What has Gareth Southgate done to the Three Lions?

Whether the Euro tournament trophy ends up at home or in Rome, one thing that is sure is, Gareth Southgate has done a great job with the Three Lions of England. They are 90 minutes or at most 130/140 minutes away from what could be their first ever European title. Coming off the back of a fourth place finish at the last World Cup, they seem to have banished the ghost of faltering at major tournaments. At the heart of this achievement is probably their most low-profile manager of the last two decades. After falling short with the likes of Sven Goran Erikson, Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson, uncelebrated Southgate is about to send English football fans into delirium, how has he gotten the Three Lions this far?

Southgate has got his tactics right.

Merit in players selection

Southgate has departed from the previous norm of inviting and playing players based on their stature and that of their clubs. Gone are the days when playing for the big clubs guarantee places in the Three Lions. Southgate has selected the best and most in-form players without bias. A good example is Kalvin Phillips, who got an invitation to the team while still playing in the second division with Leeds and is a super regular in the team now. In time past, a player playing in the Championship wouldn’t have gotten an invite. The likes of Ben White of Brighton Hove and Albion, Connor Coady of Wolves are in the team, just to mention a few.

Phillips made his debut while still in the Championship.

Players playing outside England like Kieran Trippier, Jude Bellingham and Jadon Sancho have not been ignored. Just as young and budding talents like Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and others have been allowed to strut their stuff.

The selection is near perfect and the result is there for all to see.

Staying true to type

Just like his not so flamboyant persona, he has kept the team more efficient than flamboyant. Just two goals scored in the group stage with none conceded says it all. In all, they have conceded one goal in all, from set play. In spite of having some of England’s most stylish footballers of modern era in his ranks, he has kept the style largely ‘English’. Defensively strong and relying on pace and directness at the other end.

A double-pivot of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips at the base of the midfield is more of a defensive and cautious choice. He could have played only one of the aforementioned duo and deploy more of his exciting midfielders but he has resisted the urge. After what seemed like a struggle at the group stage, there were calls for changes but he has stayed true to his style and it is paying dividends.

Trusting his players

Based on form, coming into the tournament, the likes of Jordan Pickford and Raheem Sterling should not have been starters but they have proved doubters wrong. They were two of England’s best players at the last World Cup and Southgate trusted them to continue in that light and they have not let him down.

Southgate has found consistency.

Captain Harry Kane struggled at the beginning of the tournament and he seemed out of place in the team. Southgate stuck with a player who won the Golden Boots at the last World Cup and last Premier League season and he has repaid the trust, he has four goals now, one shy of the leading topscorer.

As said earlier, even if football refuses to go home, there is enough for English fans to be excited about. Southgate has done a fantastic job with this team and luckily does not court controversies. With the World Cup less than two years away, the English can dream once again.

Written by Babatomiwa Ojo

Four Lessons We Learnt From The Super Eagles Defeat To Algeria

It is no longer news that the Super Eagles lost against the Desert Foxes of Algeria in a friendly match played in Austria. The scoreline aside, it was not the best of performances we have seen since Gernot Rohr took over. Cutting the team some slack, it was their first match in 2020 and some key players were also absent. Regardless, the coaching crew must have learnt some lessons from the match. Here are some lessons we learnt.

The starting XI against Algeria

Okoye is good to go

The goalkeeping area has been suspect in the team for some time. With Maduka Okoye’s performance against the Algerians, the future is looking bright. The young shot stopper had a nervy start but he grew into the game and made some brilliant stops.

Okoye was brilliant

Together with Francis Uzoho, we might have two young goalkeepers to man the post for a long time.

Ndidi, Etebo and Aribo can rest easy

The aforementioned trio are all expected to return to the team when they are available. Their places are secured and they don’t need to worry, considering the performances of the midfielders that deputised for them.

Frank Onyeka had a terrible debut performance and was shaky throughout, till he was hauled off at halftime.

Semi Ajayi got better in the second half but showed he is better as a center-back. The midfield could barely put anything together in the absence of Aribo, Ndidi and Etebo.

Onuachu probably not good enough

Paul Onuachu has been in very good form for his club KRC Genk but on the evidence of what we saw on Friday, he may not be good enough for the Super Eagles.

Onuachu failed another audition

He has hardly had any good game for the Super Eagles since he scored in a friendly against Egypt in 2018. He is not fast enough and does not link up play well. He could not link up well with the wing-forwards and midfield. The team is not suited for a target man. It is high time Rohr tries something else in the absence of Victor Osimhen.

Rohr remains conservative

With the Super Eagles trailing, the changes Rohr made were too direct and kind of conservative. The more defensive Moses Simon came on for the injured Samuel Kalu and offered little in attack. A center-back Kevin Akpoguma replaced Tyronne Ebuehi at right-back.

It is just a friendly and Rohr could have been more ingenious with his changes against the Algerians that were also not on top of their game.

Unfortunately, we are not the ones hired by the NFF to manage the Super Eagles. However, we hope lessons have been learnt and the team will do better going forward, starting with the next friendly against Tunisia.

Thoughts of a Lunatic: VillaPool, Manchester Sixers, the transfer market and other talking points.

Hollup hollup, Manchester United and Liverpool fans, the lunatic has not forgotten you. He has just been busy in sizes and sevens. The transfer market got shut and some people are parteying, some got what they ‘can have ni’ but at the end of the day, the performances will justify the transfers. So many to get into on this edition of Thoughts of a Lunatic. Remember you have to be a lunatic too, to make sense of some of this things.

Manchester Sixers

It seems the red side of Manchester have some affinity to number six, it won’t be bad if the suffix – Sixers is added to their name. Six against Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham brings back memories of six against Manchester City – of the ‘Why always me’ fame. So, it has happened before, at Old Trafford. And for all those dramatics Patrice Evra was doing while analysing this present edition of the 6-1, he was there the last time out. However, to be fair, this present team looks far far far worse than the one that lost to City.

The Sixers.

And what is it with Harry Maguire and always marking his teammates? If he fights for his team like he fought in Greece, maybe Manchester United will be in a better place. He looks like a joke of a captain though.

For Anthony Martial, I feel sorry for him. Not that he shouldn’t have been sent off but he should have given Eric Lamela a stronger punch. I mean, if you are going to be sent-off for stupidity, let that stupidity be really worth it. At the end of the day, Lamela fell to the floor holding his face after a soft slap to the face, it wouldn’t have been worse off if Martial had broken his nose. The Lunatic is not supporting violence, just saying the reaction should be equal to the action.

On Favour over labour, favour is over, return to labour. Odion Ighalo, you don try.

VillaPool

Aston Villa 7 Liverpool 2. A result one would have expected to be the other way round. 75 million pounds Virgil Van Dijk was in defence. How dare he?

Back from seventh heaven

Maybe seven against Villa is just to tell them to return from the seventh heaven of winning their first Premier League title. It was an embarrassment.

Parteying and anything we can have

Arsenal fans are in delirium (whatever this means, it just came to my head), they are celebrating the signing of Thomas Partey. You know at the Emirates, everything is worth celebrating, from unbeaten run, to Emirates Cup, to young manager, to new signings, to dribbles, just name it. We only hope that the music won’t change again soon.

While they are Parteying, Manchester United went from Jadon Sancho to signing Edison Cavani on a free. Cavani is quality and could come through. He could be a Zlatan or be a Falcao. If he is a Zlatan, good for them but if he is a Falcao, the Carraghers and the Keanes are waiting for them.

Oyinbo Super Eagles

On another lighter note, the Super Eagles play again this Friday. A friendly against Algeria. It is not about the match but the influx of foreign-born footballers in the team.

The lunatic just hope, we won’t be watching Nigeria vs Mexico one day and we won’t know who is who. As the lunatic once said, the shooting skills of Nigerian means we have Nigerians everywhere. There’s a Korean-Nigerian at Real Madrid. The National team is gradually becoming multi-national team.

So, I have to stop now, a SARS officer is demanding to search my lapt…

Boald Codes: Tips Before You Stake Your Money This Weekend

Another weekend, another chance to put your money where your mouth is. Last week was not particularly rosy, there were lots of Amakas – the likes of Wolves, Bayern Munich, Manchester City etc. However our banana peels were spot on last week – we warned against Manchester City and Bayern Munich. We go again this weekend with our carefully selected choices.

Bankers

Manchester City were disappointing last week and are going away to in-form Leeds United. Regardless, we are going for a City win. Leeds are perfectly shaped for City, the odd is good, around 1.40. You could also go for goals. Over 2.5 or Over 3.5 and above if you are very bold.

Boald codes for the bold.

In-form Everton hosts Brighton. Everton for a win comes at very good odds, around 1.84 but seeing how impressive and expansive Brighton have been, a goals game will be a safe bet. Over 2.5.

Borussia Dortmund disappointed last week but trust them to come good against Freiburg at home this week. As we saw against Bayern in midweek, they can still score goals. The odd for a Dortmund win is around 1.3.

In Serie A, Atalanta should win at home against Cagliari. You could also go for an over 2.5. Both comes at decent odds or you could combine Atalanta win and over 2.5.

In Scotland, Celtic to win at St. Johnstone comes at around 1.30. It is worth staking on Celtic to win.

Boald Call

Inter Milan to win at Lazio comes at 2.14. Go for it, if you have the balls, goalden balls. Lazio have not started the season well, just like they ended last season on a poor note. Inter have what it takes to put them to the sword.

Banana Peel

If you can, avoid Chelsea again. Crystal Palace are party spoilers, they have done it to Manchester United this season. The pace of their forward line will trouble Chelsea’s shaky defence.

AC Milan hosts Spezia. They should win easily but this AC Milan side are due a poor result. Especially after their Europa League exertions.

Levante host Real Madrid, stay away from it if you can. Levante lost narrowly to Sevilla in midweek. Real Madrid have struggled so far.

Remember, terms and conditions apply and if you win, send your tithes here.

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Boald Codes: Betting Tips for the Weekend

Betting companies are in trouble! You have selected those matches and have already gone ahead to price a Ferrari. Calm down, most times they end up using your money to eat suya. We sef no Sabi, nobody be Van Damme for this game. However, we have carefully looked at the matches and made some picks.

Bankers

In the Premier League, we are backing Brighton and Hove Albion to score against Manchester United. We have seen that Brighton are a good side that can score goals, from their two matches. Manchester United are unconvincing so far. Just go for goals game. They come at good odds.

Still in the Premier League, go for goals in Sheffield United vs Leeds United as well. Sheffield are yet to score or record a point this season, don’t expect them to defend against a Leeds United side that can’t defend to save their lives.

Chelsea should win at the Hawthorns against West Bromm. It comes at a good odd. Around 1.4 across platforms.

Juventus to win at AS Roma is around 2 odds across platforms. Juventus should be too much for Roma, especially since the stands are still empty, there’s little in terms of home advantage. If you want to be safe, go for a Juventus double chance, it comes at a decent odd.

Napoli should win at home against Genoa, still basking from their opening weekend win.

PSG are gradually having some of their players back, most especially Kylian Mbappe. They should win away at Reims.

Marseille are yet to win since defeating PSG in their football-cum-wrestling match. They host Metz, they should return to winning ways against Metz. The odd is good, around 1.5 across platforms.

Banana peels

Be careful with Manchester City against Leicester. They have fitness issues and are not settled yet. Wilfred Ndidi is out for Leicester but they can score goals against City and also concede. Go for goals, to be safe.

Bayern Munich are playing away at Hoffenheim off the back of playing 120 minutes in the Super Cup on Thursday. That Super Cup match may have taken a lot from them and brought them back to earth. Be careful with Bayern.

Barcelona are hosting Villarreal. Their odds for a win is good but be careful. We are yet to know how Barcelona will shape up this season. Villarreal are coached by Unai Emery, expect him to be cautious. A under 3.5 may come in handy.

Bold calls

As stated earlier, Juventus straight win comes at 2 odds.

West Brom to score against Chelsea, especially both to score comes at very good odds.

Don’t forget to bet responsibly. And if you win, don’t also forget to send your tithe to us.

Thoughts of a Lunatic: Kai Chelsea, Van De Bleak and other football talking points

Football is actually back and we are only expecting fans back at the stadiums. The world seems to have damned COVID-19 and moved on; Wuhan must now invent something else. All those protocols that were taken seriously before football resumed are more academic now and or not followed anymore.  Teams file out separately as against filing out together only to end up tugging, pushing, embracing and spitting all over the pitch. Talking about tugging, Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen ‘overbroke’ COVID-19 rules by that unholy embrace of Sadio Mane. He should not just be suspended; he should suffer a lengthy ban and be put in isolation.

What are the other takeaways for this lunatic from football this weekend?

Another Gabriel at Arsenal

Lots of people have even forgotten Arsenal used to have one Gabriel. That one that took Brazil’s fight against Spain’s Diego Costa personal, you remember him now? Yes! The one with the visionary teeth. We did not even notice when Arsenal took him through the backdoor back to Spain.

They seem to have another Gabriel now. Gabriel Maga…whatever, Gabriel Maga sounds good. However, he has started well, scoring on his debut and posting a man-of-the-match display in his second match. Trust Arsenal fans, they have discovered the best thing after moi moi. We are waiting…

Gabriel Maghalaes has started well at Arsenal

Still on Arsenal or an Arsenal-affiliate, Kieran Gibbs, yes, he still plays football. The last time he was sent off in the Premier League, it was a case of mistaken identity in 2014. He waited a whole six years to collect a red card of his own in the ‘most stupidest’ of manner in West Brom’s loss against Everton.

Kai Chelsea

For us in this part of the World, Kai stands for Kick Against Indiscipline or in even more razz manner, kai means stop. When you are doing something unworthy, the word ‘kai’ brings you back to line, if you are not a stubborn goat.

Kai has struggled in his first two matches.

Lampard and Chelsea fans should kai and just drop the hype of that Havertz boy. He could come up good later but the Kai we have seen so far is just a German left-footed Daniel James. Last time out against Brighton, he was playing with imaginary teammates.  This weekend against Liverpool, Lampard saved us more minutes of disasterclass by pulling him off at half-time. Kai!

Ban Bayern

Bayern might have to be banned from football. If they will not start respecting opponents, they should go and look for their opponents elsewhere. Barcelona are still trying to recover from the gr-eight damage the Bavarians did to them and they have continued on the act.

Bayern Munich started the season with a bang.

Just the first week of the Bundesliga season and they are already trashing Schalke 08 (sorry, Schalke 04) 8-0. Bayer Munich, diaris God, fear God.

Ramsey Pirlo

All Aaron Ramsey needed was to be coached by Andrea Pirlo to discover the Pirlo in him. In Juventus’s 3-0 win against Sampdoria, Ramsey was pulling all the Pirlo-esque passes in midfield and recorded an assist for Ronaldo’s goal.

Knowing Ramsey, we might start thinking Pirlo has been replaced with Tiemoue Bakayoko or Danny Drinkwhatever when he decides to show us the other side.

Van de Bleak

Manchester United’s new boy Danny Van De Beek came off the bench in Manchester United’s 3-1 loss against Crystal Palace. Images of him on the bench with Manchester United trailing brought memories of a certain Alexis Sanchez. We hope he did not go home to enquire from his agent if he could cancel his contract and return to Ajax.

The look says a lot.

Manchester United are even yet to wear that their black and white jersey but they are already delivering colourless zebra-like performances.

Maybe they should consider bringing Wilfred Zaha back after he tormented them on Saturday. But we must confirm Ole Solskjaer does not have a pretty grown daughter first.

Nigerian men impressive shots

The result of Nigerian men impressive shooting skills always find a way to emerge in football. No, I am not talking about Victor Osimhen or Samuel Chukwueze but a certain Marvin Olawale Akinlabi Park. Marvin Park made his debut for Real Madrid at the weekend, we found out the Olawale Akinlabi part, he definitely has some connections to Nigeria.

Marvin Park played for Real Madrid against Real Sociedad at the weekend.

Marvin was born in Spain to a Nigerian father and a South Korean mother. Naija men! We now have so many ‘Nigerian born’ everywhere due to their shooting skills. Even Korean woman? Naija men can shoot.

The Lunatic won’t end without a word for Kepa Arizabawhatever and Chelsea. The fact that a man’s name sounds like keeper does not mean he is a good goalkeeper and is worth a world record fee. Whoever recommended Kepa to Chelsea deserves 600 years in that place Harry Maguire spent some days at.  

Don’t follow me anywhere, a lunatic needs no followers.

Monaco signs Bayer Leverkusen star

BayerL Leverkusen forward Kevin Volland has joined AS Monaco from Bayer Leverkusen on a four-year deal for a reported initial fee of £9.8m.

Chelsea are also expected to complete a deal for another Bayer star Kai Havertz. Bayer have signed Patrick Schick to cover for the departures while Coach Peter Bosz has called for more signings.

Asked if he expected the 21-year-old to return to Leverkusen at the end of the international break, Bosz said: “Unfortunately our squad isn’t set yet. I don’t expect (Kevin) Volland and Havertz to train with us again.

“It’s possible more players will transfer. We definitely still have to add some players.” Bosz said.

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