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: News of a goal in the other game...

This week there's plenty of final day drama and play-off finals too.

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 play-off semi-final 2nd leg: Southampton v West Bromwich Albion
20.00 on Sky Sports Football, Main Event & Ultra
While both first legs of the play-offs resulted in 0-0 draws, the match between the Baggies and the Saints was anything but tame. Anyone watching would be forgiven for asking how it could have finished without a goal given the number of decent chances created by both sides. This was something of a surprise as both recorded decent wins on the final day of the season, reversing near identical collapses in the run-in. That said, Southampton will have taken the positives from the clean sheet; while they do have plenty of goals in them, their defence isn’t as tight as coach, Russell Martin, would like. For West Brom, their fifth place finish hides a pretty poor away record, with their last win back in early March against now relegated Huddersfield. Last time they visited St Mary’s they went down 2-1, and I can’t see them getting anything out of a Southampton side who are very strong at home. We now know that the victors tonight will face Leeds United at Wembley. Their 4-0 demolition of Norwich was so complete in its execution that they pose a formidable obstacle to reaching the Premier League. JB


A-league semi-final 2nd leg: Central Coast Mariners v Sydney
10.45 on TNT Sports 1
Sydney will head to Gosford harbouring a sense of injustice and a thinner squad than they’d like. No fewer than 3 marginal VAR calls went against them in the first leg, along with a harsh second yellow for teenage midfielder Corey Holman, but it was their disallowed equaliser that was probably the most contentious of the lot. But for all the VAR sideshow, there’s no denying that the Mariners have been the model of consistency this season under Mark Jackson and fully deserve their Premier’s Plate and the AFC Cup. Last Friday’s win at Moore Park took the Mariners to nine unbeaten in all competitions and it’d be a surprise if they easily relinquished their goal advantage from the first leg (which finished 2-1). That said, Gosford has been a happy hunting ground in recent years for Sydney and they’ve been responsible for Central Coast’s only home loss of 2024. But the loss of Holman and Jack Rodwell (yes, that Jack Rodwell) through suspension and injuries to ever-presents Joe Lolley and Jake Girdwood-Reich leave a bit of a hole in the middle of the park for the Sky Blues. This will probably be a home win, but given these two haven’t played out a draw in their last 11 meetings, it’s unlikely to be dull. GA

Bundesliga: Bayer Leverkusen v Augsburg
14.30 on Sky Sports Arena
It’s the final round of fixtures in the Bundesliga and a chance to witness history. If they avoid defeat today, Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen will complete an unbeaten season - the first time it’s been acheived in Germany’s top flight. They can go on to secure an unprecedented unbeaten treble-winning season with victory in the Europa League final against Atalanta on Wednesday, and in the Pokal final against Kaiserslautern next weekend. With, potentially, the entire top half of the Bundesliga qualifying for Europe next season, mid-table Augsburg have something to play for here; the chance to snatch maybe even a Europa League place with a win (though a sharp downturn in recent form suggests they won’t). The number of European places up for grabs means that Gladbach are the only side in the mid-table with nothing to play for, so hopefully the coverage will keep viewers up to date with all the action as it unfolds. From the start of this season, international fans of the Bundesliga have been able to see all the key action on Goal Arena, an English language version of their live goal show Konferenz. It’s not usually available in the UK because of the embargo that forbids showing any live football on Saturday afternoons during the main part of the season. This feed is available to Sky so they could put it on one of their streaming platforms or at least cut to the action whenever it occurs. The relegation fight shapes up like this: the best Köln can hope for is the relegation play-off place, they will be automatically relegated if they fail to beat Heidenheim away, or Union get at least a point at home to Freiburg. Union will need to win that game to stand a chance of getting out of a relegation play-off against 2 Bundesliga third-placed side Fortuna Dusseldorf. The win will only be enough if either Bochum lose in Bremen or Mainz lose in Wolfsburg. Should they both lose and Union win, Mainz will face the play-off. GS

Alternative viewing: If you prefer you final day action a little less complicated, the equation in the Women’s Super League is fairly straightforward: to win the title, City must do better than Chelsea. If they both win, City must win their game by three more goals than Chelsea win theirs. BBC One & iPlayer has Aston Villa v Manchester City, while Manchester United v Chelsea, Emma Hayes’ final game in charge of the Blues, is on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra. Both games kick off at 15.00. If it looks like there won’t be any surpises you could switch over to BBC Red Button or iPlayer to watch the U17 Women’s Euros Final, England v Spain, which kicks off at 16.00.

League One play-off final: Bolton Wanderers v Oxford United
16.15 on Sky Sports Football, Main Event & Ultra
Bolton had ambitions to reach the top two of League 1 this season. After the trauma of administration in 2019 and with Covid nearly sending them back to the wall, the Trotters have gathered a decent squad, patiently assembled by sporting director, Chris Markham. Head coach Ian Evett has a team of mostly lower league journeymen hungry for success. Goalkeeper Nathan Baxter is a former Chelsea youngster and is posting good reviews since his arrival. So too has Dion Charles, the club’s tops scorer, and defensive midfielder Aaron Morley. But despite an unbeaten run of seven games the Wanderers couldn’t overhaul Portsmouth or Derby for an automatic spot. Their thumping 6-3 aggregate in the playoff semi-final win over Barnsley was mitigated by defeat in the second leg. That said, Bolton must be the favourite to clinch that third promotion spot at Wembley, a stadium that they last visited last year and beat Plymouth 4-0 in the Pizza Cup Final. Oxford did not seal their playoff spot until the last game of the regular season. A 2-1 win at Exeter and results elsewhere going their way carried them to fifth place. Having narrowly beaten Peterborough at the Kassam stadium, the Bulls held out for a 1-1 draw at London Road and booked their place at Wembley. Des Buckingham’s team should relish the role of plucky outsiders playing against the team that failed to make the top two and carries the burden of favouritehood. It’s a fun role and I would not bet against an upset. TD


Serie A: Sassuolo v Cagliari
11.30 on TNT Sports 2
With only two rounds of fixtures to be played, these two find themselves in a group of six teams battling to escape relegation. In their eleven seasons in Serie A, Sassuolo have played the role of disruptors - defying expectations and bringing a bit of chaos to the top flight. Of course not everyone sees disruptors as a good thing, some fans of Italian football see them as a plastic club: without fans, bank-rolled by a wealthy owner and even partly responsible for the demise of Reggiana. The club does have a small fanbase and play in a neighbouring town, in a stadium they bought (a very rare thing in Italian football) and now share with the local club Reggiana who are back on their feet and playing in Serie B. Much of the criticism appears to come from international fans of the bigger teams, who Sassuolo have often beaten. The latest win over Inter means they have won as many games as they have lost against the newly-crowned champions. That win has also given the Neroverdi a chance of escaping the drop but losing their next match at Genoa sees them now needing to win both of their remaining games (even that may not be enough). Claudio Ranieiri has already said that his current role as head coach of Cagliari will be his last job in football. He took the Sardinian side up to Serie A last season, 33 years after doing it in his first spell at the club where he made his name as a coach. It’s been an emotional season for the club, in January they lost their club legend and star of their 1970 scudetto winning side, Gigi Riva, an icon of Italian football. A win here won’t be enough to guarantee safety, but that will be secured should either Empoli or Frosinone lose their games later in the afternoon. GS

Another crunch tie involving two relegation threatened sides, Udinese v Empoli, follows this game on TNT Sports 4. Kick-off is at 14.00.

League Two play-off final: Crawley Town v Crewe Alexandra
13.00 on Sky Sports Football, Main Event & Ultra
At the start of the season, I doubt many would have predicted these two sides would be playing for a place in League One. Crewe and Crawley were both among the bookies’ favourites to go down; this being more than justified by the latter’s dismal 22/23 finish just one place above the drop. Proving the cynics wrong, the Red Devils finished a respectable seventh, and went on to ease past a decent MK Dons side 8-1 over the two playoff semi-final legs. Things were a little different for Crewe who dramatically came back from a 2-0 first leg deficit to force a penalty shoot-out against Doncaster which they went on to win. Comebacks are something Crewe seem to have in their locker: they scored three second half goals in the first league fixture at Crawley’s Broadfield Stadium to win 4-2, following up with a home win in the return game. The winners today will join already promoted Stockport, Wrexham and Mansfield in the dizzying heights of League One next season. JB

Premier League: Arsenal v Everton
16.00 on TNT Sports 1
In the thirty-one previous seasons of the Premier League, the title has gone down to the final day just nine times. None of those occasions saw the lead in the table change. Today could be the day that changes, but it’s unlikely. Arsenal need to win and hope that City fail to to do so. Only once in those nine occasions has the table leader failed to win; in 1995 when Blackburn lost to a late Jamie Redknapp free-kick, a goal lost in the celebrations of the news that United could only draw at West Ham. Arsenal face the best defence outside of the top three, City face the worst defence outside the bottom three. This is the first time Arsenal have been involved in a title-deciding final fixture since 1989. City have won four of their six Premier League titles on the final day, but at least on two of those occasions they made it a bit more interesting by going a goal down - against Villa in 2022 and against QPR in 2012 (Aguerooooo and all that). Such is City’s efficiency in these title races, you can easily imagine that even if a side took all the 114 points available to them in a Premier League season, City would find a way to go one better and get 115. Hmm, why is that number so familiar? GS

The champions’ party at Manchester City v West Ham is on Sky Sports Main Event & Ultra, but instead you could watch Jurgen Klopp’s emotional Anfield farewell; Liverpool v Wolves is on Sky Sports Premier League. Alternatively, you can watch Chelsea v Bournemouth on Sky Sports Football & Arena to see if Pochetino can confirm Europa League football for his side next season.

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Graham, Terry, Jan and Gary

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