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: Back for 2023/24

The new season is here and so is the Boxset. New teams, new faces, transfer business still to be done and everyone overflowing with optimism. Well almost everyone. There’s also the small matter of an actual World Cup going on right now.

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

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All times are UK


Premier League: Burnley v Manchester City
15.00 on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra
The English Premier League returns to our TV screens on Friday night pitching the all conquering Manchester City against the Championship winners, Burnley. Moreover, in a narrative impossible to avoid, the student (Kompany) takes on the master (Pep) in a kind of Lancashire meets Star Wars hotpot. Having spent nearly a decade at City, winning every major domestic honour, unsurprisingly, Kompany employs an attacking, possession based approach, or, at least he did last season. Facing not just the champions of England, but also Europe, I’d imagine he’ll rethink this, save being branded as naive (at best) or handed a right hammering on his side’s return to the top flight. Despite losing both Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez over the summer, City remain title favourites. Notable signings of Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) and the defender Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig) will add further solidity to an already impressive side. Then of course, there’s Erling Haaland who, despite not having a right-foot, scored for fun last season. Standing in his way (literally - he’s nearly two-metres tall), and another of the evening’s reunions, is former City U21 keeper, James Trafford. At just 20 he already has a reputation for clean-sheets, built during his recent loan-spell at Bolton. Clearly enjoying the confidence of his coach, he’s featured heavily in pre-season and cost the Clarets over £15m. Another one to watch for Burnley is Zeki Amdouni, who scored 22 goals for Basel last term. This may not be as one-sided as the bookies are predicting - I’ll go for 1-0 Burnley. JB


FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter final: Australia v France
08.00 on ITV1 and STV
The significant question ahead of this game was whether Sam Kerr would start. The sight of Matilda’s talisman acting as a water carrier for the team while she recovered from her calf strain, has been one of the hallmarks of this World Cup. Well, this morning Coach Tony Gustavsson announced that, if fit, Kerr would start. However, it would not be all bad if she had to stay on the bench. This is likely to be an attritional match, and Kerr would be ideally placed to enter—perhaps a little later in the match—and engage the two French centre-backs, Almeida and Renard, with fresh legs and a sharp brain. The Kerr dilemma is considerably eased by the outstanding performances of Hayley Raso, Caitlin Foord, and Mary Fowler, all of whom could prove to be the match-winners in this game. Meanwhile, France are gradually settling into this World Cup and may well be peaking at the right moment. This is partly thanks to the 34-year-old Eugénie Le Sommer, who, in the autumn of her career, was recalled by coach Herve Renard after a two-year absence to provide leadership and goals — both of which she has delivered. The Lyon forward has scored three times, including twice in the 4-0 victory over Morocco in the second round. Given their pedigree and form, the odds favor the French, but Australia have that sense of a nation behind them that you only get with home advantage. TD

FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter final: England v Colombia
11.00 on ITV1 and STV
The Lionesses are looking to reach their third World Cup semi-final in a row. Should they make it they will have arrived at the last four without having played any of the world’s top ten sides (according to FIFA). Luck will play a part in any succesful World Cup campaign but many will believe that England’s is due to run out. Having scraped past Haiti thanks to a very soft VAR penalty in their opener, and then narrowly holding on to a win against a fairly toothless Denmark, their standout win against a tactically wrong-footed China has been their only convincing performance so far. Colombia’s passage to this stage of the competion has been the more impressive. Beating Germany on their way to winning their group and seeing off a determined Jamaica side in the round of 16. Their stand out player of the tournament has been Linda Caicedo, a dazzling talent who signed for Real Madrid on her 18th birthday in February. She is one of many young stars of the tournament and her story is even more remarkable given that at 15 she underwent surgery and three months of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. England’s own young star Lauren James is of course unavailable after her red card in the tense Nigeria game, and her ban has since been extended so that she will either miss the semi-final or the start of England’s next qualification campaign. The Colombia fans will bring the atmosphere in the sold out Stadium Australia - you can’t rule out them witnessing another shock. GS

Premier League: Newcastle United v Aston Villa
17.30 on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra
It’s hard to believe that a year ago Steven Gerrard was the manager of Villa, such is the transformation of the club since the former England captain was replaced by Unai Emery last November. Emery steered the Villains from sixteenth in November to seventh in May, qualifying for the Conference League. Suitably impressed with the Spaniard’s work, the board have supported him by recruiting Monchi, the Sporting Director who masterminded Sevilla’s rise to prominence over the last decade and by signing Youri Tielemans from Leicester, then ball-playing centre half Pau Torres from Emery’s previous club Villarreal, and Mousa Diaby, a rapid and quick thinking forward from Bayer Leverkusen. The biggest challenge for Villa this season will be managing higher-than-usual expectations. The same goes for the Magpies who continue with their sensible transfer policy of signing players that lift the squad rather than marquee signings. Of the three key signings so far, prizing Sandro Tonali away from Milan is the most impressive and will significantly improve Eddie Howe’s defence. Like Villa, Newcastle have to meet the challenge of European football this season while managing their lofty Premier League ambitions. This game represents an opportunity, for both teams, to put down an early marker. TD


Ligue 1: Brest v Lens
12.00 on TNT Sports 1
Two clubs that finished well last season and will both fancy their chances of getting their new season underway with a win. Lens were the surprise package of last season, finishing just a point behind champions PSG (though in truth that gap closed considerably after the title had been won). Head coach Franck Haise will have his work cut out if he is to match last season’s heroics, having lost two of his best players. Belgian striker Lois Openda was their top scorer last season with 21 but is now on his way to fill one of the many gaps in RB Leipzig’s squad. Perhaps more damaging for Lens is the absense of club captain and midfield engine Seko Fofana. On the shopping list of many clubs with decent transfer policies, the 28 year old Ivorian is, like many others, following the money to the Saudi Pro League, joining Cristiano Ronaldo at Al-Nassr. Former Watford sporting director Eric Roy transformed Brest’s fortunes after taking over as head coach at the start of January, leading them to safety having spent the first half of the season as favourites for relegation. That feat was made even more difficult as the division shrunk to 18 clubs, with four teams relegated and only two (Metz and Le Havre) coming up. As with the Bundesliga, from now on two will be relegated with third from bottom entering a play-off. Less teams of course means that the big games will come thick and fast - after this Lens face Rennes, PSG and Monaco before their Champions League group begins. All the more incentive to get off to a good start here. GS

Premier League: Chelsea v Liverpool
16.30 on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra
There’s been a lot of interesting change at both of these clubs over the summer, which should add a little spice to your Sunday. Most notably is the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino who returns to England’s top division after a spell at PSG. His three trophy haul in France followed an excellent stint at Spurs where they became an actual force both domestically and in Europe. It’s something of a coup for the Blues, moreso given that their recent owners have dragged the club’s reputation through the mud over the years. As me colleague, Terry, quite rightly points out on this week’s pod, Potch is used to working with crazy owners, so Chelsea should be looking forward to sunlit uplands. On the pitch, the signing of Nicolas Jackson, a useful forward from Villarreal, has excited at least some of the Bridge faithful. The same is true of the long-term signing of youth product Levi Colwill (defender) and the appointment of Reece James as club captain. However, the Blues were left with egg on their faces when the news broke this very morning that long-term target, Moises Caicedo, would be heading to Liverpool in a £110m deal from Brighton. He will pair with world cup winner and former colleague, Alexis Mac Allister, in the Red’s midfield. In front of them will be Dominik Szoboszlai, a £60m signing from RB Leipzig. Szoboszlai is attack minded and full of creativity, which, in addition to the Brighton pair, will be a real contrast to the ageing midfield they put out last term. An exciting game in prospect - score draw for me, Clive. JB

La Liga: Villarreal v Real Betis
18.30 on LaLigaTV and Viaplay Sports 1
Betis start this season in not too dissimilar fashion to last, with problems registering their new signings. Financial Fair Play rules in Spain are strict. Transfer spending across the league is down and even relatively well-run clubs like Betis struggle to conform to the rules. However, club president Ángel Haro is confident that the returning Marc Bartra, Chadi Riad and Isco will have their papers in order by Sunday. Of the three new signings, Isco must be the most intriguing. The former Real Madrid player was one of the most exciting prospects of his generation but became surplus to requirements at Madrid and was released. He joins Betis as a free agent. At 31 it’s not too late to make an impact and coach Manuel Pelligrini (who coached him at Malaga) will be hoping that the once vibrant midfielder can replace the out-going Sergio Canales. At the end of last season, Betis fans bid an emotional farewell to club legend Joaquin. The 41-year-old Spanish legend was a peripheral figure albeit much loved and will be missed. Their target this season is to qualify for Europe for a fourth straight season and finish above city rivals Sevilla. Meanwhile, at Villarreal, there is plenty of grounds for optimism. Coach Quique Setien (once of Betis) took over last season from the Villa-bound Unai Emery and guided the team to fifth place. However, he will have to manage without the aforementioned Pau Torres and the now Chelsea striker Nicolas Jackson. Coming into the Yellow Submarine attack is Alexander Sørloth from Leipzig via Real Sociedad and I’m sure that many of us are excited to see how Brett Brereton Diaz, settles in. The Stoke on Trent-born striker has become something of a cult hero after getting selected for Chile and scoring in the Copa America. He joins the club from Blackburn Rovers of the English Championship. TD

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry, Graham and Jan

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