Thoughts of a Lunatic: FA Cup Heartbreak, Harry Kane Team and Other Talking Points

The Lunatic don come again. This time, I want to be different. I have been accused of only yabbing and seeing negatives. What else do Lunatics do? Like Jubril, I belong to everyone, I belong to no one. The yabs are straight from the heart. Will be touching on some few talking points as usual. You might pull off your thinking caps and put on your Lunatic cap at this stage.

Seniorman and Ndidi did it

Let me start by celebrating fellow Nigerians Kelechi Seniorman Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi on their success in the FA Cup. As a Nigerian I celebrate with them but I hope the Alcoholic Drink club people won’t get angry. Before they put me in the same bracket as Daniel Amartey who tossed their pennant to the floor. On another day, I would have tagged Amartey as dumb but for the sake of the two Nigerians and the sweetness of Leicester’s victory, I will say kudos to Amartey.

Sometimes things like these have to happen to spice up the game. We will do with some bit of drama. As we saw in their subsequent Premier League tie, it may be the beginning of some rivalry and bad blood. The Lunatic is here for the violence.

Iheanacho and Ndidi celebrated cup success

Iheanacho has picked up form and Ndidi has been good since he joined Leicester. The trophy is good reward for their hard work. Kelechi should now think of cutting the soap for the likes of Isaac Success, Alex Iwobi and others.

Bottlelona 2

So is the magnitude of Barcelona’s collapse that it has to have a second part. From being in a position where winning their matches will take them top of the table to picking just two points out of a possible 15. In a title run-in, they lost at home against Granada and Celta Vigo. Who does that? Well, Bottlelona.

They shift attention to begging Messi next

They go into a summer where they start going on their knees to beg Messi to stay, as usual. At this rate, there is no time Nou Camp won’t turn to Redemption Camp, where they will have to gather to intercede on behalf of the club.

Funny enough, they gave Luis Suarez to Atletico Madrid. The rejected stone is on the verge of winning La Liga. He has added bite to the Atletico Madrid attack. Both in the boardroom and other pitch, Barcelona are in the mud. Remember they also sacked a manager that was winning and employed one that is trying to learn how to win

We should have seen the signs when Barcelona were were well beaten by Pirlo’s Juventus, who have literally been Old Ladies this season.

Mane’s Klopp snub

So some days back, images of Sadio Mane refusing a handshake from his manager Jurgen Klopp surfaced after a match. My take on it is, Mane was definitely not angry for starting the match on the bench. I don’t want to believe so. First, the manager can decide to put any player on the bench. Secondly, Mane has been poor enough this season to be left out of the squad some times. His once energetic performances seems to be rescinding like his hairline.

Klopp has tried clearing the air

The only reason I can think of for Mane’s behavior is that, he must have spotted Klopp at some point doing the Joachim Low. In case you don’t know the Joachim Low, the best I can do to help is you is ‘ball-sniffing’.

The Harry Kane team

After years of scoring goals and winning 0 golden and silver trophy, Harry Kane has told Tottenham he wants to leave. The question now is, to where? For a player that signed a six-year deal some years back, he must have believed in the Spurs project. With reports suggesting he wants to stay in England, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City might be the realistic options. Looking at the options, maybe Kane should have just said he wants to join Manchester City. Definitely more money and a better chance to win trophies.

Where does that leave Spurs? When Harry Kane leaves the Harry Kane team.

On that note, I return my golden pen to wherever I took it from. Let me go and continue wandering the streets. Don’t follow me, I am not on social media but you can follow Goaldball @goaldbal on Twitter. Till next time, keep you lunacy intact.

Team of the Week: Two hattrick heroes, a Chelsea Loanee and Others

Many were called, few were chosen. In a week of impressive attacking and defensive performances, it was no easy task selecting just eighteen players.

In a 4-4-2 formation, here is the first eleven:

Goalkeeper: Marc Andre Ter Steven (Barcelona)

The performances of the goalkeepers – Ter Stegen for Barcelona and Jan Oblak for Atletico Madrid was a major reason the high profile clash ended goalless. Ter Stegen shades it with some brilliant saves, especially in the first half, to keep Barcelona in the game.

Right-back: Hamani Traore (Rennes)

The Malian hardly put a foot wrong in helping Rennes curtail PSG attackers. The 1-1 draw has thrown spanner in the works of PSG, in their bid to win Ligue 1.

Left-back: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)

The Spaniard scored the winner and put in a solid display in helping Chelsea win 2-1 away at Manchester City.

Center-back: Ben Godfrey (Everton)

The young center-back had an assist for the only goal of the game with a brilliant pass to Dominic Calvert-Lewin. In addition to helping Everton stop West Ham from having a shot on target.

Center-back: Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan)

The Chelsea loanee is enjoying himself at AC Milan. He added the gloss to the scoreline for AC Milan in their impressive away win at Juventus. He was also sturdy in defence throughout.

Midfielder: Bruno Guimaraes (Lyon)

The young midfielder scored two goals in Lyon’s 4-1 win against Lorient. The Brazilian has had 31 appearances in Ligue 1. His brace were were his second and third for the season.

Midfielder: Ricardo Gagliardini (Inter Milan)

The Italian was at the heart of Inter Milan’s trashing of Sampdoria. He also weighed in with a goal and an assist.

Wing-forward: Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)

The young Englishman is getting back in form for Dortmund at the right time. He scored twice as Dortmund put an end to RB Leipzig’s title dreams.

Wing-forward: Alexis Claude (Nice)

Claude weighed in with a hattrick of assists as Nice were not nice in coming from behind to deflate Brest.

Forward: Josip Brekalo (Wolfsburg)

The young Croat scored a hattrick for Wolfsburg in their 3-0 win against Union Berlin. The win keeps Wolfsburg in pole position in their hunt to finish in Champions League places.

Forward: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

It was goals number 37, 38 and 39 for the Polish forward as Bayern Munich celebrated their ninth straight Bundesliga title.

Manager: Thomas Tuchel (Chelsea)

Thomas Tuchel followed defeating Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the FA Cup with another win in the league to delay the Citizens expected Premier League win.

Substitutes: F. Bredlow (Stuttgart), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), E. Elustondo (Real Sociedad), Thiago Alcantara (Liverpool), H. Mkhitaryan (Roma), V. Osimhen (Napoli), B. Yilmaz (Lille)

Boald Codes: La Liga Title Race, Mock Champions League Final and Others

We are neck deep in that time of the season. Some teams are in dire need of points to win the league, qualify to play on the continent or escape relegation. There are also the spoilers, who have nothing to play for.

More than ever, we need to pick our games more carefully. This is probably not a time for long tickets like toilet rolls, most of them will end up in the bin. As we always say, ours is to supply the pass, yours is to finish. It is either you are Harry Kane or you are Yaya Sanogo. As usual, we have the Bankers, the Banana Peels and the Boald Call.

BANKERS

We start from Africa, where table-topping Simba should at least play a draw against Young Africans in the Tanzanian league, 1x comes at around 1.2.

In the NPFL, Rivers United to win at home against Dakkada comes at 1.3, go for it. You could also play home win for Akwa United against struggling Sunshine Stars but that won’t come at good odds, an over 1.5 should come through there also.

Trust Manchester City not to lose at home against Chelsea. Both sides need the maximum three points, it could be cagey. A Manchester City double chance is a safe bet at 1.2.

Manchester City could win the league this weekend

Liverpool have to keep winning to push for a continental slot. Trust them to win at home against Southampton, it comes at around 1.3.

For Barcelona against Atletico Madrid, a draw will not be enough for both sides. Expect both sides to try get goals. An over 1.5 should be a safe bet at 1.3.

Dortmund vs RB Leipzig should be a goals game. Both teams need to go for it. Both to score comes at 1.5, go for it.

Bayern Munich need to wrap up the Bundesliga as soon as possible. Robert Lewandowski is back. They should win at home against Borussia Mochengladbach, it comes at around 1.3.

Juventus can’t win the league but they can’t afford to miss out of the Champions League. They should at least avoid defeat against AC Milan. 1x comes at around 1.2, go for it.

Atalanta should win at already relegated Parma. It comes at around 1.2.

BANANA PEELS

Spezia need the points to avoid relegation and have shown some intent lately, including a draw against Inter Milan. They also won the first leg against Napoli. Be careful with Spezia vs Napoli.

You are not sure of the Inter Milan you will get. They are already champions and they play against ba Sampdoria side that have virtually nothing to play for. Be careful with this tie.

Already relegated Sheffield United take on inconsistent Crystal Palace. As we saw in their last home match, Sheffield might want to go down in a high. With nothing to play for, anything can happen.

Be careful with Real Madrid against Sevilla. Sevilla are outsiders in the title race and could be spoilers for a Real Madrid side that may have yet to recover from their Champions League exit.

Real Madrid might still be wounded.

BOALD CALL

In Ligue 1, Nantes are giving their quest to escape relegation a good push. After back-to-back impressive away wins, they should win at home against fellow strugglers Bordeaux. It comes at over 2.0. If you are bold go for it.

At this point, we wish you the best of luck. Terms and conditions apply. Hold the players and managers responsible if anything goes wrong but send your tithes here if you win.

Have a green weekend.

follow Goaldball on Twitter @goaldbal

Thoughts of a Lunatic: ‘Whooligans’ United, El Cashico and Other Talking Points

Lunatic things happening in football lately, like some ‘whooligans’ preventing a match from going on to Juventus failing to win the Serie A.

Idiotism is not synonymous to drinking a bottle of Elliot alone, drinking a cup of zobo is enough to make some Desmond, Garuba and Dino think they own a multi million dollars project, even when their landlord must not know their whereabouts. Bringing us to some of the matters the Lunatic wants to talk about today.

Whooligans United

Till now, I don’t really know why some people disrupted the Manchester United vs Liverpool match from going on. I have heard all sorts. From, Adidas making a zebra design jersey, to too much red pigment in the home jersey, to David Beckham joining Real Madrid bla bla bla. Maybe I do not really have a head for the economic side of football but who dictates to a business owner how to run his business? Who really owns most of these clubs? The highest share owner who invested his money in the business or the man who loves the club and buys some Aba-made merchandises?

Glazers out?

I really do not get the protest against the Glazers. Manchester United have the most expensive defender and midfielder in the Premier League. They spend money to buy players and manage the club resources, which is what fans (including Arsenal fans) expect of their owners. The protest by the whooligans appears more like an attempt to postpone Manchester City’s league-title party. Manchester City will win the league, Manchester United are simply accompanying them to the title like they did in 2018. City are in the final of the Champions League while United are on the brink of the Europa League final. United are wishing they are City right now. The noise is coming from the red side these days.

El Cashico

Manchester City are in the final of the Champions League because Neymar is still alive. Neymar was so bent on being the star of the day while his teammates tried to overturn the first leg deficit against City that he ran about like an headless chicken. The Citizens won because they were the better team (emphasis on team), not because the referee told Paredes and Herrera to f*ck off. In truth, the referee could have called some of the PSG players pussy (as in, pussy cat) because they behaved like one. I can’t totally blame them, I am also a proponent of ‘when you lose the match, don’t lose the fight’. However, I hope the referee was able to get Fernandinho’s shirt and autograph after the match, the only thing Fernandinho had to do to get a yellow card was to headbutt Neymar for being an annoying compatriot but he didn’t.

Neymar was in his own circus, joking

Congratulations to City, billions of dollars after, they are in the Champions League final. One must also salute the genius of Guardiola for taking an expensive assemblage of players to the final. Afterall, it is not necessarily the richest kid that has all the books and facilities that comes first in class. Chelsea or Real Madrid awaits them in the final. We dey here.

Bottlelona FC

Beat Granada at home and go top of the table, Barcelona did not draw, they lost. Bottling is becoming very synonymous with Barcelona. Remember Rome, remember Anfield, I mean they allowed Divock Origi have the best night of his life. If he will ever have such a night again, it will never be on a football pitch, it will be on the bed.

The title race in La Liga is still a three-horse or a two-horse and a Chihuahua race. Barcelona must prove they are not the Chihuahua by winning what looks like a play-off against Atletico Madrid next weekend. They seems to have mastered the art of bottling better than a certain club in North London.

Juve and Pirlo

Juve and Pirlo sounds like Duvet and Pillow. A perfect match on a cold morning but this Juve and Pirlo do not look like a perfect match.

Apart from being a lookalike of the pictorial representation of Jesus, the only reason Juventus must have hired Pirlo as coach is because he is Andrea Pirlo. I mean, it is not like he did apprenticeship under Pep Guardiola, like someone else we know. Juventus must have felt being a good passer of the ball is synonymous to passing tactical information.

Having Ronaldo is not enough

Well, when you have done something consecutively for nine years, there is everything tendency to get bored and want to do something else. I mean from winning the title to contesting for top four trophy, variety is the spice of life. Anyway, congratulations to Inter Milan.

Jose Mourinho finds himself in Rome. When you are in Rome, act like a Roman but trust Mourinho won’t. The same way he acted like a Mancunian while he was in North London, expect no difference.

I always said Sam Allardyce’s jazz was going to fail this time. It is looking like I am a prophet? No. It is simple, everyday no be Christmas. Every lunatic knows that. It is high time clubs stop that sh*t of going into the season with flamboyant coaches only to sack them for Allardyce to try escape relegation. Appoint Allardyce from the beginning if you trust him to do the job.

I am tired of writing, I have to go face other hustles. If you see a guy talking to himself on your street, that’s me, holler, I won’t bite you.

Follow Goaldball on Twitter @goaldbal

A Nigerian Forward, Hattrick Heroes, A Former Man. United Player And Others In Our Team Of The Week

It was a weekend where it was difficult to select from a number of forwards that had stellar performances. It was also a week were some teams upset the odds in impressive fashions in their bids to beat the drop. From the best of the best from the top five leagues, here is our selected XI and the substitutes.

Goalkeeper – Martin Dubravka (Newcastle)

The goalie kept Newcastle in the game with eight saves. The bedrock of the Geordies eventually leaving Anfield with a point.

Rightback – Benno Shmitz (Cologne)

Cologne gave their survival bid a boost with a 3-2 win at Augsburg. Shmitz was instrumental to the win, with an assist for one of the goals.

Leftback – Matto Darmian (Inter Milan)

The former Manchester United fullback scored the only goal in Inter’s win against Hellas Verona. The win takes Inter closer to their first Serie A title since 2010.

Centreback – Gerzino Nyamsi (Rennes)

The Frenchman scored one of the goals in Rennes commanding 5-1 win against Dijon.

Center-back – Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)

Another Frenchman partners Nyamsi in defence. Laporte scored the only goal as Pep Guardiola’s men won their fourth consecutive League Cup. Sturdy in defence, he was able to head in the only goal at the other end.

Center-midfield – Kavin Phillips (Leeds United)

The English midfielder was massive in midfield, sniffing out the danger posed by Bruno Fernandes as Leeds held Manchester United to a goalless match at Old Trafford. Manchester United had to go recover Fernandes from his pocket after the match.

Center-midfield – Ashley Westwood (Burnley)

Westwood pulled the strings in midfield and also contributed a goal as Burnley annihilated Wolves like they were chickens at the Molineaux. Westwood combined with Wood to do the damage. Luckily for Wolves, Burnley don’t have Eastwood, Southwood and Northwood.

Attacking-midfield – Ruslan Malinovskyi (Atalanta)

Atalanta put five past Bologna at the weekend. Malinovskyi was at the heart of the brilliant attacking play. The Ukrainian had a goal and an assist.

Forward – Terem Moffi (Lorient)

Moffi continues to show Gernot Rohr he deserves a place in the Super Eagles with a hattrick in Lorient’s 4-1 win against Bordeaux. He has now scored 14 goals in Ligue 1 this season.

Forward – Chris Wood (Burnley)

Wood smashed Wolves into smithereens, they thought they were hit by an iron. The New Zealand forward scored a hattrick in Burnley’s 4-0 win away at Wolves.

Forward – Joel Pohjanpola (Union Berlin)

Pohjanpalo scored a hattrick as Union Berlin smashed Werder Bremen 3-1 at the weekend. The Finnish forward, on loan from Bayer Leverkusen scored all his goals in the second half.

Manager – Bo Svensson (Mainz)

A performance that restricted Bayern Munich with Robert Lewandowski to just one goal in the dying minutes of the match. Mainz’s Bo Svensson is our manager of the week.

Substitutes: A.Lafont (Nantes), I.Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), R.Bensebaini (B Mochengladbach), R.De Paul (Udinese), F.De Jong (Barcelona), J.Correa (Lazio), B.Yilmaz(Lille)

Goaldball full team of the week

What is your opinion on our selections? Let us hear from you. Follow us on Twitter @goaldball

Boald Codes: El Clasico, Mourinho Derby and Other Betting Tips

Make we hustle for our quick 2k. As we have always said, Boald Codes is to guide you, the choice is yours. The most important thing in betting is to know the matches to avoid, else the bookies won’t be in business. When you select the matches you expect to come through and they do come through, you don jam quick 2k.

After the teams returned from international breaks last week, this week should be clearer BUT some of the teams on the continent will be more focused there. It is also the time relegation threatened clubs start upsetting the apple carts, as we saw with West Brom winning at Chelsea last week. As usual, we have the Bankers, the Banana Peels and the Boald Calls. We will be as direct as possible, too much analysis no dey bring money.

BANKERS

In the Premier League, Manchester City vs Leeds should produce goals. Over 2.5 comes at around 1.4. For bigger odds, you could go for both to score.

Chelsea should bounce back from last week’s defeat, away at Selhurst Park. They are in a comfortable place in their Champions League tie, they should focus here. A Chelsea win comes at around 1.5. Don’t sleep on it.

Tottenham vs Manchester United, the Mourinho Derby is too close to call. Expect both sides to go for goals. Tottenham’s defence especially, can’t hold water. Over 1.5 comes at around 1.3, if you must play this game at all.

Son will hope for another dance performance

Real Madrid and Barcelona go into the El Clasico in good forms. They both know a win will take them closer to the tittle. It is a game that should produce goals. Both to score comes at around 1.5, go for it.

Barcelona and Real Madrid go head-to-head

In the Serie A, both Inter Milan and Juventus have home matches against Cagliari and Genoa respectively. Both should win. Juventus should overcome their recent struggles here. A win for them comes at around 1.3. Inter Milan are in good form and coasting to the title, they are also valued at around 1.3 for a win.

Atalanta should win away against Fiorentina. It comes at around 1.5. Atalanta should do enough for a win, to solidify their push for Continental places. Over 1.5 could be a safer bet.

BANANA PEELS

There are many matches you should be wary of this weekend but we have highlighted some and their alternatives.

Bayern Munich might play a depleted side against Union Berlin, with the Champions League return leg against PSG in their sights amidst lots of injury worries. Be wary of a Bayern win which comes at around 1.5. But the game should still produce goals. Over 2.5 could be safe.

Same goes for Borussia Dortmund, who have been poor in the Bundesliga, by their standards. They have a tricky away game at Stuttgart. It is also a game that should produce goals. Avoid a Dortmund away win.

PSG are valued at around 1.7 to win a match in Ligue 1, that should tell you something. They go away to Strasbourg, with the Champions League also in their sights. You should also go for goals in this one.

BOALD CALL

West Ham and Leicester are jostling for Champions League places. They play at the London stadium this weekend, with both in good form. West Ham are due a bad result and the signs are there. Expect Leicester to avenge the first leg defeat. If you are Boald go for a Leicester away win at around 2.4.

Kelechi Iheanacho and his teammates should find joy at the Olympics stadium

We have supplied the passes, put your finishing touches to score the goal. Wish you a green weekend. When you win, pay your tithes here.

Thoughts of a Lunatic: Pressure Mounts on Lampard, Record Breaker Messi and other Talking Points

This is football! Anything can happen. This is where heroes turn to villains and villains turn to heroes before you say Mesut Ozil. Arsenal finally got the back of Ozil. Frank Lampard is running out of legendary bias at Chelsea, just as Lionel Messi is bent on leaving Barcelona with no records left. On this edition of Thoughts of a Lunatic, we take a look at some of these talking points in the ever crazy world of football.

Goner Ozil

Mesut Ozil arrived at Arsenal in 2013 to fan fair but has left like a villain. Arsenal fans are divided, some are happy he is finally gone while some chastise the club for treating him badly. While the Lunatic is not taking sides, who gets badly treated by getting paid £350,000 every week for doing nothing? Who gets paid £350,000 for sitting in the stands with an umbrella protecting his delicate skin from the sunlight? Ozil should swap position with an average Nigerian graduate working in a factory in Nigeria owned by a Lebanese and know what ill treatment is.

Arsenal’s g-boy has gone.

There were some moments of brilliance, some assists and some impressive stats but Ozil at Arsenal did not turn out as expected. While he cannot be said to have been an outright flop, he did not have the desired effect either. Luckily for Arsenal, it is at a point when a certain Emile Smith-Rowe has started doing well in the number ten role, it helped the club take attention away from a ‘chasm’ Ozil’s departure might have created.

Like he said, he is happy to be at Fenerbahçe, maybe there is a little left to see or it is just another payday while engaging fans on Twitter, time will tell.

Messi’s Passion

In the past few months, we are beginning to see the side of Lionel Messi we didn’t see in the past. The Argentine showcased the Keane in him with a punch to the face of an opponent – the first time he gets sent off for Barcelona. It is no news Messi wanted to leave at the summer, Barcelona held on, so Messi can help win matches like the Super Cup final. Lo and behold Barcelona lost to Athletico Bilbao and also lost Messi to a two-match ban.

Messi is still breaking records

It is becoming clear that Messi may not belong to the Nou Camp anymore. At a time it seemed the goals scoring numbers has started getting better and we are not only limited to a Penalnel Messi, the man showed his other side. However, it seems Messi is bent on breaking all records before he leaves.

Pressure Mounts on Lampard

Not even Mason Mount will save Frank Lampard when the hammer falls on him. Mount seems to be Lampard’s greatest achievement as a football manager but if results don’t get better, Mount might be following Lampard back to the Championship soon.

Pressure continues to mount on Lampard.

The results and the performances are getting worse. Supposed title challengers are getting sucked into mid-table after splashing the cash on summer arrivals. Many Chelsea fans have brought out their daggers and are calling for Lampard’s head, they don’t even want to remember that he is a club legend. However, Chelsea fans should look at the positives, they longer concede 3 regularly like they used to do. It has been a while since they were bantered with their jersey. On a more serious note, Manchester United fans used to shout #oleout too before but they are top of the table now (not to say things can’t change again) but it is prove that stories can change very quickly in football.

Chelsea fans are not used to this, they don’t make agitations before their managers get fired, things seemed to have changed. They may be stuck to Lampard as Ugandans are stuck with their president, even invading the Stamford Bridge like the Capitol may not change anything.

That is all I wrote on this edition of Thoughts of a Lunatic, till next time, stay blessed.

Champions League Draws: Who Are The Favorites For The Quarter-finals? 2

In continuation of our Champions League Round of 16 quick preview, we bring you the concluding part.

Porto vs Juventus

Porto were impressive in their group, finishing second to Man. City. They won four, drew one and lost just one against City. There’s Nigerian interest with Zaidu Sanusi playing for FC Porto.

Juventus edged Barcelona to top spot in their group but are yet to hit top gear. Cristiano Ronaldo is yet to set the stage on fire but has a knack of getting into the grove in the knockout rounds. In terms of quality, Juventus looks more equipped but Porto are more recent winners of the tournament, following their 2004 triumph.

Players to watch: Jesus Corona (Porto), Felipe Anderson (Porto), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Paulo Dybala (Juventus)

Prediction: This is where we expect our first shocker to come from, Porto to scale through.

Barcelona vs PSG

Another titanic battle in the group. Probably the biggest tie of the round. As stated earlier, Barcelona finished second to Juventus in their group, losing top spot on the last day following their only defeat, at home against the Old Lady. The reward of letting go of top spot is a tie against PSG.

The last time both teams met in the second round of the Champions League, they served us a classic, with Barcelona overturning a 4-0 defeat with a 6-1 win at home. PSG recovered from a defeat against Man. United on the opening day, to finish top of their group.

Barcelona will be looking up to Messi

If he is fit, Neymar will be relishing facing his former team. The Brazilian was pivotal in helping Barcelona turn the tides in 2017, now he is on the other side. Barcelona have not been so convincing this season, with Lionel Messi largely a shadow of his old self. PSG have also not been able to find consistency.

Players to watch: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Neymar Jr (PSG), Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

Prediction: PSG to go through

Sevilla vs Dortmund

Another almost balanced tie. If it were the Europa League, we would have easily gone for a Sevilla win.

The Europa League champions qualified quite easily behind Chelsea. They look like a compact side but have struggled for goals.

Dortmund qualified quite easily in a group that had Lazio but have been largely inconsistent, especially in the Bundesliga. They have severed ties with their coach Lucien Favre, they should be a different team by February with Erling Haaland also expected back.

Players to watch: Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla), Marco Reus (Dortmund), Erling Haaland (Dortmund)

Prediction: Difficult to call, Dortmund to edge it.

Atalanta vs Real Madrid

This should be a mouth watering tie. Atalanta were impressive as they finished second behind Liverpool, winning all their away matches without conceeding a goal. Gian Gasperini’s men have not been at their attacking best but they seem more pragmatic this term.

Zidane has won the Champions League thrice as a manager

Real Madrid left it late to qualify. They picked just a point from their first two matches and stood the risk of an embarrassing group stage exit. They eventually made it, top of their group. They have not been really impressive but they have the knack of getting the job done when it matters.

Players to watch: Alenjandro Gomes (Atalanta), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

Prediction: We expect a shocker from here, Atalanta to go through.

Thoughts of a Lunatic: New London Derby, Ole In and Out and other Talking Points

What is the world without football? I wonder how people who don’t like football cope. It has been a week of gbas gbos both on the pitch and off the pitch. I am sure you are enjoying the various drama as I have. There is also a lot to look forward to in midweek football. There may be some premium tears. There is also the little matter of a Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo clash in the Champions League. Some years back, it would have been one to look forward to, but now, it looks more like that Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones choreography dance drama.

New London Derby

Change is the only constant thing in life and variety is the spice of life. Arsenal fans have been used to seeing their team play London derbies against the likes of Chelsea, West Ham, Tottenham etc. in the Premier League. There will be nothing bad if they start playing league Derbies against the likes of QPR, Brentford, Millwall and the likes. Not because these clubs are on the verge of gaining promotion to the Premier League but because Arsenal are closer to going to join them.

Areta his doing his IT at Arsenal

Arsenal’s record this season is there for every Arsene, Pier and Mesut to see. They have lost more than they have won. They have conceded more than they have scored. They have celebrated Ozil Twitter jibed than they have celebrated goals.

In the wake of Jose Mourinho giving Arsenal and Mikel Arteta plaudits after his Tottenham side defeated them, Arsenal fans should be worried. Mourinho does not give you plaudits, except when he doesn’t see you as a rival. Mourinho does not see Arsenal as rivals. New rivals on the horizon for Arsenal while their coach completes his IT.

Ole In and Out

Depending on what RB Leipzig does or doesn’t do against Manchester United this week, Manchester United could join Arsenal on the Thursday train. A qualification that looked all but wrapped after a good start in a group that has PSG could end up with a round-of-32 Thursday night tie in Cyprus or Azerbaijan.

The result will also determine the ole in – ole out music. We are used to hearing Ole in one minute and then Ole out the next. In their last two Premier League matches, it was Ole out at halftime but became Ole in by full-time. It could be ole ole ole… the song of the fans or ole! ole! ole!… the song of the market for a thief.

Pogba is said to be unhappy at Manchester United

Still on Manchester United, it seems Paul Pogba has finished his holiday at the club, according to his agent Mino Raiola. A return that was so celebrated like that of a princely prodigal son is about to end with both parties largely disappointed. Pogback is turning to ‘Pogpark and go’.

Barcelona casted

Barcelona are also going down like Arsenal, they may be missing their local rivals too – Espanyol. Another defeat, against Cadiz this time has taken them down to ninth, 12 points away from the top.

In the days when Messi was Messi, this was the type of match he used to win singlehandedly when his teammates don’t turn up. Now that the real Messi has been replaced with Jubril Messi, Barcelona don cast.

In Andre Ter Stegen, Barcelona may be having their own ‘Kepa’. Donating points to opponents with some comedic goalkeeping.

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Barcelona Getting Worse Every Year – Pique

Barcelona’s defender Gerard Pique has admitted that Barcelona have been regressing over the years and that widespread changes are needed. In a club that Lionel Messi has become ‘PenaMessi’.

The departure of the club’s board, along with the hiring of Ronald Koeman, has heralded a new dawn in Catalonia and Pique is hopeful Barcelona will be able to rescue their ailing fortunes.

‘The club is the way it is right now,’ Pique said in his post match interview. ‘There’s a process of change that was necessary. We have needed to turn things around.

‘There was an obvious trend of things getting worse every year. We don’t have a lot of time, but we need things to improve.

‘You can’t have a transitional year at Barcelona. There will be a new board and with that there will be a lot of changes in the coming months.’

A fifth penalty of the season from Lionel Messi on five minutes and a goal from Pique helped Barcelona edge beyond their Ukrainian opponents. Dynamo Kiev pulled a goal back and Marc-Andre ter Stegen was forced to make six saves and collect a man of the match award.