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: He doesn't have a licence, you know

After being so wide of the mark last week, we’ve decided to keep our predictions to a minimum this time around. Good job we’ve got plenty of Will Still facts to make up for it.

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

All times are UK


Scottish Cup quarter final: Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Kilmarnock
19.45 on BBC Scotland & iPlayer
In January’s fourth round fixtures, Inverness CT were drawn at home to Championship leaders Queen’s Park. A thick fall of snow delayed the match by ten days - by which time Queen’s Park had strengthened their side in the January transfer window, with Euan Henderson coming in on loan from Hearts. He started in the 2-0 win for his new club, seemingly eliminating Caley Thistle from the competition. However, competition rules state that only players eligible to play on the original date can be selected, and so the result was reversed. Having received a lifeline in the competition, the 2015 winners are now just a step away from the semi-final, facing a Kilmarnock side whose only away win this season came in this competition against the only side lower than them in the Premiership. Killie went up from the Championship top of the table last season but lost three of the four games they played against ICT - all of which were settled by an odd goal. Both managers played for Dundee United in the mid-2000s. Caley Thistle’s head coach Billy Dodds missed out on the 2005 final defeat to Martin O’Neill’s Celtic but got his first taste of management at the Terrors when asked to step in as caretaker a few months later. His only game in charge was a 2-1 win over Falkirk - the last minute winner was scored by his opposite number today, Derek McInnes. All four quarter finals are being shown live across the weekend: Viaplay have Hearts v Celtic on Saturday lunchtime and Rangers v Raith Rovers on Sunday, with BBC Scotland showing League One’s Falkirk against Ayr United from the Championship on Monday evening. GS


Championship: Bristol City v Blackpool
12.30 on Sky Sports Football, Main Event & Ultra
I met Mick McCarthy once at The Glades shopping centre in Bromley, Kent. He was an absolute gent and happy (I think) to chat for a few minutes about his time at Sunderland while my wife apologised to his for the interruption. Had I spotted Nigel Pearson going about his business, I doubt I’d have been so bold - what a scary bloke. Big Mick took over as head coach at the Seasiders in January with the club second bottom of the Championship. They currently sit just one place higher, but did manage their first win since October recently. Former club, Cardiff, sit one place above but with a six point cushion which looks like a bit of a mountain to climb for Blackpool. They can, however, take some heart from the fact that they took a point off the Cider Army earlier in the season in an epic three-all draw. Pearson saw his side play out a disappointing nil-nil against relegation contenders, Huddersfield, in midweek, which came off the back of a loss at Cardiff. Dropping points against lower level opposition won’t sit well with Pearson, so expect City to be fired up for this one. Prior to these games, they were on an impressive unbeaten run stretching back to December and will be looking to recapture that form today. Honours even for me, Clive. JB

Bundesliga: Schalke v Borussia Dortmund
17.30 on Sky Sports Football
A week is a long time in football. Last Friday Borussia Dortmund were flying high, carried by a 100 percent record in all competitions since the restart and sharing top spot in the Bundesliga table with Bayern Munich. Then Tuesday happened. Post match analysis of the mid-week defeat to Chelsea that knocked Borussia out of the Champions League was dominated by the nature of the handball and penalty encroachment rules. But any perceived injustices are secondary to what was a passive performance against a brittle Chelsea team, which is what really cost them the game. Now they must pick themselves up for the 100th Bundesliga Revierderby. Never mind the Champions League, this derby is, for most fans, the only game that truly matters. Dortmund go into the game without keeper Gregor Kobel and attacker Julian Brandt who has been an essential component of Dortmund’s recent success. Despite being in the relegation zone Schalke are in fine fettle, unbeaten in six matches and winning their last two. Coach Thomas Reis has instilled defensive discipline and renewed belief in what is a limited squad. A win here will be celebrated from the rafters whatever the context of the season but if Schalke can upset their hated rivals they could move out of the bottom three and rewrite the narrative of what has been a difficult season. A win for Dortmund meanwhile relegates the Tuesday defeat to a blip in form and sets up the title race with a game against Bayern coming over the horizon. For a league match the stakes don’t get much higher. TD

La Liga: Valencia v Osasuna
20.00 on LaLigaTV and Viaplay Sports 1
A clash between two very different clubs. Osasuna are traditional minnows but are a supporter-owned club with a newly redeveloped stadium passionate fanbase and who always play with a high proportion of players from the Tajoner academy. After the dark years of financial mismanagement and match fixing scandals, the Pamplona club is celebrating its fourth successive season in La Liga, all under the same coach, Jagoba Arrasate, and they seem to be improving season by season. Los Rojillos sit currently in 8th and while a European spot may seem a touch too ambitious, they are in contention. Their relative success is another example of how fan-owned clubs can thrive in top level European football despite their spending restrictions. While Osasuna have been showing plenty of health, strength and vigour, the same cannot be said for Valencia. As recently reported on the Boxset, Los Che fans have been engaging in protests and demonstrations against the direction the club is taking under its owner, Peter Lim. Having sacked Gennaro Gattuso as coach in January, the club appointed Rubén Baraja (who played 263 times and won two La Liga titles and a Copa Del Rey for Valencia as a player) as his replacement. Baraja broke a six-game losing streak on his second outing with a 1-0 win against Sociedad, and they played OK against Barcelona but lost 1-0. Despite their respective league positions, and the fact that Osasuna have yet to lose away in 2023, the bookies have seen fit to make the home side the favourites. TD


Women’s Super League: Chelsea v Manchester United
12.30 on BBC Two & iPlayer
In the excitement of last weekend’s big Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester Unted and Jan’s unfortunate prediction that United were certain to win, I feel honour bound to confess my own poor take. I was convinced that Chelsea would have the measure of Arsenal in the Women’s League Cup final, and that the Gunners were struggling to find an attacking system without their two best forwards. I was wrong on both counts. Jonas Eidevall tactically out manoeuvred Chelsea in their 3-1 win, exposing weaknesses that others are sure to try to exploit in what remains of the season. Of course, it could have been just an off day for the Blues, and Emma Hayes is more than capable of finding strategies to shore up any genuine weak spots in her side - a job she was already starting in her post-match interviews. Manchester United lead the table, but have played a game more than today’s opponents who are just two points behind. United’s success this season is only partly down to their spine of young Lionesses: internationals like Ona Batlle and Adriana Leon together with the experience of players like Rachel Williams all help to make Marc Skinner’s side worthy title challengers. Ella Toone is available for this game having had her red card and three match ban from the win against Tottenham rescinded as it was deemed that Eveliina Summanen had "deceived officials" - which must be a disappointment to anyone under the mistaken belief that women’s football is somehow played under a higher moral code. This season’s WSL could come down to a thrilling four-way battle for the title and the two other Champions League places. Whoever wins this match will become the favourites to lift the trophy in May but a draw brings Arsenal and City firmly back in the race. GS

Premier League: Fulham v Arsenal
14.00 on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra
Fulham are enjoying a fine season. Sitting in seventh, they are a mere two points off a European place and three off Liverpool in fifth. Aleksandar Mitrovic, who should shake off a knock, has scored as many as Arsenal’s top scorer Martinelli, but has been quiet of late. Filling the void with five goals in five appearances is former Arsenal target, Manor Solomon. The Israeli joined on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer and Marco Silva must be keen to make the move permanent. They may be top of the table, but clean-sheets have been in short supply for Arsenal of late. If Fulham can get a tune out of Mitro, he and Solomon could make it a busy afternoon for the Gunners. With their mid-season hiccup now out of the way, Arsenal could make it five wins in a row today. Last week’s incredible comeback from two-down against a spirited Bournemouth showed real class, determination and, dare I say, Championship quality. Whether they win their first league title since the famous Invincibles season of 2004 is in their own hands. With just three of the top six to play in their remaining thirteen fixtures and five points clear, another City title would come at the expense of a spectacular Arsenal collapse. JB

Ligue 1: Monaco v Reims
16.05 on BT Sport 2
Facts about Reims head coach Will Still are becoming a bit a meme right now. If you’ve managed to avoid them all, here’s the summary: 1/ Reims have the longest unbeaten run in Europe’s top five leagues (18 games); 2/ he got promoted from assistant coach in October, the day before his 30th birthday; 3/ he has English parents but was brought up in Belgium; 4/ apparently, he’s learned everything about tactics from playing Football Manager; 5/ under Ligue 1 rules, the club has to pay a fine of €25,000 every game as he doesn’t yet have the required UEFA Pro Licence - which he’s studying for at the same time as he’s taking Reims up the table. All in all, it a makes a fantastic story but can it be enough to take his Reims side from relegation candidates to European football? Dislodging Rennes in fifth for the Conference League place is probably the best they can hope for this season (sixth won’t be good enough as the highest place side remaining in the Cup is Lyon in 10th) but an equally resurgent Nice will give them a good fight for that. Next season, who knows? By then, on-loan top scorer Folarin Balogun will be back at Arsenal, while other emerging players like winger Alexis Flips and keeper Yehvann Diouf are sure to catch the eye of bargain hunters. Given his new found celebrity status, Still himself could be tempted by one of the many binfire clubs in the Championship. Monaco were the last side to beat Reims in the league, way back in mid-September. That 3-0 was in a very different time, and, having recently been outsiders for snatching the title, defeat to the aforementioned Nice followed by a draw away to a poor Troyes side have left Monaco clinging to the third and last Champions League spot. On current form, it looks like the Reims fairytale will continue. GS

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry, Graham and Jan

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