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: Knockout football

While we all try to get our heads around the news that Jurgen Klopp will be leaving Liverpool, there's a weekend of FA Cup and Afcon to look forward to.

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


Bundesliga: Eintracht Frankfurt v Mainz
19.30 on Sky Sports Football
You need to go back to December 2019 for the last time Mainz beat their local rivals Frankfurt. If you’re looking for omens, that was the last time these two teams played on a Friday. In recent years, the 05ers have been a club that goes through peaks and troughs. This season has been a major trough. After a good spell of just under three years under coach Bo Svensson, FSV started the season with an horrific run of nine league games without a win and with only two points. After the 3-0 home defeat to Hertha in the Cup, Svensson was fired. Former Huddersfield Town coach Jan Siewert was given the task of turning things around. So far, he’s doing OK. After a maiden win against Leipzig, they’ve not won since. But defensively they’re in a lot better shape and have only lost twice. The 1-1 draw with Dortmund just before the winter break almost cost the Borussia coach, Edin Terzic his job. Siewert can’t rely on influential midfielder Lee Jae-Sung who’s at the Asian Cup with South Korea. Frankfurt also have a key player missing: Omar Marmoush has been superb for Die Adler. The Egyptian has seven goals for his club and scored for his country in the 2-2 draw with Ghana at Afcon. Missing also will be the hugely underrated Ellyes Skhiri but at least the Tunisian is now on his way home from the Ivory Coast. Eintracht played in another derby last week; a 2-2 draw with Darmstadt and a game that they should have won. Their sixth position is false for me and Dino Toppmoller’s team should be pushing harder for a top four spot. TD


FA Cup fourth round: Ipswich Town v Maidstone United
12.30 on BBC One & iPlayer
This is one of those matches that could be described as excitingly inconvenient for Ipswich and just exciting for the Stones, who are appearing in the 4th round for the first time in their history and will be sure to bring the party to Portman Road. For Ipswich’s manager, Kieran McKenna, this is one of those balancing acts. He’ll undoubtedly want to rest players but doesn’t want to give a fired up neutrals’ favourite any reason to believe they can progress. At the same time, resting players to keep them fresh for a promotion push would be logical. As for Maidstone, as clichéd as it sounds, there’s nothing to lose here. The prize money for reaching the fourth round plus the history already made means the Conference South side have a free hit. Not that you’d expect the Stones to take it easy and the likes of Gavin Hoyte bring experience that will prove vital to the non-league side. It’d be a stretch to imagine Maidstone will knock out a third football league club - reality has a nasty habit of stamping all over romance at this stage of the competition - but if Stones manager George Elokobi has his preparation right, drawing on all those years of Premier League experience, then it could well be a lot closer than expected. GA

Africa Cup of Nations 2023 round of 16: Angola v Namibia
17.00 on Sky Sports Football
These countries share a border that stretches 800 miles. That line in the sand was drawn by their Portugese and German colonisers but split indigenous societies. Since gaining independence, the countries have forged strong political and economic ties. Angola served as a key ally in Namibia’s fight against occupation by apartheid South Africa. Namibia provided peacemaking efforts during Angola’s long and bloody civil war. As football nations neither side have much history. Both sit outside the FIFA top 100 and were in the lowest pot in the draw for this tournament. Namibia had never won a match at Afcon and Angola hadn’t won a match in over a decade. Now one of them will play in the quarter final. Namibia’s statement win against Tunisia seemed to set the tone for the tournament as a whole, but they came crashing back down to earth in the their next game losing 4-0 to South Africa. Angola’s qualification for the 2006 World Cup is their high as a football nation. They made it past the group stage in the two Afcons that followed but still wait to win a knockout match. They finished comfortably top of their group which contained a strong (and now eliminated) Algeria side and pre-tournament dark horses Burkina Faso. Whichever way this game goes history will be made for one of these nations, with a quarter-final against the winners of... GS

Africa Cup of Nations 2023 round of 16: Nigeria v Cameroon
20.00 on BBC Three & iPlayer and Sky Sports Football
This summit meeting between two of Africa’s heavyweights, is arguably the pick of the round (though Monday’s match-up of host Ivory Coast and holders Senegal probably just edges it). This tie has the been the final of this tournament three times, with Cameroon winning all three - though you have to go back to 2000 for the most recent. Cameroon’s head coach Rigobert Song is under pressure, his side have failed to impress in their games so far and were a late VAR call away from going out in the group stage. They need to win their final game against the tournement’s lowest-ranked side Gambia but went 2-1 down in the 85th minute. Their equaliser came from an own goal, and three minutes later as the fourth official signalled nine minutes of injury time they scored a winner from a corner. The drama continued when Gambia had the ball in Cameroon’s net yet again, only for the effort to be disallowed by VAR for Maradona levels of handballery. Nigeria’s passage so far has been efficient. They were denied top spot in the group on goals scored but with so many shocks in the tournament so far it doesn’t look like there’s an easier half of the draw to be in. On performances so far you’d have to say the (barely) Super Eagles will prove too much for the (not so) Indomitable Lions. GS


FA Cup fourth round: West Bromwich Albion v Wolverhampton Wanderers
11.45 on ITV, STV and ITVX
In my humble opinion, this has to be the tie of the round. While the Black Country derby may not be seen by some as the most glamorous, it’s far more on brand for this competition than any Premier League draw. To add to the spice, today’s fixture will be the first in front of supporters in nearly twelve years. Predictably, the local constabulary have insisted on an earlier kick-off as football supporters can’t be trusted. They needn’t worry, I’ve been to the Hawthorns as an away fan and it’s almost impossible to get a beer in any of the local hostelries on match day. Indeed, the bar in the away end was also ‘dry’ due to previous issues last time Sunderland visited, which nobody present could recall - a fine example of a question answering itself if there ever was one. The hosts comfortably saw off Aldershot in round three, but they’ve been inconsistent of late, losing two of their last three in the Championship against sides they should be beating to be serious contenders for the play-offs. Wolves will bring four-thousand fans to cheer them on as they look to continue their impressive form. It took a replay for them to knock out fellow Premier League side, Brentford, in the last round which was a thrilling 3-2 with extra-time to boot. Form could go out of the window in this one, so buckle up. JB

FA Cup fourth round: Newport County v Manchester United
17.00 on Sky Sports Football
If you’re easily bored by meaningless stats about previous meetings from decades past then fear not, these sides have never played each other. The closest they got was in 1976 when United sent a team to play a South Wales XI in a charity match to help keep Newport afloat. The £8000 raised helped the club limp on just about, they eventually did go bust thirteen years later. For a long time after reforming the FA Cup was just something that happened to other people. In their 25 years outside of the league, Newport made it to the first round proper on just four occasions. This week is was announced that a takeover of club had been given the greenlight from the EFL. Former Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins will take a 52% stake in the club, previously held by the Supporters Trust. His investment plus the income from this Cup run should see the coffers of the club swell by almost £1million - certainly a healthy amount to help the League Two side maintan their fine recent form in a push for a play-off place. For United this competiton represents their last interest in silverware this season and maybe their best chance of reaching Europe next season. Despite their shaky league form, United under ten Hag perform well in the domestic knockouts, reaching both finals last season. An upset is unlikely but it should definitely be worth a watch. GS

La Liga: Atlético Madrid v Valencia
20.00 on LaLigaTV and Viaplay Sports 2
Valencia sit seventh, three places and nine points below Atléti, but come into this game off the back of four consecutive La Liga victories, including a home win over fifth placed Athletic Club last time out. Hugo Duro grabbed the only goal adding to his season tally of eight. Indeed Duro could be the man to watch tonight having scored two when these sides met back in September. Tonight’s visitors ran out three-nil winners in that one, but it won’t be that easy tonight as they’ve not won at Atléti in more than a decade. Fatigue could be an issue for Atléti tonight following an epic 4-3 loss at leaders, Girona, at the start of the month which set the standard for the subsequent Super Cup loss and Copa del Rey win against Real where fourteen goals were scored between them. It’s little wonder, then, that they laboured in their win at lowly Granada last week, with top-scorer, Álvaro Morata, grabbing the only goal of the game. Add to that a hard-fought win against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey on Thursday night and we may just have the ingredients for a once in a decade upset. JB

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Graham, Terry, Jan and Gary

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