Weekly football conversation since 2009, with Graham Sibley, Jan Bilton and Terry Duffelen. Listen on Acast, Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or your podcatcher of choice.

Weekend Boxset: Not Ronaldo's second United debut



If you're in the UK you may not be able to watch Ronaldo's second debut for Manchester United on TV (legally, anyway) because of the Saturday 3 blackout, but there's still plenty of great football to watch across the weekend.

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



All times are BST

Friday

Championship: Birmingham City v Derby County
20.00 on Sky Sports Football & Main Event
Both coaches took over when their clubs faced relegation last season. When Lee Bowyer swapped The Valley for St Andrews in March, Birmingham were fourth from bottom and four points behind Derby. By the time the sides met at the end of April, Birmingham's 2-1 win at Pride Park guaranteed Championship football for another season and left Wayne Rooney's side sweating until the last day of the season (and then into the summer break). At 33, returning local boy Troy Deeney looks like the sort of addition to a squad that could convert the Blues into genuine play-off contenders. He returns to the West Midlands having left Walsall in 2010, making over 400 appearances scoring and 140 goals for Watford in the meantime. How Wayne Rooney would love to add someone with that experience to his attack. As it is, things haven't started as badly as everyone thought, only one win in the five games so far, but perhaps more importantly just the one defeat. Another point here could start to change people's minds about Derby's prospects for this season. GS


Saturday

Premier League: Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur
12.30 on BT Sport 1
Palace need goals. Of the surviving Premier League teams, last season, only Brighton, Wolves and Burnley scored fewer goals than the Eagles. But not only do Palace need goals but they need expected goals because only Sheffield United had fewer xG in the previous campaign. So in the summer, new coach Patrick Viera persuaded Michale Olise to join from Reading and on deadline day the much-fancied Odsonne Edouard from Celtic. Wantaway club legend, Wilf Zaha, is still there. Add Mateta, Eze (when he's back from injury) and of course, Benteke and Palace should be full of goals. So far, however, the only player to trouble the scorer so far this season is Conor Gallagher, whose last goal was as a Charlton player against Cardiff in November 2019. It's a work in progress I guess. The south Londoners play their fourth competitive London derby in as many games. Like their previous opponents, West Ham, Spurs are top of the league, in spite of all the coaching and Kane uncertainty. Spurs supremo, Daniel Levy, held his ground with Kane and arrived at the right choice with Nuno. Thus far, only Pacos in the Conference League have beaten Hugo Loris in the Tottenham goal. This does not bode well for a Palace team that, as I may have mentioned before, needs goals. TD


Bundesliga: RB Leipzig v Bayern Munich
17.30 on Sky Sports Football
Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann returns to Leipzig and finds his old club in patchy early season form. Rasenballsport have yet to gather momentum under new coach Jesse Marsch. After a convincing win over Stuttgart three weeks ago, they faltered against a resolute Wolfsburg side, who to be fair are better than people said they would be. That said, there is certainly plenty of quality in the side and enough to challenge the champions. Bayern were gifted a 5-0 win from hopeless Hertha BSC prior to the break but if you're looking for value consider they dropped points against 'Gladbach and conceded two against Cologne, a game they won 3-2 but it demonstrates that the Munich club have defensive vulnerabilities. If Leipzig can get a good early start then we might be in for a game... which Bayern will probably still win. TD


Primeira Liga: Sporting v Porto
20.30 on BT Sport Extra 3
Four games into the Primeira Liga season and the top of the table is already starting to take on a familiar look. While Benfica are top of the pile, Lisbon rivals Sporting are second with Porto third. Indeed, the early form of tonight's protagonists is identical in every way, so there is the potential for something to give. After taking the league title last season, Sporting kicked off this campaign with a Portuguese Super Cup win over Braga.  A subsequent league victory over the same side only a few weeks later will have increased Sporting's confidence further, although they were brought back down to earth snatching a desperate draw against lowly Famalicao. The champions go into this fixture off the back of a staggering 28 match unbeaten run at home; Porto certainly have their work cut out. That said, scoring goals isn't an issue for the visitors. Indeed, they comfortably outscored everyone last term, despite finishing second-fiddle to today's hosts. Iranian forward Mehdi Taremi racked up 16 goals last season and an impressive 11 assists. They also have Sérgio Oliveira who, over the same period, enjoyed his most productive season ever in front of goal. This evening's only potential dampener is that both sides have difficult Champions Leagues ties coming up midweek - not easy ones either: Sporting have Ajax with Porto travelling to Atletico Madrid. There's the potential for a great game here, so hopefully, that won't spoil the fun. JB


Sunday

Scottish Premiership: Hearts v Hibernian
12.00 on Sky Sports Football
How many Hearts fans would have believed you if, when staring down the prospect of relegation, you'd told them that within a season they'd be playing their local rivals in a top of the table Premiership clash. In fact, the Hibs lot would have also given you a funny look, but this is the reality of the situation as we head into this fixture. Robbie Neilson has done an incredible job turning around Hearts' fortunes. They comfortably won the Scottish Championship at the first time of asking and celebrated by beating Glasgow giants, Celtic in the new season opener. While their record in the opening four games is identical to that of Hibs, claiming Celtic's scalp as well as taking points off St Mirren, Aberdeen and Dundee United is the more impressive start. For their part, Hibs have cemented their position as a serious force in Scottish football. Last season they finished third behind the Glasgow teams, albeit by a sizeable margin, but six points clear of Aberdeen. Regular listeners will know I'm a fan of Jack Ross; a consistent 50 plus percent win ratio on both sides of the border is not to be sniffed at. Hearts may win today's battle, but Ross is the only manager with a serious chance of breaking the Glasgow duopoly anytime soon. JB


Premier League: Leeds United v Liverpool
16.30 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
The two games these sides played against each other last season provided some very different talking points. The first was a 4-3 thriller at Anfield on the opening day of the season - the champions of the Premier League edging the title holders of the Championship, in a fantastic advert for the league. The return fixture was notable for very different reasons. The 1-1 draw at Elland Road came just a day after the announcement of the European Super League. The Leeds players warmed up in t-shirts that sported the message "Champions League: Earn it" and those shirts were also left hanging up in the Liverpool changing room. The failure of the ESL, coming hot after the Project Big Picture debacle - both championed by Liverpool's US owners Fenway Sports Group - may be to blame for Liverpool's modest summer transfer activity, with rumours building that FSG are ready to sell up and move on to another sport. Hopefully, as a spectacle, the match will be more like the first game than the second. Leeds are still looking for their first win of the season and are still yet to take a lead in the three games they've played, with all four goals in their draws against Burnley and Everton, and their mauling against United, being equalisers. Liverpool's start to the season had been straightforward until the visit of Chelsea in the last game before the break, where they were unable to take advantage of an extra man for the second half. GS


Serie A: Roma v Sassuolo
19.45 on BT Sport 1
When Jose Mourinho left Italy in 2010, he was, without doubt, king of the world. Having led Inter to a Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League treble - a feat no other Italian side has achieved - he left to take charge of Real Madrid. The past five years has seen him sacked from Chelsea, Manchester United and finally Tottenham - the first club he has left without winning anything. Can he get back to his best in the Eternal City? It could be a perfect fit. Fabio Capello was the last to win the title for Roma back in 2001 but they've finished second nine times in the period since. A side used to being in the reckoning but having reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2018 they have since failed to return to the competition. Last season, they finished seventh, snatching the European Conference League place by just two goals difference from today's opponents. Knowing Mou's MO, you can just see him going all in on UEFA's new third tier competition - probably knocking Spurs out on the way. GS


Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry, Graham and Jan

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