There was some thrilling midweek football action in the Champions League this week, with spirited comebacks by Real Madrid against PSG and by Tottenham against Juventus. Meanwhile, it was hard not to be impressed by the attacking prowess of both Manchester City and Liverpool as they respectively dispatched Basil 4-0 and Porto 5-0. We can only hope that next week’s four Champions League matches are just as good however, in the meantime, this weekend’s FA Cup 5th Round gives some of England’s smaller clubs a chance to shine in the spotlight.
FA Cup Matches
Huddersfield vs Manchester United
Huddersfield could have hit form at just the right time as they take on Manchester United. Huddersfield have won their last two games 4-1, whilst Manchester United have suffered consecutive away defeats against Tottenham and Newcastle, failing to find the net in both games. Huddersfield also boast a 2-1 win over United this season and, though United beat their rivals 2-0 at home recently, that should count for nothing in the FA Cup. Huddersfield look overpriced at 7/1.
West Brom vs Southampton
West Brom were shock winners over Liverpool in the last round but, whilst that’s the beauty of the FA Cup, they’ve lost all three matches since. Two of those they lost 3-0, whilst they also lost 3-2 at home to today’s opponents Southampton, who were completing the double over their opponents after winning 1-0 at home earlier in the season. The betting suggests it will be an even game, but the evidence so far this season suggests Southampton deserve to be favourites.
Sheffield Wednesday vs Swansea
If statistics are anything to go by then this match has draw written all over it. Not only have the pair drawn three of their four previous clashes, but Swansea have also needed replays to progress to the next round against Wolves and Notts County this season. Sheffield Wednesday have also needed a replay to progress in one of their FA Cup ties.
Rochdale vs Tottenham
Rochdale are that skint that they turn the heating up in the club shop in the hope it will attract supporters to shelter from the cold and spend some money whilst they’re there. However, they didn’t entertain Tottenham’s suggestion to swap the fixture to Wembley, and hopefully local supporters will flock to Spotland Stadium in their thousands for one of the biggest games in the club’s history. A draw would be great for Rochdale and remember Tottenham did draw at Newport in the last round before going on to win the replay at Wembley.
Brighton vs Coventry
Coventry won the last time the two teams met in the Championship in 2011 and won their only previous FA Cup match at Brighton in 2006. Brighton have been on the up since then, but Coventry have already beaten Premier League Stoke in their current cup run.
Wigan vs Manchester City
Wigan have fallen a long way since they beat Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup Final, but they have been playing well in League 1 and may well be back in the Championship next season. However, with City looking to have wrapped up the Premier League, and their Champions League clash with Basil, City look likely to continue their quest for the quadruple.
Wolves continue to dominate the English Championship, but the battle for the second automatic spot and the play-off places is as competitive as ever. This weekend’s big clash sees second-placed Aston Villa travel to fifth-placed Fulham, and both teams will be looking for a win to maintain their push for promotion to the Premier League. It could be a great game with both teams in form. Fulham have won their last six home games, whilst Villa are looking for an eighth straight league win. Victory has gone to the home team in recent matches, with Villa winning their last two home matches against Fulham 2-1 and 1-0. Meanwhile, Fulham won last season’s renewal 3-1. However, it’s worth noting that Villa had a player sent-off in the 22nd minute last season, and they’re probably a bigger-price than they should be on form.
English League 1
Wigan’s FA Cup run means Shrewsbury and Blackburn have the chance to put more pressure on Wigan, who have games in hand over their rivals for automatic promotion to League 1. However, Shrewsbury lost their home game against this weekend’s opposition Rotherham 3-0, though took their revenge away 2-1 earlier this season. It’s a similar story for Blackburn as they take on Bury. Bury beat Blackburn 1-0 in the EFL Trophy in October but Blackburn took their revenge 3-0 at Bury in November.
Barcelona’s 0-0 draw against Getafe last week would have had acca-backers ripping their hair out, but the Catalan giants can be excused their slip-up as they have the look of a team cruising towards their domestic title. On the back of that draw, especially considering they may rest important players for their Champions League clash against Chelsea this week, there will be plenty looking to oppose Barcelona this week at odds of around 1/2. However, those odds look fair considering they have won 4-0, 4-0 and 2-0 on their last three visits to Eibar.
Meanwhile, despite their 3-1 win over PSG this week, Real Madrid could be one to avoid this weekend as they lost 1-0 at home to Betis earlier in the season and, though they won this fixture 6-1 last season, they also only drew there the season before.
PSG will be absolutely fuming after letting Real Madrid take a 3-1 first-leg lead in their Champions League last-16 match, especially as they could easily have had two or three goals themselves before Ronaldo’s penalty equalled the match at 1-1. This weekend they’re around 1/12 to beat Strasbourg, who beat them 2-1 in the reverse fixture earlier this season, though PSG took revenge 4-2 in the Couple De La Ligue. If you don’t fancy taking such short odds, then a 1-0 win for PSG could be an interesting bet as the last three renewals of this fixture have all finished 1-0. One team to take on in France this weekend could be fourth-placed Lyon, who are away at Lille to whom they have lost three of their last four matches.
Bayern Munich continue their unstoppable march towards victory in the Bundesliga but could only manage a draw at home against Wolfsburg earlier in the season. However, that draw was preceded by six straight victories for Bayern, who led at half-time and full-time in five of those clashes.
The biggest match in Germany in this round of matches though is, arguably, Frankfurt vs Leipzing on Monday evening. Frankfurt sit two points and two places behind Leipzing and victory would see them leapfrog their opponents in the table. However, Frankfurt could be a favourite to take on having only drawn this fixture last season and having lost both their away games to Leipzig.
Napoli maintained their one-point advantage over Juventus last weekend as both teams won, and they look to have the easier task again this weekend as they host Spal having won the reverse fixture 3-2 earlier this season. Juventus, despite only drawing against Tottenham on Wednesday night, look the better value though as they travel to Torino. They’ve already beaten Torino twice this season at home in the league and the Coppa Italia, whilst they’ve won this fixture 4-1 and 3-1 in the last two seasons.