Friday, April 13, 2012

Weekend TV Preview: 13 - 15 April 2012

Friday 13 April

19.30 VfB Stuttgart v Werder Bremen, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
Both of these sides were in action during a busy midweek programme in the Bundesliga, with varying fortunes. Bremen went down to ten men with a 1-0 lead against Borussia Moenchengladbach and wound up needing an equaliser for 2-2, while Stuttgart's 3-1 win at Augsburg did wonders for their European hopes.
19.30 Fleetwood Town v Lincoln City, Blue Square Bet Premier, Premier Sports
Runaway leaders Fleetwood needed an own goal equaliser to overcome ten-man Wrexham on Tuesday night, a result that leaves them 11 points clear of the Welsh side. A win tonight will secure promotion after they failed to finalise the title in midweek.
19.45 Southampton v Reading, Championship, Sky Sports 1/1HD
The Royals' win at Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday took them level on points with leaders Southampton, but Nigel Adkins team have an immediate chance to rebuild the gap when they welcome Reading to St Mary's. It won't be easy though - Reading have won 14 of their 18 league games since the turn of the year.

Saturday 14 April

12.15 Aberdeen v Hibernian, Scottish Cup Semi-Final, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Both of these sides won away from home in their quarter-final matches. Hibs cruised past Ayr United with two early goals, while Aberdeen rode two first half Rory Fallon goals all the way to a 2-1 victory over Champions League chasing Motherwell. They meet at Hampden Park with a (relatively) mouthwatering final on offer for the winners.
12.30 Liverpool v Everton, FA Cup Semi-Final, ESPN/ESPN HD
The Alan Davies Saga has been unseemly, but it has thrown the spotlight on what is sure to be an emotional semi-final day on the eve of the Hillsborough anniversary. Kenny Dalglish will primarily be focused on happenings against Everton - he needs this particular pot in order to salvage Liverpool's season. He might even name himself as the reserve goalkeeper.
12.45 Norwich City v Manchester City, Premier League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Perhaps the only man who had a worse day than me last Sunday was Roberto Mancini, who probably didn't have to extend his stay in a hotel in Dudley in order to have somewhere sensible to vomit. He did, however, have to look on as Manchester United opened up an eight-point gap at the top of the Premier League. That's enough to make any blue want to hurl even before the midweek fixtures took place.
19.00 Real Madrid v Sporting Gijon, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
The reverse fixture saw Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid cruise to a 3-0 win over Sporting thanks to goals from Angel di Maria, Marcelo and - inevitably - Cristiano Ronaldo. Every game at the top of La Liga is now vital, with the title race finally becoming a real battle.
20.00 Lyon v Marseille, Coupe de la Ligue Final, ESPN/ESPN HD
Silverware awaits the winner of this year's Coupe de la Ligue final at the Stade de France. Lyon required extra time to negotiate their semi-final, which was eventually a 4-2 win over Lorient in which Bafe Gomis and Alexandre Lacazette were the heroes. Brandão scored the all-important winner for Marseille as they saw off Nice 2-1 in their last four game.
21.00 Levante v Barcelona, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Barca are right back in the fight for the title, but they can't afford to drop any points at all. Just as well, then, that they haven't allowed single point to go astray since 11th February, when they were beaten by Osasuna.

Sunday 15 April

11.30 Novara v Lazio, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Lowly Novara haven't won in four, so Lazio will be confident of tightening their grip on third - and a Champions League place - despite their own inconsistency. Besides, their alternating fortunes mean this one has to be a Lazio win.
12.45 Celtic v Hearts, Scottish Cup Semi-Final, Sky Sports 2/HD2
The League Cup may have escaped their grasp, but Neil Lennon's Celtic still have their Double destiny in their own hands. The title in the bag early thanks to Rangers' Basket Case of Doom, Celtic can now focus on Heart of Midlothian and the Scottish Cup. Hearts needed a replay to beat St Mirren in the quarters, but it was plain sailing for Celtic against ten-man Dundee United, whom they beat 4-0.
14.00 Cesena v Juventus, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Juventus are still top and they're hitting form just at the right time. They're just a point ahead of Milan but they have won their last five Serie A games. Famously, they're also unbeaten after 32 matches. Incredible.
16.00 Manchester United v Aston Villa, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1/3D
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Andi Weimann. We've known about him for AGES. He's BRILLIANT. And it's time Alex McLeish recognised it, because it's kids like Weimann, Ciaran Clark and Gary Gardner that might just turn things around for Aston Villa. It won't happen this weekend, though, because Manchester United never lose to Villa, and that's barely an exaggeration.
16.30 SC Freiburg v Hoffenheim, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
Both sides here have something left to play for. Freiburg are just six points clear of the drop zone, and Hoffenheim are the same distance from fifth place and a possible Europa League spot. The visitors have form on their side; they haven't lost in four.
18.00 Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea, FA Cup Semi-Final, ITV1/ITV1 HD
Yes, 18.00. 6pm. On a Sunday. Still, this semi-final should be a right-old slobberknocker. Harry Redknapp's got a taste for the Cup - it's the only thing he's ever won, after all - but Chelsea's modest resurgence under Roberto di Matteo could well be aided by the Wembley memories of a man who knows exactly what it takes to win the competition.
19.45 Roma v Fiorentina, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
If Lazio win on Saturday, rivals Roma have their work cut out to catch them. But they can keep themselves occupied by the challenge from below of another bitter enemy, Napoli, who would dearly love to make up the small gap and take the Europa League spot being kept warm by the Wolves.
20.30 Rayo Vallecano v Atletico Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
All four goals were scored by Atleti players in their 3-1 win over Rayo in December, and Sunday's hosts will be hoping their opponents have been sufficiently distracted by the Madrid derby and their European exploits to be susceptible to a surprise defeat.

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