Football has a way of relegating other sports to the background when the Champions League (and Europa because Manutd are still in contention) returns to our screens.
The midweek excitement which deliciously exploded on taste buds when PSG crushed Barcelona like grapes, cascades into the weekend of scintillating football action.
The most brutally beautiful derby, AC Milan vs Inter Milan, comes up on Sunday. Arsenal will be hoping to stop the Mancity juggernaut while Rivers United and Enyimba FC have a continental beef to squash. Put on your seat belts and lets go!!!
CAF Confederation Cup – Rivers United vs Enyimba FC
Besides the rather unsavoury news of the Adamawa United contingent getting robbed at gun-point on their way to Lagos to honour their Week 11 tie against MFM FC, the NPFL is getting pretty exciting.
The Afonja Warriors, Kwara United, at the top of the table are taking a 5-game unbeaten run to Rangers International of Enugu. Don’t be surprised if the game records an away win and under 2 goals.
The tie of the weekend, however, isn’t in the NPFL but the return leg of the CAF Confederation Cup qualification tie between Rivers United and Enyimba FC.
Rivers have been promised heaven and earth if they can sail past Enyimba in the Port Harcourt reverse tie. It’s going to be a tug of war between the Whales and the Elephants.
The Aba millionaires are going into the reverse fixture with a 1-0 lead. But in Rivers United, they have an opponent that can score with aplomb. They put 5 goals past their last opponents, Bloemfontein Celtics of South Africa, over 2 legs.
All eyes on Godwin Aguda if Rivers are to overturn the 1-goal deficit. The striker has got goals in him, it’s left to the Enyimba defence to block him out. Good luck with that. It’s too close to call but I’m sticking my neck out for Rivers United to qualify.
(Image Credit – scorenigeria.com.ng)
Bundesliga – Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich
It’s Arminia Bielefeld that almost pulled a stunner on Bayern Munich last matchday at the Allianz Arena. It was a crazy 3-3 result where Bayern had to come back from 1-3 to avoid a huge embarrassment. This weekend, however, the Bavarian Devils are playing an opponent that can keep it tighter at the back than Bielefeld.
Adi Hütter’s high-scoring Eintracht Frankfurt (15 goals in their last 5 games) must be looking at Bayern’s discombobulated defence and be rubbing their palms together with utmost glee. On their day, they have a record for embarrasing Bayern, they could easily put 5 past them like the last time at home.
This game is going to be a slobber-knocker! 4th vs 1st place. Both sides have got goals in them and the keepers will be busy all through. Offensively, both sides can’t be really separated, sharp shooters all over the field.
It would be down to who makes the least defensive mistakes in this one and right now, the Bayern strikeforce must score at least 3 goals to get any result (draw or win).
(Image Credit – 90min.com)
Ligue – PSG vs AS Monaco
Barcelona players looked at them on Tuesday and said, “A storm is coming!” to which the PSG players replied, “We are the storm!!!”
PSG passed their Barcelona test with flying colours! No Neymar, no problem. They crashed 4 goals past Blaugrana like their defenders didn’t exist. This weekend’s fixture will no less be a stern test. PSG are facing a resurgent Monaco.
Monaco is coming into this one on fine form. They’re unbeaten in the last 5 games and are 5 points behind the 3rd-placed PSG. They’ve won their last 5 games on the road and have a decent goal scoring record (14 in 5 games) in the process.
Kylian Mbappe will be hosting the club he made his name. Monaco should expect no mercy for this PSG who want to reclaim their place at the summit of Ligue 1. If anyone can halt Monaco’s stunning form, it’s this Pochettino’s PSG. They’ll definitely want to avenge their 3-2 loss to Monaco last November 20 2020.
They both have a lot of goals in them but expect a PSG win at the end of the day. Mbappe to score anytime is a good gamble.
(Image Credit – futaa.com)
Serie A – Derby Della Madonnina – A Personal Beef Reloaded
A city united and divided by Football. This is one of the most historied football rivalries in the entire world! When Inter is at home, its the Giuseppe Meazza. When Milan hosts it, it becomes the San Siro. With or without fans, it is football war on steroids!!!
Barely 2 weeks ago, Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan nearly ripped each others heads off in a very feistily contested game. That confrontation has already made this Derby (with the most beautiful name) the most anticipated fixture of the weekend. The game has already inspired a mural right outside the stadium.
Inter goes into this all-important fixture with a point’s lead on their city rivals. Milan submitted their lead to the Nerazzuri following the stunning 2-0 loss to Spezia. Inter will be hoping Milan are still fazed coming into this match.
Zlatan will be coming back into the Milan squad and Lukaku will be relishing to have another crack at him. It won’t be a disappointing game and it might end up in a draw. A red card or 2 won’t be unexpected here – that’s what I’d put my money on.
(Image Credit – goal.com)
EPL – Arteta Hoping To Stop The Unstoppable Pep – Arsenal vs Mancity
Last month, the top of the EPL looked pretty exciting, more than 4 teams looked likely to exchange the baton until we can find a worthy leader. That gauntlet was firmly picked by Pep and Mancity, and they’ve been slapping their opponents senseless since the unstoppable run began. 16 consecutive wins and it’s Mikel Arteta and Arsenal’s fate to halt Mancity.
The last time anyone stopped Pep from winning the FA Cup was last season when Arteta and Arsenal popped up. Arteta and Arsenal have had to endure a yoyo-like form – one moment they’re pounding hapless opponents, the next they’re getting pound like hapless opponents. Inspite of it all, Arsenal has one of the stingiest backlines in the league.
Talking about defences, the reason behind Pep and City’s resurgence was their backline waking up at the right time. Ruben Dias’ magic dust has fallen on John Stones and they’ve kept the imperial Ayemeric Laporte on the bench for many games.
The most exciting battle will be in the midfield and between 2 of the most exciting youngsters in English football – Bukato Saka vs Phil Foden. They’re doing well in their teams and fans would relishing the prospect of their performance in this all-important game.
Even though Kevin De Bruyne is back, City’s livewire has been the dimunitive Ilkay Gundogan. If he plays, Arsenal is in big trouble. City’s backline won’t be snoozing either because Pierre Emerick Aubameyang has found the scoring boots he lost earlier in the season.
Who wins this one will come down to who wants it the most. When the cookie will break no one can tell but expect both teams to score. A City double-chance is the wise way to approach this fixture.
(Image Credit – manchestereveningnews.co.uk)
Who do you think will emerge winners in this weekend’s star fixtures? Please drop your thoughts.