Not all superheroes wear capes, many wear Football jerseys. No disrespects to fans of other sports but Football remains the king of sports, even the dreaded Corona Virus pandemic can’t stop or dislodge it from its throne! Many are on breaks but not Football, it continues chugging on like the Mombasa Express! Non-stop action! We have these Football players to thank, continually, for their near superhuman abilities to give sports fans excitement and adrenaline rush, each time they’re called upon by the referee’s whistle. So, the next time you’re watching a Football game, take the knee with the players before the game starts!
Now to the hot action…
Serie A fans should be rubbing their palms with glee over the AC Milan vs Atalanta clash. It’s easy to tell why. Milan is a team on a roll right now. They’re on top of their game while Atalanta seems back to their high-scoring best. Ibrahimovic and co. would be looking to tear into Atalanta but trust the resurgent Josip Ilicic (having gotten over the heartbreak of his cheating spouse) to serve Milan back, goal-for-goal! Goals is the name of the game and fans are expecting plenty in the one. Expect nothing less than 2.5 goals in this encounter (you understand what I mean *wink*wink*).
La – Liga
Zinedine Zidane might be missing on the Real Madrid bench, having tested positive for the Corona Virus but his lads have an away date to keep with Alaves. Remember fans almost took Zizou’s head off losing to a 3rd division team, Alcoyano (who does that without losing their job though? Sounds like the name of a Mayonnaise brand) in the Copa Del Rey during the week, the heat won’t be less intense on this weekend’s travel. Lose to Alaves and Zizou might be flying off a job-loss cliff. Elsewhere, Madrid’s arch-rivals, the equally struggling Barcelona, travel to Elche. Any stumble and they continue sliding down the table.
The real drama in La Liga this weekend, however, is the fixture taking place at the Wanda Metropolitano between table-toppers, Atletico Madrid and 14th-placed Valencia. Atletico would want to keep the gap between them and their nearest challenger at 7 points, should Madrid slip up and it increases to 10 points, it’s game over and we can hand the La Liga title to Atletico right then, and let others battle for 2nd place. We all know once Luis Suarez tastes blood, he locks in with the tenacity of a Doberman! We might be crowning new champions in La Liga on Game week 19. Just midway through. Wow!
Uncharacteristically quiet weekend loading in the Bundesliga this weekend. By sheer fate, the heavyweights manage to avoid meeting each other. Once upon a time, Schalke vs Bayern Munich was a big fixture. The league’s 4th biggest vs Bundesliga Landlords. It’s not the same anymore as Schakle is at the bottom of the table without a win in the last 7 games. Don’t put your hard-earned money on Schalke double-chance, it won’t happen. Look out for Nigeria’s Taiwo Awoniyi in the Augsburg – Union Berlin tie though. Awoniyi has had a decent season and should be contributing to Union’s climb up the table.
The biggest news emanating from the Ligue 1 is the table-topping PSG gaffer, Mauricio Pochetinno, testing positive to the Corona Virus. Thankfully, Le Parisien aren’t in action this weekend. The clash of the weekend, arguably, would be between 2 fixtures. 3rd-placed Olympique Lyon vs 5th-placed Stade Rennes on one hand and 4th-placed AS Monaco vs 6th-placed Marseille. Monaco and Marseille are separated by 4 points and would do anything to make the Top 4. Any slip-ups between the gladiators and Stade Rennes would leapfrog over Monaco into the coveted 4th spot. Olympique Lyon, however, have a lot to say in Renne’s ambitions as they are equally interested in getting within 2 points of PSG, and they might do it if they win this weekend.
Last but not the least, is the heartbreaking news that the most televised league, the money spinning English Premier League is on break this weekend. Fans would have to make do with the English FA Cup where Manchester United would be squaring up against their biggest arch-rivals, Liverpool FC (we know Mancity are only recent busybodies trying to be relevant because of their oil-rich sponsors, don’t we?). This would be the second meeting between the North-West Rivals in the space of 7 days. This one would not end in a draw like the Matchday 19 EPL fixture, it must produce a winner! Penalties would be called in to separate the 2 sides if the game ends up in draw at the end of 90 minutes. Look out for other games like Southampton vs Arsenal.
EPL Midseason Review
Because it’s already middle of the season, let’s end this weekend’s review on this note…Who are your best performers in the first half of the season? Which team has been the best? Which player made the EPL tick? Who has everyone been coming back for? Who has been the most consistent performing manager? Who are the surprise packages? The giant-killers who popped up from nowhere. Here’s my opinion so far –
Team of the season so far (Manchester United – the come back kings who have claimed 21 points from losing position)
Player of the season so far (Bruno Fernandes – the catalyst with over 20 goal contributions and United livewire)
Center Forward of the season (Harry Kane – Goals and assists in double digits)
Midfielder of the season (James Ward Prowse – Most consistent performer and why Southampton are the most improved team this season)
Defender of the season (Harry Maguire – Shuffles between partners and still managing to be solid)
Goalkeeper of the season (Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez – Relegation scrappers last season, Top 6 contenders this season)
Manager of the season so far (Ralph Hassenhutl – For making Southampton the most difficult team to break down this season. Despite losing Danny Ings to injury, Southampton still manage to win games)
Match of the season so far – Southampton vs Manchester United – The game that gave United wings and the belief they could win any game no matter how difficult. It gave them true grit and determination.
So, who are your nominees for the top EPL performers the season so far? Let the banter begin!!!