I hope you don’t have any plans this Sunday as this week’s must see matches feature five bumper games and they are all on one day! That’s right, we have our very own Super Sunday! Still need convincing that you should free up your day? We’ll we’ve got the first piece of silverware in England up for grabs, an El Clásico, a vital battle between first and second in the Netherlands and two more games featuring title contenders. Consider your appetite wet.
Coventry City v Sunderland
League One: Sunday 12:00
Sky Sports Football
The early kick-off comes courtesy of League One where second placed Coventry host Sunderland in fourth. These two are amongst four sides separated by just three points at the top of the table so, with just a third of the season left, this match becomes a certified promotion six-pointer. When Coventry realised back in April that they wouldn’t be allowed to play their home games at the Ricoh Arena this season because of a legal dispute with owners SISU and Wasps (the rugby team that owns the ground) I am sure a return to the Championship was the last thing on their minds. However, as we enter March the West Midlands team are well In the hunt to return to England’s second tier after an eight year absence. Coventry eventually agreed to play their home games in Birmingham this campaign and that decision seems to have been a blessing in disguise as they have only lost one of their 15 home fixtures. Furthermore, Coventry also have the tightest defence when it comes to home games, conceding just 11 times in 16 games at St.Andrews. Couple this with their impressive away form, which is third best in the league, and you can see why Mark Robin’s team are strong contenders for the title. Sunday’s test will prove to be one of Coventry’s toughest though, as they face a Sunderland side who are trying to rejuvenate their club following two relegations in three years. Phil Parkinson’s men are looking to go one better than they managed last season, having lost the play-off final against Charlton thanks to a 90+5 minute winner. Brutal. The Black Cat’s have been in title-winning form since the turn of the year, winning eight of their 12 league games, whilst also keeping clean sheets in their last seven victories. Both these sides played midweek; Sunderland required a 90+7 minute equaliser from Max Power to rescue a point at home to Fleetwood. Coventry faced Rotherham in a top-of-the-table clash, with Sky Blues’ forward Matt Godden scoring in his second consecutive home game to earn his side a draw. Godden now has 12 goals for the season. It is worth mentioning as well that Coventry do have a game in-hand over the three sides around them, so this match feels more like a must win game for the visitors.
RB Leipzig v Bayer Leverkusen
Bundesliga: Sunday 14:30
BT Sport 2
I’ll tell you what, I am loving the Bundesliga this season! With Bayern Munich showing more vulnerabilities than normal, the chasing pack have been allowed to mount genuine title challenge’s which has made the league SO much more entertaining. Just six points separate Munich at the summit and Bayer Leverkusen in fifth, so it really is anybody’s game. If Leverkusen want to show they are serious about a title push though, victory on Sunday away at second placed RB Leipzig would be the perfect statement. Leipzig are in red-hot form right now having won 10 of their last 14 league matches, scoring 44 goals in that time. They also haven’t lost at home domestically since late September. So, like I said, beat Leipzig and other teams will have to take Leverkusen’s Championship challenge seriously. Bayer’s form isn’t too shabby either, they have won six of their last seven including a 4-3 win over Borussia Dortmund. They also possess a striker in Kevin Volland who has nine goals and seven assists this season. However, those numbers look miniscule to RB’s talisman Timo Werner, with the striker netting 21 times in the league, whilst also providing seven assists like his German counterpart. Those contributions have led many to believe Werner is on his way to Liverpool in the summer, with the 23 year-old recently mentioning how he is a huge admirer of Reds manager Jürgen Klopp and stated that Klopp was the best manager in the world. The Leipzig forward went on to say that he believes his style of play would suit the Anfield club perfectly. If this is the case, I am sure Werner will want to leave Leipzig having won a major trophy, and that is very possible this season. RB will have the added incentive of knowing what Bayern Munich’s result was from the previous day too. Whether that motivates them, with the knowledge that victory will take them to the top, or adds pressure, knowing they need a win to stay in touch, only time will tell. One advantage Leipzig already have over Leverkusen however is that they will have the fresher legs, with Bayer playing a Europa League last 32 tie in Portugal just three days prior to this match-up. When these two met back in October the visitors needed a late goal to come away with a draw, this time out I believe the hosts will take all three points to keep Munich on their toes.
Aston Villa v Manchester City
Carabao Cup Final: Sunday 16:30
Sky Sports Main Event
The midway point of Super Sunday takes us to Wembley and that can only mean one thing, a trophy is at stake! Aston Villa and Manchester City meet knowing they are both just 90 (or 120) minutes away from lifting the Carabao Cup. This day out at Wembley will be a welcomed one for Dean Smith and his Villa side as they are currently in the midst of a relegation battle in the Premier League. The West Midlands club sit in 17th, one point and one place above the dreaded drop with just 11 games to go. Ironically though they have had to overcome top flight opposition in all but one of their games en route to the final. After thumping Crewe 6-1 in the first round back in August, Aston Villa have knocked out Brighton, Wolves, Liverpool and Leicester to earn their first spot in a cup final for five years. The Villains won their semi-final against Leicester in dramatic fashion, with winger Trézéguet scoring a 90+3 minute winner to send Villa Park into hysteria. If Villa are to win their first League Cup in over 24 years they will have to defy the odds coming up against a Manchester City side who last year won the league, FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Community Shield. With Liverpool seemingly running away with the Premier League this season, Pep Guardiola has been forced to turn his focus on the cup competitions, along with the Champions League. City have actually won this trophy in each of the last two campaigns, including a drama-filled final last year against Chelsea. The Sky Blues will be strong favourites to climb those famous Wembley steps come Sunday evening but a tough midweek trip to Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday hasn’t helped Guardiola’s preparations. The hard-fought first leg win against Real Madrid may come at a price as Aston Villa will have the much fresher players and this factor could be magnified if the game were to go into extra time. City’s win in Spain was their ninth in 13 games in all competitions since the turn of the year, making their form yet another reason why they are favourites. However, this is a cup final. Two teams, 90 minutes, a one-off game and anything can happen. Aston Villa’s league position may suggest they don’t have a chance but they have a captain in Jack Grealsh who is really coming of age now. He has certainly been Villa’s best player this season and many are tipping him for an England call-up for the upcoming Euro’s. Can this local lad lead his boyhood club to cup success?
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) February 28, 2020
Ajax v AZ Alkmaar
Eredivisie: Sunday 19:00
Our attention now turns to the Netherlands and a top-of-the-table clash between two Dutch heavyweights. Just two weeks ago Ajax had a comfortable six point gap over AZ Alkmaar but a shock defeat to mid-table Heracles last Sunday, coupled with AZ’s triumph over PEC Zwolle, now means the two sides will be level on points if AZ can secure the win in this meeting. Ajax have dominated the Eredivisie in the last decade, winning the title five times but with usual high-flyers Feyenoord and PSV slightly off the pace they now face a different challenger in AZ Alkmaar who have not lifted that coveted trophy since the 2008/09 season. AZ do brag the best away record in the league, as well as the tightest defence, having only conceded 17 times in 23 matches however, since returning from the winter break their form has been indifferent. Three wins and two defeats domestically has hardly set the world alight but their fellow title chasers have the exact same record meaning first place is still up for grabs. Despite those two league defeats Ajax still hold the best home record with 11 wins out of 12 and have scored an impressive 65 goals in total, 13 more than any other team. The current champions have also limited visitors to just six goals on home soil, so breaking down that tough defence is going to be key for AZ. If Alkmaar are to score on Sunday it will most likely come from either Myron Boadu or Oussama Idrissi, the former has netted 13 goals this season whilst the latter has 12 goals. Surprisingly both of these sides went crashing out of Europe in midweek, Ajax losing to in-form Getafe 3-2 on aggregate whilst AZ lost to Austrian side LASK. With the Europa League title now just a distant dream these two will want to bounce back with three huge points this weekend and take a giant stride towards the Eredivisie title. It’s first against second., the best home record against the best away record. Somethings got to give.
Real Madrid v Barcelona
La Liga: Sunday 20:00
We conclude an epic day of football with a pivotal El Clásico in Madrid as bitter rivals Real and Barca meet for the 277th time in all competitions. Barcelona lead the way with 115 wins, compared to Madrid’s 99 however, both have been victorious 72 times in La Liga. Even though this is a crucial match between first and second, neither have been particularly assertive or dominant this season. Despite spending over €300 million in the summer, not one of those six acquisitions for Madrid has proved their worth or consistently impressed as of yet, with Eden Hazard being the biggest culprit. The Belgian cost €100 million from Chelsea and was expected to lead the next generation of Galactico’s but has only disappointed, scoring and assisting just once in La Liga this season. Serbian forward Luka Jović had scored 25 goals in 54 league games during a two-year loan spell with Eintracht Frankfurt and was deemed good enough for Zinedine Zidane’s side, with Real splashing €60 million on the 21-year old. This risk seems to have not paid off with Jović only netting two goals in all competitions and subsequently struggling to cement a spot in the starting line-up. With other new signings Éder Militão (€50 million) and Ferland Mendy (€48 million) battling with form and injuries respectively, Real have looked to their old guard to pick up the pieces. Karim Benzema leads his side in goals and assists whilst ever present midfield trio Modric, Kroos and Casemiro all have three goals each. It’s hardly been a walk in the park for rivals Barcelona either, they sacked manager Ernesto Valverde back in January and continue to have off field political drama between Lionel Messi and sporting director Eric Abidal. On the pitch Leo Messi continues to do Leo Messi things, scoring four times last weekend against Eibar meaning he has now bagged 54 goals in his last 54 league games. Phenomenal. The Argentine is the all-time leading El Clásico goalscorer with 26 goals and will fancy his chances of adding to that tally on Sunday. In fact, Messi’s side might actually come into this match as favourites as they have won on each of their last three league visits to the Bernabéu. They have even limited Zidane’s men to only three goals in the last seven El Clásico’s. With Madrid failing to win in their last two league games that has allowed Barcelona to reclaim top spot with a two point buffer. With the race for the 2019/20 La Liga title so tight the magnitude of this fixture somehow rises even more. This one promises to be a belter.
The 🐐 🆚 current Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois … pic.twitter.com/OVNjCqblMY
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 28, 2020