on the banks of the Forth rather than the Clyde, though plans are being drawn up to find a permanent home in Glasgow. Whatever the result, this is easily the biggest game in their short history. GS
 



Bundesliga: Bayern Munich v RB Leipzig


17.00 on BT Sport 2


When we had Spurs podcaster Andy Rockall on our Christmas special he spoke of the respect he had for Rasenballsport, Tottenham’s next opponents in the Champions League. He also pointed out how things could change, for both sides between December and February. Well for the energy drink concern things have changed. Defeat to Eintracht, a draw with Mönchengladbach and another loss to Frankfurt, this time in the cup on Tuesday. Now Julian Nagelsmann takes his team to Munich, who themselves had a narrow escape against Nagelsmann’s old side Hoffenheim, winning 4-3 in the cup on Wednesday. Caretaker Bayern boss, Hansi Flick has cracked the whip and his team are back on top of the table. All told this match is ill-timed. Since the restart after the winter break, Bayern are nine goals to the good in their last two games at the Allianz Arena so if Leipzig don’t turn up then it could be a bit of a procession, to be honest. TD
 



Serie A: Inter v Milan


19.45 on Premier Sports 1


It's almost a decade since Milan won the Derby della Madonnina as the away side. The only goal of that game was scored by a former Inter player, at the time on loan from Barcelona, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Having missed, Milan's 1-1 with Verona last week through illness, the 38 year old is set to return to the starting line up of a side transformed by his presence. Going up against former teammates Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Ashley Young, in England this match will probably be used to analyse Manchester United's recent transfer policy. For Inter, under pressure Antonio Conte will be hoping another Scandanavian will be the one grabbing the headlines with Christian Eriksen set to start. GS
 



Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.



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



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