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

Weekend Boxset: Going to Plan B

Rising infection rates and a new variant has seen the return of crowdless games in some parts of Germany. While there’s no sign of that happening in England yet, new rules for match-going fans come into place next week.

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

All times are UK


Serie A: Genoa v Sampdoria
19.45 on BT Sport 1
The Derby Della Lanterna finds both sides in their now customary position in the lower reaches of the table. Since taking over at the start of November, Andriy Shevchenko has failed to find Genoa’s second win of the season. Although ravaged by injuries, they have taken points against sides they should and put in decent performances when losing to top of the table opposition. All of which should give hope to the new US owners, 777 partners (who are also looking to buy St Etienne), that Sheva can turn things around and secure Genoa’s fifth 17th place finish in a decade. Sampdoria find themselves without a club president after owner Massimo Ferrero stepped down from the role following his arrest and subsequent incarceration at the weekend. The charges against Ferraro are part of an investgation into corporate crimes and bankruptcy, and relate to his film-making empire rather anything to do with the club. It is known that he has been looking for suitable buyers for the club for some time, with a consortium led by another ex-Chelsea player, and Sampdoria legend, Gianluca Vialli looking most likely to take advantage of a situation people in the property industry would describe as a "motivated seller". GS


Championship: Huddersfield Town v Coventry City
12.30 on Sky Sports Football
While fans are still able to attend matches in England, this weekend will be the last they can do so without presenting a valid Covid pass, following the Government’s announcement this week to implement Plan B to control the spread of the Omicron variant. We’ll have to wait to see how that will affect attendances in the Championship, which will probably be most affected by the new rules for events of over 10,000 spectators. Huddersfield have hardly shone this season and things don’t look to be getting much better for them in the near future considering their star player is an on-loan teenager from Chelsea. 18 year old centre half Levi Colwill was missing for the defeat against Middlesbrough, rested after captaining the England U19s but returned for the draw against relegation-bound Barnsley. Coventry’s recent slide from the top six has coincided with the goal drought currently being suffered by striker Viktor Gyokeres. Having made his loan deal from Brighton permanent in the summer, he was a key performer in their great start, scoring nine goals with two assists in the opening eleven matches of the season. Sadly, he hasn’t contributed to a goal in the ten games since the October international break, in which he saw four minutes on the pitch in two substitute appearances for Sweden. A chance for both sides to turn their fortunes. GS

Bundesliga: Wolfsburg v Stuttgart
17.30 on Sky Sports Football
Hold on to your betting slips, the Bundesliga is back for another weekend of fun and larks. The Wolves have lost two, won two and drawn one since Florian Kohfeldt replaced Marc van Bommel as head coach. The Dutchman’s sacking after only a handful of games was a bit puzzling until you realised that his initial recruitment was even more of a puzzle. To pile on the mediocrity, the VW club were dumped out of the Champions League in what was a relatively easy group. Not even the consolation of Thursday night football. There’s talk of their best defender, John Brooks, looking to move on, so it looks like sporting director Jörg Schmadtke is in for some rebuilding this summer. Stuttgart have had some key injuries this season. They’re missing Sasa Kalajdzic but at least welcomed back Silas Katompa Mvumpa (aka Silas Wamangituka) from injury/ban during the highly entertaining 2-2 draw with Hertha. As disappointing as it was for Pellegrino Matarazzo’s team to surrender a 2 goal lead, they are two games unbeaten and they will fancy their chances against their listless opponents. TD

MLS Cup Final: Portland Timbers v New York City
20.00 on Sky Sports Football and FreeSports
The season finale to MLS 2021 is here. One of the most fascinating debates that has always surrounded MLS is the relative importance of the MLS Cup versus the Supporters Shield. For the uninitiated, the Shield is given to the most successful team in league games, across the two conferences, while the Cup is a post-season knockout competition between the top fourteen sides. To European eyes, the Shield is more important - it’s winning the league - but to traditional sports fans in the US, brought up with the Superbowl, the World Series and the Stanley Cup, the big final knockout is seen by many as the one to win. This season, five time MLS Cup winning coach Bruce Arena led his New England Revolution side to the Shield with a record points total, only to be knocked out in their first game of the play-offs on penalties against New York City. Ronny Deila’s side went on to win their first Conference Final against Philidelphia Union. Unlike NYC, The Timbers have been to the MLS Cup Final before, winning it 2015, one of only two occasions where the away side has taken the prize since the final moved away from neutral venues in 2011. They are the home team today, will that be enough advantage to keep Timber Joey and his chainsaw busy? GS


Ligue 1: Rennes v Nice
14.00 on BT Sport ESPN
Rennes will come into this one more rested than expected following the last minute cancellation of their final Europa Conference League group game, against Tottenham. The London side successfully requested a postponement due to a number of positive Covid tests in their squad. Having already qualified as group winners, Rennes may well have fielded a weaker side but now have to somehow fit in an extra fixture before the end of the year. Rennes are the form side in Ligue 1 right now and had they not got off to such a flat-footed start to the season - just one win in their first six - they might be pushing PSG a bit harder at the top of the table. Their defeat against Lille at the beginning of the month ended an unbeaten run of thirteen in all competitions. Luckily, after that defeat, they had an away trip to the woefully poor St Etienne for them to get back in the saddle. Which they did, giving Les Verts a 5-0 hammering with top scorer Martin Terrier getting a hattrick. That result saw the end of Claude Puel’s reign at St Etienne, the first managerial casualty of the season in Ligue 1. After a promising start under Christophe Galtier, the head coach who lead Lille to the title last season, three consecutive home defeats have seen Nice drop from the top three. Their results on the road though are much better, which makes this match a tough one to call. GS

Premier League: Crystal Palace v Everton
16.30 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
Despite getting more points in their Monday night game against Arsenal than they had in their previous eight games, Everton need to prove to themselves they don’t don’t have to rely on injury time wonder goals to win. The Toffees performance against a fairly toothless Arsenal, showed endeavour and promise that better days lie ahead, though on another night they could easily have been reduced to ten men. Palace are themselves in their own fug, and while they have secured some headline grabbing results, they’ve dropped points against every bottom half side they’ve played so far this season. Patrick Vieira needs to prepare his side as though they’re facing opposition on the fringe of European qualification rather than a side like them, desperately trying not to be sucked into a relegation battle. GS

La Liga: Real Madrid v Atlético Madrid
20.00 on LaLigaTV and Premier Sports 1
A big city derby between the champions and the league leaders; this should certainly be an occasion. As we move toward the halfway point of the season, this game is something of a must-win for Atleti, or at the very least a must not lose. Real’s grip on the lead looks very tight and the gap between the two could be 13 points if Real get one over the champs at the Bernabeau. The home side warmed up nicely for this match with a 2-0 win over Inter in the Champions League. Carlo Ancelloti’s team were already through to the next round but Simeone’s players had to endure a pretty bruising encounter with Porto in order to squeeze through to the next stage of that competition and avoid the ignominy of Thursday night football. Atlético go into this game without Luiz Suarez, as the Uruguayan has a muscle tear. This is a shame because it’s just the kind of game you love to see him play. Young Matheus Cunha has been standing in and has an opportunity to make a name for himself. TD

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry and Graham

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