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: Have we not met before?

Two of the games in this weekend's have already been played out on Wednesday night. Will the results be any different?

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

All times are UK


Scottish Cup fifth round: Hamilton Academical v Heart of Midlothian
19.45 on BBC Scotland & iPlayer
In the league, it’s been a season to forget so far for Hamilton, but at least the cup competitions have given Accies fans something to cheer about. Still rooted to the bottom of the Championship despite a recent upturn in results, they knocked out Premiership side Ross County in the previous round on penalties, and this week they reached next month’s Challenge Cup final by beating Queen of the South. Having gone through a run of seven league defeats in a row they are now six games unbeaten in all competitions. Rookie head coach John Rankin, not 40 until June, took the role in the summer having joined as assistant in December 2021. He learnt his post-playing trade at Hearts under Robbie Neilson, who he also played with for a season at Dundee United. Hearts record in this competition in recent years is superb and they should get through here, which in the long run may prove a blessing for the Accies as they attempt to avoid dropping into the third tier. The other televised games from the weekend see Celtic and Rangers at home in local derbies against St Mirren and Partick respectively (both on Viaplay). On Monday night, BBC Scotland will be covering the non-league conquerors of Aberdeen, Darvel, as they face Falkirk at home for a place in the quarter finals. GS


Women’s Super League: Manchester City v Arsenal
12.30 on Sky Sports Football, Premier League and Sky Showcase
Sat fourth and third in the WSL table, these two sides met at Meadow Bank on Wednesday, in the semi final of the League Cup. Arsenal ground at a win with the only goal of the game, scored at the start of extra time. Lina Hurtig set up Stina Blackstenius for the winner, and it’s on these two that the burden of goals for the Gunners has now fallen since the loss of Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead, both to ACL injuries for the remainder of the season. Both Swedish internationals have been visibly frustrated with the chances they’ve had since being asked to lead the line. The Gunners’ lack of attacking edge was the difference when they hosted Chelsea at the Emirates, dominating play but unable to press home their advantage and allowing Sam Kerr to snatch a late equaliser. They followed that with a goalless draw with West Ham last weekend (who went on to concede seven against Chelsea in the other League Cup semi-final). Those dropped points have not only dented Arsenal’s title chances but also given City the opportunity to snatch one of the three Champions League positions available. Like Arsenal, City seem to be limited in attacking options, relying on Lionesses Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly to provide for their key goal threat, Khadija "Bunny" Shaw, who has ten from twelve games so far this season. WIth both sides defensively strong, this game should be another with few clear cut chances; if it ends up a draw, the real winners will be Chelsea and United. GS

Bundesliga: RB Leipzig v Union Berlin
17.30 on Sky Sports Football
Second travels to fourth in what is more than a race for the Bundesliga runners-up spot. Bayern Munich may be top but it’s not business as usual. The champions are only a single point ahead of Union Berlin in second. The Berlin club needed the World Cup break after dropping off in November. They’ve roared back with five straight wins in league and cup and can go top with a win at Leipzig. The home side’s record is more impressive, having not lost a game in their last eighteen, only four of which were draws. Last week’s 0-0 draw with Koln stopped Leipzig from breaking into the top two. However, they’ve scored twelve since the restart and will be difficult to shut out. There is a broader context to this match. Leipzig, the plastic club funded by Red Bull with no tradition versus Union where power and passion plays a double hand. The local club owes its success to smart thinking and good management plus a fanbase that has fully bought into the project. Both clubs also hail from the old East Germany. In a way this fixture could develop into a tasty derby based on the rivalry between Berlin and Leipzig and the clash of ideologies of both clubs. But Union, like everyone else, does not want to legitimise RB’s existence with such a privilege. In any event we’re certainly looking at a tasty competitive fixture given how much there is to play for. Something has to give. TD

La Liga: Valencia v Athletic Bilbao
20.00 on LaLigaTV and Viaplay Sports 2
If Voro is back picking the side, then Valencia must be in trouble, again. Like an Italian Frank Lampard, Gennaro Gattuso was sacked from another high profile job at the end of January putting club stalwart Voro back in charge as caretaker (or interim if you will) for the eighth time. He’s also had a stint as actual head coach of the club in that time too - it didn’t work out. Things have got progressively worse for Los Che since the restart, when they were just about in the top half. They’ve taken just one point in six games and they now find themselves just a single point and place above the relegation zone. Among the fans, the finger of blame for this situation is pointed directly at owner Peter Lim and his seeming over-reliance on super-agent Jorge Mendes. A string of head coaches have been unable to get the players they want in, and key players have left the club for less than they should be worth. Part of the reason Gattuso was fired was a souring of the relationship between him and Lim when the club failed to bring in anyone in the January window. Well, it was that and the fact he had a win record that was worse than when Gary Neville was in charge. That doesn’t necessarily mean that this should be a comfortable win for Athletic Club: their win at home last weekend against lowly Cadiz was their first since the restart. So there you have it, if you’re a fan of angry supporters, faded giants and a strong whiff of desperation, this is your game of the weekend. GS


Premier League: Leeds United v Manchester United
14.00 on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra
Today’s game sees a re-run of Wednesday’s epic clash at Old Trafford. Having eventually got around to sacking Jesse Marsch, Leeds pushed United right to the end in a thrilling tie. Indeed, Leeds found themselves a deserved two-nil up just after the break following an excellent strike from Wilfried Gnonto and an own-goal from Raphael Varane. United’s blushes were spared by two beautifully finished goals from Rashford and Jadon Sancho. At the time of writing, it looks like Michael Skubala will again take charge of Leeds. A well respected coach in the England under 18s setup, he also looked after the futsal team with limited success. Having moved to Leeds in the summer to look after the under 21s, he’s turned the side into a winning machine. Quite whether this is enough to out-smart ten Hag, remains to be seen. The Dutchman will have drawn lessons from Wednesday, but does have several injuries to deal with as well as the suspended Casemiro. It is a must-win for United: recent results haven’t gone their way and the (dirty) Mags and Spurs are breathing down their necks. JB

Premier League: Manchester City v Aston Villa
16.30 on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra
Despite the off-field drama this could be a decent game between two teams eager to bounce back. City need a response after their alarming defeat to Spurs. They must also address the mounting concerns that Pep Guardiola’s well-oiled machine has a 6’4” Nordic spanner in the works. Despite 25 (twenty-five) goals scored in the Premier League this season, Erling Haaland seems to be the anti-Lewandowski or reverse Sam Kerr: teeming with goals without helping the team. I’d rather not test the reader’s patience with some tactical analysis but it does appear that he goes missing in some games or that he’s not up with the game plan. It’s also possible that City’s vast array of deeper lying attackers are looking to play that extra pass, rather than chuck in a floater to the big man up front. There’s even talk that the young Norwegian may leave, especially if the Premier League throws the book at them for the seemingly endless charges of financial wrongdoing. I’m sure the Etihad will be a throng with the sound of indignant home fans who have had their minds rearranged into thinking that there are conspiracies everywhere and it’s the traditional elite clubs that are the real lawbreakers, actually! Villa meanwhile, have just about put the Stevie G trauma behind them and can be encouraged by their progress under new coach Unai Emery, despite losing to Leicester 4-2 last week. Emery will have a workable plan, which if successful could very much be a case of Unai City Blues. TD

Primeira Liga: Sporting v Porto
18.00 on BT Sport 4
A meeting of two of Os Três Grandes round off your Weekend Boxset. Braga would argue, correctly, that it should be Os Quatro Grandes, but that’s a whole other discussion. Anyway, this is still going to be a goodie. These two played out an absolutely mental Taça da Liga final just two weeks ago (if you haven’t already, check out the highlights - crazy game). Porto won the tie two-nil, but it really could have gone either way. Sporting looked dangerous every time they went forward and, had it not been for VAR (grrrrrrrr) and the woodwork, that massive trophy could have been in Sporting’s hands. Back in the league, Porto are second behind run-away leaders, Benfica. Os Dragões are worth every one of their seven point lead over Sporting: their goal tally is bettered only by Benfica and their defensive record is second to none. Indeed, they’ve not lost in any competition since October. The bookies have this one down as a dead cert for Porto, but Sporting put five past a usually excellent Braga in their last home game and the league cup loss will be a powerful motivator. There will be no actual lions or dragons on display tonight, but it will be a great watch. JB

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry, Graham and Jan

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