Weekend Boxset: Hopp scotched

A Manchester derby, Ancellotti returns to Stamford Bridge, Real are top again and fans are angry in Germany.

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

All times are GMT


Friday



Championship: Nottingham Forest v Millwall


19.45 on Sky Sports Football


Time really does fly, doesn’t it?  We really are in the business end of the season in the Championship where anyone from third to eleventh is in with a shout of the playoffs, which includes both clubs in this fixture. Foremost are the hosts who sit in fourth, eight points off the runaway pairing of Leeds and West Brom. Three draws and a win in their last four isn’t the best of form, and top scorer Lewis Grabban’s last-gasp equaliser against relegation threatened Middlesbrough, who were 2-1 up at the time, doesn’t inspire confidence. Their guests today sit in tenth, but only five points from a playoff place. With their form more or less the same as Forest over their last five games, it’s the goals that are the worry here. The Lions haven't scored more than a brace since the end of January where they threw away a two goal lead at (dirty) Leeds to lose 3-2. Quite where this one will go is anyone’s guess - probably a draw. JB
 



Saturday



A-League: Melbourne Victory v Sydney


15.00 on Channel


Two weeks ago, this would have been down as a Sydney FC win. Like Liverpool, the Sky Blues have a substantial lead at the top of the table and have taken apart all comers. But Steve Corica’s team have had a minor wobble in the past week. First, they went down 1-0 in a tepid performance at home to crosstown rivals Western Sydney Wanderers before letting in a late equaliser against Jeonbuk in their midweek Champions League game. Victory, meanwhile, continue to blow hot and cold under interim coach Carlos Salvachua but last week came from behind to score a late winner against rivals Adelaide. Those kind of results are the type of thing that could give Victory the momentum they need, as Saturday’s game is a must-win if they have any hope of reaching the finals this season. For Sydney, the prospect of giving one of their fiercest rivals a bloody nose may just be all the motivation they need to get back on track. GA
 



Bundesliga: Borussia Mönchengladbach v Borussia Dortmund


17.30 on BT Sport 2


The Bundesliga weekend kicks off with some uncertainty as to how many of the games will actually finish. For many, the nature of the protests against Hoffenheim’s chief financial backer Dietmar Hopp were crossing a line. Should they continue over this matchday then we could see a repeat of what happened last weekend when Bayern and TSG invoked the UEFA’s racism protocols and suspended the match. It is curious that those protocols have been used in relation to the abuse of a billionaire but have yet to be used when a black player has been racially abused. To exacerbate things further, the DFB have publically conflated the protests with racism, something that has enraged the fan groups. It was Dortmund ultras who kicked off the Hopp protests years ago and if there are to be more than they could happen during this match. If that doesn’t provide sufficient theatre to pique your interest then the fact that this is a game between two of the best teams in the Bundesliga ought to get you excited. To paraphrase an old gag: I once went to a political protest and a football match broke out. TD
 



MLS: Toronto v New York City


22.00 on Sky Sports Football


Toronto, were denied a winner thanks to a late equaliser in a 2-2 at San Jose. It was the latest in a number of setbacks to the start of the season for a club that’s anxious to go one better and win the MLS Cup this season after having lost in the Final to Seattle. Pivotal midfielder Michael Bradley misses the start of the season through injury. As is the new signing, Pablo Piatti. The injury prone Argentine winger is, believe it or not, injured. But Jozy Altidore is in good shape and has been given the captaincy in Bradley’s absence. The former Sunderland player also made his debut as a presenter on Sport Center. It’s good to see the 30 year old striker making plans for when he hangs up his boots. NYC have already set an MLS record this season: their opening 1-0 defeat at Columbus Crew saw their Luxembourgish defender Maxime Chanot sent off with barely two minutes played - the fastest dismissal in MLS history. TD
 





Sunday



Premier League: Chelsea v Everton


14.00 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event


Chelsea go into this fixture riding high following their FA Cup victory over Liverpool midweek where a star was born in the form of Scottish wonder-boy, Billy Gilmour. Not wishing to take the shine off such a fine result, but everyone is beating Liverpool these days. That said, I think the manner of Chelsea’s victory, albeit against Klopp’s second XI, was such that they can deservedly go into this tie confident of a result. Their form may not be as good as Frank would like, but they have played some challenging opponents of late in the form of Bayern, Manchester United and Leicester. Everton travel to West London off the back of a frustrating draw at home with Manchester United where Ancelotti was sent off after the final whistle for protesting his side’s disallowed winner a little too vigorously. They also went close against a resurgent Arsenal and have beat Palace and Watford of late. This sets up what I think will be quite an entertaining game which I think Chelsea will just shade. JB
 



Premier League: Manchester United v Manchester City


16.30 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event


Let's face it, the title race is well over. Liverpool's wobble changes nothing. If they beat City at the start of next month they only need to find six more points to claim the title. OK, if they lose against City they'd need to find 12 points from nine games, but that's easy. Even if they lost against Arsenal and Chelsea it's unlikely they'd be in a position where they'd have to get a point at Newcastle on the last day to clinch the title. 11 points in six games - no problem. Such a ridiculous flight of fancy would also require City winning all their games - a run of 13 straight wins, just like they finished last season. City are not the team they were last season but they are still some way better than anyone else in the League as they showed the last time they were at Old Trafford in January for the League Cup semi final first leg. United's will look to their victory at the Etihad in December as prrof they have it in them to get one over their city rivals. Could lightning strike twice? It's unlikely but you can never rule these things out.  GS
 



La Liga: Real Betis v Real Madrid


20.00 on LaLigaTV


Two years ago I was lucky enough to be in Seville to watch a thriller between these sides that saw Madrid come out 3-5 winners. That game was one of four games that season that Betis were involved in that had eight or more goals, helping them to a swashbuckling rise to sixth place - their best finish in over a decade. Last weekend I went to see them again, against Valencia at the Mestalla but they are far more pragmagtic these days. New head coach Rubi has built his reputation on getting teams into the top flight rather than keeping them there. They were organised enough to shut out the home side in the first half but fell away in the second half to lose 2-1, a scoreline which said more about Valencia's lack of bite. Madrid went into last weekend's Clasico on the back of a fairly rotten February but two late goals against former Betis head coach Queque Setien's Barcelona side saw them retake top spot in the table. They may lead by a point now, but it was dropping points in fixtures like this against Levante and Celta Vigo that saw them lose that position. It won't be an eight goal spectacular but it won't be an easy away win either. GS
 



Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.



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



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