Monday, 14 May 2018

UEFA Europa League Final - Marseille vs Atletico Madrid

As far as European finals go, you’d find hard to get a better supported final than the 2018 UEFA Europa League. Both Olympique Marseille and Atletico Madrid are among the two best supported sides in Europe, with a rich fan culture and an incredible winning heritage. Atleti are the major favourites for the final, but can l’OM spring a surprise?

Marseille News

There’s a natural sense of worry around the Marseille camp as they head for Lyon. There’s fears over the fitness of Rolando, the Portuguese defender who got them here in the first place. Kostas Mitroglou will likely miss out, too.

This means that Marseille will be looking to Morgan Sanson, Luiz Gustavo, Dmitri Payet and Florian Thauvin to sparkle in the Final. Lucas Ocampos, though, has sprung into rich form and could be vital for the French side to win their first European trophy in over twenty years.

Atletico Madrid News

Atletico are likely to be without Jose Maria Gimenez and Vitolo for the final, meanwhile. The electric form of Saul Niguez, Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa have played a huge role in getting them to the final, though, and they’ll be fit and firing for the tie in Lyon.

The fact that Gimenez is likely out, though, is a big blow. Stefan Savic will likely fill in, but he’s not at the same level as the Uruguayan, and Atletico will be worse off for his absence. Juanfran and Filipe Luis will likely play at full-back for Los Colchoneros.

Verdict

We think that Atletico will do it – but only just. Marseille arrive with the tide of history and the excitement of winning a new trophy; Atletico have won two of these in the last decade alone. We would suggest that their experience and more dogged nature will win out over the youthful effervescence of Marseille. Don’t discount the French side, though; their special support could really help to take them to a victory that’ll go down in the annals of history. 

Friday, 4 May 2018

Tony Bellew vs David Haye , 5th May

The heavyweight division has been action packed of late, and with the likes on Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, and even Tyson Fury making a comeback, it's no wonder David Haye wants one more bash at the big time.

Arguably he's not a heavyweight to begin with (but neither is Bellow) and he does seem to struggle against big fighters. Often though it coincides with injury, so it's hard to really know quite what he could manage to pull off if he stayed in one piece. Of course talk of injury brings us neatly back to the first Bellow vs Haye fight, since a badly ruptured achilles tendon midway through the fight put pay to any hopes of a Haye win. That said, he did put up a strong performance considering, which may bode well for the rematch if he avoids injury this time.

The betting odds for Bellow vs Haye are pretty much along the lines of what I'd expect. Love him or hate him, Haye hasn't done an awful lot wrong in his career when he's injury free, and if the heart is still in it (that's a significant unknown - as he does like the limelight and celebrity circuit as much as the boxing ring), it's hard to question the fact that he pack a punch and has good movement. He's currently 4/9 to win. There's no doubt he's taken on A-list fighters, but he's not had many opportunities to fight in recent years.

Bellow will no doubt be hungry for the victory too. Annoyed at the opinion of some that their previous encounter wasn't a true victory for him, he'll want to prove that he was put an uninjured Haye on the canvas and end his career for good. There's cerainly no ring rust, and at 2-1 the bookmakers probably have this one about right. It's a tough one to call and there's not enough value in a straight win for me. In the last fight Bellow was able to take some of Haye's best punches. With time out of the ring, I can see a similar situation occuring again and the idea that the longer the fight goes on, the better it looks for Bellow.

If you don't fancy the exorbitant £19.95 cost to watch the fight, nip down to your local boozer, as they're bound to have it on. Then you can either drown your sorrows or celebrate after the fight depending on who you're rooting for!


Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Europa League - Atl├ętico Madrid vs Arsenal - 3rd May

While it might seem harsh, it feels like Thursday night will be the defining factor in the reign of Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger. With his final run of games closing in, he needs to get a positive result in one of the most challenging stadia to come to in world football. Can he?

Home News

Atletico will be without full-back Sime Vrsaljko, as he was sent off in the Emirates first leg within ten minutes. Other than that, though, the usual back-up, Juanfran, is out of this tie. He’ll be swapped out for Thomas Partey, who had a fantastic game in London in an unfamiliar position.
Diego Costa played just over an hour in the weekend game against Alaves, and should start here. Given his previous in games against Arsenal, we can imagine that the Arsenal back line will be a little more cautious this time around.

Away News

Meanwhile, Arsenal will be without the in-form Mohamed Elneny, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will miss out due to being cup-tied. Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey will likely both start, with Alexandre Lacazette up top. Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny will be tasked with keeping Costa and Antoine Griezmann quiet in the Wanda Metropolitano.
Other than that, though, Wenger has more or less a full complement to pick from. With his final season to be defined by whether or not he can reach the UEFA Europa League Final, we fully expect to see the Gunners come out flying in Madrid.

Verdict

It's all to play for due to being 1-1 on aggregate, but despite their ability to impress when nobody expects them to, we cannot see Arsenal putting out Atletico at present. They are resilient at home and, with eleven men, should be much more of a threat than they were in London. With Jan Oblak in such ludicrous form, too, we cannot see Atletico being outscored here and thus we feel that an Arsenal semi final exit could be on the cards – sorry, Arsene.