7 days in football – culminating in big derbies

DO Europe’s top leagues align their diaries to ensure some of the big games are played over the same weekend? Next weekend, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands and Italy all have huge clashes, while in midweek, we have the FA Cup quarter-finals and another round of Champions League games.

Monday March 13

In Northern Ireland, two of the front-runners, Crusaders and Cliftonville meet, while the last Scottish Cup quarter-final, Falkirk versus Ayr, takes place. The other semi-finalists: Rangers, Celtic and Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Tuesday March 14

Two UEFA Champions League last 16 second legs. Porto host Inter with the Italians having a one-goal advantage and Manchester City and RB Leipzig are all-square at 1-1. Who will join Chelsea, AC Milan, Benfica and Bayern Munich in the last eight?

Wednesday March 15

The last Champions League ties, Italian chamopions elect Napoli are at home to Frankfurt and have a two-goal lead from the first leg in Germany. Napoli are 18 points clear at the top of Serie A. Real Madrid won their first leg at Liverpool 5-2, so will be hoping to finish Jürgen Klopp’s side off at home. In the Premier League, the oddest “derby”, Brighton v Crystal Palace, the clash of seagulls and eagles, kicks off.

Thursday March 16

Manchester United have got their Europa League round of 16 tie sewn-up unless something seismic happens in Seville. Real Betis trail 4-1. Arsenal will have to work hard against Sporting Lisbon after their 2-2 draw in Portugal, but as Premier League leaders, they will be favourites to go through. Real Sociedad trail by two goals to Roma, who travel to Basque country for the second leg. In the Conference League, West Ham host AEK Larnaca with a 2-0 lead from their game in Cyprus.

Friday March 17

Cracking League One action with Sheffield Wednesday at home to Bolton Wanderers.

Saturday March 18

In the FA Cup sixth round, Manchester City welcome their former skipper Vincent Kompany and his Burnley side to the Etihad. In the Premier, struggling teams have tough tasks, including Southampton v Tottenham and Chelsea v Everton. League Two sees a promotion tussle with Carlisle United at home to Stevenage.

Sunday March 19

Three FA Cup quarter-finals: Sheffield United v Blackburn, Brighton v Grimsby Town and Manchester United v Fulham. It’s also the last eight in the Women’s FA Cup, with Lewes hosting Manchester United, Brighton going to Birmingham, Reading playing Chelsea and Aston Villa at home to Manchester City. In Spain, it’s El Clasico time, with Barca v Real Madrid. In Italy, the Derby d’Italia, Inter versus Juve takes place, and it’s the Rome derby aswell, Lazio v Roma. Ajax and Feyenoord meet headlong in Amsterdam, while in  Vienna, Austria Wien are at home to Rapid.

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