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$100,000 Bitcoin Prediction Is Conservative, Says Morgan Creek Digital Founder

The co-founder of institutional digital asset manager Morgan Creek Digital says his prediction that Bitcoin will hit $100,000 in the next 2.5 years is conservative.

In a new interview with CNN, Anthony Pompliano says the effects of the Federal Reserve’s decision to cut interest rates for the first time in more than a decade will likely be felt right around Bitcoin’s next halving in May of 2020.

“Whenever we get to recessive periods or slowing growth, central banks have two tools. They can cut interest rates, which they just did yesterday and they can print money, quantitative easing. And when they do both of those things, it usually takes six to 18 to actually feel the effect of those tools. And what it’s going to do is coincide with the Bitcoin halving, which we can get into what that is. And so we think that cutting rates, printing more money and the systematic structure of Bitcoin is going to lead to higher prices for Bitcoin over a long period of time.”

Pompliano says he believes Bitcoin’s fixed supply will be the foundation for the leading cryptocurrency’s growth in the coming years.

“The code was created and there’s 21 million that are going to be distributed over time. An easy way to think about it is every 10 minutes, 50 Bitcoin were given out in the beginning to people who were running the software, the miners. That went on for four years and then after four years, that reward got cut in half. So it went from 50 to 25. Four years later it got cut in half again to 12.5. And in May of 2020 it will get cut in half again to 6.25.

When you have a deflationary asset, it has a disinflationary monetary schedule. Meaning that there’s some inflation in the beginning but it gets lower and lower over time. It’s very similar to the stock-to-flow ratio of gold. So there’s existing supply and you’re going ahead and continuing to add to it. The difference between Bitcoin and gold is with Bitcoin we know exactly how many are getting created today. The second thing is we know the total supply available, which is 21 million. So it’s not, ‘Hey, I wonder how much is in the ground.’ We can actually go in and audit or verify the software code of the system.”

As for his big prediction, Pompliano says he expects BTC’s trademark volatility and explosive growth to continue after it hit a bottom of around $3,200 in December of last year.

“In 2017, Bitcoin went up 20x. So it’s a hyper-volatile asset. We’ve seen it go up 20x, 30x, 50x at times. We’ve also seen it drawdown over 80% three times. In August we said, ‘Look, it was trading around $7,500 or $7,000 – it’s going to drop to $3,000. It ended up doing that around December of last year. And then [we said] it was going to recover back to $10,000. And it did that. And so, we think now from about $10,000 where it sits today, it’s a pretty conservative estimate to see it hit $100,000 in the next 2.5 years.”

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OpenBazaar Developers Launch a Crypto Marketplace for Mobile

OB1, the developers behind the online decentralized marketplace and currency trading platform OpenBazaar announced a mobile counterpart called Haven.

Haven allows users to buy and sell goods and services directly with each other, using cryptocurrencies, without relying on middlemen who take a cut of merchants’ transactions or gather shoppers’ data.

The app is organized into four sections: shopping, social, chat, and a non-custodial multi-wallet. For all features of the peer-to-peer network, user information is stored locally and protected with end-to-end encryption, meaning only the parties involved in the sale or conversation are able to see the details.

Since OB1 launched its 2.0 of OpenBazaar, 250,000 nodes joined the permissionless network. Jenn Cloud, OB1 communications lead, said “there is a core user base of several thousand who frequently use the software and many more are casual users.” A substantial proportion of the “long-lasting nodes” are merchants.

The app has many of the same features as OpenBazaar, but does not support P2P cryptocurrency trading. Additionally, dispute moderation is only supported by the desktop client.

The social feature is new and enables users to easily communicate with each other. Importantly, it is “not connected to transactions or any other activities on the network and will never post anything automatically,” said Cloud.

Like OpenBazaar, Haven will support BTC, BCH, ZEC and LTC. The representative said plans for a previously reported native token, OBC, are currently on hold.

Looking forward, however the team plans to add Ethereum support. Also, though “no firm plans have been made by the OB1 team… several in the OpenBazaar community have begun work to see if it’s possible to support Monero,” said Cloud.

Haven is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play. This week, the company is offering special deals, such as fifty percent off select electronics and Haven store gift cards, posted in the app “at undisclosed times.”

OB1 has raised $10.5 million to date from investors including Union Square Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, OMERS Ventures, BlueYard, Bitmain, Digital Currency Group, and venture capitalist William Mougayar.

Mobile shopping photo via Shutterstock

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English Championship Promotion Race, Which Teams Will Make The Cut?

The English Championship promotion race is hot up and will definitely go down to the wire. Though, the 2 automatic promotion spot is being occupied by Norwich City and Leeds United, Sheffield United in 3rd place is still in the running too, as only 2 points separated them from 2nd place Leeds United.

The race for promotion through the playoffs is as fierce as the automatic promotion, as much as 11 clubs still have the realistic chance of playing in the playoffs, as only 9 points separated Brentford in 13th position on the log table from Derby County which occupied the last playoff spot in 6th position.

AUTOMATIC PROMOTION:

Middlesbrough 0-1 Norwich City; Norwich Pulling Away.

Onel Hernandez and teammate

There seems to be no stopping Norwich City from gaining promotion into the EPL, and they’re not just aiming to gain promotion, they want to do it by winning the Championship. Norwich gradual pull away from the chasing park continues with a disciplined 1 nil win at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough. The Canaries, as Norwich are fondly called started the match slowly, but grew into the match and could have gotten their goal earlier than they did, but Boro goalkeeper, Darren Randolph pulled some decent saves to denied Norwich, until the 2nd half when he was finally beaten by Norwich Cuban striker, Onel Hernandez in the 54th minutes, Boro failed to clear the line properly, and were made to rue their sloppy play at the back. The win means Norwich City had gone 6-championship matches without dropping a point, and are now 5 points clear of 2nd place Leeds United, and 7 points clear of Sheffield United in 3rd place with just 7 matches remaining of the season. It is now 4 successive league defeat for Middlesbrough, whose playoffs’ hope is fading away, and has dropped out of playoffs spot, sits in 8th position with 58 points, a point adrift of Derby County.

Leeds United 3-2 Millwall; Leeds Back In 2nd Place.

Jubilant Pablo Hernandez and teammates

Leeds United completed a fight back when they came from behind twice to win 3-2 against Millwall at Elland Road. Having lost their last home match 0-1 to fellow title chaser, Sheffield United, Leeds needed a response to keep alive their promotion hopes, but it was their visitor who started with a plum. Millwall sits on the 21st position on log table with just 37 points, a point above the relegation zone, fighting to avoid relegation, they took the game to their host by taking a deserved lead in the 10th minute through Ben Thompson close-range header. Leeds was given a lifeline to get back into the gave through a spot-kick, but Patrick Bamford’s weak effort down the middle was kept out by former Leeds goalkeeper, David Martin. Leeds needed a hero to rescue the team from the jaws of another defeat, Pablo Hernandez duly rose up to the occasion with an equalizer before half time, Hernandez got at the end of a quick counter-attack to equalize in the 34th minute.

Millwall will not go down without a fight, and so they went ahead again when they converted their own spot-kick through Ben Marshall in the 55th minute, but yet again, Leeds found their equalizer for the 2nd time through Luke Ayling’s 71st-minute header. And just when it looks like the points were going to be shared, Pablo Hernandez came up with the goods, the Spaniard scored an 83rd-minute winner to condemned Millwall to their 4th defeat in 6 matches. Heartbreak for The Lions who are still unsafe from relegation. Leeds has now leapfrog Sheffield United to 2nd place on the log table.

Sheffield United 2-3 Bristol City; Sheffield United Lossing Ground On Norwich And Title.

dejected Sheffield United manager, Chris Wilder

The real loser of this weekend proceedings was Sheffield United who lost at home to Bristol City. The Blades were in a good run of form with just 2 points dropped from possible 15, having drawn zero all to Sheffield Wednesday in the Steel City Derby some 3 weeks ago, and were unbeaten in 10 league matches. They started against Bristol City like a house on fire, taking a 6-minutes lead through Billy Sharp header from an inviting free-kick, but City pegged them back on the half-hour mark through Andreas Weimann’s header. The Blades as United are called did not relent and regained their lead in the 2nd half, another header from United’s Scott Hogan in the 71st minute put Sheffield United unto the path of victory, but Bristol City has other ideas, a quickfire 2nd half double from Andreas Weimann, 1st was a near post tap-in, and then a cool lob over United goalkeeper, Dean Henderson, to complete his hat-trick on the evening completed the fight back for Bristol City.

Sheffield United are now 3rd on log table, 7 points adrift of log-leaders Norwich and 2 points behind Leeds United, and will be hoping for slip-offs from these 2, to have any chance of overhauling them both with the league gradually coming to end.

Top Half of the Championship Table

PLAYOFFS:

The playoff for promotion into the EPL is equally keenly contested for, the 4 playoff spots are currently occupied by Sheffield United in 3rd position, West Brom in 4th position, Aston Villa in 5th position and Lastly, Derby County in 6th position. Several other clubs are hot on the heels of these 4 teams, they include Bristol City and Middlesbrough, both of which are just a point adrift of Derby County, the duo of Nottingham Forest and Preston North End are also just 2 points outside the playoffs, Sheffield Wednesday and Hull City are not far away too and should not be ruled out.

West Brom 3-2 Birmingham;

On a Friday night football, West Bromwich Albion recorded a hard-fought 3-2 win over Birmingham City at The Hawthorns to hold on to 4th position on the league table. Birmingham had twice taken the lead through Gray Gardner (7 min) and Lukas Jutkiewicz’s spot-kick(59 min) but was pegged back by Dwight Gayle(47 min), James Rodriguez contentious spot-kick(65 min) and Jake Livermore(74 min). 3 straight with for The Baggies now.

Aston Villa 2-1 Blackburn;

Aston Villa also held unto 5th position on the log too with their 2-1 home win over Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham continue his fine form with an early 8-minute goal, and then, Tyrone Mings 61-minutes double made the victory sure. Blackburn got a 74th-minute goal through Amarii Bell to ensure a nervy finish for Aston Villa but they held on. Villa has now gone 6 league matches without defeat, winning 5 in succession and drew 1( a 1 all draw at Stoke about 4 weeks ago).

Derby County 6-1 Rotherham;

elated Derby manager, Lampard

Goal feast of the day came at the Pride Park Stadium, when home team, Derby County put 6 past Rotherham. Derby opened the score sheet as early as the 13th minute through Martyn Waghorn’s converted spot-kick, and by the time Rotherham could respond with their lone goal through Richard Wood, Derby had already put 4 past them. Waghorn completed his hat-trick with further goals in 42 and 71 minutes, Bradley Johnson(39 min), Mason Mount(48 min) and Duane Holmes(62 min) also got on the scoresheet for Derby County. A much-needed win for Derby to end a successive home draw to Stoke City and Sheffield Wednesday respectively.

Will Norwich hang on to their lead at the top of the table? Or will Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds pull a comeback to topple Norwich City? Sheffield United aren’t write-off yet either. The turns and thrills of the EFL Championship will definitely go down to the wire. Frank Lampard’s debut season as a manager has been remarkable, will he take Derby County back into the EPL? That will be some A++ on his managerial credential.

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Gareth

The 3 Lions’ Back-To-Back 5 Star Performance

Another 5 stars, 5 goals performance from the 3 Lions of England away at Montenegro, they defeated their opponent 5-1 on the night, to hold on to the top spot of group A. It was a back-to-back 5 goals scored by the English national team, the 1st one since November 1984, 35 years ago. It could be recalled England put 5 past Czech Republic in their 1st group A match.

1984 team

The last time England scored 5 or more back-to-back in a competitive match was 35 years ago in a FIFA world cup qualifier. England had defeated Finland 5 nil at the London Empire Stadium in a group 3 tie, with goals from Mark Hateley(2 goals), Tony Woodcock, Bryan Robson and Kenny Sansom, and then defeated Turkey 8 nil away in the next match, goals from Bryan Robson(hat-trick), Tony Woodcock(2 goals), John Barnes(2 goals) and Viv Anderson.


England started their EURO 2020 qualifier against the Czech Replubic at Wembley Stadium on Friday night on an impressive note, putting 5 past their visitor. A man of the match performance for England ace, Raheem Sterling, who scored his 1st England hat-trick on the night. The flood gate opened midway through the 1st half on the 24th minute through Sterling, when he poked in from young and lively Jadon Sancho and the 2nd goal in injury time of same half, Harry Kane’s 45+2 minute spot-kick made it 2 nil for the 3 Lions. Sterling completed his hat-trick with a 2nd-half, 7-minute double in the 62 & 68 minutes respectively to make it the scoreline 4 nil to England. An own goal by Czech’s Tomas Kalas to make the score 5 nil capped off a spectacular night for England manager, Gareth Southgate and his lads, and an awful evening for the Czech Republic.


Raheem Sterling and England picked up from where they left it, with another classy come-from-behind 5-1 victory away at Montenegro. It was a night for youngsters and new England invitees, both Declan Rice and Callum Hudson-Odoi justified their inclusion in the starting line-up with a commanding display. However, it was another England lad that owned the night, Ross Barkley had arguably his best performance in an English jersey, with 2 goals and an assist to earn the man of the match.

Having only won 1 out of 4 previous meeting against Montenegro, England went behind as early as 17 minutes when Marko Vesovic finished off a fine marauding run with a curling shot past Jordan Pickford in goal for England. Nevertheless, the visitors settled their nerves and git their equalizer 13 minutes later, Everton defender Michael Keane nodded home from Ross Barkley’s free-kick. It was all England from there on, Barkley took the game away from Montenegro with a quick-fire double in the 38 & 59 minutes respectively. Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling got in on the act with goals on 71 & 80th minute respectively.


Unfortunately, a delightful footballing night was dented by a racial abuse towards English players from the home fans, Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose were subjected to abuse during the match. With a tougher stance and punishment yet to be dished out by UEFA, football is likely to continue to suffer from this menace.


The English national team followed up a remarkable World cup and Euro Nations League performances with a fine start at the EURO 2020 qualifiers, and sit comfortably 1st in group A, 4 points ahead of nearest rival, with 10 goals scored and 1 conceded after 2 games.

One thing working for England is the emergence of exciting youngsters, players like Jadon Sancho, Declan Rice, Callum Hudson-Odoi, James Alan Tarkowski etc will certainly provide depth for Gareth Southgate’s team, a pool of talented young players to select from, a good headache/problem so to say. The future is bright for the English national team, surely.

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Scotland Saved Their Blushes With An Immediate Rebound, But Was It Enough?

Scotland recorded a 2 nil victory away at San Marino, a much needed 3 points in their 2nd EURO 2020 group I qualifying match, to bounce back for a damaging 3 nil defeat at the hand of Kazakhstan in their 1st group match. Though a whitewash was expected from Scotland over San Marino, the lowest ranked team on FIFA’s ranking list, the acquired 3 points was a welcome one, a sigh of relief for the Scots.

When the draws that pitched Scotland into group I was made, it was taunted to be a mountain to climb for the Scot, the stern opposition was not expected to come from Kazakhstan, Cyprus and San Marino though, it was expected to be from Belgium and Russia, who completed a group of 6 countries, but a 0-3 defeat at Kazakhstan, a team which is ranked 117th by FIFA, some 67 places below Scotland, made the already high mountain, sky high for Scotland.

In defence of Scotland coach, Alex McLeish, who has done fairly well since he took over from his countryman, Gordon Strachan, He had gradually improved the teams standing on FIFA log from 67th place to 40 as shown above, He went into the match against Kazakhstan without some key players such as Liverpool left-back and Team Captain, Andrew Robertson, Celtic’s Kieran Tierney, Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser and Cardiff’s Callum Paterson, and with no real quality to replace them, McLeish’s hands were really right. However, the loss was still shocking and looked to have dented Scotland slim chance of making it out of the group. It was their heaviest defeat in a competitive match since a 0-3 loss to England in a World cup qualifier years ago in November 2016.

Scotland went into the 2nd qualifying match against FIFA lowest ranked team in San Marino which is ranked 211, with their fans certainly expecting a response, a whitewash of San Marino, and with the key players back in the team, why not? however, they could only manage a 2-goal victory. An early goal by Kenny McLean and another late in the game by Johnny Russell secured the 2 nil victory, to the disappointment of some of their travelling fans who believe after 2 games, their country should at the least sit on 3rd place in group I, behind only Belgium and Russia, but found themselves 5th behind both Cyprus and Kazakhstan also, booed their team after the final whistle.

Scotland put up a better performance than in the game against Kazakhstan as the stats suggested, and rightly so, they played against the lowest ranked team in the world, nevertheless, their finishing in front of San Marino goal let them down, Kenny McLean who got the 1st goal could have easily been on a hat-trick, but he often flopped his line. Scotland had 21 shots in total (in contrast to 10 against Kazakhstan) and only managed 6 (just 2 against Kazakhstan) on target, including 10 corner kicks (3 against Kazakhstan) against San Marino’s zero. With tougher matches ahead against Belgium and Russia, Scotland sure needs to improve on their shooting in front of the opposition goal.

One of the major factor that will determine who qualifies among Belgium, Russia and Scotland, the so-called big boys of group I, will be the results against the lower ranked team (Cyprus, Kazakhstan and San Marino) in the group, Scotland certainly started on the back foot on that note and will need all the luck football offers to turn things around in their favour. Some might say it is too early in the group to jump into conclusion just like Scotland manager McLeish said, but it is hard to see who will bet against Belgium and Russia to lose against Kazakhstan, Cyprus and San Marino either on away ground or at home.

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Heck Of A Spot-Kick Bersant Celina.

Football had seen great spot-kicks, such as ‘the Panenka kick’, made even more popular by the likes of French icon, Zinedine Zidane, Italian legend, Andreas Pirlo, even defenders such as Sergio Ramos had done the Panenka spot-kicks, However, there are awful spot-kicks too, who will forget Italian Simone Zaza bizarre, mazy run up to a spot-kick against Germany in Euro 2016, the David Beckham spot-kick that went up into the sky in a Euro 2004 qualifier, the hilarious Henry-Pires failed spot-kick against Man City, the list goes on. Despite the long list, Bersant Celina spot-kick on Wednesday 13th will find it’s way up to the top of the worst spot-kick ever. This is an unfortunate spot-kick that caused Celina’s team a come-back result in the English Championship tie on Wednesday.

4th place on the Championship log table and promotion hopeful, West Brom hosted 15th place Swansea City in a midweek tie, and the match ended in favour of the home side 3-0. However, the real talking point of the match was the missed spot-kick by Swansea’s Bersant Celina 5 minutes from the interval.

West Brom is seeking a 1st win since the sack of manager, Darren Moore, and what a way to respond by the Baggies. Caretaker manager, Jimny Shan recalled captain, Chris Brunt into his team, and the Northern Ireland winger duly justified his inclusion in the starting lineup. The Baggies took a 19th-minute lead through Brunt’s free-kick, but Swansea City was given a way back into the match in the 40th minute when City skipper Mike Van Der Hoorn was brought down in the box by West Brom’s Craig Dawson, with City’s top scorer and regular spot-kick taker is still out injured, Bersant Celina stepped up and this happened;

the stand-in spot-kick taker opted for a panenka kick style, and just as he approached the ball, he slipped and ended up miskicking the ball in a bizarre fashion, one kick he won’t forget so soon, and his manager agreed with me, he was quoted saying;

It was one of those moments that you don’t wish on anybody… It is just a horrible moment that he will have to get over and deal with…It is easy to mock, of course, and I am sure he will get a bit of that, but that is just life – Graham Potter

With Swansea missing their chance to pull level, West Brom pulls further away after the restart, in the 54th minute when Brunt swung in a corner which was timely connected by Mason Holgate, and then, made the game safe with a 3rd goal through striker, Jay Rodriguez in the 85th minute.

So, was it a wicked slip or a panenka gone wrong, either way, it was a stroke of bad luck, one that put Bersant Celina into an unwanted list of bizarre/missed spot-kick.

Like Bersant manager, Graham Potter said, …that is just life, He just has to deal with it,

it’s a minor setback so to say, and the thing about setbacks;

A setback is never a bad experience, just another one of life’s lessons – Richard Branson

also,

…Look at the disappointment as lessons don’t waste time beating yourself up. Just get back on track and focus on what you want…-Jorge Cruise

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The All-Conquering James Harden

James Harden wrote his name in the history book by becoming the only NBA player to have scored 30 or more points against all 29 opponents in a single regular season when he scored 31 points of Houston Rockets’ 121-105 win over Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night, a feat that can be like to Cristiano Ronaldo achievement in his penultimate season in the La Liga, where he scored against all 19 clubs he played against. James Harden also added 8 rebounds and 10 assists to his 31 points on the night at the Philips Arena.

James Harden impressive season also includes a 32 consecutive 30 or more points that were put to a halt in the Rockets’ 119 – 111 win over Tuesday night’s opponent, Atlanta Hawks, where James Harden finished with 28 points. With the Tuesday win, Rockets completed a regular-season double over their opponent for a 2nd successive year. James Harden has now overtaken 2 of the 3 previous records of longest 30+ points streak held by Former NBA star, Wilt Chamberlain, who had a steak of 65, 31 and 25. I personally don’t think any player will ever equal or beat Chamberlain’s 65 30+ point streak.

James Harden ruthlessness in front of opposition basket has never been in doubt ever since his days as Oklahoma City Thunder, but his defensive play had raised eyebrows. However, since his trade to the Rockets, his all-round performances have been top notch. James Harden started the season on a rough patch with the Rockets though, going 4-7, many attributed it to James Harden missing 3-straight games due to injury, but with Harden back in the team, Rockets went on a 5-game winning streak.

James Harden’s 30+ points scoring run did not start until mid-December 2018, and against who else? a team that has another James in her ranks, LA Lakers. James Harden ran LeBron James and the Lakers raged scoring 50, 10 & 11 (Pts, Reb & Ast) in a 126 – 111 victory, with LeBron limited to just 29, 5 & 4. James Harden never looked back since that victory, even in defeats such as the 117-112 loss to the former team, where James Harden still finished with 42 points. A scoring run that also includes career-high points, 61 points in Rockets 114 – 110 defeat of the New York Knicks.

Harden’s points streak may be over, He still leads the NBA with a staggering 36.3 points per game on the average, way ahead of former record 30.12 per game, held by Chicago Bulls’ Michael ‘air’ Jordan. Harden has scored 50+ points in 6 different games this season against Washington Wizards-54 pts, Memphis Grizzlies-57 pts, Brooklyn Nets-58 pts, LA Lakers-50 pts, New York Knicks-61 pts, Miami Heats-58 pts, joining the likes of Michael Jordan in a few elite group that scored 50+ points in more than 5 games in a regular season.

All hail James Harden!

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Selected Weekend Summaries From Europe Top Leagues.

Back-To-Back Losses For United:

United loses only there 3rd match in all competition since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over at Old Trafford. Wolves which I consider as the premier league boogie team pulled another upset yet again, they confirmed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United to their 2nd successive defeat in all competitions, having lost to Arsenal in the EPL a week again ago. Wolves impressive performance of the season has seen them defeat 4 of the top 6 clubs, Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool and now Manchester United are the big guns that have been fed to the Wolves.

Having eliminated Arsenal and Chelsea on their way to the quarterfinals, United were the clear favourite to advance into the last 4, United was also boosted with the return of some of their key men, Anthony Marshall, Jessie Lingard, Ander Herrera was passed fit to start for United

United started the match with the larger percentage of possession, but with little or no threat to Wolves goal, Wolves, on the other hand, were full of energy, pace, and sure ran United ragged, it was a matter of time before such display earned Wolves a goal. Joao Moutinho skipped past 3 United players and found Raul Jimenez who seemed to have lost his footing but somehow regained control and fired the past couple of United bodies, past Sergio Romero for the games opening goal in the 70th minutes. 6 minutes later, it was 2 nil in favour of Wolves, a quick breakaway down the middle saw Wolve’s Diogo Jota shrugged off a challenge from United’s Luke Shaw and fired past Romero. United got a late consolation in the added time of regulation time, 90+5, through Marcus Rashford, 2-1 it ended in Wolve’s favour at the Molineux.

United most realistic chance of winning a title faded into thin air, they still have the UCL as an outside chance though, with Barcelona standing between United and semifinal berth.

Quadruple Still Alive For The Citizen:

Manchester City’s quest of a quadruple was given a scare by championship side Swansea City in the quarterfinals. Swansea is having a difficult season in the league, and a result against high flying EPL side Manchester City, which are coming from a mauling, 7-0 of another team, was highly unlikely. Manchester City gave a much-needed respite to their talismanic striker, Kun Aguero, who started from the bench.

The match started with a plum, Swansea took a surprise 1st-half lead when City’s standing-in left back, Fabian Delph fouled Swansea’s right-back, Connor Roberts in the box, Matt Grimes duly convert the spot-kick to give Swansea a 20-minute lead, 9 minutes later, it was 2 nil, former Man City midfielder, Bersant Celina delightful curler beat Man City goalkeeper, Moraes Ederson to stun Man City. With defeat staring at his face, Pep Guardiola brought in Sterling and Aguero, and their impacts were immense. Man City staged the 2nd-half fight back, though 2 of Man City’s goals were contentious with VAR not in use at the Liberty Stadium. Goals from Bernardo Silva, Swansea’s goalkeeper, Kristoffer Nordfeldt own goal, in off Kun Aguero”s spot-kick, after Sterling was brought down in the box, and an Aguero’s diving header completed Man City’s win.

Manchester City was let off the hook with the absence of the VAR, and head into the FA Cup semifinal with the dream of a quadruple still alive.

Champions Elect Stunned At Genoa:

Juventus travelled to Genoa in the Serie A match-day 28, hoping to extend the point gap between them and nearest rival, Napoli to 21 points, but they were brought to earth by a resolute Genoa. Genoa who sits a distance 12 place on Serie A log table, no longer have the ruthless Krzysztof Piatek in their ranks anymore, but yet were unfazed by the star-studded Juventus side. The Serie A runaway leader had not tasted defeat in the 28 league matches so far, won 24, and drew just 3, one of which was a 1-1 draw against the same opponent earlier in the season, and the odds were in their favour not to lose.

Juventus rested their top goal scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, who was not included in the squad to Stadio Luigi Ferraris and were made to rue the decision as the Old Ladies lacked his finesse in front of Genoa’s goal. There was 2 overturned decision by the VAR at either end of the pitch, firstly, a penalty awarded to Genoa at the half-hour mark due to a contentious handball in the Juventus box, then a Paulo Dybala goal due to an offside in the build-up.

The breakthrough goal finally came in the 72nd minute in favour of Genoa, when substitute, and on-loan Juventus ace, Stefano Sturaro curled in from just outside the box to beat Juventus goalkeeper, and former Genoa, Mattia Perin. Genoa made the maximum points save with the 2nd goal when veteran and 33-year old Macedonian, Goran Pandev scored with just 9 minutes remaining. The defeat is inconsequential as far as the league table is concerned but Juventus will not have an unbeaten season after all.

Inter Milan Edged Derby Di Milano:

Derby di Milano or simply Milan derby is one of most fierce derby in world football, both Inter Milan and AC Milan share not just City but Stadium too. The history between these 2 clubs is old and is dated back to 1909, and will most definitely exist as far as football still exists.

The last time both teams met was a Serie A 1st-leg meeting in October last year, Inter ran away with a 1 nil winner, with Mauro Icardi scoring a stoppage-time winner. Fast forward the months and a lot have changed since October, Milan now has a certain Krzysztof Piatek in their lineup, and he has been massive to Milan course so far, scoring 6 league goals already since his January arrival, and are undefeated in their last 5 matches, winning 4 and drawing 1 in all competition. Inter, on the other hand, are having a patching run, with just 1 win in their last 5 matches across all competition, and will be missing the services of a rebel, Mauro Icardi, injured Radja Nainggolan, Joao Mario, Joao Miranda among other key players.

Despite Inter’s injury absentees, they took an early 3rd-minute lead when Lautaro Martinez and Matias Vecino combined for the latter to score. They scored a 2nd when De Vrij headed in to make the game safe, but Tiemoue Bakayoko half the deficit for Milan, to make it 1-2. Lautaro Martinez restored Inter 2-goal cushion via a spot-kick, but Milan pulled 1 back again 4 minutes later, and so it ended, 2-3 to Inter Milan. Inter have now leap-frog their rivals to 3rd place, 2 points clear, with 10 matches to go.

Contrasting Results For The Madrid Teams:

ZIDANE WON ON HIS RETURN; All the pre-match talking point was the return of Real legend both as a player and manager, Zinedine Zidane to the dugout at the Bernabeu, Zizou as Zidane is popularly referred to was reappointed after Santiago Solari was relieved of the job following a string of poor results that includes an embarrassing 1-4 home defeat at the hands of Ajax Amsterdam.

Zidane’s starting line-up drew a few eyebrows, with the recall of goalkeeper Keylor Navas, left full back, Marcelo, Midfielder, Isco and attackers Asencio and Gareth Bale, all who are a major actor in Zidane’s 3-year dynasty. No qualms as Real Madrid started Zidane’s 2nd reign with a 2-0 victory. Real have to wait until the 2nd half before they finally break Celta Vigo down, Karim Benzema’s cross found Isco, who scored from a few yards out. The 2nd goal came 15 minutes later, Marcelo made one of his trademark forward burst, and then squared the ball to Gareth Bale who fired home, in off the woodwork, to secure the 3 points.

ATLETICO MADRID LOSES AGAIN; Still hurting from the UCL exist, the Diego Simone tutored side went into the La Liga Matchday 28, hoping for a response and a result at rival’s, Athletic Bilbao, which is still in the hunt for a European spot. However, rather than a response from Athletico Madrid, it was more misery as they fell to goals from Inaki Williams and Kenan Kodro at the San Mames Stadium, home of Bilbao.

The slim chance of Atleti catching Barcelona further diminishing, they now trail their rival with 10 points, and Real closing up on their heels, with gap cut to just 2 points.

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LeBron Drowning With The Lakers, Playoffs Seems To Be Out Of Reach.

Sunday’s defeat of the LA Lakers, 107-131 by the Boston Celtics was the 5th consecutive loss for the Lakers, they now sit on 11th position on the Western Conference table, though they still have a mathematical chance of still making the playoffs, but realistically, with the way Lakers are playing, it will take something special and dramatic for the Lakers to make the playoffs, with just 17 games to go, and thus, LeBron’s incredible 13 consecutive playoffs is in great danger. Only 3 players had more consecutive NBA Finals appearances than LeBron; Bill Russell-10, Sam Jones-9, Tom Heinsohn-9, Frank Ramsey-8, LeBron James-8, and even fewer had more consecutive playoffs, as shown below,

Wiki

LeBron James, widely known as the GOAT of the NBA because of his achievements right from his draft into the Cleveland Cavaliers, to his trade to the Miami Heats and the present. His remarkable 13 consecutive years in the playoffs, 8 straight NBA finals since 2011, and 3 championships are worthy of all the accolades he’s received. His 3 championship wins, includes a back to back triumph with the Miami Heats in 2012 & 2013, and on his return to Cleveland Cavaliers, he helped the Cavs to win their 1st ever title in 52 years in 2016.

So, what happened to LeBron? could his recent dip in form be attributed to the injury sustained early in the year? or Is he just being caught up in the Lakers’ playoffs drought? The Los Angeles Lakers last appearance in the playoffs was an opening round loss, 0-4 to San Antonio Spurs in 2012-13, and last won the NBA championship in 2009-10, defeating Boston Celtic 4-3, a 3rd successive defence of the title from 2007-08. Their 5-years playoffs drought may have played a major role in bringing in LeBron James at the beginning of the season, to bring back the good old glory days, but it was not the season both LeBron and Lakers had hoped for so far.

Where did it go wrong for the Lakers? It started right from the 1st-3 matches of the regular season where Lakers lost the 1st game 119-128 to Portland Trail Blazers, then the next, a home loss, 115-124 to Houston Rockets(a game that was also marred with on-court scuffle), and the 3rd, an agonizing overtime loss, 142-143 to San Antonio Spurs. Though the Lakers picked up from the losses, and win the next 2 games, they never really get hold of the season, as they could not go 5 straight games without a defeat, more like 1 step forward, 2 steps backwards.

Lakers 5 games losing streak includes 120-131 loss to Milwaukee Bucks, 109-118 lost to Phoenix Suns, 105-113 loss to Los Angeles Clippers, 99-115 loss to Denver Nuggets and the Boston Celtics respectively, highlighted a topsy-turvy season Lakers are having. LeBron cut a frustrating figure in some of the losses, he was seen walking out of the game against the Milwaukee Bucks before the final buzzer, it is hard not to feel for him.

Will LeBron inspire one of the greatest comebacks ever record in the history of the NBA? It will be a miracle if Lakers make the playoffs. However, if LeBron and Lakers missed out, which looks likelier, it’s a disappointment but not the end of the world.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,

regroup and come back next season stronger.

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4/4 Into The Last 8, EPL Teams Taking The UCL By Storm

Which league is the most competitive or strongest in Europe?

This is a debate that has been on the lips of football fans across the world for a long time, and while remaining a heated debate till the ‘end of days’.

European governing body, UEFA, uses statistics called UEFA Coefficients to rank countries or associations according to the collective performances of clubs in UEFA competition which includes UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, and it’s current ranking put Spanish association as number 1 as shown below.

The Spanish La Liga had consistently produced 3 teams in the quarterfinals of the Europe elite competition, UCL, for the past 6 seasons, a feat dated back to 2012-13 season, with Real Madrid and Barcelona even ever present for a longer period, Spanish association surely deserve their status as the number 1 ranked association. The last time another association rather than the Spanish La Liga produced 3 teams in the UCL quarterfinals was in 2010-11 season, when the English Premier League produced Chelsea FC, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs, a campaign where Manchester United went all the way to the final, losing 1-3 to, guess who? Barcelona FC of the Spanish La Liga.

It seemed the tide is turning towards the English Premier League, as Tottenham Hotspurs, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool are bringing back the glory days back to England, all advancing into the quarterfinals.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Leading the EPL charge was Tottenham Hotspur, the North London club became the 1st English side to advance into the last 8 after a 4-0 aggregate win over German side, Borussia Dortmund. Spurs put themselves into the driving seat with a 1st leg 3 nil win at White Hart Lane, goals from Son Heung-Min, Jan Vortonghen and Fernando Llorente settled the 1st leg, and they did it without their injured talisman, Harry Kane. Spurs knew they would have to weather the storm in the return league at the Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, and they had their French goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris to thank for not losing the 3-goal advantage early in the 1st half. A Moussa Sissoko through pass found Harry Kane, who held his nerves and coolly slotted past Roman Burki in Dortmund goal to make it 1 nil on the night, and 4 nil over the 2 legs, Spurs 1st quarterfinal place since 2011.


MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United joined Spurs in the last 8 with a historic 3-3 aggregate comeback victory on away goal rule over PSG, having won 3-1 on the night at the Parc Des Prince, Paris. All odds were stacked up against United who lost the 1st leg 2-0 on home turf, Old Trafford, goals from Presnel Kimpembe and Kilian Mbappe condemned United to their worst home defeat in European competitions. However, United Manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is no stranger to great comebacks, having helped United as a player staged a comeback 2-1 final win over Bayern Munich 20 years ago, pulled another masterpiece away at PSG. A seemingly mission impossible is now one of the greatest come back of all time (1st team in the UCL and European cup history to overcome a 2-goal margin home 1st-leg deficit). United achieved the feat without the services of 10 1st-team players, having lost Paul Pogba, Anthony Marshall, Juan Mata and others to either suspension or injuries.


MANCHESTER CITY

United ‘noisy’ neighbours, Manchester City joined their EPL counterparts in the last 8 with a 10-2 aggregate whitewash of Schalke 04 of Germany. The 1st leg had ended 3-2 away win for the Citizen, a double spot-kick from former Spurs ace, Nabil Bentaleb had put City in the back foot, but former Schalke o4 ace, Leroy Same scored a delightful free-kick to stage a comeback, then, Raheem Sterling finished off with a late goal.

City come into the return leg at the Etihad Stadium with the 3-away goals, a goalless draw could have been it for City, but City sure put up a ruthless display, once again, it was former Schalke 04 lad, Leroy Sane that orchestrated Schalke 04’s downfall, 7 nil it ended in favour of City, their biggest ever European win. Only Bayern Munich’s 12-1 aggregate win over Sporting CP in 2008-09 UCL round of 16 ties, was a bigger win than City’s 10-2 win over Schalke 04.


LIVERPOOL FC

Liverpool tie against Bayern Munich was seen as many as the tie of the round, and so it proves to be. The German heavyweight faced an inform Liverpool at Anfield for the 1st leg, and after an evenly contested 90 minutes, nothing could separate the 2 clubs as the tie ended in a 0-0 scoreline, making the return leg at the Allianz Arena even more gingerly poised.

Liverpool showed character in Germany, took an early 26-minute lead through Sadio Mane, Bayern equalized through a Joel Matip own-goal, but Liverpool would not be denied victory, as they regained the lead through defender Van Dijk header. Sadio Mane put the final nail to Bayern’s coffin, to make the scoreline 3-1 on the night, and on aggregate.


English Premier League is producing 4 teams in the quarterfinals for the 1st time since they did it back-to-back in 2007-08 and 2008-09, when Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United reached the last 8. It is an outstanding feat that will surely fuel the old argument of the strongest league in Europe once again. Is this another year for the English Premier League teams? time will tell at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid.

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Another Twist To The EPL Top 4 Race, It Is Going Down To The Wire.

The race for the top 4 finish is getting hotter, with Manchester City and Liverpool destined to occupy the top 2 places, Tottenham Hotspurs, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea justle for the remaining 2 places. Earlier in the season, Spurs looked to have a firm grip on the 3rd place, and the 4th place was to be contested between Arsenal and Chelsea, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer led Manchester United has remarkably recovered and thrown themselves back into the mix, plus Spur dip form has thrown the race all open again.


Tottenham Hotspur’s Dip continues;

Spurs’ firm grip on top 4 finish has gradually loosened, and now hangs on a tread, they now lead the chasing pack led by Arsenal with just a single point, and 3 points ahead of United in 5th place on the EPL log table, having lost to Southampton on Saturday.

Just like Harry Kane’s return from injury was marred with a 1-2 defeat by Burnley at Turf Moor, his teammate, Dele Alli’s return from an injury suffered a similar fate, as Spurs were defeated 2-1 by a struggling Southampton at St Mary Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur is in a poor run of results with just 1 point from a possible 9 of their last 3 matches, Spurs’ last win was in early February when they defeated Leicester 3-1 without either of Kane or Alli. They started the match against Sutton in the best possible way, took the early ascendancy in the match, as shown above, Kane and Alli combined for the former to score a 26th-minute goal, but Spurs’ defensive worry was highlighted again as they conceded an equalizer through Sutton’s Yan Valery, Spurs 6th-goal conceded in the last 4 domestic matches. Just when it seemed the game will end in a draw, Sutton’s James Ward-Prowse converted a delightful free-kick in the 81st minute to condemned Spurs to a 3rd defeats in 4 matches.


Chelsea Slipped Yet Again;

Chelsea was on the brink of another home loss before a sublime Eden Hazard 92nd-minute curler rescued a point for the Blues. The Blues picked up from the 0-6 mauling at the hand of Manchester City with back-to-back wins over London rivals, 2-0 over Spurs and a 2-1 triumph over Fulham respectively, but they come up against EPL boogie team, a team just below them on EPL log table, Wolverhampton, which has also seen a dip in form with just 1 win in their last 4 matches.

Chelsea dominated the proceedings at Stamford Bridge as shown in the stat above but was unable to a stubborn Wolves, Wolves sat back and defended resolutely against Chelsea and hit back on a swift counter-attack to take the lead through Raul Jimenez, after an interplay between Diogo Jota and Jimenez. Chelsea’s Gonzalo Higuain, Pedro among others, did everything right but could not go past Wolves’ goalkeeper, Rui Patricio, until the stoppage 92nd minute, Hazard found space and took his chance from outside the box. 1-1 it finished at the Bridge.

Chelsea remains in 6th position behind Manchester United in 5th, just 3 points behind 4th place Arsenal, with a game in hand.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Unbeaten Gravy Train Halt Finally By Arsenal;

The biggest EPL match of the weekend was the tie between old rivals Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirate Stadium, as Arsenal claimed the bragging rights over Manchester United, with a 2-0 home win. A win that put an end to United caretaker manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s domestic 12-match unbeaten run and 9-straight away win in all competitions.

The history between these 2 clubs is as old as time itself and became even more fierce in the 90s during Sir Alex Ferguson and “the Professor”, Arsene Wenger time as United and Arsenal managers respectively. United holds the advantage over the Gunners on the head-to-head stat as shown, but it was Arsenal who took a 1st half lead when United goalkeeper, De Gea misjudged Granit Xhaka’s 25-yard swerving shot in the 1st half, and then double their lead with a 2nd-half spot-kick from Aubemayang. There were injury scares for Arsenal when Sead Kolasinac and Laurent Koscielny were attended to. United might felt undone by luck as they hit the woodwork twice, firstly, Lukaku hit the crossbar, then, Fred hit the side post, and had more shot on target than the Gunners, as the stat suggested, but Que sera sera.

Arsenal sure getting the most out of Aaron Ramsey ahead of his summer exit, the Juventus-bound ace had another good match, a man of the match display by the Welsh man that saw him won 8 tackles – most in match, won 12 duels – most in match and covered most ground, 12.7km – most in match, He is vital for Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League place push. Arsenal’s home form also playing a pivotal role, 9 wins out of their last 9 home matches was a massive improvement to last season’s home form.


With 8 matches to go, there is no clear cut favourite for the UCL remaining 2 places, either of these 4 clubs can stake a claim. Fixtures above show the run-in for the 4 clubs in question, points will be dropped no doubt, and if Spurs poor form continues, it looks like she might not make it.

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Sly Fox, Ramos Antics Caused Real Madrid Badly.

Some see being cunning or sly as smartness that surpasses strength [German proverb],some others disagree, they liken the cunning to a fox, which is as murderous as the violence of the wolf [Thomas Paine], both groups have their reasons, for me, I feel if there are no rules of engagement, then there is no harm or shame in being cunning. The game of football like every sport is guided by different rules and regulations, any sort of antics and trickery outside those rules and regulations are not acceptable and can be term as ‘violence’, ‘improper’ conducts amongst other conduct violations.

Sergio Ramos, fully aware of the rules and regulations, chose to ignore them or probably tried to outfox everyone. The Spaniard was booked in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 ties against a familiar foe, Ajax Amsterdam of the Netherlands, but it was later discovered by UEFA’s ethics committee that it was a premeditated act by Sergio Ramos, Ramos was then slammed with a 2-match ban which ruled him out of the next 2 UEFA matches.

HOW IT UNFOLDED;

Ramos, improper conduct went down in the 1st of the 2-leg match of the UEFA Champions League match between Real Madrid and Ajax at the Johan Cruff Arena, Netherland, Ajax home ground. Real Madrid had taken a respectable 2-1 lead and was holding on till the final whistle, but then, Ramos in his ‘sly wisdom’, picked up an 89th-minute booking (his accumulated 3rd), for what seemed to be a careless tackle on Ajax’s striker, Kasper Dolberg, but during the post-match interview, Ramos was quoted saying;

I would be lying if I said I didn’t force the booking…

His comment apparently showed that his ack was premeditated rather than careless, a comment that had UEFA open a disciplinary investigation and eventually found Ramos guilty by the panel. An additional 1-match ban was added to the initial automatic 1-match ban incurred from the booking. The ban ruled Ramos out of both the return leg against Ajax, and the 1st leg of the quarterfinal should Real go pass Ajax( unfortunately Real didn’t go past Ajax).

Awkward moment for Dolberg when Ramos offers a handshake after been booked, this guy should be sober, Dolberg thought in his mind.

Rubbing salt to Ramos’ injury was the fact that, in his absence, Real Madrid were humiliated in front of home fans 1-4 in the return leg, as they exited the competition 3-5 in aggregated to Ajax, his leadership role at Real Madrid’s defence backline as well as the team as a whole was missing.

WHAT UEFA REGULATION SAYS;

•UEFA rules stipulated that accumulation of 3 cautions carry an automatic 1-match suspension.

•It also says that all yellow cards pick up will be wiped clean after the quarterfinals.

with the rules in mind, Ramos wiping his booking slate clean, reduced the risk of being unavailable for the crucial stages of the competition, well, so it seemed if his plan was successful.

IT HAD HAPPENED BEFORE;

Sergio Ramos is no stranger to cunning conducts and controversies. In 2010, Ramos alongside teammate, Xabi Alonso, deliberately picked up a 2nd booking and then sent off against the same team, Ajax, having taken a comfortable 3-0 lead at the Dutch club home ground. Real goalkeeper, Iker Casillas received instructions from their coaching staff headed by Jose Mourinho through reserved goalkeeper, Jerzy Dudek, Casillas, in turn, informed Ramos and Alonso of the purported plan from the bench. The red card meant Ramos and Alonso would miss the last group G match for Real Madrid against Auxerre, and enter the knock out phase with a clean slate. Mourinho, Ramos and 3 other Real Madrid players involved in the improper conduct were charged, fined and suspended by UEFA.

Absolutely no room for unsporting conduct in the game will all love. Sergio Ramos cunning ways were caught by the long arm of justice both on and off the pitch. A wise man once said;

You can be more cunning than others but you cannot be the smartest of all – François de La Rochefoucauld

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A Dethroned King, And A Potentially Birth Of Another

Tuesday night’s UEFA Champions League defeat of reigning champion, Real Madrid, at home turf, Santiago Bernabeu, at the hand of less fancied Ajax Amsterdam, can be seen by many as the end of a golden generation, the dethroning of a true king, and the birth of a new generation of Ajax players. Real Madrid had ruled UEFA Champions League for 3 successive years and was 1 of the fancied clubs to win, but a 1-4 home defeat to Ajax, despite holding a 2-1 advantage, was the least on the bookmaker’s list.


The 1st leg between these 2 clubs ended 2-1 in favour of Real Madrid, an action-packed contest, but overshadowed by controversies. The 2 major talking points that marred the match played at Ajax’s Johan Cruff Arena was a disallowed goal and an intentional yellow card. Nicolas Tagliafico headed opener was disallowed by VAR for a Dusan Tadic’s offside, and then, Sergio Ramos picked up a booking which was later discovered to be a premeditated action by Ramos, which ruled him out of the return leg at the Bernabeu, an action that will now haunt him for a while, as his leadership role was missed in the Real Madrid backline in the return leg defeat.

A masterclass display from former Southampton of English Premier League player, Dusan Tadic, saw the Dutch side took a 1st half lead, 2-0 in an explosive 1st 18 minutes. The Serbian then scored a subline 3rd goal in the 2nd half to pull the match away from Real Madrid. Real pulled a goal back through Marco Asensio, but a 4th Ajax’s goal through Lasse Schone meant Real Madrid will not be defending the UEFA Champions League for a 4th successive year.

The 2nd leg was supposed to be a difficult mountain for the Amsterdam club to climb, but a spirited display by the Dutch side saw them CAME to the Bernabeu, SAW, and CONQUERED, 4-1 on the night, and 5-3 on the aggregate to progress to the quarterfinals stage since 2003, 16 years ago.


DETHRONED KING

Real Madrid’s 1011 days(2years, 9 months, and 5 days since Athletico Madrid defeat in 2016) as champion has been ended by a new generation of young lads from Ajax Amsterdam. The beginning of the end of a talented Madrid squad that includes current world footballer of the year, Lucas Modric, Welsh star, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, former world cup winners, Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos, and ex-Real Madrid superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo among the Galacticos.

Real parted ways with their talismanic striker, Cristiano Ronaldo in the last summer transfer window, and arrogantly refused to replace him with adequate cover, the current struggle in front of opposition goal is a clear indication that the Portugal international is hugely missed. Real Madrid had reached at least the semifinal since Ronaldo’s 2nd season, 2011-12, at the Bernabeu, players such as Bale, Benzema, Asensio and the young Vinicius Jr found Ronaldo’s shoe too big to lace. Home stadium, Santiago Bernabeu is no more the fortress it used to be as Real has now lost 2(0-3 loss to CSKA Moscow & Ajax) home game already in this UCL campaign, Sergio Ramos’ disciplinary records getting worst by the season, among other worries for Real Madrid.1-4 defeat to Ajax was Real Madrid’s heaviest in a knockout game in Europe, It’s Real Madrid’s 4th lost at the Bernabeu since 2004, their 3rd in history, 1st reigning champion to fail to advance past. round of 16 since Inter Milan in 2010-11, among other stain on their pretty records.


AJAX’S NEW GENERATION

It’s almost a decade and a half since the golden generation of Ajax team ruled Europes elite club competition, the Louis Van Gaal tutored side won the UCL in the 1994-95 season with an exciting youthful team, with an average age of 23 years, a side that includes the likes of Frank De Boer, Edwin Van Der Ser, Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Kanu Nwankwo, Patrick Kluivert, Jari Litmanem among other great names of such a talented group. A lot had happened since the generation ended, Ajax struggled to put together such an elite group to challenge in Europe. The best Ajax could achieve in the UCL since then was a quarterfinal place in the 2002-03 tournament, and had failed to advance past the group stage since the round 16 exits in the 2005-06 season.

However, a new wind is blowing, looks like another era has begun with the Dutch side Ajax, a group of young lads have done well for themselves this season. Ajax manager, Erik Ten Hag’s team has performed so well in the current campaign, getting remarkable results especially away from home, Erik side has not lost away from home this UCL campaign, including a 1 all draw at the Allianz Arena, Bayern. The youthful side with an average age of 24, includes much sorts after duo of, Matthijs De Ligt and Frankie De Jong, strikers, Kasper Dolberg and Dusan Tadic, Hakim Ziyech among others.


Ajax defeat of Real Madrid was a remarkable feat, and the lads deserved all the accolades that are been showered on them. They joined a group of trio clubs to have scored 4 or more goals at the Santiago Bernabeu, they become only the 2nd team to eliminate Real Madrid from European competition knockout tie, having lost the home tie. Does this herald another golden era in with the Dutch club, time will certainly tell?

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Another Milestone For King Roger Federer

Roger Federer once again proves that age is just a number, as he achieved another milestone in his illustrious career. He now writes his name in the history book by becoming the 2nd male tennis player to win and reach a 100 ATP singles title, with his Dubai Championship triumph over Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 37-year-old Federer is now just 9 singles titles shot of equaling the most title wins, a position that is currently being held by Americas Jimmy Connors, who is on 109 singles titles.

What more can one write about a man that has dominated the sport, Roger Federer broke into world stage since 1998, during an era that includes great tennis players such as the duo of Americans Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt to mention few, Roger Federer has not looked back since then.

Federer started 2019 tennis season on a winning note, with a successful defence of the Hopman Cup alongside female countrywoman, Belinda Bencic( who also won the female singles in Dubai). However, a disappointing 4th-round defeat to rising star, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas meant, there won’t be a 3rd-time defence of the Australian Open for Federer.

Federer’s hunger for more glory was reiterated recently when he said he aimed for more titles and not ATP top ranking, and he showed such hunger with another championship win, his 8th title in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, adding to his victories in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2014 and his 2015 victory over archrival, Novak Djokovic.

En route to his triumph, Federer dropped 2 sets, certainly not one of his vintage performances, but he got the job done. A round of 32 wins, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win over German’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, then, he dropped his 2nd set in the tournament with a round of 16 victories, 6-3, 3-6 6-3 win over Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco, for a place in the quarter-final. His quarter-final contest was also exhausting as Federer was stretched into a tie-breaker, a 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 win over Hungarian, Marton Fucsovic. A much easier win for Federer in the semi-final over Croatian, Borna Coric, 6-2, 6-2 straight set triumph. The final was against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, Federer’s conqueror at the Australian Open, a couple of months ago. This time, the Swiss Maestro got his revenge, a 6-4,6-4 straight set win over Tsitsipas.

8th Dubai Championship for Federer, 100th career title win and still counting, give it up to the Swiss MaestroRoger that!

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Brendan Rodgers In For Claude Puel, 5th Mid-Season Managerial Shakeoff Of The EPL’s 2018-19 Season.

The English Premier League 2018-19 season is not over, yet, another manager had been shown the exit door, Claude Puel of Leicester had been replaced by former Celtic Manager, Brenda Rodgers. This managerial replacement at Leicester made it the 5th across the EPL in the current campaign, having seen Fulham replaced Slavia Jokanovic with Claudio Ranieri, Southampton replaced Mark Hughes with Ralph Hasenhuttl, Manchester United replaced Jose Mourinho with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Huddersfield replaced David Wagner with Jan Siewert, Who says coaching job is an easy one?

OUT GONE CLAUDE PUEL;

Puel was sacked after just 16 months in charge of Leicester City. He led Leicester to a 9th place finish in his 1st season, 2017-18, after taking over from Craig Shakespeare, but a string of poor results has seen his Leicester City team falling down the EPL log table, 12th place, just 8 points from safety, and any hope for European qualification is all but gone.

Leicester poor run started since the turn of the year, since the new year day 1 nil away victory over Everton, the team has been on a free fall, a 7-match-winless run in all competitions, a poor run that includes a FA Cup 3rd-round 1-2 defeat to lowly Newport County, and 5-EPL defeats and a single draw out of 6 EPL matches, just 1 point out of a possible 18 points. Leicester had also lost her last 4 home matches during this poor run, the last time Leicester lose 4 or more (5) home matches in a row was in 1959, some 60 years ago, and the last time Leicester lost 4-EPL matches in a row was in December 1999, a run that extended into January, into a 7-match winless run. They have also conceded 15 league goals since the new year, only Cardiff City had conceded more this year.

It’s hard to figure out what went wrong. Tracking back to December last year, Leicester was flying, a remarkable 1 nil defeat of Chelsea at the Bridge was quickly followed by a 2-1 home win over high-flying Manchester City, but then, a disappointing home loss to Cardiff City laid the foundation for what followed in months after.

Claude Puel had now joined the growing list of mid-season manager casualties, and also joined Leicesters list of sacked manager, 3rd in just less than 2 years.

CAME BRENDAN RODGERS;

Rodgers needs no introduction to the EPL clubs and fans, his feat at Swansea City especially, announced him to the EPL, as he managed and helped Swansea City gain promotion into the EPL, and became the 1st Walsh club to do so. His managerial touch made Liverpool came calling in 2012, to replace King Kenny Dalglish. Rodgers helped built the famous, deadly, strike combination trio, SSS; Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling, and were on the brink of winning the 2013-14 EPL title for the 1st time in 28 years, but an unfortunate and infamous Steven Gerrard slip, put the dream to the sword, and ultimately Rodgers reign at Anfield came to an end in 2015.

However, Rodgers quest for glory would soon be realized in the Scottish Premier League. Neil Lennon had just left his post as Celtic manager, and Rodgers soon took over at Celtic Park in 2016. In his 1st season in charge, Rodgers won a domestic tremble; Scottish Premier League title (with 30 points ahead of 2nd placed Aberdeen), Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup, setting a record of 47-domestic-unbeaten run in the process. Rodgers repeated his 1st season success by retaining the tremble in his 2nd season. He had already won the Scottish League Cup for the current campaign, bringing is a total hall to 7. Safe to say Leicester got a manager with a champions mentality.

The burning question is, has Rodgers taken the right decision? No doubt he wanted a new challenge, having won everything that needed to be won in Scottish football, but taking the job of a struggling club might stain his credentials, all the new managers brought in by Fulham, Southampton and Huddersfield have not been able to improve situations on the ground.

Can Brendan Rodgers perform the magic at Leicester and turn around their fortune? Time will tell.

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Maurizio Sarri, The Architect Of His Own Misfortune.

Chelsea manager, Maurizio Sarri may have sealed his fate at the hands of Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovic. The Chelsea owner still hurting from the 0-6 humiliation of his Chelsea club since he assumed ownership, was slapped in the face with another damaging FA cup exit, 0-2 home loss to Manchester United. Victory over FC Malmo in the Europa Cup on Thursday night a much needed respite, but EFL Cup final defeat against familiar adversary, Manchester City on Sunday, may have ended Sarri’s reign at the Bridge, as news making the rounds already suggested that Chelsea chiefs are already considering the duo of former Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane and former home ace, Frank Lampard as Sarri’s likely replacement.

Sarri started his reign at the bridge with an early-season-winning run, but things have changed since those remarkable start. So, what went wrong for Sarri and his tactics? How did things get to this stage? He has not even completed a season, and yet, he is about to join the growing names of Chelsea mid-season casualties as shown above;


SAME OLD POSSESSIVE PLAY AKA SARRIBALL;

Sarri’s possessive play, better known at the Bridge as Sarriball seems not to be bringing the early-season success, and with seemingly no plan B to navigate this hard time. Clubs like Burnley are very difficult to break down by just passing the ball around, you’ve got to go long and direct if need be to win against difficult teams as such, how many times have we seen Liverpool rescued a result from long balls and setpieces. Chelsea is failing in this direction and the blame has to be Sarri’s, who remains adamant on his Sarriball style of play. According to Skysports stat, Chelsea’s possessive play is not bringing success or results as much as it does for Manchester City and Liverpool who are also rank high with possessive play, Chelsea’s possessive play is not resulting as much as it should into chances created or goal.

JORGINHO OVER KANTE AS MIDFIELD ANCHOR MAN;

Sarri remained defiant playing Jorginho rather than Kante in the holding midfield role despite strings of poor results, raised more question than answers. There is no denial of the fact that Sarri and Jorginho know each other too well from their time at Napoli, and bringing Jorginho to Chelsea seems sensible, but Chelsea already has a world class player in the holding midfield role, Ngolo Kante. Kante’s exploits as an anchor-midfield man are well documented, right from his breakthrough season with surprise English Premier League winner, Leicester, to his warrior-like display to help Chelsea win back the League title, and not to forget his 2018 FIFA World cup heroics with France, all as the midfield anchorman. Yet, Sarri favours Jorginho over Kante, even when Jorginho is sometimes out of sorts. Clubs seem to have decoded Sarri’s tactics, stop Jorginho and you will stop Chelsea, such were the stories when Chelsea played Westham, Everton, Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United to mention few.

PREDICTABLE SUBSTITUTIONS;

Sarri’s like-for-like substitution is well too predictable, either in victories or in defeats, it is all too similar. Ross Barkley for Mateo Kovacic substitution is growing too popular, the latest duo interchange in the FA Cup defeat to Manchester United was the 20th times in all competitions that both players will be swapped for each other under Maurizio Sarri. Chelsea’s other talented midfield players that are being constantly overlooked by Sarri includes the duo of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and enterprising young winger, C. Hudson-Odoi who can both come in and win a match, little wonder some of these lads are refusing a new contract.

Managers are known for being too adamant and defiant with their approach and philosophy, and it has really not helped most of these Coaches and certainly might not help Sarri too. We’ve seen the likes of Arsene Wenger, who despite widespread calls for him to change his approach, to invest in a weakened Arsenal defence year in, year out, but he refused, and he ultimately paid for his stubbornness, as his long-year affair with Arsenal was brought to a less ceremonial end.

The English Premier League is a tough league, managers have to be dynamic and unpredictable with their tactics and approach, any manager who failed to do that will have himself to blame, other managers will figure him out. It seems to me that Sarri has failed with his tactics, or maybe he just needs more time to perfect his tactics and his Sarriball style.

What do you all think?

Ps: Images and stats shown are BBCSports, and blog can be found on my Scorum account 

Thank you all for your usual supports.

 
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What Went Down In England, My Take On Selected Weekend Results

Plenty to talk about from English weekend football, both English Premier League and English Championship presents a kind of competitiveness that makes them one of the most watch around the world, this weekend was not an exception. Plus, the EFL Cup final between Manchester City and Chelsea, it’s barely 2 weeks since City thrashed the Blues 6-0, a nail-biting defeat that certainly set the tone for this cup final.

CITY’S QUEST FOR QUADRUPLE IS ALIVE;

Where else can one start the weekend review than the EFL Cup final between Chelsea and Manchester City? Chelsea aiming to avoid a repeat of the humiliation suffered at the hand of their opponent some couple of weeks ago, adopted a more cautious approach this time, allowing City to have the possession but with no real threat to them. City still managed 3 shots on target compared to Chelsea’s 1, but no breakthrough, not even extra time could produce a goal, thus, the ultimate spot kick to decide the contest. After enjoying success last season from the FA-Cup-shootout win over Manchester United, Chelsea were hoping to repeat the feat against City, but poor kicks from firstly, Jorginho and then, David Luiz, meant Chelsea would leave Wembley Stadium empty-handed, while City, despite losing a spot kick through Leroy Sane, still won 4-3 from the shootout, and Manchester City’s quest for 4 trophies still very much alive with EFL Cup in the bag.

HARRY KANE’S RETURN MARRED BY SPURS DEFEAT;

Tottenham Hotspur title push may have hit a snag, with a damaging defeat at Turf Moor, Burnley. Spurs were beaten 2-1, to slip 5 points further behind 2nd on the log, Manchester City. News of Spurs leading scorer, Harry Kane’s early return from injury ahead of initial March schedule was met with excitement and joy among Spurs officials, teammates and fans, but Kane’s return was marred with a defeat. Burnley yet again showed they are a tough nut to crack, they seem to have shrugged off their early season poor performances, with just one defeat ( to Man City) in their last 8 matches, a run that includes a remarkable 2 all draw at Manchester United to halt Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s winning gravy train.

It was the visitors that took the early ascendancy as expected, but with no real threat to Burnley’s goal, Burnley was happy to sit back and weather all storm blew at them by Spurs, and find their goal in customary Burnley fashion, fast breaks and set pieces. The 2nd half was where all the action were, as Burnley took the game to Spurs, Burnley took a 57th-minute lead through Chris Wood via a disputable corner kick, Harry Kane showed no sign of rustiness from injury lay-off, with a come-back goal, to level matters in the 65 minutes, but spirited Burnley got their deserved winning goal in the 83rd minute through Ashley Barnes, to end the contest 2-1. Burnley’s run of unbeaten 2019 continues while Spurs slim chance of title further fades away.

FULHAM DESTINED FOR RELEGATION;

The Cottagers are having a torrid season, and are languishing in relegation waters, not even the appointment of the Tinkerman, Claudio Ranieri could transform the fortune of the West London Club.

Looking for their 1st win since the 4-2 win over Brighton and Hove Albion at the end of January, Fulham took an early 3-minute lead through the Dutchman, Ryan Babel, in the London derby, over Westham United, but a 29th-minute controversial equalizer by Javier Hernandez put Fulham on the path of defeat, replay showed that the Mexican had scored with his hand, but the goal stood. Issa Diop’s 40th min header and Michail Antonio’s goal sealed the comeback win for the Hammers. It was Fulham’s 18th league defeat of the current campaign, and are still rooted on 2nd from bottom on leg table with just 17 points from 27 matches, with a huge -35 goal deficit, only a miracle can prevent a relegation.

INJURY-RAVAGED CONTEST AT OLD TRAFFORD;

The much talked about rivalry match between title favourite, Liverpool and rejuvenate Manchester United ended in a goalless stalemate. It was almost a horror show rather than an entertaining showpiece, with 4 1st-half injuries that took the delight out of the game. Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was forced into making all his substitution in the 1st half due to injuries, both Ander Harrera and Juan Mata got injured in quick succession, firstly, it was Herrera in the 21st minute, and Mata just 4 minutes later, both players were replaced by Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard respectively. It got uglier for United when substitute, Lingard limped off, to be replaced by Alexis Sanchez in the 43rd minute. Liverpool was slammed with their own injury worry too, stylish striker, Roberto Firmino was replaced in the 31st minute by Daniel Sturridge.

A point was enough to move Liverpool back to the summit of the EPL table on 66 points, a point ahead of title challenger, Manchester City, in 2nd place, and 6 points clear of 3rd place team, Spurs.

CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE RACE IS 3-HORSE RATHER THAN 2-HORSE RACE;

Championship title race gets even more interesting now, with Sheffield United thrown into the mix, alongside Norwich City and Leeds United. The blades as Sheffield United are popularly called, have been on a 5-match unbeaten run prior to Saturday’s victory over West Bromwich Albion, they now sit in 2nd position on the Championship log table with 64 points after 34 matches played, just 2 points adrift of log leader, Norwich City, with Leeds United also on 64 points, having played a game less.

It could be recalled that both Norwich City and Leeds United recorded a slim win respectively, to keep the race hot and to the wire. Table topper, Norwich, held on to their grip on top with a hard-fought 3-2 home victory over Bristol City, while Leeds also had a 2-1 home victory over struggler, Bolton Wanderers to stay in touch with Norwich and Sheffield United.

DERBY COUNTY IN DANGER OF MISSING THE PLAYOFFS;

Frank Lampard has done a very great job since he assumed the managerial role at Derby County, his good works have not gone unnoticed by his former club, Chelsea, who are considering him to take over at the Bridge. However, Derby’s push for promotion either through the automatic slot (which seems so unlikely) or the playoffs (which is more attainable), was hampered with a damaging 0-1 home loss against relegation-threatened, Millwall, last Wednesday. Derby County now sits on 7th place on Championship log table, just outside the playoffs spot, with 2 outstanding matches too though.

OTHERS;

Another notable point of discussion was the home defeat of Leicester City, 1-4 by Crystal Palace on Saturday late kick-off, a defeat that signalled the end and sack of manager, Claude Puel after just 16 months in charge. Huddersfield doomed for relegation after another 0-2 loss at Newcastle United, they are rock bottom on the league table.

These were just a few spotlights of what went down in England this weekend from my points of view, you can add your talking point or spotlight in the comment section.

ps; all images are from Getty images, and can be found on my scorum account 

Thank you all for taking the time out to check my blog.

 

 

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