So peeps; what is the status of your respective Sports Betting Tickets? Not a good weekend for most punters; but the Bookmakers would have a mixed weekend with the stumbles of Manchester United , Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund etc as these top teams failed to secure maximum points this weekend. This is obviously not a betting review column, but a review of the weekends major talking points and what it portends for the future; especially as we prepare for a long boring International break.
Spurs should be taken seriously
Tottenham Hotspurs lost the Premier League last season on that ill fated night at Stamford Bridge; still the positives remain as obvious as ever, the nucleus of the side has remained. Last season Spurs finished with the joint best defense in the Premier League; now fast forward a few months and Pochetino’s side have continued from where they more or less stop; undefeated in the league and yet to concede in open play so far this season; quite remarkable for such a young side.
Tottenham put up an incredible performance on Sunday as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City came visiting with a 100% record and a chance to break a record; but Spurs weren’t having any of that and put up a fine display of great instincts, fine pressing, movement on and off the ball whilst taking chances created. Tottenham toyed with the Citizens at some periods of the game, they were that comfortable with or without the ball.
On the strength of Spurs showing today; a huge note of warning has been sent out to all prospective title contenders that Spurs should be taken serious and not underrated. I actually expected that Spurs would generally suffer mentally from their title collapse of last season, it is testament to the quality of work Pochetino is doing at White Hart Lane, not only developing the playing side, but improving the mental strength of this young Spurs side.
A big Congratulations to Rangers International of Enugu for finally ending their long wait to be crowned League Champions of the Nigeria Professional Football for the first time in 32 years. Rangers deserved this title and it would have been a huge injustice blended with a major dose of bad luck if they didn’t get the job done and Rivers United found a way to sneak in and snatch the title. The flying Antelopes intentions on the final day was quite clear from as early as the 3rd minute; the 4-0 score line even flattered El-Kanemi Warriors; spare a thought and some prayers for Ifeanyi Egwin who came on as a late substitute only to break his leg in a one v one goal scoring opportunity.
Imama Amapakabo without a shadow of doubt has written his name in gold in Rangers History; he has built a strong side with a great mix of youth and experience; my worry remains if Rangers can hold on to these players as I expect the likes of Chisom Egbechulam and Obinna Nwobodo to have caught the eye of many of the big teams on the continent or even in Europe.
It was not only the title chase that had us at the edge of our seat; we had the most closely fought relegation battle with as many as four teams in danger of going down if results didn’t go their way. MFM FC of Lagos, Heartland, Warri Wolves and Abia Warriors were all in danger of filling the last two relegation slots. MFM and Abia Warriors did what they needed to do to avoid relegation, Warri Wolves won, but were victims of a poor goals difference and Heartland for the first time in their history joined Ikorodu United and Giwa FC in the crazy, muddy waters of the NNL despite a supposedly inconclusive draw a way to Plateau United.
Are Real Madrid experiencing some De Ja Vu?
To understand this notion, you may have to rewind to when Real Madrid successful clinched La Decima under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti; Los Blancos went on an incredible 22 match winning streak in all competitions seeking to break the world record held by Coritiba who went on a streak of 24 wins in a row; once the Real Madrid streak was broken there followed a series of unimpressive draws and defeats.
Now fast forward to the period under the stewardship of Zinedine Zidane; after delivering the 11th UEFA Champions League trophy; Real Madrid had gone on an impressive run of 12 straight win from last season as as they chased down Barcelona unsuccessfully in La Liga plus four straight wins in the new season; making it sixteen straight wins which equals Barcelona’s winning streak record from the Pep Guardiola years. Once Real Madrid equaled Barcelona’s record, they have all of a sudden gotten dizzy and have drawn four straight games; what a way to lose commanding form.
Are the Bayern hand brakes switched on?
Twenty Goals scored and none conceded in the first five games of the season; looking imperious and commanding as ever, The Bavarians have however found it hard to steam roll teams lately. With only a last gasp win in their last three games should send some encouragement to the rest of Europe and the Bundesliga particularly, unfortunately the likes of Dortmund have failed to take advantage.
It has almost seemed as if the hand brakes have been switched on at the Allianz Arena lately as they have found it tough going and exhibited some defensive frailties that weren’t evident in the first few games of the season. Maybe its just a dose of bad luck as chances that were tucked away with consummate easy have just refused to go in. The midfield freedom, ease and fluidity seems to also have deserted them; but as we know Carlo Ancelotti takes his time to get use to his squad everywhere he goes or can we hold the recent slump at Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City responsible for Bayern Munich slump as well?
Finally Schalke wake up?
During the summer transfer window; Schalke did some fine transfer business especially their loan signings and the appointments of Markus Weinzierl as manager and Christian Heidel as Sporting Director from Mainz. These appointments and signings were expected to galvanize one of Germany’s sleeping giants; but instead Schalke have struggled, losing five straight Bundesliga matches.
This weekend however, they put up a master class with Breel Embolo scoring a brace and putting up a five star performance all round; to potentially awaken the sleeping giant; that’s Schalke.
** Pictures courtesy bundesliga.com; saharareporters.com, npfl.ng