Weekend Watch: Rooting for the Little GuyBy: Martha | January 25th, 2008
Liverpool v Havant and Waterlooville: Havant earned their way into the FA Cup fourth round with a 4-2 seeing off of Swansea, a team three full divisions above them. It’s going to take an even greater miracle for the team from the middle of the semi-pro Blue Square South league to beat the mighty Liverpool, but the mere existence of the match is evidence that, no matter what the haters say, there’s still a whole lot of magic left in the FA Cup.
PSV v Excelsior: Top v bottom in the Eredivisie this weekend, with nearly 30 points between the two teams. Go, Excelsior!
Vitória Guimarães v Benfica: Porto are running away with the BWINLiga — they’ve got an 11-point lead already — but things are tight behind them in the fight for those precious Champions League spots. Benfica are second with 30 points, just two clear of the newly promoted Guimaraes, who are one ahead of Sporting Lisbon. When these two teams played in the second week of the season, the result was a 0-0 draw, so there’s not much between them.
Real Madrid v Villarreal: The yellow submarine have enjoyed a wonderful season so far, and are one of the few sides who can go into the Bernabeu with a legitimate hope of taking points from the juggernaut that is Real Madrid. When they’re playing well, third-place Villarreal are a treat to watch, as creative and eye-catching as any team in Spain; when they’re not, they can be just as bland and wasteful as anyone else (like they were against Barcelona yesterday). For the sake of the match, let’s hope it’s the good version that turns up Sunday.
Sivasspor v Fenerbahçe: Just like in Spain, there’s a first-against-third match in Turkey this weekend, but whereas there are already 12 points between Real and Villarreal, only two separate surprise leaders Sivasspor from Fenerbahçe (and between them are Galatasaray, a single point off the lead).
Murcia v Levante: It’s a relegation six-pointer in Spain, though that label makes Levante’s plight sound much less dire than it actually is: They’re dead last with nine points, while Murcia, only two places above them, are one of four teams on 22 points, and have a good chance of survival. Oh, and half of Levante’s team has fled for other clubs this month. It’s gonna be a long, long second half.
Udinese v Inter: Udine, currently sitting two points off a Champions League spot, have been one of the surprises in Italy this season: They have a potent attack, cause problems for all the big teams (drew with Roma and Inter the first time around, beat Juve, and lost to Milan on an injury-time goal), and do it all on a wage bill that’s barely 10% of Milan’s. Inter, despite their undefeated record and seven point lead on second-place Roma, have looked anything but unbeatable since Christmas, and needed several miracles to escape Parma last week — Sunday might just be the day they get that first loss.