FIVE games to follow this weekend: Carabao Cup Final, MLS openers, River vs. Boca, and more

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In this weekend preview we summarise the best five games to follow on your match feed. And make a couple of suggestions for matches that you may otherwise miss.


By Bill Biss


🏆 Carabao Cup Final: Chelsea vs. Liverpool

The first silverware of the English season will be decided on Sunday, when the Blues meet the Reds at Wembley Stadium. In fact, this year’s Carabao Cup Final is a repeat of the 2022 showpiece, when, following a goalless 90 minutes and extra-time, the ensuing penalty shootout was decided by the goalkeepers – with Liverpool stand-in Caoimhin Kelleher coming out as the hero.

Kelleher will be between the sticks again as Liverpool come into the game in the midst of a much publicised injury crisis. But having only lost once since the turn of the year, and having scored 34 goals in the 11 games they’ve played in that period, Jürgen Klopp will be fairly confident that whatever side he puts out can bring home the cup.

That run includes a 4-1 demolition of Chelsea, at Anfield, at the end of January, a game in which Liverpool dominated Chelsea for 90 minutes, racking up 28 shots to Chelsea’s four. Mauricio Pochettino will be determined to right the wrongs of that performance, and instead look to build on his side’s latest showing, the 1-1 draw at in-form Manchester City last weekend.

For Chelsea, the Final provides the opportunity to win a first trophy under the ownership of Todd Boehly, while Liverpool have the motivation of marking what is Klopp’s final season with at least one major honour.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Premier League: Arsenal vs. Newcastle United

Back in the Premier League, there’s key fixtures for the other two sides involved in the title race, with both Arsenal and Man City looking to gain ground on leaders Liverpool while they are otherwise engaged. City play at Bournemouth in Saturday’s tea time kick-off, before Arsenal then take on Newcastle United in a rare even later kick-off on Saturday evening.

This is the first meeting between the sides since all the VAR controversy that marred Newcastle’s 1-0 win back at St. James Park in November.

Since then, the Magpies have gone through a very patchy spell before improving again in recent weeks, and they come in to the game sat eighth in the table, and unbeaten in five. Arsenal are third, one point below City, and five down on Liverpool, and until a surprise midweek defeat at Porto, looked in red-hot form themselves. Mikel Arteta’s side have won five Premier League games on the bounce, scoring 19 goals in the process – something that makes the setback in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie all the more frustrating.

🇪🇸 LaLiga: Real Madrid vs. Sevilla

In Spain, where Madrid’s lead at the top of LaLiga now stands at six points, Carlo Ancelotti’s side will welcome back a familiar face when they play Sevilla on Sunday evening. Former Madrid captain, Sergio Ramos, will likely start at the heart of the away side’s defence and will be key to any hopes that Sevilla have of maintaining their current four-game unbeaten run.

It’s a run that has begun to ease any fears of being dragged in to a relegation battle but the reigning Europa League champions do still sit 15th in the table, seven points above the dreaded drop zone.

Madrid did drop points last weekend, drawing at Rayo, but that’s just the sixth time that’s happened this season and they remain unbeaten in the league since September. Los Blancos have only been outscored by Girona (54 goals to 53) but in virtually every other metric, Madrid are top of the pile, including boasting the meanest defence – they’ve only conceded 16 goals in 25 league games.

With the second leg of their Champions League tie with RB Leipzig still a couple of weeks ago there are no distractions for Madrid and they should be going out all guns blazing at the Bernabéu.

🇩🇪 Bundesliga: Bayern Munich vs. RB Leipzig

This weeks’ surprise (was it a surprise?) announcement that Thomas Tuchel’s relatively short term as manager of Bavarian giants Bayern Munich will come to an end at the end of the season has meant that even more attention will be turned on Bayern’s game with RB Leipzig on Saturday.

For a side used to dominating the Bundesliga year after year, their current struggles do constitute something of a crisis. They’ve lost their last two in the league – including the vital clash against direct title rivals Leverkusen, and they trail Lazio 1-0 after the first leg of their Round of 16 tie in the Champions League. For all their struggles though, Bayern do remain the side with the highest goal threat in the league, and in Harry Kane, they have the most in-form goalscorer in Europe (25 goals in 22 league games).

Leipzig, as usual, are there or thereabouts, in the race for the European places below Bayern and they start the weekend in fifth. They have only won twice since football resumed post-Winter Break, but one of those did come last weekend, when they beat Gladbach 2-0 with goals from star players Xavi Simons and Loïs Openda.

A result will be important for Bayern, especially if Leverkusen extend their lead at the top to 11 points with a win in the Friday night game against Mainz.

🇦🇷 Copa de la Liga Profesional: River Plate vs. Boca Juniors

It’s a very special weekend in Argentina, with every game in this round of the Copa de la Liga either a bonafide Derby or in the absence of a natural foe, a rivalry designated by the league! That means we have the spectacle of Independiente vs. Racing in the Clásico de Avellaneda, Newell’s Old Boys vs. Rosario Central, Huracán vs. San Lorenzo, and of course, the Big Daddy of them all, the Superclásico, River vs. Boca.

The theme continues elsewhere in South America, with Flamengo vs. Fluminense in Rio’s Fla-Flu derby, and even in Bolivia, where Bolívar meet The Strongest!

But back to River-Boca, the two Buenos Aires giants meet in a European-friendly, primetime Sunday night TV slot. And the game comes at a point early on in the new campaign – matchday seven in the league cup tournament that sees the Argentine top flight split in to two for the first part of the season. River are unbeaten so far, having won 3 and drawn 3 in their group, and generally speaking, the club are in the ascendancy under manager Martín Demichelis (yes, that one). They won the main Primera title last year, and lifted the Trofeo de Campeones earlier this year, a kind of Super Cup played between the winners of the two-stage league format.

They also beat Boca in both Superclásicos played in 2023. Boca come in to this game out of form having won just twice this season and with goals in short supply. So much so that out of form veteran striker Edinson Cavani is quite the laughing stock in the Argentine press at the moment.


Plus two further suggestions, as the new MLS season gets underway…

🇺🇸 MLS: LAFC vs. Seattle Sounders

The 2024 MLS season actually started on Wednesday night, with Inter Miami beating Real Salt Lake. But this weekend is when the rest of the action takes place in Matchday 1. And fittingly, the league have come up with some blockbuster fixtures to headline each day.

On Saturday, we get the Western Conference clash between LAFC and Seattle Sounders. These two have regularly fought it out at the top of the standings for the past few seasons – in fact, just one point separated them last year as the Sounders finished second and LAFC came third. In the play-offs that followed, they actually met in the Conference semi-finals, a game Los Angeles won over two legs before eventually going on to lose the MLS Cup Final, missing out to Columbus Crew.

Hugo Lloris is the biggest name that LAFC have added to their squad in the off-season, while keeping top scorer Denis Bouanga must also be seen as a success. The Sounders haven’t made many changes either, with young Argentine prospect, Pedro De la Vega, who plays predominantly as a winger, perhaps the most well known.

🇺🇸 MLS: LA Galaxy vs. Inter Miami

On Sunday, and staying on the West Coast, we get the heavyweight clash between LA Galaxy, the former home of many a MLS Galáctico, and Inter Miami, the current home of most of the league’s superstars, and owned, in part, by former Galaxy player David Beckham.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez rolled back the years in their first competitive appearance together for the Herons on Wednesday, both providing assists in what was a hard fought 2-0 win against Salt Lake. The result would have been a relief to many fans who followed their turbulent pre-season tour matches.

Both of these high profile sides missed out on the play-offs last year. Miami can perhaps be forgiven having played the first half of the season under Phil Neville and then gone through a period of transition following the arrival of coach Tata Martino, Messi, and the other stars that followed. For LA Galaxy, the league’s most decorated side, it marked a disastrous low point.

The Galaxy will be looking to start strong then, to banish memories of last season’s poor showing, while Inter Miami have the chance to lay down another marker in a year when so much is expected of them.


If you want to follow any of the games mentioned above, click on the relevant link and tap the bell icon to receive all the key match updates.

Or join our new WhatsApp Channel for updates on all the important football going on this weekend!

Images from IMAGO

FIVE games to follow this weekend: Carabao Cup Final, MLS openers, River vs. Boca, and more

In this weekend preview we summarise the best five games to follow on your match feed. And make a couple of suggestions for matches that you may otherwise miss.


By Bill Biss


🏆 Carabao Cup Final: Chelsea vs. Liverpool

The first silverware of the English season will be decided on Sunday, when the Blues meet the Reds at Wembley Stadium. In fact, this year’s Carabao Cup Final is a repeat of the 2022 showpiece, when, following a goalless 90 minutes and extra-time, the ensuing penalty shootout was decided by the goalkeepers – with Liverpool stand-in Caoimhin Kelleher coming out as the hero.

Kelleher will be between the sticks again as Liverpool come into the game in the midst of a much publicised injury crisis. But having only lost once since the turn of the year, and having scored 34 goals in the 11 games they’ve played in that period, Jürgen Klopp will be fairly confident that whatever side he puts out can bring home the cup.

That run includes a 4-1 demolition of Chelsea, at Anfield, at the end of January, a game in which Liverpool dominated Chelsea for 90 minutes, racking up 28 shots to Chelsea’s four. Mauricio Pochettino will be determined to right the wrongs of that performance, and instead look to build on his side’s latest showing, the 1-1 draw at in-form Manchester City last weekend.

For Chelsea, the Final provides the opportunity to win a first trophy under the ownership of Todd Boehly, while Liverpool have the motivation of marking what is Klopp’s final season with at least one major honour.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Premier League: Arsenal vs. Newcastle United

Back in the Premier League, there’s key fixtures for the other two sides involved in the title race, with both Arsenal and Man City looking to gain ground on leaders Liverpool while they are otherwise engaged. City play at Bournemouth in Saturday’s tea time kick-off, before Arsenal then take on Newcastle United in a rare even later kick-off on Saturday evening.

This is the first meeting between the sides since all the VAR controversy that marred Newcastle’s 1-0 win back at St. James Park in November.

Since then, the Magpies have gone through a very patchy spell before improving again in recent weeks, and they come in to the game sat eighth in the table, and unbeaten in five. Arsenal are third, one point below City, and five down on Liverpool, and until a surprise midweek defeat at Porto, looked in red-hot form themselves. Mikel Arteta’s side have won five Premier League games on the bounce, scoring 19 goals in the process – something that makes the setback in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie all the more frustrating.

🇪🇸 LaLiga: Real Madrid vs. Sevilla

In Spain, where Madrid’s lead at the top of LaLiga now stands at six points, Carlo Ancelotti’s side will welcome back a familiar face when they play Sevilla on Sunday evening. Former Madrid captain, Sergio Ramos, will likely start at the heart of the away side’s defence and will be key to any hopes that Sevilla have of maintaining their current four-game unbeaten run.

It’s a run that has begun to ease any fears of being dragged in to a relegation battle but the reigning Europa League champions do still sit 15th in the table, seven points above the dreaded drop zone.

Madrid did drop points last weekend, drawing at Rayo, but that’s just the sixth time that’s happened this season and they remain unbeaten in the league since September. Los Blancos have only been outscored by Girona (54 goals to 53) but in virtually every other metric, Madrid are top of the pile, including boasting the meanest defence – they’ve only conceded 16 goals in 25 league games.

With the second leg of their Champions League tie with RB Leipzig still a couple of weeks ago there are no distractions for Madrid and they should be going out all guns blazing at the Bernabéu.

🇩🇪 Bundesliga: Bayern Munich vs. RB Leipzig

This weeks’ surprise (was it a surprise?) announcement that Thomas Tuchel’s relatively short term as manager of Bavarian giants Bayern Munich will come to an end at the end of the season has meant that even more attention will be turned on Bayern’s game with RB Leipzig on Saturday.

For a side used to dominating the Bundesliga year after year, their current struggles do constitute something of a crisis. They’ve lost their last two in the league – including the vital clash against direct title rivals Leverkusen, and they trail Lazio 1-0 after the first leg of their Round of 16 tie in the Champions League. For all their struggles though, Bayern do remain the side with the highest goal threat in the league, and in Harry Kane, they have the most in-form goalscorer in Europe (25 goals in 22 league games).

Leipzig, as usual, are there or thereabouts, in the race for the European places below Bayern and they start the weekend in fifth. They have only won twice since football resumed post-Winter Break, but one of those did come last weekend, when they beat Gladbach 2-0 with goals from star players Xavi Simons and Loïs Openda.

A result will be important for Bayern, especially if Leverkusen extend their lead at the top to 11 points with a win in the Friday night game against Mainz.

🇦🇷 Copa de la Liga Profesional: River Plate vs. Boca Juniors

It’s a very special weekend in Argentina, with every game in this round of the Copa de la Liga either a bonafide Derby or in the absence of a natural foe, a rivalry designated by the league! That means we have the spectacle of Independiente vs. Racing in the Clásico de Avellaneda, Newell’s Old Boys vs. Rosario Central, Huracán vs. San Lorenzo, and of course, the Big Daddy of them all, the Superclásico, River vs. Boca.

The theme continues elsewhere in South America, with Flamengo vs. Fluminense in Rio’s Fla-Flu derby, and even in Bolivia, where Bolívar meet The Strongest!

But back to River-Boca, the two Buenos Aires giants meet in a European-friendly, primetime Sunday night TV slot. And the game comes at a point early on in the new campaign – matchday seven in the league cup tournament that sees the Argentine top flight split in to two for the first part of the season. River are unbeaten so far, having won 3 and drawn 3 in their group, and generally speaking, the club are in the ascendancy under manager Martín Demichelis (yes, that one). They won the main Primera title last year, and lifted the Trofeo de Campeones earlier this year, a kind of Super Cup played between the winners of the two-stage league format.

They also beat Boca in both Superclásicos played in 2023. Boca come in to this game out of form having won just twice this season and with goals in short supply. So much so that out of form veteran striker Edinson Cavani is quite the laughing stock in the Argentine press at the moment.


Plus two further suggestions, as the new MLS season gets underway…

🇺🇸 MLS: LAFC vs. Seattle Sounders

The 2024 MLS season actually started on Wednesday night, with Inter Miami beating Real Salt Lake. But this weekend is when the rest of the action takes place in Matchday 1. And fittingly, the league have come up with some blockbuster fixtures to headline each day.

On Saturday, we get the Western Conference clash between LAFC and Seattle Sounders. These two have regularly fought it out at the top of the standings for the past few seasons – in fact, just one point separated them last year as the Sounders finished second and LAFC came third. In the play-offs that followed, they actually met in the Conference semi-finals, a game Los Angeles won over two legs before eventually going on to lose the MLS Cup Final, missing out to Columbus Crew.

Hugo Lloris is the biggest name that LAFC have added to their squad in the off-season, while keeping top scorer Denis Bouanga must also be seen as a success. The Sounders haven’t made many changes either, with young Argentine prospect, Pedro De la Vega, who plays predominantly as a winger, perhaps the most well known.

🇺🇸 MLS: LA Galaxy vs. Inter Miami

On Sunday, and staying on the West Coast, we get the heavyweight clash between LA Galaxy, the former home of many a MLS Galáctico, and Inter Miami, the current home of most of the league’s superstars, and owned, in part, by former Galaxy player David Beckham.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez rolled back the years in their first competitive appearance together for the Herons on Wednesday, both providing assists in what was a hard fought 2-0 win against Salt Lake. The result would have been a relief to many fans who followed their turbulent pre-season tour matches.

Both of these high profile sides missed out on the play-offs last year. Miami can perhaps be forgiven having played the first half of the season under Phil Neville and then gone through a period of transition following the arrival of coach Tata Martino, Messi, and the other stars that followed. For LA Galaxy, the league’s most decorated side, it marked a disastrous low point.

The Galaxy will be looking to start strong then, to banish memories of last season’s poor showing, while Inter Miami have the chance to lay down another marker in a year when so much is expected of them.


If you want to follow any of the games mentioned above, click on the relevant link and tap the bell icon to receive all the key match updates.

Or join our new WhatsApp Channel for updates on all the important football going on this weekend!

Images from IMAGO