The international break is over and club football is back on the menu. Things are taking shape in Africa and Nigeria now top their group in the 2019 AFCON qualifers after South Africa were unable to maintain the form that saw them thrash Seychelles 6-0 after labouring to a nil-nil away draw. As expected, the group might well be decided in the South Africa – Nigeria game coming up next month.
Germany draw the greatest attention over in the UEFA nations league after failing to get any points in the games away to the Netherlands and France, losing 3-0 and 2-1 respectively with relegation from their group a very realistic possibility. Jogi Löw is under pressure after now losing 5 of 9 competitive games this year and tensions are rising from playing well and not winning after Löw kept faith in the old guard that won them the world cup in 2014 but embarrasingly crashed out of the group stages this year and largely refused to evolve with the sort of youthful side that won them the 2017 Confederations Cup.
Crisis-ridden Germany are well on the cusp of a decline, the same kind we see of trophy-winning sides immediately after so much success (think Spain, Italy, Manchester United) and The German FA would have to review the role of a man who has been at the helm for 12 years or seek to solve the problem from within the playing squad to stop the rot.
|Chelsea vs Man. united- Dailystar.co.uk|
We’re offered an audacious return to club football with Chelsea vs man united the game to look forward to in the premier league this weekend. Maurizio Sarri’s high-flyers tackle José Mourinho and his Manchester United side who seem on the mend, United have a particularly testing run of fixtures with the game at Stamford Bridge preceding a Champions league tie at home to Cristiano Ronaldo & Juventus before facing Juventus again and Manchester City in consecutive games in just a few weeks so you definitely cannot look beyond José wanting to shut up shop and grind out a result for this one.
|José Mourinho thrives in the big games. GETTY- CONTRIBUTOR|
Its the sort of fixture that José thrives in, a typical away game to a rival that he lets on the mind games in the press before the match and masterminds a gritty performance to break home hearts with a bore draw or a smash and grab win. Its largely expected that he would start a number of the big blokes in midfield (Fellaini, McTominay, Matic, Pogba) and probably instruct a man-marking job on one of Hazard or Jorginho to nullify Chelsea’s biggest threats. It would be intriguing to see two tactically astute managers square up to one another and how Chelsea would look to beat the kind of performance they so specialized in under the opposition manager just a few years ago and Maurizio Sarri would do a good job if he wins the tactical battle in a first ever meeting with the special one.
The Milan derby comes up this weekend and seems to have regained its charm after it became a 6th vs 7th face off in recent years. Both teams strengthened their squads over the summer and there seems to be an equal level of top quality- especially up front- for both sides this season. Argentina hitmen Mauro Icardi and Gonzalo Higuain have been in great form for Inter and AC Milan this season and in the buildup to the derby that it should be a passion-filled game with clinical finishing on show, I reckon the game would be decided by whoever comes out on top in the tactical battle between Luciano Spalletti and Gennaro Gattuso. Roll on the weekend!