Weekend Boxset: The silence of the Derby D'Italia


While the corona virus plays havoc in Italy there's cup action in Scotland, a final in England and El Clasico.

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

All times are GMT


Friday



Scottish FA Cup: Hibernian v Inverness Caledonian Thistle


19.45 on BBC Scotland



Who can stop Celtic winning an unprecedented fourth Scottish Cup in a row? Maybe one of these two sides, the last to win the competition before this run. ICT were relegated two seasons after their 2015 triumph but still managed to reach the semi finals last season. Of course a return to the top flight is a priority for them but they are a long way second in the Championship behind Dundee United - who knocked them out of the playoffs last season. Hibs were a Championship side when they won the Cup in 2016, 114 years after they last lifted it. In the league they have probably done enough to secure a top half place for the clausura which starts in a few weeks time. That should give them the freedom to put their efforts into this competiton, and with both Rangers and Celtic drawn away after tough Europa League games in midweek, the path to Hampden could be opening for them. GS
 



Saturday



Premier League: Brighton & Hove Albion v Crystal Palace


12.30 on BT Sport 1



Having grown up a Palace fan, Roy Hodgson would have seen many tussles between these sides over the years, but having left these shores for Scandanavia in the mid-70s would have completely missed out on the feud that developed between the clubs in the years when Alan Mullary and Terry Venables were in charge - a period that saw them promoted together twice. While teams may find such festering rivalries unhelpful, they certainly give a little extra sparkle to what would otherwise be a fairly average encounter between two lower half clubs. Palace's home win against Newcastle was their first of 2020 but their good form earlier in the campaign should help them see out the season without any relegation worries. Brighton are still waiting for their first win of the year and while they currently have a buffer of four points between them and the sides in the drop zone, they will need some kind of upturn to avoid getting into a scrap. The result of this game could well define the remainder of Graham Potter's season.  GS
 



Bundesliga: Koln v Schalke


17.30 on BT Sport 2



Last week, both teams were involved in 5-0 hammerings. Köln destroyed the hapless Hertha BSC at the Olympiastadion while Schalke were on the wrong end of a tonking to Leipzig. Under new coach Markus Gisdol and with a great new winter signing, Effzeh are easing their relegation worries. It’s also good to see Columbian, Jhon Cordoba finally living up to his big transfer fee with nine goals this season. Schalke’s season is petering out. The Leipzig defeat was the second 5-0 loss since the season restarted. Injuries to their first choice centre backs, Sané and Stambouli as well as Danny Caligiuri offer some excuse for their decline. Added peril for David Wagner’s team comes in the form of the home side’s aforementioned new signing. Mark Uth is a Cologne native, on loan from Schalke after a disappointing spell in blue. In the five games he’s played in red and white, Uth has scored three goals and assisted two more. Should he score against his parent club, expect the camera to cut to a rueful looking Wagner on the touchline.TD
 



Serie A: Napoli v Torino


19.45 on Premier Sport 1



No country in Europe has been hit harder by the corona virus outbreak than Italy, and any event that sees large crowds congregating and moving across the country are being locked down. Although out of the affected regions of Lombardy and the Veneto, Torino's match against Parma last weekend was cancelled along with three other games in the top flight. Five of this weekend's fixtures will be played behind closed doors, thankfully this isn't one of them. Hopefully for Torino the week off has allowed them to reorganise so that they can get out of the disastrous run of bad form they're in that's seen them concede 17 goals in their last five games -  all defeats, in which they've scored just twice. For Napoli, on the other hand, life is good and their draw against Barcelona in midweek was certainly no fluke. After a miserable first half of the campaign by their standards, Gattuso's side have risen to sixth and despite being a way short of Atalanta, could still challenge for the Champions League places. If, that is, the season isn't cut short in the continuing crisis. GS

Alternative viewing: Should the match be cancelled, there's another Scottish FA Cup quarter final on BBC Scotland that you can watch instead: St Mirren v Aberdeen.
 





Sunday



League Cup Final: Aston Villa v Manchester CIty


16.30 on Sky Sports Football & Main Event



Sunday provides light relief for both sides as they seek to forget the issues troubling them both on and off the pitch. For Villa, the spectre of relegation looms large, while their opponents face two seasons out of European competition as punishment for crimes against Financial Fair Play. This will, no doubt, be the highlight of Villa’s season whether they win or not.  Having overcome three Premier League teams plus Liverpool’s reserves on their way to the final, they can hold their heads high regardless of the result. Indeed, their performance against Leicester in the semi-finals was as outstanding as it was dramatic. For City, overcoming the other side in Manchester in the last round will have felt pretty good despite their loss in the second leg. A win today would be City’s fifth League Cup victory in seven years, demonstrating they, at least, still take the competition seriously. It would also be a fitting way to celebrate sixty years of the League Cup. Indeed, that point alone should be reason enough for you to tune in. JB
 



La Liga: Real Madrid v Barcelona


20.00 on LaLigaTV



It’s not been the best couple of weeks for Real.  Despite leading for much of the match, they slumped to a 2-2 draw at home to relegation candidates Celta Vigo, with the equaliser arriving just five minutes from time.  Following that they floundered 1-0 away to out of form Levante, again to a late goal.  In addition, Zidane will have to cope without Eden Hazard who is out for at least two months with a recurrence of the ankle injury which saw him miss sixteen games earlier in the season. There’s also the small matter of their defensive collapse against Manchester City. Barca have their own injury issues and will continue to be without the feisty Luis Suarez. Not that this has mattered of late. Barca have hit a fine run of form culminating in a five goal thrashing of Eibar last week in which Messi grabbed four. Before Wednesday’s Champions League game I was minded to go for a draw in this one as Real have yet to lose at home in La Liga; however, I think the stars are aligning for Messi and co, and more misery will be piled on Real. JB

Alternative viewing: It would have been a much tougher choice of viewing at this time with the Derby D'Italia, Juventus v Inter kicking off just a quarter of an hour earlier on Premier Sports 1. As it is, Serie A's showpiece will be played in a subdued, crowdless arena as a precaution against the further spread of corona virus.
 



MLS: Los Angeles v Inter Miami


22.30 on Sky Sports Football & Main Event



Major League Soccer kicks off its 25th season with a brand new anthem from Hans Zimmer, no less, and a brand new franchise. When David Beckham joined LA Galaxy in 2007, it was said that part of the deal was an option to buy an MLS Franchise in the future. Thirteen years later and that dream is now fulfilled as Inter Miami kick off their inaugural season with Lord Beckham the proud president and co-owner of the franchise. The England legend has assembled quite the consortium with an ambition to be the “global brand” of MLS. Among them is Masayoshi Son, billionaire CEO of SoftBank who's Vision Fund is financed in large measure by the Saudi royal family. I don’t know if the LAFC ownership has links to any murderous regimes but Vincent Tan is one of them and he changed the shirt colours of Cardiff City before changing them back again. So is the actor Will Ferrell who’s appeared in a few atrocities, amirite?? Anyhoo, LA start their third MLS season as the bookie’s pick to win the MLS Cup. Bob Bradley’s team topped the Western Conference last season only to be thwarted in the Conference Final. Inter, as an expansion team, aren’t expected to do much this season but the launch of a new franchise is always an historic moment so you should totally watch this game. TD
 



Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.



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



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