Monday, January 31, 2011

Midweek TV Preview: 31 January - 3 February 2011

Tuesday 1 February

19.45 Aberdeen v Celtic, Scottish Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
Celtic have the chance to go eight points clear of Rangers, who will have three games in hand on their city rivals by 10pm on Tuesday. The Bhoys face Aberdeen, who they beat by virtue of an Anthony Stokes goal as recently as 22nd January, but thrashed on Saturday in the League Cup.

20.00 West Bromwich Albion v Wigan Athletic, Premier League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Strugglers Wigan head for the Hawthorns aiming to leapfrog the Baggies and climb out of the relegation zone and win in the Premier League for the first time since Boxing Day. Luckily for Roberto Martinez, they just happened to be away in the Black Country that day too, beating Wolves in another crucial basement battle.

Wednesday 2 February

19.45 Palermo v Juventus, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Juve's Champions League hopes took an enormous blow on Sunday evening. A late Udinese winner from Alexis Sanchez completed a comeback from 1-0 to 1-2 for the visitors to leave the Old Lady in desperate need of a win against another of their rivals, Palermo. The winners on Tuesday night go sixth.

20.00 Fulham v Newcastle United, Premier League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Fulham have been dragged into the relegation scrap and host a Newcastle side unbeaten in four Premier League matches. The reverse fixture finished goalless in November, but the Magpies have failed to score in only one match since then. Fulham have only conceded three league goals this calendar year.

21.00 Real Madrid v Sevilla, Copa del Rey, Sky Sports 4/HD4
It's crunch time in the King's Cup and this semi-final second leg sees Real Madrid and Sevilla battle it out for the right to play Barcelona (presumably - Barca won their first leg 5-0) in the final. Real lead 1-0 thanks to a Karim Benzema strike in the first leg last Wednesday.

Thursday 3 February

00.00 (Thu morning) Gremio v Liverpool, Copa Libertadores, Premier Sports
No, I don't have Premier Sports either. If you, it might be worth tuning in at midnight for this perfectly poised second leg. With a spot in Group 2 (alongside Junior, Oriente Petrolero and Leon de Huanuco) on the line. The Uruguayans travel to Porto Alegre after holding Gremio to a 2-2 draw in the first leg.

19.45 Kettering Town v Crawley Town, Blue Square Bet Premier, Premier Sports
Crawley are on the crest of a wave after an impressive run into the FA Cup Fifth Round, and the mainstream media are lapping it up. But there's no romance in the world of secret ownership, Steve Evans and snide gamesmanship, so many clued-in neutrals will be keen for Kettering to bring them down to earth.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Weekend TV Preview: 28 - 30 January 2011

Friday 28 January

15.00 South Korea v Uzbekistan, AFC Asian Cup Third Place Play Off, British Eurosport 2
After a promising tournament, the Uzbeks imploded in their semi-final losing 6(олти)-0 to Australia. South Korea ran Japan close in their semi, scoring a last gasp equaliser in extra time, but failed to convert any of their penalties in the shoot-out.

19.30 Bayer Leverkusen v Hannover 96, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
Dortmund's nearest rivals for the title come head to head. Both sides have dropped points since the winter restart and with the usual suspects Bayern, Hamburg and even Schalke finding form, they'll do well to hold on to their positions come the end of the season.

19.45 Bury v Shrewsbury, League Two, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Two teams almost devoid of any form at the moment. Bury haven't won in two months and the Shrews have managed just one win in that time. Bury have slipped out of the play-off spots and Shrewbury will soon follow if they don't improve soon.

19.45 Gateshead v AFC Wimbledon, Blue Square Premier League, Premier Sports
A string of draws for AFC has given Crawley the opportunity to pull away at the top. Gateshead have improved recently and are unbeaten in five including a 2-2 draw last time out with the other title contenders Luton.

Saturday 29 January

12.30 Everton v Chelsea, FA Cup 4th Round, ESPN/ESPN HD
The first of five all Premiership ties in the 4th round. Everton have to get used to life without Steven Pienaar while Chelsea have to get used to life without Fernando Torres.

12.50 Swansea City v Leyton Orient, FA Cup 4th Round, S4C
Both teams experience an near identical prospect to the last round: promotion chasing Championship side at home to mid-table League one side. Orient will hope they can reproduce a similar performance to the one that knocked Norwich out in the last round while the Swans breezed past Colchester 4-0. Despite their unimpressive league placing, the Os have lost only once in their last 14 games.

15.00 Japan v Australia, AFC Asian Cup Final, British Eurosport 2
Football on TV at 3pm on a Saturday, don't mind if I do. Tough call this one, Japan's only convincing result in this tournament being their destruction of the frankly woeful Saudis but are unbeaten in eleven games.

17.00 Lazio v Fiorentina, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
An interesting rather than tantalising collection of Serie A fixtures on offer this weekend. While still in the Champions League spots, Lazio have struggled against so called lesser teams recently losing to Bologna last time out and losing to lowly Lecce at home. Fiorentina seem comfortable in mid-table.

17.15 Southampton v Man Utd, FA Cup 4th Round, ITV1/ITV1 HD
Here's hoping Southampton fans have another chance to sing "Premier League? You're having a laugh!" - I doubt whether it would get under the skin of Alex Ferguson as it did Ian Holloway.

19.00 Hercules v Barcelona, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Can lightning strike twice? Hercules stunned the world with their 2-0 win at the Camp Nou in week 2 and they're in fantastic home form winning their last four scoring 13 goals in the process. Worth a watch.

19.45 Catania v AC Milan, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Catania are being slowly sucked into the relegation scrap. Milan have won their last two visits here 2-0 and they're a better side this time around.

21.00 Deportivo La Coruna v Sevilla, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Sevilla have turned things around a bit but are now too far off the top four places to mount a serious challenge for a Champions League place. Depor are just being Depor.

Sunday 30 January

11.30 Brescia v Chievo, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
A north Italian derby with two teams from either side of Lake Garda. After coming up in the play-offs Brescia made a lively start to the season winning three of their first four games including a 1-0 win over today's opponents - unfortunately they've only won two more since then. Chievo sit just a few places above them in the bottom half.

12.00 Arsenal v Huddersfield Town, FA Cup 4th Round, ESPN/ESPN HD
Probably picked in case Leeds pulled off a win against Arsenal. Arsenal's fifth cup tie in January, they've scored three goals in each of their four games since losing to Ipswich.

13.15 Dundee United v Hibernian, SPL, Sky Sports 4/HD4
United's top scorer David Goodwillie has failed to find the net in his three games since his arrest on rape charges. A small crumb of comfort for an awful Hibs side who have managed just just two points in their last nine games.

14.00 Notts County v Man City, FA Cup 4th Round, ITV1/ITV1 HD
Two of Sven's exes come head to head with hilarious consequences.

14.30 Stuttgart v Freiburg, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
A good restart for Stuttgart with a win against early season pace-setters Mainz and and a hard fought draw away to runaway leaders Dortmund. A win here against a useful Freiburg side could see them climb out of the relegation zone.

15.00 Rangers v Motherwell, Cooperative Insurance Cup Semi Final, BBC1 Scotland
The numbers don't favour Motherwell: Rangers looking to reach their 34th final compared to Motherwell's fourth. The last time Motherwell got to the final was 2005 where they faced today's opponents and lost 5-1. The winner here will face either Celtic or Aberdeen in the final.

16.30 Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup 4th Round, ESPN/ESPN HD
Spurs have already beaten Fulham twice in the League this season - both times by the odd goal. With the push for a top four finish still their priority and the Champions League starting again soon, Harry may wish to get the FA Cup behind him. But with a dip in league form a good win could be just what they need to get back on track.

18.00 Osasuna v Real Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Real visit a side that haven't won in eight games. You can see where this is going.

20.00 Espanyol v Villarreal, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Fifth plays third, in a far more entertaining offering from La Liga.

Friday List of Little or No Consequence #173

Once upon a time, there was a football blogsite called 'Some People Are On The Pitch' and on it there ran a weekly feature called 'The Friday List of Little or No Consequence'. For over three years, it provided a light-hearted oasis of calm in a football world gone mad, and it did so by generating countless interesting, pointless, but above all enlightening facts.

When came to an end in July 2010, so too did the Friday Lists, but here at Football Fairground we won't let a good feature die. To that end, we're proud to bring you the first in a new selection of Friday Lists, and as was always the case, we invite you to contact us if you have any ideas for future lists.

With that all dealt with, let's carry on from where we left off...

Five Ring Circus
15 Football Clubs That Played Matches In Olympic Stadiums Once The Olympics Were Over

1. AEK Athens (2004 Olympic Stadium, Athens)
2. AIK (1912 Olympic Stadium, Stockholm)
3. Ajax (1928 Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam)
4. Djurgårdens IF (1912 Olympic Stadium, Stockholm)
5. Espanyol (1992 Olympic Stadium, Barcelona)
6. Germinal Beerschot (1920 Olympic Stadium, Antwerp)
7. Hertha Berlin (1936 Olympic Stadium, Berlin)
8. Los Angeles Aztecs (1932/1984 Olympic Stadium, Los Angeles)
9. Montreal Alouettes (1976 Olympic Stadium, Montreal)
10. Panathinaikos (2004 Olympic Stadium, Athens)
11. Queens Park Rangers (1908 Olympic Stadium (White City), London)
12. Real Salt Lake (2002 Winter Olympic Stadium, Salt Lake City)
13. Seoul United FC (1988 Olympic Stadium, Seoul)
14. St. Louis Stars (1904 Olympic Stadium, St. Louis)
15. Universidad Nacional (1968 Olympic Stadium, Mexico City)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Bundesliga Show Episode 8 - Andy James and Tim Hill

The Bundesliga Show returns with a slight change to the format. Jon Hartley was unable to join Terry Duffelen for the podcast but he does have a cracking interview with Andy James, reporter and commentator for the official Bundesliga website. He'll be talking about the huge changes that have been taking place at FC Koln in recent months and years.

Then we have an interview with top blogger, Tim Hill who chats with Terry about the tactical set up of two of Germany's great rivals, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke.

Click here to listen to the podcast or right click on the link to download it.

Alternatively, subscribe to the podcast feed here or the iTunes feed here.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Midweek TV Preview 24th - 27th January 2011

Monday 24th January

20:00 Bolton v Chelsea, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1/3D

The champions seem to have rediscovered themselves in time to travel to a Bolton side who have adjusted everyone's perception filter of them, under Owen Coyle.

Tuesday 25th January

13:25 Japan v South Korea, AFC Asian Cup Semi Final, British Eurosport 2/HD

Two sporting and political rivals clash in what sould be a nerve wracking and evenly balanced tie.

16:25 Uzbekistan v Australia, AFC Asian Cup Semi Final, British Eurosport 2
The Uzbeki's continuous improvement as a football nation results in a semi final place in the Asian Cup for the first time ever. As unknown quantities it is difficult to know if they have a enough for an experienced Aussie side. However, there are 82 places between the 25th placed Socceroos and their opponents so make of that what you will.

19:30 Blackpool v Man Utd, Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
As the football world waits with baited breath for Holloway's take on Keys/Graygate or whatever it's called, we have what promises to be an entertaining clash between a newly promoted team happy to have a go and an unbeaten Manchester United happy to tear teams apart, given the chance. We'll see.

19:45 Arsenal v Ipswich Town, Carling Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg BBC2/BBC HD
Meanwhile, Ipswich Town Rugby Club visit the North London Gymkhana Society. There's nothing like a war of words to liven up a midweek January League Cup game. Having said that, the Gunners need to get a wiggle on so attacking football is on the cards. And it's on terrestrial too which is nice.

19:45 Luton Town v Grimsby Town, Blue Square Premier League, Premier Sports
The Lutons are third, trying to chase down Crawley and Wimbledon. However, they've played more games than the Sussex boys so are at a disadvantage. Grimsby are mid table and still, no doubt, comings to terms with their reduced circumstances.

Wednesday 26th January
16:30 Sampdoria v AC Milan, Coppia Italia, ESPN
Quarter Final time at the Italian Cup and a chance for Samp fans to welcome back Antonio Cassano, assuming he plays.

19:00 Sevilla v Real Madrid, Copa Del Rey Semi Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 3/HD3
More King's Cup action from Spain. Sevilla should provide a sterner test for Real than Athleti did in the Quarter Finals after having beat Villareal 6-3 on aggregate.

19:45 Birmingham City v West Ham, Carling Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Humped by United at the weekend, the Blues are looking to work out their frustrations on FC Stratford. The Olympiammers smashed new boundaries of hilarity with their treatment of the lame duck, Grant. Cows in an abattoir are treated with more dignity.

19:45 Hibernian v Rangers, SPL, ESPN/HD
There's a full fixture list in the SPL this week and the TV offering is the Hibernian club who are going through a slump from Hell against a second placed Rangers team who lost their last match to Hibs' rivals, Hearts.

21:00 Barcelona v Almeria, Copa Del Rey Semi Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 3 / HD3
A Classico Cup final is on the cards if results go as expected. Hard to see Barca slipping up over two legs.

00:00(Thursday Morning) Corinthians v Deportes Tolima, Copa Libertadores, Premier Sports
Brazil meets Columbia. Good to see the Libertadores back on UK screens

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekend TV Preview: 21 - 23 January 2011

Friday 21 January

16.25 Uzbekistan v Jordan, Asian Cup, British Eurosport 2
Wins over Qatar and Kuwait saw Uzbekistan safely to the top of Group A in the Asian Cup and into the last eight. There they'll face Jordan, who finished behind an ominously comfortable Japan side only on goal difference in Group B.

19.45 Hamburger SV v Eintracht Frankfurt, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
A win for Hamburg would take them past Freiburg into sixth, at least temporarily. However, the same is true of visitors Eintracht, who are just a point behind HSV. In August, goals in the last half hour from Joris Mathijsen, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Paolo Guerrero saw Hamburg come from behind to beat the Eagles 3-1.

Saturday 22 January

12.45 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool, Premier League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Stephen Ward's prodded finish at Anfield spoiled Roy Hodgson's festive period and Wolves will be desperate for another three points against Liverpool when the Reds visit the Black Country on Saturday lunchtime. Only West Ham United are below Wolves in the Premier League table but a win for the hosts would take them 15th to set the pace for the weekend.

12.45 Hearts v Rangers, Scottish Premier League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
It's not looking so bad for Celtic the noo, and Kenny Miller's impending move to Turkey will please them no end. So too would a draw between their bitter rivals and Hearts, whose daring proximity will irk the Glasgow clubs.

16.25 Iran v South Korea, Asian Cup, British Eurosport 2
Jeju United's Koo Ja-Chool scored in all three of South Korea's Group C matches as the Taegeuk Warriors finished behind Australia. Their quarter-final opponents are Iran, who took maximum points from an easy Group D line-up.

17.20 Scunthorpe United v Burnley, Championship, Sky Sports 2/HD2
New boss Eddie Howe gets life oop north underway with a clash of the clarets against Scunthorpe United. Howe takes over Burnley in 10th place with the playoffs certainly in sight. Scunthorpe have lost four out of four in all competitions since the turn of the year and occupy 23rd place.

17.30 Aston Villa v Manchester City, Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
With rivals United and Birmingham meeting earlier in the day, these two go head to head with plenty at stake. City will be looking to keep pace with the leaders, who could be any one of them, United and Arsenal by the time the referee blows the final whistle at Villa Park.

19.00 Barcelona v Racing Santander, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Wednesday's mostly meaningless loss to Real Betis was Barcelona's first defeat in living memory, but doesn't take away from the fact that they host Racing this weekend on the back of a 13-match winning streak. Pep Guardiola's side are now four points clear of Real Madrid, who are in the kind of remarkable form needed just to keep up.

19.45 Roma v Cagliari, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
A last-minute own goal at Cesena earned three points for Claudio Ranieri's Roma to put them in fourth place and just five points behind leaders Milan, although both Milan and Inter have played since then. Cagliari have settled nicely in mid-table thanks in part to a 3-1 win over Palermo last weekend. Alessandro Matri's goal was his first in six matches.

21.00 Valencia v Malaga, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Valencia have drawn more matches this season than any other team in the top half of La Liga, but will be in the hunt for three points when lowly Malaga come to town on Saturday evening. Los Che have won their last four consecutive first division games, last losing at the Bernabeu in early December.

Sunday 23 January

11.30 Udinese v Inter Milan, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Four wins on the bounce have dragged Inter right back up into the Champions League spots, and they're now just six points behind leaders Milan. The Sunday lunchtime kick-off in Serie A sees the Nerazzurri face Udinese, who have their own designs on European qualification and are poised nicely in eighth place.

13.15 QPR v Coventry City, Championship, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Championship leaders QPR have seen their lead whittled down to three points thanks to a three-game winless run. Their visitors for Sunday lunch are decidedly mid-table and haven't won a league game since December 4th. QPR visited the Ricoh to win a Christmas Bank Holiday clash with two second half goals.

14.00 Sampdoria v Juventus, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Despite defeating Bari last weekend, the Bianconeri remain outside Serie A's top four ahead of their visit to Genoa to play Sampdoria. It was their first win in four and ended a run that looks to have made any title fight an uphill struggle. Samp have lost four of their last five in all competitions.

16.00 Blackburn Rovers v West Bromwich Albion, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
The bottom half of the Premier League is tighter than a chicken's behind, and when West Brom face Blackburn on Sunday they could be a lot closer to the bottom of it than they are now. Rovers have improved their home form and have won four of their last six league games at Ewood Park after a sticky spell in September and October.

16.30 Hoffenheim v St Pauli, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
The famous St Pauli play Germany's previous big news when they face Hoffenheim on Sunday. The hosts haven't won since the middle of November, but St Pauli are just two points above Koln in the relegation playoff spot. Stuttgart are also within three points of the Hamburg side but play Dortmund on Saturday.

18.00 Real Madrid v Mallorca, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
If you don't want to watch Andy Gray waffling on, hit the red button and watch the first 30 minutes of Real Madrid's clash with Mallorca in Spain. Real, having lost only to Barcelona (twice) in the league in the last year, dropped points against Almeria last weekend and then had to watch on as Barcelona defeated Malaga.

19.45 AC Milan v Cesena, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Roma, Inter, Milan - it's been a tough week for Cesena! It was no surprise that the Seahorses took no points in the first two games of this tough run, and a second San Siro fixture in four days is a mighty task. The Rossoneri, however, have struggled to kill teams off of late.

20.00 Villarreal v Real Sociedad, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Your final football fix of the weekend comes from La Liga, where high-flying Villarreal look to avenge their opening day defeat at the hands of Real Sociedad. Just as well, then, that they haven't lost at home in the league this season.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Bundesliga Show Episode 7 - BVB stay on target and Slomka celebrates

This week's edition of the Bundesliga Show reflects on the return of the German top flight after its Winter Break.

Jon & Terry reflect on Borussia Dortmund's impressive win at Bayer Leverkusen and celebrate the achievements of Mirko Slomka's Hannover team.

Can the 96ers stay the course and qualify for Europe?

Click here to listen to the podcast or right click on the link to download it.

Alternatively, subscribe to the podcast feed here or the iTunes feed here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bundesliga Week 18: Big Kev Strikes for BVB

To celebrate the restart of the Bundesliga, myself and three friends repaired to the Zeitgeist public house in Lambeth, south London on Friday to watch first placed Borussia Dortmund's potential crunch match with second placed Bayer Leverkusen. Perhaps it was the effects of the fine German beer but by the time the start of the Second Half, all four of us agreed that BVB were wasteful and trying to walk the ball into the net, like Arsenal at their worst. About ten minutes later, they were 3-0 up. Big Kev Großkreutz with a double and Mario Gotze showing that BVB were not missing Kagawa with the third.

Interestingly, Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp left top scorer Lucas Barrios on the bench, preferring the young Pole Robert Lewandowski. Presumably this was in reaction to the Argentine's late return to training after contracting a virus. No matter, the former Lech Poznan striker proved an adequate front man and provided further reassurance that the Dortmund club have the depth to see themselves through to the Bundesliga title.

For Leverkusen, things are less certain. Die Werkself were not themselves despite Stefan Kießling's consolation. Intriguingly, Michael Ballack started on the bench and did not feature. A relatively brave decision from coach Jupp Heynkes, given that he's on notice. The Bayer club are now fourth in the table despite Mainz' defeat to a suddenly organised Stuttgart.

This is because Hannover 96 registered a magnificent 3-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt. Michael Skibbe had some selection problems and needed to rearrange his defence. Consequently Ricardo Clark had a shocker. Shaken off the ball by Mohammed Abdellaoue for the first goal and absent at a corner for Christian Schultz' second. Didier Ya Konan's strike settled the game and move Hannover into second. A tremendous achievement and testimony to the coaching skills of Mirko Slomka. Clearly a top quality coach who, at 43 years old, is destined to have another crack at a top job.

Armin Veh is a coach who has been sitting uncomfortably for a while. However, the Hamburg coach has a bit of respite after Ruud van Nistelrooy's goal against Schalke. The relief was tempered slightly by the news that the Dutchman is wanted to fill the Gonzalo Higuain shaped hole at Real Madrid and the player's somewhat ambiguous public reaction to the news.

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich coach, Louis van Gaal has been raising a few eyebrows by chosing young 'keeper Thomas Kraft as his number one. The inexperienced custodian could not keep a clean sheet but did make a couple of cracking saves, including a penalty in his team's 1-1 draw with the post-Dzeko Wolfsburg. It was one of two spot kicks in the game. Philip Lahm struck the post with the other. The match was also notable for another injury to Franck Ribery. At the time it looked like he'd be out for months. After the game the sentence was commuted to weeks. Now its seems it's only ten days or so and by the time you read this you'll find that he was never injured at all. In fact, he's at your door right now, with cake.

But Kraft was not the only 'Keeper to perform penalty heroics. Thomas Kessler denied Pappas Demba Cisse a hat trick in St Pauli's 2-2 draw with Freiburg. Also, Christofer Heimeroth's late save protected an unlikely clean sheet and a 1-0 win for Borussian Monchengladbach against Nurnberg.

Werder Bremen said goodbye to Hugo Almeida and his wage bill in the Winter Break. Hoffenheim said goodbye to their coach, Ralf Rangnick. Marco Pezzaiuoli was promoted to the top job and thought his team grabbed an equaliser by Boris Vukcevic after Claudio Pizarro's opener. The wily Torsten Frings struck in the final minute with the winner for Bremen.

But if there are a few red faced penalty takers in the Bundesliga this weekend, spare a thought for Kaiserslautern defender Rodnei who commited the most horrific calamity in their game against Koln. From a free kick in their own half, Rodnei passed the ball back to his own 'keeper. But the 'Lautern defender misplaces his pass woefully and the ball rebounds of his own pass. With Tobias Sippel scrambling to get into position, Lukas Podolski (who had just hit the crossbar from a free kick, moments earlier) was the first to react and slots the ball home for the easiest goal he is ever likely to score.

Rodnei was utterly crestfallen and it is to his team mate's credit that many of them come up to the Brazilain, offering support. However, things got worse for the home side when they went down to 10 men after top scorer and possible Premier League target Srjdan Lakic appeared to raise his hand to Christian Eichner after claiming a penalty. At half time the ubiquitous Ray Winstone was offering UK punters on ESPN 10/1 odds against 'Lautern winning 2-1 which had a certain Bundesblogger scoffing in disgust. But when Jan Moravek brought the home side level he was left wondering if he'd scoffed too soon. However, despite the home side's pressure, Koln having a couple of chances cleared off the line, a sensational save by new Billygoats 'keeper Michael Rensing and a cat running on to the pitch the final game of the Bundesliga weekend finished with a draw.

That's it. Results and tables here.

Midweek TV Preview: 17 - 20 January

Monday 17 January

13.15 Saudi Arabia v Japan, AFC Asian Cup Group B, British Eurosport HD
The Green Falcons' campaign has collapsed in a big way. The 2007 runners-up lost their opening Group B fixture (2-1 to Syria) - a result that prompted the dismissal of head coach Jose Peseiro - and followed it up with a 1-0 defeat to Jordan, ranked 107th in the world. The Saudis therefore enter this match knowing it will be their last match of the tournament while Japan - presently group leaders - need a draw to ensure safe passage to the next round.

19.45 Brentford v Exeter City, JPT Southern Area Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 1/HD1
As luck would have it, a dress rehearsal for this match took place in League One on Saturday and in it, Exeter led for over 90 minutes before Nicky Forster earned the home side a point four minutes into injury time. Much to reflect on for both sides, especially The Grecians who will be hoping to sew the match up before the second leg back at St James Park on February 8.

Tuesday 18 January

13.15 Australia v Bahrain, AFC Asian Cup Group C, British Eurosport HD
Few would bet against Australia maintaining their unbeaten record thus far, especially against the unfancied Bahrainis. It's worth remembering, though, that if Bahrain do win and South Korea beat India, that'll be the Aussies out of the tournament. A must-win for both sides, then.

19.30 Ayr United v Hibernian, Scottish Cup 4th Round Replay, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Ayr gave a good account of themselves in the first match which finished 0-0 on January 8th, but Hibs were the more threatening and will hope to show their more clinical side at Somerset Park.

19.45 Cardiff City v Stoke City, FA Cup 3rd Round Replay, S4C/FA TV
Fair play to S4C for seizing on this one. Having played out a 1-1 draw at the Britannia, Cardiff will know that a spirited performance in front of an even higher-spirited crowd could earn them a 4th Round tie against either Doncaster or Wolves. Stoke, for their part, are flip-flopping on current form and will need 100% focus to emerge unscathed against the Welshmen.

19.45 Manchester City v Leicester City, FA Cup 3rd Round Replay, ESPN/ESPN HD
The managers of these two clubs know each other so well and have so much in common that it was probably no surprise the first match ended in a 2-2 draw. A rip-roaring 4-3 win for City over Wolves at the weekend could be a sign of things to come in this replay as Man City maintain their 'two-steps-forward-one-step-back' form progression.

20.00 Sevilla v Villarreal, Copa Del Rey Quarter Final 2nd Leg (3-3), Sky Sports 3/HD3
Sevilla have lost six of their last eight in the league while Villareal look ever more certain of a Champions League spot. You do the math.

Wednesday 19 January

16.15 Iraq v North Korea, AFC Asian Cup Group D , British Eurosport
The Iraqis left it late to beat the UAE on Saturday, but that win made as near as dammit no difference to their circumstances. A win over North Korea here is vital to secure their place in the quarter-finals, while a draw may not be good enough - especially if the UAE beat already through Iran in the other game going on at the same time as this one.

16.30 Sampdoria v Udinese, Coppa Italia Round of 16, ESPN/ESPN HD
Still no sign of stability for post-Cassano Sampdoria. Nothing to separate these two in recent Coppa Italia encounters with Udinese going through on away goals in 2006 and Samp by penalties in 2009

19.00 Deportivo La Coruna v Almeria, Copa Del Rey Quarter Final 2nd Leg (0-1), Sky Sports 1/HD1
Depor are currently on a slow slide towards the bottom of the table while Almeria are already there waiting for them. Perhaps unlikely to be at the top of your TV viewing list this week, but needless to say some of you will do the decent thing and watch it so the rest of us don't have to.

19.45 AS Roma v Lazio, Coppa Italia Round of 16, ESPN/ESPN HD
An excellent season so far for the two Rome sides promises much from this encounter but, as the away team, Lazio haven't won at the Stadio Olimpico since 1997.

20.00 Leeds United v Arsenal, FA Cup 3rd Round Replay, ITV1/ITV1 HD
With their performance in the first fixture together with a packed Elland Road crowd Leeds will enter this cup tie optimistically. Whether that optimism has any basis really depends on what Arsenal team decides to show up.

21.00 Real Betis v Barcelona, Copa Del Rey Quarter Final 2nd Leg (0-5), Sky Sports 1/HD1
The first leg of this tie finished 5-0 to Barca. Just in case you thought this might be a one-off or a freak result for the away side, we should tell you they won 4-1 at home to Malaga at the weekend. At best, Betis could scramble a draw if Guardiola rests his best players, but we suspect that's unlikely in the grand scheme of things.

Thursday 20 January

20.00 AC Milan v Bari, Coppa Italia Round of 16, ESPN/ESPN HD
This long, drawn out Round of 16 has been going on since mid-December. It finishes here with the top and bottom teams in Serie A, both far more concerned with their league form.

21.00 Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid, Copa Del Rey Quarter Final 2nd Leg (1-3), Sky Sports 2/HD2
Inconceivably, Real very nearly lost to bottom-of-the-league side Almeria at the weekend, and only a 77th minute Granero equaliser salvaged any respect for them when all looked doomed. Here, they have a 3-1 lead from the first leg, and just as well, we say.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Weekend TV Preview 14 - 16 January 2011

Friday 14 January

13:15 Australia v Korea Republic, AFC Asian Cup, British Eurosport 2
Mildly irritating for Western audiences that this game is on at lunch time but seeing as said audience is limited to a small group football geeks like us here at the Fairground, I don't suppose it matters a great deal. Should be a good game though, the winner almost certainly taking the group.

16:15 Bahrain v India, AFC Asian Cup, British Eurosport 2
In truth, this should be a wooden spoon play-off. If you're looking for an accumulator pick, then I'd have Bahrain. Apparently Bob Houghton's India were pretty awful against Australia.

19:30 Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga, ESPN
Those lazy Germans are back from their Winter Break and what better way to kick of the second half of the Bundesliga season than with a First v Second clash on a Friday evening. BVB may be the runaway leaders but they lost their last game all the way back before Christmas and another defeat may instigate a collapse. 'Nuff said.

19:45 Colchester v Bournemouth, Npower Championship, Sky Sports 3/HD3
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe's decision not to accept the management position at Crystal Palace is easier to understand when you realise that he still gets to be on the telly this weekend. Assuming, of course he hasn't buggered off to Burnley by the time you read this.

Saturday 15 January

12:00 Hibernian v Celtic, Scottish Premier League, ESPN/HD
Apparently there's a whole load of woobanging occurring north of the border involving Celtic and the SFA and stuff. Scottish football does appear at some sort of crossroads and is having trouble deciding which road to take. Maybe John Reid switched the signs around.

12:45 Swansea City v Crystal Palace, Npower Championship, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Meanwhile, after having been jilted by the aforementioned Howe, Palace have appointed former player and club hero, Sir Dougie of Freedman as manager. The Hero of Edgeley Park will be taking his revolutionary formation of 10 blokes randomly positioned on the pitch plus a 'keeper to a very good Swansea team with hilarious consequences.

17:30 West Ham United v Arsenal, Barclays Premier League, ESPN
Avram Grant's death by a thousand cuts continues with the welcome of an Arsenal XI whose cheeks are stinging after a couple of mildly embarrassing cup results.

19:00 Athletic Bilbao v Racing, Spanish La Liga, Sky Sports 3/HD3
Ninth meets Fourteenth and both teams in a bad run of form. Enter at your peril.

19:45 Inter v Bologna, Seria A, ESPN
Leo seems to have calmed the waters at the European champions and will no doubt make short work of Bologna.

21:00 Sevilla v Espanyol, Spanish La Liga, Sky Sports 3/HD3
Espanyol recovered themselves from a three game losing streak with a 4-0 tonking of Zaragoza. This keeps them in the hunt for a Europa League spot. I've seen Sevilla a couple of times in Europe this season and the League table doesn't lie, in my opinion.

British Eurosport have decided, in their wisdom, to only show highlights of Saturday's fixture which is a damn shame, to be frank. Unless of course they are replacing the football with Women's World Cup Biathlon, which will be just fine with me.

Sunday 16 January

11:30 Birmingham City v Aston Villa, Barclays Premier League, Sky Sports 1 / HD1
Poisonous local derby which has become infamous for on-the-field gaffs and off-the-field violence. Avoid.

11:30 Cagliari v Palermo, Serie A, ESPN
Palermo have not been beaten by a team outside the top four since losing to the Udinese club back in October. The odds are therefore most favourable for Cagliari to suffer a fifth home defeat of the season.

14:00 Liverpool v Everton, Barclays Premier League, Sky Sports 1 / HD1
Liverpool are in serious danger of turning into a real laughing stock. Will things get worse before they get better? An interesting side bet is to see which of the managers wins the Dour Scotsman stakes. My money's on the King.

14:00 Lazio v Sampdoria, Serie A, ESPN
With, Cassano out of the door, Samp face an uncertain future and won't relish a trip to the Olympic Stadium to face a Lazio side still in the hunt for a Scudetto.

16:00 Tottenham v Manchester Utd, Barclays Premier League, Sky Sports 1 / HD1
Blisters notwithstanding, himself Lord David of Beckingham, should be warming an executive box chair at the Lane for what is the hottest ticket in the Premier League this weekend. No doubt there will be a disproportionate amount of camera shots from Sky peering through a tinted window trying to catch a glimpse of the great man sipping Champagne. Only one glass, mind. There's a baby on the way, after all.

16:30 Eintracht Frankfurt v Hannover 96, Bundesliga, ESPN
Two of the Bundesliga's surprise packages look to hit their stride at the restart. Hannover have a real chance of qualifying for the Europa League. Keep an eye out for Didier Ya Konan. Cracking player.

16:15 China v Uzbekistan, AFC Asian Cup, British Eurosport 2
The Uzbekis will need to get something from this game to be certain of qualification to the Quarter Finals. China need the win. The other game between hosts Qatar and rock-bottom Kuwait will be played at the same time. It is possible that Eurosport may switch games depending on what's going on.

19:00 Almeria v Real Madrid, Spanish La Liga, Sky Sports 1 / HD1
Last knockings of the weekend sees Mourinho's striker-less wonders knocking six bells out of their hosts.

19:45 Lecce v AC Milan, Serie A, ESPN
The Rossonieri are in good shape and should ordinarily expect to have no problems against the third bottom team. Having said that Lecce have just arrived back from Lazio with all three points, so you never know.

20:00 Barcelona v Malaga, Spanish La Liga, Sky Sports 1 / HD1
Oh Lionel! You so fly!!

The Bundesliga Show Episode 6 - The Winter Break and John Kluempers

We are absolutely delighted to be back for the first Bundesliga Show of the New Year. This week we are joined by special guest John Kluempers from Deutsche Welle Radio who will be talking about the comings and goings during the Winter Break at Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich.

Terry and Jon will also look ahead to an exciting weekend of Bundesliga action, starting with the top two tussle twixt Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen, tonight.

All that, plus a little bit more on this week's Bundesliga Show.

Click here to listen to the podcast or right click on the link to download it.

Alternatively, subscribe to the podcast feed here or the iTunes feed here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Midweek TV Preview: 10 - 13 January

Monday 10 January
13.15 India v Australia, AFC Asian Cup Group C, British Eurosport 2
The Asian Cup kicked off on Friday and thankfully for us in the UK, British Eurosport have picked up the coverage. Should be a comfortable start to the tournament for the Socceroos playing a Indian team short on prepartion and having lost their last two fixtures 9(नौ)-1 and 5(पांच)-0 to Kuwait and UAE respectively. Australia will have a number of familiar names on show while the Indians have only one non-domestic based player in their squad: Kansas City's Sunil Chhetri.

16.15 South Korea v Bahrain, AFC Asian Cup Group C, British Eurosport 2
Bahrain beat Japan in qualification for this tournament but have struggled to find form over the past 12 months. The Koreans qualified on the strength of finishing third in the last tournament - Asian generosity at its finest.

19.30 Rangers v Kilmarnock, Scottish FA Cup 4th Round, BBC1 Scotland
Excellent cup tie in prospect with Kilmarnock having suffered just one defeat in the last ten. Rangers will hope the tug-of-war between Birmingham and Fiorentina (yes, Fiorentina) for the services of the League's runaway top scorer, Kenny Miller, won't prove too much of a distraction.

19.45 Crusaders v Glenavon, Irish League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Don't think Irish football is worth watching? Well check out Matty Burrows' goal for Glentoran against Portadown, shortlisted for FIFA's Goal of the Year Award, which is being handed out today.

20.00 Crawley Town v Derby County, FA Cup 3rd Round, ESPN/ESPN HD
If I hear the words "the one trophy that eluded his father" I won't be responsible for my actions.

Tuesday 11 January

13.15 North Korea v United Arab Emirates, AFC Asian Cup Group D, British Eurosport 2
Apparently "Bend it like Beckham" was aired on North Korean TV on Boxing Day - the first Western film to be shown there. Should be a decent game in this tournaments Group of Actual Death as long as the Supreme Leader doesn't change North Korea's tactics at half time.

16.15 Iraq v Iran, AFC Asian Cup Group D, British Eurosport 2
Oh come on, you seriously don't honestly need any more encouragement to watch this do you?

19.45 West Ham United v Birmingham City, Carling Cup Semi Final 1st Leg, BBC2/BBC HD
A lot of focus on the current West Ham (and former Birmingham) board here, especially after Avram Grant's comments regarding the club being destabilised from the inside. Seem to be the only people not thankful to Karren Brady for blocking the Steve Sidwell move is Aston Villa fans.

Wednesday 12 January

16.15 China v Qatar, AFC Asian Cup Group A, British Eurosport 2
Qatar could be the first team dumped out of their own tournament after losing the opener 2-0 to Uzbekistan. Still, they can get plenty of Brazilian ringers in before 2022, can't they.

16.30 Palermo v Chievo, Coppa Italia Round of 16, ESPN/ESPN HD
Not had enough cup action? How about some for Italy? Chievo are in awful form at the moment while Palermo are still sniffing around the Champions League spots and must be favourites to join Parma in the Quarter finals.

19.45 AFC Wimbledon v Luton Town, Blue Square Premier League, Premier Sports
The 1988 FA Cup winners vs the 1988 League Cup winners. Yeah, a lots changed since - football really was shit back then.

19.45 Ipswich Town v Arsenal, Carling Cup Semi Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Could be a long week for Ipswich fans. You can't really see Arsenal being on the receiving end of any kind of backlash from the Tractor Boys after their 7-0 drubbing to Chelsea in the FA Cup.

19.45 Hamilton v Celtic, SPL, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Bottom plays top with an inevitable result.

20.00 Inter v Genoa, Coppa Italia Round of 16, ESPN/ESPN HD
The holders' probably only realistic chance of glory this season. Genoa have the meanest defence in Serie A though so it won't be easy.

21.00 Barcelona v Real Betis, Copa Del Rey, Quarter Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 3/HD3
Come on, admit it, you're getting a bit fed up of cup football aren't you. Barcelona have the added incentive of playing at home should they reach the final.

Thursday 13 January

16.15 Syria v Japan, AFC Asian Cup, British Eurosport 2
A double strike from Abdelrazaq Al Hussain against Saudi Arabia has seen Syria take the advantage in this tough group. Japan however were surprisingly held against Jordan (settle down now) - it could have been worse if not for Maya Yoshida's last minute equaliser.

19.00 Almeria v Deportivo La Coruna, Copa Del Rey Quarter Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Almeria have the far more pressing matter of staying up to attend to than the Cup, while Depor - as usual - are just floating around mid-table. Almeria to go through then.

20.00 Juventus v Catania, Coppa Italia Round of 16, ESPN/ESPN HD
Juve haven't won the Coppa Italia since 1995 and will want to put in a good performance after being sunk by an Edison Cavani hat-trick against Napoli at the weekend.

21.00 Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid, Copa Del Rey Quarter Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 3/HD3
This Madrid derby could well be the proverbial "wafer thin mint" of your feast of knockout football. Go on, it is only wafer thin.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Weekend TV Preview: 8 - 9 January 2011

Saturday 8 January

12:45 Arsenal v Leeds United, FA Cup 3rd Round, ITV1/ITV HD
FA Cup ties between these two sides used to be close affairs but their last meeting back in 2004 brought that to an end as The Gunners won 4-1 at Elland Road. This match, we feel, could see a return to the old-fashioned nail-biter, though.

15:45 Aberystwyth Town v The New Saints, Welsh Premier League, S4C
TNS might be second in the table but they're 13 points behind leaders Bangor. Aberystwyth, however, are well entrenched at the relegation end. Yaki da, Boyo!

17:30 Stevenage v Newcastle United, FA Cup 3rd Round, ESPN/ESPN HD
A repeat of the 1998 4th Round tie in which Borough held The Magpies to a 1-1 draw. The 2-1 win for Newcastle at St James Park in the replay still wrankles with the Stevenage fans as Alan Shearer's first goal didn't actually cross the line. Ironic that the legendary No.9 is a big supporter of goalline technology these days, no?

19:00 Real Sociedad v Sevilla, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Both teams currently occupy the middle two positions of the La Liga table and have, to be truthful, been in shocking form lately. That said, Sevilla have put an end to their series of five defeats by beating lowly Osasuna at the start of 2011 so who knows - maybe one of these sides will contrive to put in a decent shift for your viewing delight.

21:00 Deportivo v Barcelona, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
La Coruna are a side improving all the time and in Adrian, they have a striker who knows where the back of the net is. But of course this is all futile as Barcelona are 24 points ahead of them in the table, and there endeth the lesson.

Sunday 9 January

11:30 Sampdoria v Roma, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Roma picked up their title challenge where they left off at the end of 2010 by beating Catania 4-2 this week. Another win will put them only a smidge behind leaders Milan whereas Sampdoria need a win to stop their recent decline towards mid-table.

13:15 Dundee v Motherwell, Scottish FA Cup 4th Round, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Two teams who hardly ever meet in the Scottish Cup, but when they do, Dundee usually win. And you thought Ray Winstone could tempt you into a crafty bet on an unlikely outcome....

13:30 Man Utd v Liverpool, FA Cup 3rd Round, ITV1/ITV HD
According to Mark Bright, Liverpool fans still can't understand the fact that they're no longer the giants of English football they once were. Good logic, Brighty, but you seem to be forgetting a certain night in Istanbul in 2005. It didn't happen so long ago as to be forgotten by most Liverpool fans... Home win.

15:30 Berwick Rangers v Celtic, Scottish FA Cup 4th Round, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Thirteen years it's been since Celtic last graced Shielfield Park with their presence, and on that occasion, The Bhoys put seven past their hosts. Berwick might be hoping it'll be another 13 years until they meet again given Celtic's current run of form. Oh by the way, did you know that Berwick are the only Scottish club not located in Scotland? Oh you did...

16:00 Leicester City v Man City, FA Cup 3rd Round, ESPN/ESPN HD
Two teams on the Sven Goran Eriksson CV, although to be fair there aren't many teams that aren't on his CV. This is amazingly the fifth time these teams have met in the Third Round since 1989, and Man City have won each of the last four. With Darius Vassell up front, surely that run must now come to an end in Leicester's favour.

18:00 Real Madrid v Villarreal, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Second v Third. A win for Real could put them top of the league while a win for Villareal will leave them only five points behind Real. Hardly worth bothering really, is it?

19:45 Napoli v Juventus, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Both these teams shipped plenty of goals in their first games of the calendar year this week, but Napoli will take heart from the fact that they've beaten Juve in their last two league meetings during 2010.

20:00 Levante v Valencia, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Question: What do Sergio Garcia, Johan Cruyff and Ian Harte have in common? Yes, that's right - they've all played for Levante. But do you know what they all have in common with the current Levante team? Yes, right again - they never have and never will win anything in a Levante shirt.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Six Shooters

Half a dozen Bundesliga strikers who's role will be of particular importance to their respective clubs in the second half of the season.

Patrick Helmes (Bayer Leverkusen, 5 goals in 10 games)
With Stefan Kießling out injured his fellow German International striker has stepped in to fill the breach admirably. Helmes spent the equivalent of an entire season on the sidelines after recovering from a knee ligament injury. However, after a full pre-season and a morale boosting Cup hatrick against Pirmasens set him up for the season in good form and had been on the mark for both club and country, domestically and in Europe. Despite Dortmund's lead at the top of the table, Leverkusen are in with a decent chance of winning the title. However, they'll need to arrest the trend of tailing off towards the end of each season if they're to stand a chance. Key to this will be Helmes' goals while Kießling plays his way back into form.

Raul (Schalke, 9 goals in 17 games)
The symbol of Felix Magath's high risk transfer policy this season, the former Real Madrid legend was brought in at great expense but as part of an overall plan to reduce the Konigsblauen's wage bill. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the former Spain international has taken some time to bed in. However, he has impressed with some determined displays and showed the kind of tenacity and commitment that confirms that he has not come to Gelsenkirchen to draw a pension. There is also the small matter of those handy hat tricks against Bremen and Koln which have propelled him into the top scorer ranks. With Schalke six points away from sixth placed Freiburg, a Europa League spot is not out of the question and would go some way in rescuing what has been, on balance, a dismal season. Raul seems settled and happy in his new environment. He also has the pedigree to live up to the immense pressure and expectation that comes with playing in front of such a vociferous and success starved crowd. It should be an immense second half of the season for Raul.

Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund, 5 goals and 16 games)
The young Polish international has hitherto played an effective understudy to Lucas Barrios for BVB in their rise to the Winter Championship. However, with Shinji Kagawa almost certainly missing for the restart while he plays for Japan in the Asian Cup, Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp may need to adjust his tactics and bring Lewandowski in alongside Barrios or the returning Mohamed Zidan. Dortmund really only need to retain their composure to claim the Bundesliga title and in order to do that they'll need the young Pole to support his senior professionals and pop up where needed with the odd goal at crucial moments.

Srdan Lakic (Kaiserslautern, 11 goals in 16 games)
Many neutrals should be please to see 'Lautern back in the German top division and the Croatian striker hs been at the heart of everything that's been good about the Red Devils who now sit in a relatively comfortable twelfth place in 1. Bundesliga. At 27, the baby faced former Wolfsburg player is hitting the big time relatively late in his career and will, no doubt be anxious to prove that he is not a one hit wonder. His ability to chase the lost cause and take full advantage of any half chance that comes his way has been the perfect fit for 'Lautern's direct approach in a league where opportunities are very much at a premium for newly promoted clubs.

Grafite (Wolfsburg, 7 goals in 14 games)
The former rubbush bag salesman from Sao Paulo should be capable of keeping his head while everyone else at the VW Arena is losing theirs. With Edin Dzeko rocking up at Eastlands the onus on the Brazilian will be increased further, especially if Dzeko's replacement cannot the secured before the transfer window close at the end of January. Sharing this burden will be his compatriot Diego. Their relationship on the field will be key to Wolfsburg's revival in the second half of the season. Not to mention coach Steve McClaren's immediate job prospects.

Theofanis Gekas (Eintracht Frankfurt, 14 goals in 16 games)
The Greek international's good form should be a surprise to no one who has followed the Bundesliga in recent seasons. While his club form dipped following his move away from Leverkusen to Portsmouth and Berlin, Gekas remained a consistent goal scorer for his country and was sure to back in amongst things once he'd moved to the right club. Eintracht Frankfurt made steady progress under Michael Skibbe last season and bringing Gekas to the Waldstadion was a master stroke which could very well see the Frankfurt club achieve European football next season. Assuming Gekas stays fit, he should be able to continue his run and may even finish Bundesliga top scorer for the second time in his career.

Midweek TV Preview: 4 - 6 January 2011

Tuesday 4 January

20.00 Fulham v West Bromwich Albion, Premier League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Despite their good start, West Brom could be an ideal opponent to help Fulham back over the dreaded dashed line. Both lost their New Year's Day matches and although Fulham haven't won at home since October, Albion have lost their last four and nine of their last 12. Fulham would go past them with a win.

Wednesday 5 January

19.45 Arsenal v Manchester City, Premier League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Two of the top three go head to head in a mouthwatering Premier League clash at the Emirates. When they met earlier this season, Dedryk Boyata's early sending off looked to have little effect on City but Arsenal eventually picked them off with a fine 3-0 win. Depending on Manchester United's result at Stoke on Tuesday, this match could affect the top of the table.

22.00 Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona, Copa del Rey, Sky Sports 3/HD3
Yes, footy fans, the lovely people at Sky are going to show you the WHOLE SECOND HALF of this fifth round, second leg. Better hope that's the half with all the action in it!

Thursday 6 January

11.30 Juventus v Parma, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Serie A returns from its brief winter pause with a lunchtime kick-off between Juve and Parma. The Bianconeri will go second with a win with Napoli and Lazio playing later on, and are unbeaten since September. Parma are just four points clear of the relegation zone.

14.00 Cagliari v AC Milan, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Leaders Milan will be keen to bounce back after being defeated by Roma before the break. Their lead is down to three points and Napoli and Lazio are breathing down their neck with Juve not far behind. Fortunately for Max Allegri, inconsistent Cagliari could prove easy to overcome.

19.00 Espanyol v Atletic Madrid, Copa del Rey, Sky Sports 2/HD2
It's advantage Atleti in this Copa del Rey fifth round, second leg. The first leg ended with ten men on each side thanks to the dismissals of Jose Antonio Reyes and Victor Ruiz, but it was Simao's 33rd minute spot kick that put the Madrid side in the driving seat. However, Espanyol's home form will encourage them - only Barcelona have won there this season.

19.45 Inter Milan v Napoli, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Two teams with contrasting fortunes meet at San Siro. Napoli, in second, are one of Europe's most entertaining sides and are reaping the rewards, albeit giving fans something of a rollercoaster in the process. The match marks a new era at Inter, who have replaced Rafael Benitez with Leonardo after the Spaniard guided the treble winners down the league table.