7 days in football: This week’s big action

THE FA Cup reaches the last 16 with the eight ties being played in midweek, while domestic league title races heat up across Europe, including the Premier and Championship in England and the Bundesliga.

Monday February 27

A relatively quiet start to the week with games in Italy, Portugal, Spain and Portugal, but few standouts. Lazio versus Sampdoria looks the best bet for something interesting as the Roman side look to challenge for a Champions League place.

Tuesday February 28

In Italy, it’s the Turin derby between Juventus and Torino. The FA Cup fifth round is being played in midweek this season with Bristol City hosting Manchester City and Stoke City at home to Brighton, who must fancy a trip to Wembley. Fulham are at home to Leeds United and Leicester City welcome Blackburn Rovers. The Championship has a cracker this evening in the form of Luton Town (6th) versus Millwall (5th) at Kenilworth Road.

Wednesday March 1

Premier League leaders Arsenal play Everton at the Emirates, a vital game for both clubs. Arsenal are still two points ahead of Manchester City at the top, but Everton are back in the danger zone after their home defeat against Leeds United. Stuttering Liverpool are at home to Wolves. More FA Cup action sees EFL Cup winners Manchester United hosting West Ham United and Tottenham travelling to Sheffield United in a repeat of the 1901 FA Cup final (!). Elsewhere, Southampton are at home to Grimsby Town and Burnley play Fleetwood at Turf Moor. Incidentally, there is a house close to Fleetwood’s stadium entrance called Turf Moor, no doubt an exiled Burnley fan’s home!

Thursday March 2

In the Copa del Rey, Real Madrid versus Barcelona is the tie of the round. Real last won the trophy in 2014 and Barca’s most recent victory in the competition was 2021. The two teams meet again on March 19 in the league at the Camp Nou. The Copa Libertadores is underway and there’s  a curious tie in the form of Always Ready of La Paz in Bolivia (La Banda Roja) against Magallanes of San Bernandino in Santiago. Magallanes, who won Primeira B in Chile last year, also won the Copa Chile to qualify for the Libertadores.

Friday March 3

An interesting game this evening; Irish Cup quarter-final between Harland & Wolff Welders and Larne. The Welders are from Belfast and play at the [Danny] Blanchflower Stadium. They are in the second tier of Northern Ireland’s football structure. They’ve beaten two top flight sides on their way to the last eight, Newry and Glenavon. In the Bundesliga, title chasing Borussia Dortmund play fourth-placed RB Leipzig with BVB looking to put pressure on top-placed FC Bayern. Italian leaders Napoli have a tough home game against Lazio.

Saturday March 4

The Premier title race hots up with Arsenal at home to Bournemouth and Manchester City meeting Newcastle United at the Etihad. In the Championship, there’s two top clashes, Millwall versus Norwich City and Blackburn Rovers versus Sheffield United. 

Sunday March 5

In Austria, it’s old money versus new when Rapid Vienna play Red Bull Salzburg in the capital. Salzburg, of course, are top of the table, while Rapid are in fourth. Over in Catalonia, La Liga leaders Barcelona will be hoping to bounce back from their surprise defeat against Almeria when they welcome struggling Valencia to the Camp Nou. Champions League-chasing Roma are at home to hit and miss Juventus, who are languishing in eighth place in Serie A. It’s the Women’s League Cup final in England, Chelsea versus Arsenal at Crystal Palace. Chelsea have now featured in fourth consecutive finals and last won the trophy in 2021. The Premier game of the day is Liverpool versus Manchester United, which may revitalise passions at subdued Anfield.

FA Trophy and FA Vase 

The quarter-finals in England’s major non-league competitions are on the horizon. The games will be played on March 11.

FA Trophy: York v Altrincham; Gateshead v Farsley Celtic; Maidstone v Barnet; Aldershot Town v Halifax.

FA Vase: Congleton v Bury AFC; West Didsbury & Chorlton v Ascot; Newport Pagnell (the holders) v Atherstone; Peacehaven v Corsham.

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