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: Super Saturday

You want finals? Do you think you can do four in a day?

Seven great matches to take you from Friday to Sunday. It’s the last Sound of Football Weekend Boxset of 2023/24.

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All times are UK


Serie A: Bologna v Genoa
19.45 on TNT Sports 3
It’s the final round of fixtures in Serie A this weekend. Now you may think that means all the teams will be kicking off at the same time - like what happens in pretty much every other league. You know, just to make sure no one can make crazy accusations of funny-business. Well, this is Italy. They do things different here. This game, in honesty, is a dead rubber but for the travelling fans it should be a celebration of Bologna’s amazing season; achieving their best finish in the table since the sixties and earning qualification into the Champions League. But it will also be tinged with the certain knowledge that the architect of their success, head coach Thiago Motta, will be leaving, probably to take over at Juventus. The club have done their best to keep the 41-year-old, offering him a new deal and promising further investment but having been linked with almost all of the biggest vacant jobs in Europe (and there are plenty right now) he will be off in the summer. The ties involving relegation threatened sides will kick off at the same time on Sunday evening. Empoli need to beat Roma to avoid the drop, they will be replaced by Udinese if they cannot defeat Frosinone. Should Empoli draw and Udinese lose, the two sides will finish level on points and, as per the league rules, go on to face each other in a relegation play-off. GS


A-League Grand Final: Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne Victory
10.45 on TNT Sports 4
In the relentless churn of the football money-and-banter machine, it’s quite refreshing to have a rare story about nice guys finishing first. The Central Coast Mariners are Australia’s smallest A-League club and currently the dominant force in antipodean football. Reigning champions, they’ve already got a Premier’s Plate (league title to you and me) and an AFC Cup in the trophy cabinet this season as they chase an unprecedented treble. The closest equivalent in England would be if Torquay United became world beaters on their current budget. Coach Mark Jackson has shaped an extremely well disciplined team who know how to lock out teams but also pick off opponents and the Mariners would be worthy winners of this season’s competition. In their way stand Tony Popovic’s Melbourne Victory, a side that has never been one to show any sentiment to footballing romance, and will have no qualms about playing the role of puppy drowners in Gosford. Popovic is a serial winner in Australia, churning out well drilled sides (bar last season’s aberration) that grind their way to victory. Or at least did until the finals came around, with matches against Melbourne City and Wellington Phoenix absolute thrillers, with goalkeeper Paul Izzo saving penalty after penalty and at times single-handedly dragging his side to the final whistle. Matches between these sides have tended to end in a draw - a Popovic speciality - so don’t be surprised to see extra time. The Mariners will probably be the neutral’s choice in Australia, but don’t rule out Victory spoiling the feelgood factor with a sneaky smash and grab raid. GA

FA Cup Final: Manchester City v Manchester United
15.00 on BBC One & iPlayer, ITV1 & ITVX and STV
Déjà vu: a feeling of having already experienced the present situation. Yes, it’s a repeat of last year’s final, which, of course, I don’t have to remind you was won 2-1 by City. The Gundogan final, as, I’m sure, someone probably calls it. This final, the first repeat of the previous year’s since 1885, will be just as memorable. Well, it’ll certainly be memorable if United win it; it would be the biggest upset in this competition since Wigan beat City in 2013. City are going for another, sort of, treble (if you include the Club World Cup), while United are trying to salvage something out of yet another season of chaos. Even if United do somehow win, you can’t shake the feeling that the next time UK TV audiences will see Erik ten Hag on the touchline he’ll be leading a well-organised Bundesliga side against Chelsea in the Europa League. And looking a darned sight happier with his lot. GS

UEFA Women’s Champions League Final: Barcelona v Lyon
17.00 on TNT Sports 2 and DAZN
Outside of the World Cup, this is the closest you can get to finding out who are the champions of the world (until FIFA’s new Women’s Club World Cup starts in January 2026). There’s little debate that these are the two best sides in the world right now; between them they’ve won the last eight finals in this competition and boast three of the four women ever to win of the women’s Ballon D’Or. That said, this meeting wasn’t an inevitability. Fortune played a part in Barcelona’s journey to the final, with the side gaining the advantage with marginal calls in their semi-final against Chelsea - a tie in which they lost the home leg, their first home defeat in five years. Unlike Chelsea, who were pushed all the season domestically, Barcelona can only truly test themselves in this competition - as proved in their 8-0 Copa de la Reina final win over Real Sociedad. PSG give Lyon more competition in France, but even they fall short; losing by a goal in both legs of their Champions League semi-final and their French league championship play-off. However, the sides do not enter this final as equals. Despite being the current holders, Barcelona will consider themselves the underdogs. When Barcelona have won this competition, it was other sides that knocked out Lyon. The eight times champions Lyon have not only beaten Barcelona in previous finals, they’ve humbled them, killing the ties in the first half on both occasions. Unlike the men’s competition, the women's Champions League will not be switching to the single group “Swiss model” until season 2025/26 (this is presumably due to existing TV contracts not aligning with the men’s competition). There will also be a second tier competition introduced, which will at least give other clubs a chance to win something. GS

DFB Pokal Final: Kaiserlautern v Bayer Leverkusen
19.00 on Premier Sports 1
Kaiserslautern have been a long time out of the limelight. Former Bundesliga champions and a topflight club as recently as 2012, Die roten Teufel dropped in the second division and then down to the third tier for the first time in their history in 2018. They returned to Bundesliga 2 in 2022 but with little prospect of a return to the big time, soon. In fact, ‘Lautern had to bring in experienced coach Friedhelm Funkel in February to secure their league status with a run of three wins in the last five games. Despite their league mediocrity, FCK are enjoying their first cup final since they beat Karlsruhe in 1996 to lift the trophy. The path to Berlin has been trouble free. FC Koln were the only Bundesliga team they played, who they beat 3-2 at a packed Fritz Walter-Stadion. After that they overcame Nurnberg, Hertha and giant killers, Saarbrucken. In view of their final league position and journey to the final it is hard to see them overcoming the newly crowned Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen, especially if top scorer Ragner Ache does not shake off his Achilles tendon injury. But if Ache is fit, he could inflict some severe butthurt on Leverkusen if they fail to recover from the arse-kicking they got from an irrepressible Atalanta side, in the Europa League Final on Wednesday. The Bergamo club were the much better side but the manner with which Xabi Alonso’s team wilted under the pressure was almost as baffling as his decision to not start Victor Boniface, Patrick Schick and particularly the combative midfielder, Robert Andrich. B04 were never in the game and suddenly Alonso looked like the rookie coach he is. His task now, is to lift his players for what is an eminently winnable final and achieve what would still be an historic domestic double and a season for the ages. TD


Scottish Premiership play-off final 2nd leg: Ross County v Raith Rovers
12.00 on Sky Sports Football
Having survived the play-off last season, Ross County are back here again fighting to stay in the top flight. An unlikely win against Rangers in the final game before the split gave the Highland side some hope of escaping the play-off, but a late equaliser conceded against St Johnstone, their only rival for 10th place and safety, saw them go into the final day needing to beat Aberdeen. They didn’t. Raith Rovers lost out to Dundee United in the race for automatic promotion but beat Partick Thistle on penalties in the play-off semi-final. Ross County have a one-goal advantage going into the second leg having won 2-1 on Thursday night. The second half saw Yan Dhanda score from the spot and provide an assist for former Sunderland defender Jack Baldwin to put Ross County in control of the tie, but a late goal from Sam Stanton has given hope to Raith in the away leg. Ross County know all about play-off comebacks having turned around a two goal deficit last season against the aforementioned Partick which also ended up going to penalties. GS

Championship play-off final: Leeds United v Southampton
15.00 on Sky Sports Football, Main Event & Ultra
This is the richest game in world football, don’t you know? It really is! Even better if whoever emerges from this fixture as victors can actually manage to stay in England’s top division for longer than a season. As we’ve seen this term, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do this, with all three promoted clubs relegated from the Premier League earlier this month - not one with more than thirty points. Capitalism has gaslighted fans into getting all excited about the mammoth windfall a victory today will bring, glossing over that fact that they’ll have to sit through a miserable nine months of getting battered week in week out while the same team wins the whole thing again. Still, it does make for an incredibly exciting end to the domestic season. Leeds go into this one having thrashed Norwich 4-0, a result which cost David Wagner his job at the Canaries. For their part, Southampton saw off the Baggies with two late goals from Adam Armstrong. Assuming he’s fit for today’s match, Armstrong will be looking to continue his excellent form against Leeds: three goals and two wins this season. Farke does have his own goal machine in the form of Crysencio Summerville who has scored twenty and assisted nine in an outstanding campaign. It’s the biggest prize in football… until we smash capitalism. JB

Whatever you watch, have a great summer.

Graham, Terry, Jan and Gary

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