Monday, March 26, 2012

Midweek TV Preview: 26 - 29 March 2012

Monday 26 March

20.00 Man Utd v Fulham, Premier League, Sky Sports 1 / HD1 / 3D
Twirling their moustaches like all lovable rogues, Stoke City have kept the collective bums of the Manchester City players, staff and supporters nice and squeaky. Now the opportunity exists for Manchester's other club to take the lead in the Premier League title race. The odds are in the Red Devils' favour. The last time these two teams met was at Craven Cottage with the away side winning 5-0. Moreover, Fulham's away record has been pretty awful this season with only two wins on the road, all campaign.

Tuesday 27 March

19.30 Tottenham Hotspur v Bolton Wanderers, FA Cup Quarter Final, ESPN / ESPN HD
Hopefully, Fabrice Muamba will be watching this rearranged FA Cup match from his hospital bed with confidence. His Bolton team-mates won at the weekend and their opponents have only won two games from their last nine.
19.45 Benfica v Chelsea, UEFA Champions League Quarter Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 2 / HD2
While Chelsea coach, John Terry insists that he is not the coach, his team face a very tough Benfica side. Remember that Braga team that proved to be incredibly hard to beat in the Europa League last season and finished runners-up? Well their coach is now at Benfica. Jorge Jesus's team have only lost once on the road in the Champions League and that was in the last round against Zenit St Petersburg. They still scored two goals in the match. If there are any over-confident Chelsea fans who think that the Blues have an easy draw (and there are) then they are dead wrong.
19.45 Apoel Nicosia v Real Madrid, UEFA Champions League Quarter Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 4 / HD4
Now this is an easy draw. Sorry, Apoel.
20.00 Sunderland v Everton, FA Cup Quarter Final Replay, ITV1 / ITV1 HD
More embargo busting by the those arrogant English. Under UEFA rules, domestic fixtures are verboten during Champions League matches. Both The FA and the Premier League have been openly defying those rules and quite right too. UEFA have stretched their Champions League schedule in recent years, making it extremely hard to rearrange postponed fixtures at times that are convenient for both TV audiences and more importantly, spectators. Previous blackout busting had been on Sky and this is the first to be screened on free-to-air TV, so it will be interesting to see UEFA's response.

Wednesday 28 March

19.45 AC Milan v Barcelona, UEFA Champions League Quarter Final 1st Leg, ITV1 / ITV1 HD
The tie of the round in Europe. Barca are imperious and must have the favour of the turf accountants. Milan were just as impressive in their first leg encounter against Arsenal in the last round but nearly blew it after being uncertain as to how to defend such a commanding lead. Somehow I don't think they'll have that problem against the mighty Catalans.
19.45 Marseille v Bayern Munich, UEFA Champions League Quarter Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 2 / HD2
The home side finally ended a run of 7 (SEPT) consecutive defeats with a 1-1 draw at Nice last weekend. Despite that, Bayern are expected to progress. The Bavarians overcame a tough Hannover side at the weekend and have scored 22 (ZWEIUNDZWEIZIG) goals in the last five games. They may not get much joy at the Velodrome, however, where a hostile reception awaits the visitors. Could be a big night.
22.45 Defensor SF v Chivas, Copa Libertadores, Premier Sports
After a disastrous start to the season, Chivas are improving. The Mexicans face a Defensor side who they beat in the reverse fixture in Group 7 and are bottom of the group table.

Thursday 29 March

20.05 Schalke 04 v Athletic Bilbao, UEFA Europa League Quarter Final 1st Leg, Channel 5 / Channel 5 HD
Now that those pesky English clubs are out of the way, UK broadcasters can relax and put on any team they like, safe in the knowledge that hardly any bugger is watching. This is one of two Bundesliga v La Liga clashes in the Europa league and the hardest to call. Tactics geek's poster boy Marcelo Bielsa wowed British audiences in the last round, with his explosive Bilbao team featuring the creative dynamo, Iker Muniain and striker Fernando Llorente. Meanwhile, Schalke posses the awesome attacking stylings of Jefferson Farfan, Klass Jan Huntelaar and some guy called Raul. If the idea of watching this game has no appeal then you know nothing about football.
20.05 Atletico Madrid v Hannover 96, UEFA Europa League Quarter Final 1st Leg, ITV4 / ITV4 HD
Atleti have the pedigree and the class to beat a dogged but tiring Hannover team. The northern German club are going through a purple patch in their history thanks to their excellent coach, Mirko Slomka (who may be at Bayern next season). However, the Madrid club have former Werder Bremen playmaker, Diego in their side who is anxious to prove to Bundesliga aficionados that his ill fated stint at Wolfsburg last season was all Steve McCLaren's fault.
20.05 AZ Alkmaar v Valencia, UEFA Europa League Quarter Final 1st Leg, ESPN / ESPN HD
This tie lacks the appeal of the other two but in Valencia, may well feature the eventual winners. Not that beating the team currently top of the Eredivisie will be anything but straightforward. However, an AZ win would be something of a coupon buster.

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