7 Days in football: This week’s big action

SOME CUP finals, some cup ties, big European nights and Major League Soccer 2023 gets underway in the United States; it’s a busy week in football, starting with Benfica v Boavista in the Portuguese Primeira Liga on February 20.

Tuesday February 21
The UEFA Champions League dominates and all eyes will be on Napoli as they look to continue their phenomenal form in Serie A where they have opened up a 15-point lead over Inter Milan. They won 2-0 at Sassuolo on Friday night, with goals from Kvaratskhelia and Osimhen and show no sign of letting up. The big question is, can Napoli win the UEFA Champions League? How good would that be for European football? They travel to Eintracht Frankfurt’s Deutsche Bank Park for the first leg of their round of 16 tie. They will certainly won’t lack for confidence. Liverpool, who are no longer for sale, host Real Madrid in the other big game, a team moving into form against a team that is losing their grip on the La Liga title. Obviously, it’s a repeat of the 1981, 2018 and 2022 finals – without the hassle of French police, of course.

Wednesday February 22
More Champions League action with Inter Milan welcoming Porto to the San Siro and Manchester City visiting RB Leipzig.

Thursday February 23
UEFA Europa/Conference League night. Union Berlin versus Ajax looks interesting and starts its second leg at 0-0. Union are one of three teams at the top of the Bundesliga on 43 points – they have a genuine title race in Germany. Manchester United host Barcelona in the second leg of their Europa tie, all square at 2-2. A full night of action across both competitions.

Friday February 24
It’s the second round of fixtures in the League of Ireland Premier and Derry City against newly-promoted Cork City is one of the standout fixtures. There’s a Dublin derby in the form of St. Patrick’s Athletic v Shelbourne and champions Shamrock Rovers travel to Drogheda.

Saturday February 25
In Spain it’s the Madrid derby, Real – Atlético Madrid, with Real currently eight points behind leaders Barcelona. Premier leaders Arsenal go to Leicester, while Manchester City visit Bournemouth, eager not to slip up again after letting the lead slip against Forest.

Sunday February 26
Two cup finals; EFL Cup Manchester United versus Newcastle United and Scottish League Cup, Rangers v Celtic. Newcastle will be desperate to win their first silverware since 1969 and first domestic prize since 1955. United have been improving by the week and have not won anything since 2017.  In Germany, Union Berlin against Bayern Munich is a vital top-of-the-table clash, with both teams level on points. Whoever thought this would ever happen? The Women’s FA Cup tie of the round is Chelsea v Arsenal, but there’s other intriguing ties in Manchester United v Durham and Brighton v Coventry United. It’s first against second in France’s Ligue 1, with Marseille meeting Paris Saint-Germain. Major League Soccer kicks off with the two Los Angeles clubs meeting, LA Galaxy at home to champions LA FC.

League leaders with the biggest margin at the top

 TeamCountryPoints margin
1New SaintsWales18
4Young BoysSwitzerland13
6Red Star BelgradeSerbia11
 Hamrun SpartansMalta11
 Dinamo ZagrebCroatia8

As at February 20, 2023

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