Rezzil weekly: previewing the football action this week

The world of football is constantly spinning and this week there are some huge fixtures on the agenda. The Premier League resumes on Saturday but first there’s the small matter of the World Cup play-off finals, with two hotly-anticipated clashes taking place on Tuesday evening. 

Poland and Sweden do battle for a spot in Qatar, after the Swede’s beat the Czech Republic 1-0 in extra-time of their semi-final clash last Thursday; the Pole’s already sealing their place in the final courtesy of a bye due to Russia’s suspension from the forthcoming tournament. 

The tie will be a fiercely competitive one which on paper looks impossible to call. The difference could indeed lie in Poland’s attack, however, with Robert Lewandowski – arguably the world’s greatest centre-forward, who has scored eight goals throughout the qualification process so far – spearheading Czesław Michniewicz’s forward line. 

In the second World Cup play-off final, Portugal will try and do what Italy failed to on Thursday by beating North Macedonia. The reigning European Champions were surprisingly humbled by Blagoja Milevski’s men in dramatic fashion, losing 1-0 thanks to a last-minute winner from Aleksandar Trajkovski, and as such will miss out on their second consecutive World Cup later this year. 

Portugal, meanwhile, comfortably defeated Turkey 3-1 in their semi-final and will look to make it two in two in this week’s winner-takes-all battle. The third final, which will decide the final team from the UEFA confederation, will take place in June, with the winner of the postponed Scotland vs Ukraine tie playing Wales for the last spot in Qatar. 

England are also in action on Tuesday night, as Gareth Southgate’s side take on the Ivory Coast at Wembley in a friendly match. The Three Lions edged past Switzerland 2-1 on Saturday but were far from convincing throughout, although certain players did impress during their respective debuts, with the likes of Kyle Walker-Peters and Conor Gallagher doing their hopes of making the squad no harm.

Away from international football and, praise the lord, the Premier League will be returning to our screens at the weekend. With just one point now separating Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of England’s first division, it’s all to play for in the final stretch of the campaign. The Reds take on Watford at 12:30 on Saturday in a match they will feel confident in winning, whilst City travel to Burnley in a game they are heavily favoured to win (15:00 KO). As we have seen countless times in the past, though, nothing can be considered a certainty in the Premier League and two potential banana skins, against two teams who are fighting for their lives near the foot of the table, have the potential to flip this title-race on its head at the most pivotal point of the season. 

The standout tie of the weekend comes in the shape of Manchester United vs Leicester at 17:30. United desperately need a win to make ground back up on the top-four, with Arsenal now sitting pretty in fourth spot following a tremendous run of form and Tottenham in fifth after back-to-back wins over Brighton and West Ham. 

The north London pair face Crystal Palace (Monday 4th April, 20:00 KO) and Newcastle (Sunday, 16:30 KO) respectively in their upcoming games, with a win the only acceptable result for both teams should they wish to keep their dreams of a top-four finish alive.