by Kolawole Babatunde (@iamkoolkola)
It’s not every weekend that the football gods make the stars to align and cause three heavyweight derbies to be played over one weekend. But the past weekend was one that football fans will relive to their children, especially after all the drama that unfolded.
These are my conclusions from the derby weekend:
An uninspiring derby
The Merseyside derby might not be the most hyped derby around but it certainly has been known for its fierce nature over the years. The great goals by Steven G, Funes Mori making a leg-breaking tackle on Divock Origi and still going on to kiss the badge without any look of remorse, a fair share of red cards and so on. This has always been the ingredients of the Merseyside derby.
One might find excuses for both teams about the motivation going into this game, as both teams were in good league positions going into this game – but then again, no team should need motivation in a game against their local rivals. Bragging right in the city should be enough motivation.
A game without the man of the moment, Mo Salah and some notable starters for Liverpool ,was the perfect opportunity for Big Sam and his men to get their first win against the Reds for the first time since 2010, but they spurned their chances in the game and ultimately their chance for redemption.
Perhaps, the summary of the game should be the fact that no card was shown in the derby – one major ingredient of a derby. Forgive me for dozing off, but that wasn’t a spectacle.
A derby with the same old story
It was an awkward situation for Real Madrid heading into this particular derby – a win against Athletico would ultimately hand Barcelona the title ,a loss would see Real drop further down ,a draw would mean Barcelona gain further ground on them. The motivation going into this particular one was the fact that Madrid have failed to get a win against their local rivals in the last four meetings at the Bernabeau.
It was also a case of two people with extra motivation going into this game. With Cristiano Ronaldo fighting for the Pichichi and having seen Lionel Messi bag an hat trick the previous day, he had to score. But he had a herculean task against the man contesting for the Zamora trophy in Jan Oblak; having won it for two seasons consecutively, he has Ter Stegen making a strong case this time.
Everything spice needed for a derby was on show ,from the tackles, to the skills, to the saves, but one man yet again made his mark and the man was Cristiano Ronaldo. How on earth could he smash that in with so much accuracy?
In the end, the same old names settled the derby, Cristiano Ronaldo, Antonio Greizmann and Jan Oblak.
The Manchester derby was meant to be a coronation for the worthy champions of the season. Hold my beer, Paul Pogba and co had another idea. The preview of the game was all about how Manchester City had done such a fantastic job this season and the difference in class between both sides, the only mention of the Red half was about one man and that was Labile Pogba.
Pep had two options: Rest your key players and try to salvage the Champions League mess they’ve found themselves in. The other option was to satisfy the fans and win the league the day they play their City rivals. Like every manager should do, he opted for the former. The first half showed the gulf in class between both sides as City’s team, without its key players, blew United away.
Raheem Sterling started upfront and created all sorts of problem for the defensive pairing of Smalling and Bailly. Perhaps if had converted just one out of the hat-trick of chances he got, the headlines would have been different.
Two goals from Paul Pogba within the space of 97 seconds had United back in the game .Sanchez looked all shades of his former self, Chris Smalling redeemed himself by getting the winner, after he fumbled for City’s first goal.
Take nothing away from this City team, they have done a fantastic job all season and one game doesn’t change anything. Playing such a high intensity football will come with its fatigue and drop in energy and I believe this is that. Period.
It’s all about Tuesday for them now as they’re only one win away from being crowned champions of the 2017/2018 Premier League season.
Take nothing away from this United side, they put in a performance that would be in the memory for ages.
This was the ultimate derby. It featured beautiful football, the fights, the glamour and the brawn.
Made the weekend worth it!
Which of these derbies did you find the most exciting? Which one was so boring you had to switch channels? Leave me a comment and share your thoughts with me.