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: The League Cup Final 2024

Please let this Chelsea v Liverpool final be better than the last!

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


Championship: Leeds United v Leicester City
20.00 on Sky Sports Football, Main Event & Ultra
As we discussed on this week’s pod, the Championship really is where it’s all happening. Tonight’s hosts may be going great guns in second, but so are a resurgent Ipswich Town who are only trailing the Yorkshire side on goal difference. Indeed, Southampton, despite their best efforts, are only two points away in fourth which makes this one a must win for Daniel Farke’s men. Farke conceded in his recent prezza that they face “probably the toughest opponent”, but added “so do Leicester, so they also know that we are a really good side”. Tough talk, but he does have a point: in the league alone, Leeds have won all of their last eight fixtures, the last five without conceding, keeping them unbeaten since the turn of the year. Their impressive defensive record is only matched (exactly matched, to be precise) by tonight’s visitors, which may make this a cagey encounter. That said, Leeds do have their injury problems while Enzo Maresca boasts a fully fit side with the exception of Wilfred Ndidi. They also welcome back Iheanacho from Afcon duty with Nigeria who can link up with Jamie Vardy who is in fine form. With last week's defeat to the Smoggies described as “one of those days” by Maresca, they are still nine points clear and will look to extend that tonight. JB


Championship: Hull City v West Bromwich Albion
12.30 on Sky Sports Football, Main Event & Ultra
Last time the Baggies were in the Boxset we lamented their poor away form as they travelled to a flagging Ipswich Town. The game was something of a turning point for both clubs: West Brom reversed their poor away form and Ipswich stopped the rot in the 2-2 draw. Ipswich haven’t lost since, and the Baggies won two of their next three including an emphatic 3-0 at Plymouth, who are doing their level best to get involved in the relegation dog-fight. This form sees West Brom in fifth ahead of the early Saturday kick-off against the Tigers who are one of only two of the current top-six they’ll have to play in their run-in. Poor old Hull, in sixth, still have to play Leicester, Leeds and Ipswich. That said, they go into the final two months of the season in excellent form, winning five of their last six, including an impressive 2-1 away at Southampton last time out. Today also sees them play their first game at the MKM in three, which should see a groundswell of support for Liam Rosenior’s men after such a fruitful run. Home advantage and cracking form count for a lot - home win. JB

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich v RB Leipzig
17.30 on Sky Sports Football
Bayern Munich’s last three games have shaken the club to its core. The 3-0 defeat to Leverkusen was as comprehensive a defeat of the Rekordmeister as I’ve ever seen. The Lazio loss in the Champions League was a capitulation, and the Bochum beating was the final straw… after a fashion. As foreshadowed in Monday’s Sound of Football podcast, head coach, Thomas Tuchel will leave the club at the end of the season. The former Dortmund and Chelsea boss was never a good fit for Bayern in my opinion and I was surprised that he was given so much licence in the transfer market. This was probably due to a lack of effective leadership at the top of a club that is still struggling after the sacking of CEO, Oliver Kahn and sporting Director Hasan Salihamidžić at the end of last season. Tuchel’s job now is to get the wheels back on and back in the title race plus find a couple of goals to nil at home to Lazio. Up next is Leipzig, a team who they’ve failed to beat in their last four competitive encounters. Marco Rose watched his team win only their second league match in the last seven games when they beat Monchengladbach on Saturday. Rasenballsport are fifth in the table, struggling to keep pace with a moderately resurgent Dortmund and Stuttgart team that are refusing to follow the script. The one thing the players can depend on is that there will be no more fan protest holding up the games after the DFL abandoned their plans to seek investment partner for their media rights. A shining example of how fan ownership and democratic protest can get results. TD

Premier League: Arsenal v Newcastle United
20.00 on TNT Sports 1 & Ultimate
Arsenal return to domestic action with lessons to be learned after their midweek Champions League defeat in Porto. Since their FA Cup third round exit, the Gunners have been in rich form, swatting all opposition aside and racking up the goal difference. But having had so much joy in the Premier League, they couldn’t get near the Porto goal on Wednesday, with veteran Pepe using all his Champions League experience and being the touchstone for Porto’s smart performance. Arsenal fans may grumble about the Dutch referee not putting up with the sort of stuff you see every week in the Premier League (he called 36 fouls in the game, 22 by Arsenal) but ultimately the Gunners didn’t have a Plan B for the tactics that Porto were certain to employ. A few games unbeaten looks to have taken the heat off Eddie Howe for now but his side are still conceding goals. If the Gunners click back into their domestic form the (dirty) Mags could be made to suffer by a home side looking to forget their midweek frustrations. Though it’s also possible other coaches will have watched and learned from Porto. GS


igue 1: Lens v Monaco
12.00 on TNT Sports 1
The title race in France may as well be over but there is a fascinating battle for the European places. This should be a very different game from when the sides met in September. On that day in the principality, Monaco ran out 3-0 winners, with all the goals coming before the hour mark. For Lens, it was one of four defeats they suffered in their opening five games. Lens soon recovered and have been playing catch up ever since but have more recently been showing some of the form that took them to the Champions League places last season. Their European return came to an end in midweek, when they were one of the six Champions League dropouts to exit the Europa League play-off round, losing 3-2 in Freiburg. They had led 2-0 at half time in the Black Forest but couldn’t hold on and were eventually beaten by a Michael Gregotitsch winner in the first half of extra time. Lens themselves came back from two goals down when these two sides met in the Coupe de France last month. Wissam Ben Yedder gave Monaco the lead after just 33 seconds that day but the game ended with Monaco going through after a desperate penalty shootout that saw five consecutive misses. GS

EFL Cup final: Chelsea v Liverpool
15.00 on Sky Sports Football, Main Event & Ultra
No matter the competition, no matter the year, there always feels that there’s an air of inevitability about this fixture since the two sides started bumping into each other regularly at the business end of various competitions. What Chelsea would give for Champions League football these days, with Mauricco Pochetino still trying to figure out how to fit together his billion dollar jigsaw puzzle. But for all the general air of chaos around Stamford Bridge, Poch has somehow wrangled impressive consistency out of the Blues over the last three matches and their draw against Manchester City shows that on their day the Londoners can mix it against anyone. There’s never a good time to play Liverpool, with the Mersysiders desperate to send off Jurgen Klopp with a haul of silverware, but this final comes at an vulnerable moment for the Reds. Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones are the latest additions to the treatment room table and while you could never accuse Klopp of ever asking his side to give less than 100%, he may well be mindful of preserving his key squad members as we move into the title race run in. Recent matches between these two haven’t exactly been thrillers, but the result is by no means the foregone conclusion it might have been a couple of months ago. GA

MLS: Cincinnati v Toronto
19.30 on Apple TV MLS Season Pass
This weekend sees the stat of a new season of MLS or, to give it its full title, The Lionel Messi and a Bunch of Other Guys League. Clearly the multi-Ballon D’Or winner is the main attraction of the league, and all their marketing reflects that, even though his Inter Miami side failed to even make it to the play-offs in his first season. This fixture is one of four free matches available in the opening weekend and if the teams carry on their form from last season it should be comfortable home win. Cincinnati won the Supporters Shield last season - the prize for being the best team in the league - but lost out on the post-season MLS Cup, which was won by local rivals Columbus Crew. Toronto fans will be hoping that from where they ended last season, things can only improve. Under head coach Greg Vanney (now at LA Galaxy) the side went to three MLS Cup finals in his seven seasons, winning in 2017 along with the Supporters Shield. Since he left at the end of the 2020 season, Toronto have finished last in their conference, with 2023 being the worst season of their 16 year history. Englishman John Herdman has been given the job of turning the club’s fortunes, taking over for the final game of last season, which ended in defeat. It’s a gamble: this is Herdman’s first job in club management. He was previously the head coach for both Canada’s mens and women’s national team, switching to men’s football in 2018 after seven years with the women’s team. GS

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Graham, Terry, Jan and Gary

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