Premier League, FA Cup, La Liga and Serie A preview, 19-21 March 2021

SuperSport viewers on DStv and GOtv can look forward to action from the 2020-21 Premier League, FA Cup, La Liga and Serie A seasons, with matches scheduled for 19-21 March 2021.

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The pick of matches from this weekend’s FA Cup action sees Everton host Manchester City at Goodison Park on the evening of Saturday 20 March. This will be the first FA Cup meeting of these teams since 1981 and a first knockout game between them since the Citizens put the Toffees out of the 2015-16 League Cup.

“We are in the fight but you need to sacrifice until the end,” said Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti coming into this clash. “There’s more pressure because we are in the fight for Europe, we want to be there and we have worked really hard to be there. This is our step and it’s our target. We have to step up a bit. There’s more (to) sacrifice because the position now is good but unfortunately it’s not the end of the season.”

Saturday also sees a South Coast derby as Bournemouth host Southampton, with the Cherries hoping to land a major upset under the guidance of young manager Jonathan Woodgate, while the early game on Sunday 21 March sees Chelsea hosting Sheffield United.

With the latter team all but certain to be relegated from the Premier League, they may as well focus all their energies on the FA Cup and target a shock win at Stamford Bridge – with the Blues set to be stretched thin by their commitments across three competitions.

“We have to, as I’ve talked about, regroup and go again, but it’s a tough gig,” said Blades boss Chris Wilder, with his team having fallen way off the form of last season.

The fourth and last quarterfinal is a potential thriller between Leicester City and Manchester United at the King Power Stadium on Sunday evening. These two teams have had little between them in recent seasons and the Foxes will be eager for revenge after United ousted them from the final UEFA Champions League place at the end of last season.

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The pick of matches from this weekend’s Premier League action – which sees only a few fixtures due to the FA Cup quarterfinals also being played on 20 and 21 March – sees West Ham United host Arsenal for a London derby on Sunday evening.

Not only is this clash about capital city bragging rights, but it’s a key game regarding the ambitions of both clubs, as the Hammers look for a sensational top-four finish and a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League, while the Gunners have their work cut out to try and secure a spot in the UEFA Europa League.

“I think we’ve been trying to push it right from the start about ‘let’s get the points, let’s keep moving forward, let’s keep it going’ and the results give you a better mentality, they really do,” said West Ham manager David Moyes of his team’s impressive improvement this season.

Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta, meanwhile, has admitted that his team faces an uphill battle to secure European qualification: “Really complicated at the moment. It’s true the feeling that I have the way we are playing that we can win any game. But as well as you mentioned before if you are giving something to the opponent obviously the game is all the time in the line. This in my opinion is where we have the biggest margin for improvement. But anything can happen.”

The weekend’s Premier League action opens with a Friday-night battle between Fulham and Leeds United at Craven Cottage, with the London side looking to continue their steady rise in the battle against relegation. If Scott Parker’s team can win, it will put massive pressure on both Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United for their meeting on the South Coast on Saturday night.

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Sunday, aside from the West Ham v Arsenal game, also features a clash between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur – two more teams in the European qualification mix. Villa will fancy their chances of putting one over Spurs on home soil, but the improved form of Gareth Bale gives Jose Mourinho’s side even more fire power.

SuperSport is the only place to get English commentary from the legendary La Liga, where the pick of matches for this round sees Barcelona face Real Sociedad at the Reale Arena in San-Sebastian on the evening of Sunday 21 March.

Barcelona remain outsiders in La Liga’s title race, but they have shown improved form in the domestic league since the turn of the year, with Ronald Koeman’s tactics proving successful in tying together the disparate threads of a talented squad.

However, they will face a tough test in the Basque country against a Sociedad team fighting to win a place in either the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League next season. The Blaugrana only managed to beat these same opponents on penalties when the teams met in the Spanish Super Cup semifinals back in January.

“We need to keep winning. I am happy. The streak in general is important and hopefully we continue on the right track,” said Koeman as Barca look to build pressure on Atletico Madrid.

The Rojiblancos will be in action earlier the same day, welcoming Deportivo Alaves to Estadio Wanda Metropolitano as they seek another three points, while it is champions Real Madrid who will have the chance to get a jump on their rivals this weekend when they face Celta Vigo away from home on Saturday 20 March.

The headline fixture from Serie A this weekend sees Roma host Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico on the evening of Sunday 21 March for the Derby del Sud (Derby of the South, named as such because the Giallorossi and Neapolitans are considered the two biggest and most popular teams from outside of Northern Italy).

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Both teams are in the hunt for a place in either the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League next season, with this clash considered a six-pointer in those terms, while Roma will also be hungry to avenge the 4-0 loss they suffered at the hands of Napoli when the teams last met in November 2020.

“We have to take it one game at a time,” said Roma boss Paulo Fonseca. “We will try to improve against the bigger clubs and hope to finish in the top four, so we know that we cannot afford a mistake.”

The key match on Saturday night sees Internazionale looking to continue their path to the Scudetto when they host Sassuolo at the San Siro in Milan. The Nerazzurri have been inspired by Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku, who would be a worthy winner of the Ballon d’Or, according to former Inter manager Alberto Zaccheroni.

“I think it should be awarded to a player who shifts the balance, both technically and physically. These are the most important characteristics,” Zaccheroni said of Lukaku. “Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins the Ballon d’Or. He’s been doing extraordinary things since he joined Inter. In Italy there isn’t a player who shifts the balance as he does.”

Elsewhere in Italy this weekend, champions Juventus will be favoured to pick up three points when they host Benevento, Milan will head to Stadio Artemio Franchi for a clash with Fiorentina, while Atalanta and Lazio face clashes away to Hellas Verona and Udinese respectively.

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