A happy Id El Fitr to my Muslim folks, who should be getting busy with the celebrations while reading this. Trust this fasting period has brought more enlightenment and uplifting that you asked for. On a broader scale, much has happened in that period. London is getting more attention than ever (my heart goes out to all those who have suffered losses from the attacks), the British elections took centre-stage, Etisalat has gotten into trouble, the Transfer Season has been quietly crazy, and the Confederations Cup has gone as planned (except for Russia and VAR).
The Confederations Cup Semi-final fixtures have been confirmed: Portugal will face Chile while Germany will be up against Mexico. Frankly, I didn’t really see this happening any other way. Australia and Russia will feel they could have done better to stay in this competition but Cameroon and New Zealand were clearly there to make up the numbers. In ONE match, Germany scored more goals than Cameroon and New Zealand (together) scored for the WHOLE tournament. That should tell a story in itself…those guys just came for sightseeing.
Regardless, the football has been good. The usual suspects consisting of CR7, Chicarito, Alexis, and the entire Germany squad (everybody’s good there) have come to the fore, and given themselves every chance of winning this trophy. Now it’s the business end of the tournament, especially for Portugal and Chile (Only thing stopping Germany from getting to the final…is Germany). Should be a cracking pair of fixtures and I look forward to them.
Now, this VAR of an invention has been making more questionable impressions than it should. I remember when the goal-line technology was brought into the game, the usefulness was seen almost immediately. A ball crosses the line, it’s a goal; if it doesn’t, then it isn’t a goal. Very simple. The Video Assistant Referees (VAR) are supposed to spot stuff on the pitch that probably was missed by the main ref, linesmen, or even the fourth official. So far, it’s been odd how it works. First off, it’s too slow. You wait a hundred minutes just to confirm if a goal was legit. Even television replays are faster at looking at the action. Sometimes, it’s used for stuff that everyone can see without debate…like the challenge that led to the red card for Cameroon against Germany. What’s funny is that it made the type of error that it was CREATED to avoid. Mistaken identity for a red card? Really?? That thing needs serious work.
Now, the transfer season is up and running. It should really take off once we get into July so expect some wicked deals to start wrapping up. With Alexis at the Confederations Cup, attention has turned to Mbappe. It’s been reported that both Wenger and Zidane have spoken with him to get him to sign for either Arsenal or Real Madrid. The figure being quoted for the boy is outrageous, even for Real Madrid, so it surprises me that Arsenal are still being mentioned in the mix. Maybe they made that first bid just to get a feel of what Monaco might accept…not really because they wanted Mbappe right away (they CLEARLY would prefer Lacazette). As for Alexis…hmmmn…let’s leave that for later. Man City have been busy. They could add Dani Alaves and Javi Martinez this week plus Chelsea may have managed to still land Alex Sandro from Juventus (despite being told to get lost the first time). Barcelona are looking to go hard this summer, with record deals for Verrati and Dembele being touted. I hope that coach knows what he’s doing because blowing money fast puts you under extreme pressure to succeed (especially if those targets don’t turn out well). Look at Zidane. No major spending and he’s won 4 trophies. Now he’s earned the right to go hard. Be careful Valverde. On the other hand, Real Madrid are really quiet in this window, although I expect Theo Hernandez to sign soon (that kid is talented) paving the way for James to be sold. Real could lose Mariano and Morata as well so getting a new striker (and a new defender to replace Pepe) seems imperative.
Not much else to talk about but I want to commend Plateau United for their strong resolve to remain at the top of the NPFL standings for as long as they have. 13 games left to play and they lead the rest with about five points. Their next game is at home to a very competent Nassarawa United…but I think after Wednesday, we’d be counting 12 games to go before their FIRST ever league title is won.