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The Tiger Wins Again

American Golfer Tiger Woods on Monday at the Zozo championship, Chiba, Japan, goes into the record books by becoming only the 2nd golfer to amass 82 PGA tour wins, equalling fellow American Sam Snead haul of 82. Woods emerged triumphant ahead of the home favourite, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Britains Rory McIlroy amongst others.

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7 months ago(April), the whole golfing community celebrated the return to the podium of arguably the best golfer of all-time Tiger Woods. The 43-year-old then notched his 5th Masters’ tournament(his 15th Majors) at the Augusta National golf course, and many felt it was time for Tiger Woods to leave the stage when the ovation is loudest, however, Woods has more tricks off his sleeves. Fast track the months to October and Woods is breaking more grounds.

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Tiger Woods’ appearance at the Zozo championship was his 1st PGA tour since knee surgery back in August and very few would have expected Woods’ commanding display and lead going into the suspension of play on Sunday evening. The American showed no sign of rustiness as he held a 3-shot lead with 7 holes left to play for going into play resumption on Monday morning. Though, some sloppy play from Woods saw his lead cut to 2, after he hit a bunker at par-four 12th and was unable to save it(par). Fortunately for Woods, his closest challenger Matsuyama hit a bunker of his own, paving the way for Woods to coast away.

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Despite the rally from the chasing pack, led by Matsuyama and McIlroy, Woods’ play could not be undone as he birdied at 14th and another at the home stretch, to close out the round with 19 under.

Tiger Woods will not only pocket an estimated $2Million but will also move up the world rankings from 10th to 6th.

Congratulations to the Tiger.

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The Holders Held At Lowly Lecce

The Serie A matchday 9 saw the 2018/19 champion and table topper Juventus travelled to lowly Lecce in a seemingly easy fixture but against all odds, the champions were held to a 1-1stalemate by the 17-placed Lecce, 2 2nd-half penalty-kicks even the honours at the Stadio Via del Mare.

Lecce, promoted back into the Serie A since their relegation in 2012, hasn’t had it rosy in the league so far, 2 wins and a draw from 8 matches placed Lecce in the relegation battle, however, the manager Fabio Liverani tutored side put up a resolute defending to keep Juventus at bay all afternoon.

Juventus has not dropped a point since their matchday 3 dab draw at Fiorentina and were on a 5 match winning run, ipso facto were expected to run riot over their host despite Cristiano Ronaldo absence(rested). Also, the last 5 league meetings had seen Juventus recorded 3 wins and 2 draws(including the 1-1 draw in the last meetings in 2012).

The encounter sprung into life in the 26th minute when Gonzalo Higuain thought he’s given his team the lead but the celebration was promptly cut by VAR who correctly ruled Higuain offside. After that, Juventus could only test Gabriel in Lecce goal just once in the 1st half, as the host threw themselves in front of every Juventus shot. Juventus finally got their breakthrough goal 10 minutes before the hour mark, Miralem Pjanic drawing a foul in the box, Paulo Dybala then scored from 12 yards. Juventus lead lasted for only 6 minutes, as the host drew level from a spot-kick of their own, Matthijs de Ligt was penalised for handling the ball in the area, Marco Mancosu duly tucked away from the spot.

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Lecce’s goal scorer Marco Mancosu, source

It was a below-par performance from Juventus, despite enjoying 71% of the match proceedings, Juventus was limited to just 4 shots on target out of a staggering 25-shot total, in contrast to Lecce’s 29% possession, a lesser overall shot of 10 but more shots(5) on target. Juventus evidently missed the finesse of the talismanic striker Cristiano Ronaldo.

Fortunately for the Old Ladies, the 2 points dropped doesn’t prove so costly, they still stay a points clear with 23 points over 2nd place Inter Milan(22 points) who could have overtaken Juventus with a win over Parma, however, Antonio Conte’s men failed to capitalize on Juventus slip, they needed Romelu Lukaku’s equalizer to salvage a 2-2 draw at the San Siro Stadium.

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Derby d’Italia! The Tie That Could Shape Up Inter & Juve’s Season.

Popularly known as the Derby d’Italia(Derby of Italy), Inter Milan versus Juventus match-ups will always draw widespread attention in the footballing community across the globe, and even more attention this season judging by Inter’s great start to the season. The Nerazzurri takes a 100% start to Serie A into Sunday’s home clash against the 8-times defending Champion Juventus, the 1st of 2-league meetings that could go a long way in the Serie A title race.

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Inter Milan
Inter Milan’s new found belief and purpose have not been seen since Jose Mourinho-led Inter. The manner at which they celebrate each of the 6 league victories says it all. Though just 2 points ahead of the champion Juventus, the Nerazzurri believe they can usurp the Bianconeri this season. A 6 straight league win is a statement of intent and they have shown little or no weakness with their performances in those 6 games played so far. Antonio Conte side could match the achievement of Inter Milan side of 1966/67 with a 7th straight win should they pulled a win over Juventus come Sunday.

Juventus
If there is ever any club side that is not afraid to play catch up, it would be Juventus. The Bianconeri are known for recovering from an early-season wobble to claim the Scudetto, the history books had backed that time and again. The 1966/67 Inter Milan side that won the opening 7 league matches were eventually overtaken and beaten to the league by Juventus. Roma, having won 10 opening league matches, top the Serie A for a long period in 2013/14 season but were beaten to the Scudetto by Juventus. So was Napoli beaten to the league by the Old Ladies in 2016/17, it could be recalled that Napoli won their opening 7 league matches that season.

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H2H
Juventus(W3, D2, L1) has dominated the Serie A for the past 8 seasons, no surprises that the hold the better head-to-head results in the past 6 league meetings with 3 wins, 2 draws and a defeat. Inter Milan’s(W1, D2, L3) sole league win in the past 3 seasons came in a 2-1 win in September 2016.

Tactics
Having started top striker Romelu Lukaku from the bench in Inter’s last league victory, Inter Boss Conte will have a refreshed Lukaku to call on, however, Lukaku’s teammate Alexis Sanchez won’t feature due to the marching order he received in the last match. Conte will most likely stick to his 3-5-2 formation, a compact midfield to frustrate Juventus’s flow of play. Box-to-box Stefano Sesi, also on 3 goals like Lukaku will be crucial to Inter’s play.

Juventus manager Mauricio Sarri seems to prefer a 4-4-2 diamond formation, a tactics deploy to suit Welsh midfielder, Aaron Ramsey, playing behind the 2 frontmen. Sarri hasn’t figured out his best frontline combination, a Ronaldo-Higuain partnership or a Ronaldo-Dybala duo, a lot of football analyst believe the latter partnership isn’t just working as much as it should.

Prediction
It would have been convenient to call a Juventus straight win judging by the H2H stats but the Old Ladies haven’t gotten into their 100% stride yet. A draw should be connected for both manager, a win for Inter, however, will be a cherry on the cake for Conte and will certainly send shock waves into the league and fear into the rest of Serie A teams. A score draw; 1-1 or 2-2

Cross-published @Scorum

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A Scrappy Win For The Reds, But Hey, Who Cares…

 

A Scrappy Win For The Reds, But Hey, Who Cares…

 
peman85 (31) in sports •  27 minutes ago
 
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Jubilant Wijnaldum and teammates, source.


Liverpool recorded a slim, scrappy but crucial 1 nil win at the Bramall Lane, Sheffield United, their 7th-straight win of the season, to remain on course for the seemingly elusive EPL title. It took a goalkeeping howler in the 70th minute from Dean Henderson in Sheffield United’s goal before Liverpool could come away with the 3 vital points.

Liverpool, on top of the league with 18 maximum points from 6 matches played, was overwhelmingly favoured to trample down on the newly promoted host, Sheffield United, who sits in 10th position on the log table. However, football was never played on a piece of paper but on the pitch, and Sheffield United did make Liverpool laboured in the early kick-off of matchday 7.

As expected, Liverpool set out in their favoured 4-3-3 formation, an unchanged starting 11 to the side that defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the matchday 6, with the usual front 3 of Mane, Firmino and Salah. Sheffield United, like her visitor, stuck with the same starting line-up to the one that recorded a famous 2 nil victory at Everton in the last league fixture, in their usual 3-5-2 set up, a tactic that definitely stifled Jurgen Klopp’s lads for the majority of the afternoon.

It was the home side that fired the 1st warning shot, Oliver McBurnie calling Adrian to a smart save just inside 5 minutes of kick-off. Liverpool, with the majority of the ball possession, huffed and puffed for an opening but could not break down a resolute Sheffield United, who were defending in numbers. And when Liverpool did manage an opening, Sadio Mane was uncharacteristically wasteful in front of goal. Liverpool’s 7 total shots off the target summed up their 1st half performance.

Liverpool, in search of the break-through goal, brought on an extra striker in the 64th minute, Divock Origi coming on for midfielder Jordan Henderson but it was the home side who immediately drew another fine save from Adrian. However, just as the afternoon gets more frustrating for the Reds, a stroke of luck swung things in their favour. Georginio Wijnaldum fired a tame volley towards Sheffield United goal and it seemed as Dean Henderson had it covered but Henderson allowed the ball to wriggle right through his arms and legs and into the net, to the heartbreak of not just his teammates but the whole fans, all the 70 minutes hard work down the drain. It was Liverpool’s 1st shot on target and it proved a blow beneath the belt.

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It is often time said that champions don’t necessarily need to play beautiful before getting a result, they somehow grind out results by hook or crook, Liverpool had just demonstrated that notion today, another title-winning point in the kitty, how they get it is irrelevant now.

With this win, Liverpool has now gone on a winning streak of 16 league matches, their longest ever, better only by Manchester City’s 18 straight league win in the 2017/18 season. Liverpool is also unbeaten in the last 24 league matches, their 2nd longest run(the longest run was the 31-match unbeaten run between 1987 and 1988). The stuff of a champion, isn’t it?

Cross-posted @Scorum

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2019 MLS Playoff Race, Could LA Galaxy Miss Out Yet Again?

The race for a spot in the 2019 Audi MLS Cup reaches it’s antepenultimate, with the majority of both Eastern and Western Conference teams played 31 out of the 34 regular season matches. One of the glamourous franchise of the league might miss out of the playoff for the often time. The Los Angeles Galaxy had disappointedly missed the 2017 and 2018 playoffs respectively and could yet miss the 2019 playoff with tricky games left on their roster.

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14 places(7 each from both conferences) are up for grabs in the postseason championship. All of the Eastern Conference’s current top 7 teams but the New England Revolution had secured the postseason status, as shown in the table above, leaving either of the Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact & the Orlando City SC with a realistic chance of justling out with the New England Revolution for the remaining single spot. The Western Conference, on the other hand, has 6 spots left to compete for, with Los Angeles FC the only side safely in the postseason championship. As much as 10 other clubs including the Los Angeles Galaxy are still vying for the 6 playoff spots as shown in the table below.

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Los Angeles Galaxy(Western Conference);

Five(5) times MLS Cup winner, Los Angeles Galaxy(2002, 2005, 2011, 2012 & 2014) was living dangerously close to missing the playoff, having dropped out of playoff spots following a string of poor results. However, the LAG has fought their way back into contention with back-to-back victories, which have now lifted them from 8th to 4th position on the Western Conference log table. The latest win, a 2-1 home win over Montreal Impact came at the back of a 7-2 win over Sporting Kansas City. Zlatan Ibrahimovic(31′) and Uriel Antuna(50′) combined to set up a goal apiece for each other in the 2-1 win while Lassi Lappalainen(48′) scored for Montreal Impact.

Having also scored a hat trick in the 7-2 win over Sporting Kansas, Ibrahimovic now has 27 league goals, just 2 behind league-leading scorer, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela(29 goals). With 3 matches left on the regular-season roster, both Ibrahimovic and Vela alongside Atlanta United FC’s Josef Martinez(26 goals) chase the 31-goal single-season record set by Martinez himself last season.

Playoff seems to be within LAG’s grasp now, with 2 out of their last 3 fixtures against opponents outside the playoff places, bottom sides Houston Dynamo(10th) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC(12th), plus the seemingly tough tie against 5th place Real Salt Lake. The next 2 games for LAG are crucial to their playoff quest, back-to-back away games at Real Salt Lake and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, defeats in both games would make the last game against Houston Dynamo a must-win on home turf. However, if there is any team that can hurt LAG at their backyard, it would be the Houston Dynamo. It could be recall how the Houston based franchise stopped the LA Galaxy from making the playoff in the 2017 season, LA Galaxy was leading 2-0 at home but then got pegged back and stunned 2-3 at the Dignity Health Sports Park.

Ibrahimovic, after the 2-1 win over Montreal claimed to be the “MVP of the MVPs” but can he help LA Galaxy complete the revival and steer them to a 1st playoff spot in 3 seasons? There is only one way to find out.

Originally Posted to Sports Dapp @Scorum, you’re welcome to be part of Scorum.

Yours sincerely @peman, Thanks.