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Weekend Boxset: FA Cup 2020/21 Third round

Some cracking third round FA Cup ties this weekend and they're all on TV - if you can find them and if they manage to go ahead.

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

All times are UK


FA Cup Third Round: Aston Villa v Liverpool
19.45 on BT Sport 1
Suppose they held a cup tie and no one turned up. At the time of writing, this game is in doubt due to a large number of Covid infections at Aston VIlla. Dean Smith, his coaching staff and none of the first team squad will be involved following the closure of the club's training ground on Thursday. Mark Delaney will take charge and field his under 23 side. A free pass for Liverpool then. That said, I struggle to see how Liverpool will take this fixture seriously. Disagree? Well, ask yourself this: how well has Klopp done in the FA Cup during his time at Liverpool? Answer: worse than Snowflake United do every time they play away to Hell Rangers. Last season was their best in the Klopp era, reaching Round 5, with their reserve team. Those of us who grew up in a time when the FA Cup was a big deal will, no doubt, shed a tear at this sad state of affairs. Given the wholesale changes it could be a perfect opportunity for Liverpool to exact revenge for the 7-2 hammering they received against Villa earlier in the season. Although, I doubt even the prospect of that would change Klopp’s derisive view of the famous old trophy. It’s a bit like how my teenage son looks at his RE homework. He knows he’s got to do it, but he’s not going to give it any more effort than the bare minimum. Villa win. JB

Alternative viewing: If it doesn't go ahead you can keep the FA Cup dream alive by switching over to Wolves v Crystal Palace on BT Sport Extra 2 or you could go for a classic Bundesliga tussle with Borussia Mochengladbach v Bayern Munich on BT Sport 3.


FA Cup Third Round: Chorley v Derby County
12.15 on BT Sport 1
Another Cup tie another team not showing up. Like Villa, none of the first team or their manager Wayne Rooney will be a Victory Park, again due to a Covid outbreak at their training ground. Despite the lack of fans and the diminished Derby side turning up this should provide a fascinating match as Championship youth team players look to impress against non-league opponents. Chorley were relegated from the National League last season which, although decided by points per game they were already certain to go down.Having beaten Wigan and Peterborough already in this Cup run, this is Chorley's first ever appearance in the third round having reached the second round twice before. Chorley assistant manager Andy Preece was himself a hero of a giant killing back in 1994 when his winner for Stockport County knocked Premier League side QPR out at this stage of the competition GS

FA Cup Third Round: Exeter City v Sheffield Wednesday
15.00 on BT Sport Extra 5
Even before the events of recent weeks, this looked like an intriguing cup tie, with Championship strugglers Wednesday locked in the relegation zone and League Two Exeter sniffing around the playoffs. Since then, the Owls have sacked Tony Pulis and hauled themselves out of the bottom three with back-to-back wins. The Grecians, meanwhile, have been kicking their heels over Christmas after successive postponements. On their day, Exeter are capable of beating anybody in the division but they’re equally as likely to put in an anaemic performance against a bottom-of-the-table team. The Devon side haven’t reached the fourth round since 1981, but if interim Wednesday coach Neil Thompson opts to rest players or has his hand forced by the training ground Covid outbreak, then there’s every chance of a classic cup upset. GA

Bundesliga: RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund
17.30 on BT Sport 1
Normally at this time of year, the Bundesliga will be enjoying their Winterpause and recharging their batteries in a training camp in Dubai or southern Europe. However, thanks to the dread ‘rona, the pause is more of a sharp intake of breath and because of the late start to the season, the clubs have yet to reach the halfway point of the campaign. We already know who is going to win the Bundesliga but what we don’t know is who will qualify for the Champions League and in Dortmund and Leipzig we have two contenders brimming with talent. BVB have a new coach: Edin Terzic. The 38-year-old is in post until the summer and has improved results somewhat, keeping the club in the cup and notching an impressive win against fellow contenders Wolfsburg, last weekend. Lepizig seem to be coping better with Timo Werner’s departure than Werner himself. Julian Nagelsmann’s team have not lost in the league since Monchengladbach did them in, last Halloween. They got a point against Bayern and after Bayer Leverkusen’s recent lapse, Rasenballsport look good to finish the season as runners-up. TD


Eredivisie: Sparta Rotterdam v Feyenoord
11.15 on Premier Sports 2
Sparta's home Rotterdam derby was one of the first matches to be cancelled when the Dutch league shut down in March. A combination of that cancellation and Sparta's relegation in 2018 means this is Feyenoord's first visit to Het Kasteel for three years. That last derby at Sparta's home ground was a resounding 7-0 win for the visitors, who were on their way to their first league title in 18 years, under Gio van Bronckhurst. That thrashing was a shock result in a tie where passionate home support usually gives the upper hand to Sparta. This time, of course, the stands will be empty, which might be a good thing for Feyenoord head coack Dick Advocaat who was in charge of Sparta for that 2018 relegation. After a poor start to the season Sparta have won five of their last seven and were only narowly beaten by second placed PSV in that run. Feyenoord sit third with Viteesse but there's already a gap beginning to appear between them and the top two. GS

FA Cup Third Round: Marine v Tottenham Hotspur
17.00 on BBC One
Apparently, the BBC TV and radio commentators are jockeying for position in the stadium for this game. Who will be in the stadium or in one of the houses that famously back onto Rossett Park? Hosting this match has proved a significant challenge for the Northern Premier League Division One West club. Prior to the lockdown the Merseysiders were in Tier 2 and had permission to host 500 fans. Then came the lockdown and no one, aside from the club’s neighbours, will be able to watch. Like all non-league clubs, the Mariners are feeling the pinch. They will receive a hefty payout from the BBC for the TV rights and they’ve also done sponsorship deals with Jamie Carragher’s charity, the JC23 Foundation, and Spurs fan site, Cartilage Free Captain. That said, the club are set to furlough their playing staff when their cup involvement ends. Given the season their opponents are having, the FA Cup must be seen as an achievable target for Tottenham’s silverware hungry coach Jose Mourinho. True he also has Premier League ambitions but the path to glory is shorter in the FA Cup and Mou’s ego is big enough to have dreams of a domestic treble. Besides, who wants to get knocked out by a non-league team? TD

Serie A: Juventus v Sassuolo
19.45 on Premier Sports 2
Juve are back. Well they're back insofar as they beat Milan midweek, ending an unbeaten run of 27 Serie A games for the Rossoneri. That said, Inter lost on the same day to Sampdoria, and I wouldn't say that Samp were in anyway "back" but those results have compressed the top of the table with the Old Lady now just seven points from top leading a pack of four teams separated by just two points.Their win against Milan came from goals from two loans signings: Federico Chiesa and Weston McKennie. Chiesa, who scored the opening two goals, joined from Fiorentina in October but was sent off in his debut against Crotone, and had to wait until mid-December for his first league goal for the club, a stunner against Atalanta. McKennie is on loan from cash-strapped Schalke. Doubts whether he would make the grade at Juve appear misplaced as Pirlo has put faith in the 22 year old Texan making him a regular in the side since sparking a comeback against Torino last month. Sitting just a point behind Juve, Sassuolo are finding life a bit tougher than at the start of the campaign: they bounced back from a 5-1 hammering from Atalanta last weekend to beat a struggling Genoa side. Probably another win for Juve but this has the potential for any outcome. GS

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry, Graham, Jan and Gary (@gafootbl)

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