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.

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