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As the switch to daylight saving across Europe officially signifies the end of the summer season. The switch to the use of yellow match balls usually signifies the start of winter and the belated marking of the start of the second quarter of the season for me.
There’s always a deeper competitive feeling in this period with fitness at its premium and the hunt for points bringing some scintillating performances.
The first weekend into the use of the yellow match balls though, and the script remains the same for a number of teams.

Innocent Maela of Orlando Pirates celebrates his goal with teammates : Sydney Mahlangu- Backpage pix

Orlando Pirates, who didn’t have to change the clock or matchball anyway, came out on top in a Soweto Derby thriller on Saturday, their 2-1 win coming after missing an early penalty and conceding the first goal due to a goalkeeping error.

Pirates ultimately showed their class and scored the two goals required to win. They were slightly favourites before the game given their higher placing in the league table, Kaizer Chiefs’ injury conundrum and the fact they hadn’t lost in the derby since 2014 and eventually refused to disappoint, sending their rivals down to seventh in the league table.
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Barcelona also staved off some potential disappointment, providing ecstasy even, for their fans in that 5-1 win over eternal rivals Real Madrid in El Clasico at the Nou camp yesterday.

Madrid were outclassed and out-performed on the night, Luis Suarez proving the hero this game had been crying out for. Ernesto Valverde would have wanted his side to get on the front foot early on and dictate the tempo of the game and they did precisely that, grabbing a goal through Phil Coutinho and Luis Suarez settling any further nerves on the half hour.
Real did their best for a second half comeback, pulling a goal back early in the second period (a ‘hand of god’ intervention, such as Lacazette’s versus Crystal Palace would have been handy at that moment) but Barça superbly exploited the spaces they left in behind, as expected of top class opposition. 
Suarez grabbed the game by the scruff of its neck to complete his hat trick and Dembele left Nacho for dead in creating the fifth goal for Arturo Vidal.
Julen Lopetegui, the Real Madrid boss now seems certain to lose his job after a Clasico win was largely seen as the only thing that could save his job.
Would Antonio Conte be the solution to their problems? I personally doubt. Do they need new players to galvanize their team? Maybe, just maybe.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
I was thoroughly impressed with the performances of two much talked about English midfielders who have been living up to the hype recently.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, after all the pressure from the English media on his manager to play him recently, did play a blinder and scored a hat trick for Chelsea against BATE Borisov in the Europa League last Thursday. He followed that up with a late goal at Burnley on Sunday; call him a Goal machine now if you will.
Ruben offers energy, a deft touch, decent speed and goals from midfield and has worked hard to put himself firmly in Maurizio Sarri’s reckoning after these performances.
This is a player who is in the same age bracket as Alex Iwobi and Dele Alli and whose football development is lagging behind compared to the aforementioned because I always felt they possess a similar level of talent so you can imagine how much I’m buzzing for Ruben now that he’s making his mark. 
Ross Barkley. REUTERS
I am one of the few who haven’t been surprised by Ross Barkley’s renaissance this season. He’s worked hard to come back from a horrible hamstring injury and a series of niggling injuries throughout last season.
He’s impacting games for Chelsea at the moment with goals and assists, the most recent being a left-footed daisy-cutter against Burnley over the weekend that ensured he’s scored in three successive league games for the blues, the first Englishman to do so since Frank Lampard in 2013.
Sarri recently talked about playing two attack minded players in Ruben and Barkley in midfield when his team firmly gets to grips with the defensive side of his football philosophy.
It’s sensational to think of Chelsea, notorious for not blooding young English talent since Frank Lampard and John Terry, potentially having their own English answer to the Silva-De Bruyne midfield of  Manchester City.

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On a sad note, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the Leicester city chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. Who lost his life in the tragic helicopter crash outside the King Power stadium shortly after their game with West Ham on saturday, a very generous club chairman who led the club to its unlikely title triumph in 2016. He was loved by football fans in general and was a regular presence in the stands at Leicester’s home games.
Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin
October 29, 2018

Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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