After a prolonged absence Three to See is BACK on Just Football, as we cast our eye over the football world’s weekend action and preview three games you shouldn’t miss. FA Cup quarter final action, a big game in Serie A and the Soweto Derby are on the menu this week. New contributor Ebrahim Sadien reports:
1. Manchester United vs Chelsea (FA Cup quarter final)
Sunday 10th March 2013
After Manchester United’s midweek elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid, they will eagerly be looking to bounce back against a stuttering Chelsea on Sunday afternoon.
The quarter-final clash will be the first meeting between the two sides in the world’s most decorative cup competition since Chelsea snatched the trophy in the 2007 final after extra time. This will also be the second matchup in cup competitions this season, as Chelsea overcame the Red Devils 5-4 in the Capital One Cup earlier in the season.
Having begun the week competing for three trophies, United will undoubtedly want to avoid ending the week with just one to play for. Twelve points clear in the Premier League and with their main rivals Manchester City not looking anything like the clinical side of the previous campaign; United can turn their full attention to this FA Cup tie.
The Blues also head into the cup tie off the back of a disappointing midweek European clash, after going down 1-0 at the hands of the Romanian outfit Steaua Bucharest.
For Rafa Benitez’s side, the FA Cup represents their only chance of domestic silverware in a very disappointing season. In what has been a turbulent return to English football for the Spanish boss, a victory over United will provide some much needed relief for the under fire manager.
United with two days more rest and a number of fresh players who did not feature in the disappointing midweek game, such as Shinji Kagawa, Javier Hernandez and Jonny Evans, will enter the game as favourites.
2. Lazio v Fiorentina (Serie A)
Sunday 10th March
With the race for the third and final champions league spot in Serie A tightly contested, Lazio face a tough assignment against the visiting Fiorentina.
After a promising start to the season, Lazio find themselves fifth in the league standings following only one victory in the last seven league outings. Injuries and European football has taken its toll on Vladimir Pektovic side. Despite an excellent midweek away win in the Europa league, the Biancocelesti will desperately want to return to winning ways in Serie A.
Having suffered a deflating 3-0 loss to AC Milan last weekend, Lazio will be further hampered by the suspension to Antonio Candreva. The Italian international picked up a straight red card in the away defeat. Furthermore Lazio will still be without the services of Miroslav Klose who is still recovering from a knee injury.
Fiorentina are positioned only one place below Lazio and head into the game off a 2-1 home victory over Chievo last weekend. Vincenzo Montella’s side has proven to be a force within Serie A but their season has been plagued with inconsistency.
However, two consecutive league victories and a victory away in Rome will give La Viola’s push for European football a tremendous boost. Fiorentina will once again look to their talisman Stevan Jovetic to provide the difference on Sunday evening.
With only two points separating the two teams on the table, Sunday’s encounter proves to be a mouth-watering affair. Besides the race for the Champions League spot, Lazio will want to even the tables after a 2-0 loss in the reverse fixture in October 2012.
3. Kaizer Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates (PSL: South Africa) 1pm GMT Kick-off
Saturday 9th March
Boasting a capacity of 90,000 the FNB stadium in Johannesburg will be an ecstasy of colour and noise come kick-off on Saturday afternoon. Kaizer Chiefs will host Orlando Pirates in the Soweto Derby after the first league encounter ended in a 1-1 draw in December 2012. The game is sold out and with it being fed to networks like ESPN and Al-Jazeera, it is undoubtedly the biggest derby on the African continent.
For both teams, this represents the biggest game of the season and victory in the derby is more than just three points gained. It is also about pride, prestige and bragging rights. The two teams have the biggest following of supporters across South Africa and in essence represent all that is good about South African football.
Added excitement to the derby this time around, is the fact that this will be a top-of-the-table clash. For the first time in many years, the outcome of the Soweto Derby will prove vital in determining the eventual PSL champions.
In a jam packed league campaign due to a six week break for the African Cup of Nations, Chiefs and Pirates will be playing their sixth and seventh games respectively in a matter of four weeks. Kaizer Chiefs head into the game with all the momentum having won three of their last four league games. They possess a five point lead over their arch rivals and a victory in the Derby would see them make great strides towards the league title.
Pirates on the other hand enter the Derby after two rather disappointing league results. A midweek 1-1 draw was preceded by a 3-2 loss to another Soweto based team, Moroka Swallows.
The derby has all the makings of an entertaining affair and will definitely have all PSL football lovers glued to the action come Saturday afternoon.
Ebrahim Sadien is a new contributor to Just Football.