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: Nawf Lahndun f'revah

Among the drama of winning stuff and staying up, it's important remember the bragging rights.

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: Queens Park Rangers v Leeds United
20.00 on Sky Sports Football, Main Event & Ultra
Loftus Road is one of the worst places to watch football on earth. Shoehorned into a crowded and unfriendly part of West London, it gives any visitor the frightening vision of Fulham’s Craven Cottage following a thermonuclear strike. The seating is so tight, anyone taller than a metre and a half struggles: it’s the Ryanair of football. Thankfully, this meeting, important for both sides, is on the telly, so you don’t have to actually go there. A 1-0 win last week, against a Preston side who have been playing in their flip-flops of late, means that a win for the Hoops will guarantee Championship survival. Standing in their way is Leeds United, fresh from a dramatic 4-3 win in the ‘Boro on Monday night. This put them back into second place behind Leicester who more or less wrapped up promotion and the title with a 5-0 thumping of Southampton the following evening. It also ended an uncharacteristic blip which saw the Yorkshire side fail to win in three. Thankfully, their promotion rivals were busy doing the same, so a win tonight will heap the pressure on Ipswich to get something out of a tricky trip to Hull. It’s still all to play for in Championship - away win. JB


League One: Derby County v Carlisle United
12.30 on Sky Sports Football, Main Event & Ultra
This weekend sees the last round round of fixtures in the lower division of the EFL. All of League One’s fixtures kick off at 12.30 and League Two follows at 15.00, but most of the issues are already settled. In this game, Derby need only a point against an already relegated Carlisle to secure automatic promotion to the Championship along with Portsmouth. Play-off places are still on offer with Barnsley and Lincoln trying to hold off Oxford United and Blackpool, whose destiny is out of their hands as none of those sides are meeting on this final day. Fleetwood and PortVale are also already relegated, with Cheltenham relying on Burton to lose if they want any hope of avoiding the drop to League Two. In the fourth tier, Stockport, Mansfield and Wrexham are already up but the play-off situation is still to be resolved. MK Dons are the only side guaranteed a place in the knockout round, with Crawley, Bradford and Walsall still in the hunt to dramatically snatch a spot from either Doncaster, Crewe or Barrow. Forest Green are down and Sutton are most likely to join them with Colchester three points ahead with a better goal difference. GS

UEFA Women’s Champions League semi-final second leg: Chelsea v Barcelona
17.30 on TNT Sport 3 and DAZN
Cheslea’s 1-0 win in Barcelona in the first leg was the Catalans’ first home defeat in a competitive fixture in over five years. It was a cagey, close affair and were it not for the intervention of VAR, Barcelona’s home record could easily have remained intact, with a handball penalty decision for in their favour overturned for offside. It was a famous win for Emma Hayes’ side and came just as they looked to be feeling the pressure, having lost the Conti Cup final and an FA Cup semi-final in the week’s leading up to it. It also eased the painful memories of the 4-0 drubbing they received at the hands of Barcelona in the 2021 final of this competition (all goals coming in the first half). Success for Barcelona and Spain on the field has not seen improvements for players off of it. In a BBC interview last week, Barcelona’s Ballon D’Or winner (and player of the match in that 2021 final) Aitana Bonmati spoke out again at how little has changed for women’s football in Spain since they won the World Cup (she told French magazine L’Equipe much the same two months earlier). She went on to say how attractive the idea of playing in England is with increasing investment, growing public interest and a top league that is more competitive than other leagues in Europe. Expansion of this competition is coming but unlike the men’s, the women’s Champions League will not be switching to the new “Swiss” format until 2025 - the same time as a new second tier competiton is also introduced. Lyon lead PSG 3-2 going into the second leg of the other semi final in Paris, and you can watch it on these same channels on Sunday from 15.00. GS

Premier League: Aston Villa v Chelsea
20.00 on TNT Sports 1 & Ultimate
Aston Villa may be proudly carrying the flag as the only English representatives remaining in European competition, but the elimination of everyone else has made the likelihood of the Premier League benefiting from a fifth Champions League place next season practically zero. As things stand though, that extra place should only have been a safetly net for Unai Emery’s side as a win here would see them take a nine point lead over their nearest rivals for fourth spot, Spurs. On form you’d be hard pressed to see a different result than a home win here. Chelsea’s display at the Emirates on Wednesday was probably the worst display of any Pochetino side ever, and were it not for some poor finishing in the first half from the Gunners, it could have been considerably worse than 5-0. It could be argued that Chelsea were in a post FA Cup semi-final exit slump and have little else left to play for, but that kind of thinking can get a club into a trough it’s difficult to get out of. If Pochetino wants to remain as head coach of the club (though wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t) they will need to show something positive before packing up for their holidays. Villa could have one eye on Thursday’s Conference League semi-final first leg at home against Olympiakos but even that shouldn’t stop them from taking all three points here. GS


Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
14.00 on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra
The title race narrative changes with every game. Having been written-off after their home defeat to Villa, Arsenal provided a glimmer of hope that the season might not be already done with by comprehensively beating Chelsea to take a four point lead at the top of the table. That faint hope was tempered by City’s equally straightforward win against Brighton on Thursday. Now the Gunners lead by just a point having played a game more than City. An away North London derby will provide a much sterner test than Chelsea in their flip-flops with Spurs relishing the opportunity to deny their local rivals a chance to maintain table pressure on the champions. As I mentioned above, Spurs could start this game nine points behind Villa, but while that sounds insurmountable at this stage of the season, they do have three games in hand to keep those Champions League hopes tantalisingly alive. It has to be said though that they have a very tough run-in which sees them adopt the role of Premier League king makers; facing all of the top three in their final six games. An Arsenal win would almost certainly leave Spurs with very little reason to make much of an effort in their penultimate match of the season against City. Win or lose, Spurs fans could be the ones to have the last laugh. GS

Bundesliga: Mainz v Köln
16.30 on Sky Sports Mix
Any Kidderminster Harriers fans here? Remember a Danish striker from the early noughties? A shock of blonde hair on him. Went by the name of Bo Henkrisen. Well, now he’s coach of Mainz. He succeeded his Bo-sake, Svensson, in February when the 05ers were rock bottom of the table. Since joining, FSV have only lost twice and that was to the Bundesliga’s top two, Leverkusen and Bayern (the latter being an 8-1 thrashing). Last weekend they fought hard for a 1-1 which lifted them out of the bottom three for the first time since match day 2, albeit on goal difference. Another key component to Mainz’ revival is midfielder Nadiem Amiri who was a winter deadline day signing from Leverkusen and is relishing the deeper role to that he played in the Rheinland. Their opponents have less to be optimistic about. FC Koln are five points behind Mainz and Bochum, in seventeenth. Coach Timo Schultz was installed in January to replace the popular Steffen Baumgart who had run out of road. However, the new coach has not been able to make up for the lack of investment in the squad and talent drain. Three of Effzeh’s last four games to close out the season are against beatable opposition; Mainz, Heidenheim, and Union Berlin. A recent win against Bochum and a point at Augsburg lifted the gloom, slightly. But last weekend’s 2-0 home defeat to bottom club Darmstadt is a terrible look. They desperately need to find another level to avoid the drop. TD

La Liga: Real Betis v Sevilla
20.00 on La Liga TV and Premier Sports 1
After the VAR-related rancour of last weekend’s Clasico, what better than a Gran Derbi to cleanse the palate. And it should be a cracker as, rarely for this season, both teams are looking good. Betis’ mostly solid season threatened to fade away from them with four straight defeats in March, which saw them drop outside the European places, but winning their last two games has pulled them back to just three points short of sixth placed Real Sociedad (who face Real Madrid on Friday night on ITV4). The majority of Sevilla’s choatic season had been spent hovering just above the relegation zone. The club had just two wins when they sacked their second head coach of the season Diego Alonso in mid-December, after just 14 games. Things didn’t improve much under his replacement Quique Sanchez Flores who started with four defeats in a row. Since then however only Real Madrid and Barcleona have had better results, a upturn in form that now sees them within touching distance of the top half. GS

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Graham, Terry and Jan

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