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: El Crashico



Klopp v Pep is it? Not for us, we’ll get our car-crash football from El Clasico thank you very much (and then tune in for the second half from Anfield).

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


All times are UK (GMT+1)


Friday

Premier League: Brentford v Brighton & Hove Albion
20.00 on Sky Sports Premier & Main Event
Friday night Premier League action, and we all know what that means: thousands of Fantasy League managers desperately scrambling to make their last minute weekend changes. Both sides should go into this game with an expectation of taking something from it, which given the styles they play, gives this match the potential to be a real rip-snorter. The game could also provide a clearer idea of what life will be like for Brighton under Roberto De Zerbi. It will be rare that they are given the freedom that Liverpool offered in the 3-3 draw at Anfield, but it’s also true that they will rarely be suffocated as they were in the Spurs defeat. Brentford have cut a frustrated figure in recent matches. They’ve only managed one win since their rout of Manchester United in their first home game of the season and were on the end of a 5-1 defeat away to Newcastle last weekend. The scale of that scoreline was perhaps undeserved, and there have been other occasions already this season where luck hasn’t gone the way of Thomas Frank’s side. The one thing that stands in their favour is their trust in the numbers. Even when results don’t go their way, they stick to plan. Sooner or later the numbers will be back on their side. Will it be tonight? That’s anyone’s guess. GS


Saturday

Premier League: Leicester City v Crystal Palace
12.30 on BT Sport 1
Alexa, name a bigger come down than getting beat by Bournemouth… Alexa? That rousing 4-0 thrashing of Nottingham Forest two weeks ago proved to be a false dawn. We got a glimpse of the old Leicester but it all fell apart with a limp display at the Vitality. The result served to significantly lengthen the “Brendan Rodgers” thread on the fans BBS while savagely shortening their odds of playing in the Championship next season. If that wasn’t bad enough, club talisman Jamie Vardy has to cope with the prospect of being immortalised in a Channel 4 dramatisation of Wagatha Christie. But there is still plenty of attacking quality in the team. Patson Daka is building a goal-scoring run and any team with James Maddison in it will cause problems, particularly against a Palace team that has not won at the King Power since February 2019. The day after that 4-1 defeat the manager, Claude Puel, was sacked. Palace survived a stiff test against a resolute but limited Leeds side last Sunday at Selhurst. Coach Patrick Viera is looking ahead to what is a run of games against beatable opposition which will, he hopes, ease those relegation jitters. Ebere Eze was the star man in the Leeds game and Palace should look to his dribbling skills, as well as Zaha and Olise to give that Leicester defence the willies. TD


Serie A: Torino v Juventus
17.00 on BT Sport 1
Could Allegri survive defeat in the Derby delle Mole? Well, probably. While Juventus have had a terrible start to the season, by their standards (and a bang average one by anyone else’s) they simply don’t have the money to pay off his €7 million a year contract. And even if they could afford to pay him off, how would they attract anyone decent to the role? Yes, there are coaches like Zidane and Tuchel currently kicking their heels, but those guys will only come in if they have some money to play with. If they sacked Allegri now they’d probably replace him with an interim - someone like Claudio Ranieri - and would that be any improvement? The good news for the Old Lady is that players like Pogba, Di Maria and Chiesa should soon be back from injury, but it’s likely they will have already dropped into the Europa League by then and be even more off the pace in Serie A (they’re currently ten points behind leaders Napoli). So is defeat to their local rivals a possibility? Torino aren’t in great form but they have been through a series of tough away games - Atalanta, Inter and Napoli - and lost them all. That said their home side hasn’t been that much better. They trailed Empoli for most of the second half last weekend until a last minute clearance deflected into the net off Sasa Lukic, cancelling out Mattia Destro’s far more elegant overhead kick. GS


Championship: Watford v Norwich City
19.45 on Sky Sports Football
Welcome to the mad, mad world that is Watford - the football club, that is, rather than the town. Their latest manager, Salven Bilić, is the eighteenth appointment in the reign of the Pozzo family which began in the middle of 2012. Bilić arrives having spent a year in China and the Middle-East either side of his spell at West Bromwich Albion. It’s the latter, I’d imagine, that helped secure him the role at Vicarage Road, having taken the Baggies back to the Premiership as runners-up in 2020. Clearly, a return to the top flight is what the club desperately wants following relegation last term. Indeed, the swift removal of Rob Edwards after only eleven games in charge highlights the same desperation which saw them cycle through three coaches in an attempt to remain in the top-flight. Bilić is now three games in and has lost as many games as his predecessor. Not that I think they’ll sack him anytime soon, but do watch this space, just to be safe. The Bilić era kicked off in spectacular style with an excellent win away to Alex ‘itchy-feet’ Neil’s Stoke City, but was brought crashing back to reality with back-to-back losses at home to Swansea and away to lowly Blackpool. To be fair, they do have a few injury issues which will continue to hinder them tonight. As for the visitors, their storming nine-game unbeaten run came to an unfortunate end at home to a Preston side who had only scored four times prior to the fixture - they netted three against the Canaries. Despite this, they remain in second place and do possess an excellent forward line in Teemu Pukki and Josh Sargent who, between them, have been involved in sixteen goals. Anyone’s game, this one, but I’m going for an away win here, Jeff. JB


Sunday

Women’s Super League: Manchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion
12.00 on BBC Two & iPlayer
After two rounds of WSL games, United are one of three teams with a 100% record, along with Arsenal and Aston Villa. They’ve also yet to concede a goal, helped in part by the addition to the backline of Maya Le Tissier (from Guernsey but no relation to a certain conspiracy whacko). The England U23 defender scored twice in her debut against Reading having joined from Brighton in the summer, a move that put a symbolic marker down on the relative ambitions of these two clubs. Since being promoted to the WSL in 2018 Brighton have consolidated themselves to mid-table respectability, while United, after just three seasons in the top flight, are looking to break the stranglehold of the top three sides. They almost succeeded last season, but City had a strong second half of the campaign to snatch the third Champions League place. Hope Powell’s Brighton side’s ambitions have perhaps been limited by playing most of their games in Crawley, a good 20 miles from Brighton itself. When they played their season opener at the Amex it attracted over 5000 spectators - three times their average attendance for last season. United boast a number of stars from this summer’s Lionesses but their top scorer from last season, lover of a cheeky back-heel and international spy, Alessia Russo, will be missing from this one having failed to recover from an injury that kept her out of the recent friendlies against the USA and Czechia. GS


La Liga: Real Madrid v Barcelona
15.15 on LaLigaTV and Premier Sports 1
Despite the slightly diminished circumstances of both clubs, this game is still the hottest ticket in European football. The atmosphere is likely to be a little different. The best clasicos, in my opinion, are held under the lights. But La Liga do need to look after those all-important foreign markets. As recent performances and results suggest, neither team are quite what they were but there is still a fantastic array of talent to enjoy: from old stagers like Modric, Kroos, Benzema and Lewandowski to young guns such as Gavi, Pedri and Vinicius Junior. Barca’s 3-3 draw with Inter renders their qualification to the knock-out stage of the Champions League unlikely, which in turn will put an intolerable strain on the club’s Kwartengesque fiscal arrangements. Madrid are in somewhat better shape but their president’s continued super league rabble-rousing suggests that they too don’t have the right funding formula. Barca’s defensive record in the league is impressive but injuries to their backline have forced coach, Xavi, to play Pique and Garcia, neither of whom are up to the challenge. If Rodrygo, Vini Jnr and Karim the Dream have bought their game, we could be in for some actual goals. The same applies to Lewandowski who is the ultimate big game player. It’s hard to imagine the Polish striker not making his mark on this fixture. TD

Alternative viewing: The big Premier League clash of the top two sides of the past four seasons, Liverpool v Man City, kicks off on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event at 16.30. What more can be said.


Bundesliga: Bayern Munich v Freiburg
18.30 on Sky Sports Arena
Third plays second in the second match of a Grand Slam Sunday which sees fourth placed Dortmund play leaders Union Berlin in the earlier kick off. Last week, the Boxset strongly implied that Bayern had turned a corner ahead of the Dortmund game. But the record champions dropped two points with the last head of the game to send the crowd into rapture and rob Oliver Kahn of his dignity with his enraged reaction which launched a million memes (at last the camera operator whose job it is to focus only on dignitaries in the crowd had their moment). The result was proof that, in football, corners are for taking and not for turning. Bayern have obvious quality and, on their day, can beat anybody. However, this season, they are infrequently on their day and now face a Freiburg side, uncharacteristically above them in the table. Christian Streich’s patiently assembled squad got a boost in the summer when they were able to benefit from the return of centre back Mathis Ginter to replace Niko Schlotterbeck who has helped keep Freiburg’s back line solid. But the player everyone is raving about is Ritsu Doan; the Japanese left winger joined the Black Forest club for a mere €7.65 million from PSV. Having previously shone in a poor Bielefeld side in the 20/21 season. Die Breisgauer themselves dropped points against a poor Hertha side last week but should still be ready to capitalise on any weakness shown by Bayern. TD


Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry, Graham and Jan

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