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Wimbledon Men’s Championship Review: Djokovic triumphs in an epic two weeks of tennis

Wimbledon 2018 was one of the most exciting men’s slams in recent memory. We had epic matches, new records, shocks and controversy. Here I look back on the main talking points from 2 weeks of action.

Djokovic is back

Novak Djokovic won his first Grand Slam title since 2016 in a relatively straight forward final. His epic win over Rafael Nadal shows that he is truly back to his best. When he won Roland Garros two years ago, he held all four Grand Slams at the same time, being the only man in history to do so. His run here proves he is back and now looks the man to beat as we approach the hard court season.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic won his fourth Wimbledon title this year. Photo By: PA

Big Servers are prospering

Kevin Anderson’s run to the final and John Isner’s run to the semis show that the big servers can make a deep run in Slams. Marin Cilic’s final appearance at Wimbledon last year and the Australian Open in January has highlighted how the taller players are now appearing at the business end of Slams. They key now is for a big server to consistently chalenge for them. Cilic was consistent up until his second round exit at SW19.

Kevin-Anderson
Kevin Anderson has made huge strides in recent years. Photo By: Getty

Federer feels the pressure

Roger Federer suffered the shock of the Championship when he lost in five sets to Kevin Anderson. The Swiss maestro was in complete control and had a match point in the third set. As the match went in to a fifth set, his forehand misfired as it did against Kokkinakis in Miami and Del Potro in Indian Wells. He seems to be putting pressure on himself after all his success. His problem seems to be caused by himself and he will need to solve it before the US Open.

Roger Federer
Federer was unable to defend his title. Sourced Via: Sky Sports

An Old Man’s Game

The men’s final was contested by two men in their thirties. It is the first time in the Open era that two men in their thirties have contested a Wimbledon final. This begs the question: where are the young guns? They don’t seem to be ready yet to beat Federer, Nadal and Djokovic in a 5 setter.

Nadal-Djokovic rivalry is up there with the greatest in the sport

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic played out a Wimbledon classic under the roof in a match that exceeded the high expectations. The two warriors slugged it out in endless rallies until Djokovic emeged victorious. The semi-final was the best game of the Championship as Djokovic now leads the head t head by 27-25. Their rivalry is up there with Nadal-Federer and Agassi-Sampras. We are lucky to witness rivalries such as this.

Nadal and Djokovic
The Nadal-Djokovic rivalry has emerged as one of the biggest in the history of tennis. Photo By: Getty

 

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Wimbledon Women’ Final: Will it be number 8 for Serena or can Kerber etch her name in Wimbledon history?

The 2018 Wimbledon Final will be contested between number 11 seed Angelique Kerber and number 25 seed Serena Williams. This match is a repeat of the 2016 final which Williams won in two tight sets. Here I preview what promises to be a fascinating encounter.

Wimbledon Women's Trophy
The Venus Rosewater Dish will be presented to the winner but who will hat be? Photo By: Gary M Prior/Allsport

Kerber’s Route to the Final

R1. v Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-3

R2. v Claire Liu 3-6 6-2 6-4

R.3 v Naomi Osaka 6-2 6-4

R.4 v Belinda Bencic 6-3 7-6(5)

QF v Daria Kasatkina 6-3 7-5

SF v Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 6-3

Angelique Kerber has dropped just one set on her way to the final. Her most impressive performance was in the semi-final against the power of Ostapenko. She will come up against a similar type player in Serena Williams. Kerber’s fairly routine progress means she shouldn’t be affected by fatigue and she will need all her energy if she is to triumph here.

Angelique Kerber
Will Kerber be elebrating on Saturday? Photo By: Reuters

Williams’ Route to the Final

R1. v Arantxa Rus 7-5 6-3

R2. v Viktoriya Tomova 6-1 6-4

R3. v Kristina Mladenovic 7-5 7-6(2)

R.4 v Evgeniya Rodina 6-2 6-2

QF v Camila Giorgi 3-6 6-3 6-4

SF v Julia Goerges 6-2 6-4

Serena has peaked perfectly in this tournament. Her response to losing her first set in the quarter final showed what a champion she is. She dug in and found a way to win. Her semi-final performance was excellent. Goerges played a great match but Serena’s power and angles were too much. She will need a big performance to beat a familiar foe on Saturday.

Serena Williams final
Will Serena be roaring with delight on Saturday? Photo By: UPI

My Thoughts

Serena understandably enters the match as the favourite considering her past victories here. She is going for her eighth title and looking to equal Margaret Court’s Open era  record of 24 Grand Slams. She won 87% of points behind her first serve in the semi-final and her serve was what won her the title against Kerber in 2016. She will face a different type of pressure as she has not played much tennis since the birth of her daughter. Can she handle it?

Kerber has made steady progress throughout the tournament on what I consider to be her best surface. Her serve has been vital to her progress. She made 77% of first serves in her semi-final and will need to make a similar number in the final. The German’s defence has been wondeful throughout the Champioships and she has been excellent in nullifying the big shots of Osaka and Ostapenko.

It would be special to see Serena win her 24th Slam at the All England Club and create history. It would be equally sweet to see Angelique win her first Wimbledon after her nightmare 2017. I’m giving the nod to Serena in two tight sets or over 3 sets. It promises to be a great game of tennis.

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World Cup Final Talking Points: France and Croatia vie for glory but who will win the ultimate prize?

France and Croatia will face off on Sunday to win the World Cup. It is a final that not many predicted. France were expected to go deep while Croatia were dark horses but due to them flattering to deceive in previous tournaments, no one was sure how well this Croatian team would do. Here are the talking points ahead of the biggest game in these players lives.

World Cup Trophy
Who will get their hands on the Jules Rimet trophy? It’s anyone’s guess at this juncture. Photo By: Getty

Revenge for 1998

France beat Croatia 2-1 in the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup. It was Croatia’s first World Cup as an independent country and their achievement in reaching the semi-final made them cult heroes. They took the lead when striker Davor Suker slotted home after a wonderful assist. France replied instantly and with twenty minutes to go Lillian Thuram got his second and sent France on their way to winning the World Cup. Can Croatia avenge this loss?

France v Croatia 1998 World Cup
France celebrate their semi-final victory at the 1998 World Cup. Who will emerge victorious this time? Photo By: Matthew Ashton/EMPICS Sport

Can France’s attackers shine?

Strangely France are in a World Cup final but there are plenty of question marks surrounding the team. Their defence has grown in stature and has been excellent, barring the Argentina game. Their attack however has not been as consistent with the French public questioning Deschamps’ system of play. Antoine Griezmann stood up against Uruguay while Kylian Mbappe has been more consistent. Olivier Giroud has not had a shot on target so far. Who will be the one to step up and seize the opportunity?

Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe has scored three goals at the World Cup. Can he score one more? Photo By: Getty

Fatigue

This has been a long competition for both teams – especially Croatia as they have gone to extra time in their three knockout games and penalties in tow of those (against Denmark and Russia). Many believed Croatia would tire against England but in fact they were the fresher team and that is why they won through. France are more disciplined without the ball but will their young squad struggle towards the end of the game. Fatigue could decide this game.

The Midfield Battle

Luka Modric has been outstanding for Croatia in the midfield and he will face his toughest test to date against Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante. Ivan Rakitic could be vital in helping Croatia winning this key battle. Pogba and Kante were outstanding against Belgium and if either team can gain control in this sector then they will be World Champions.

Luka Modric Croatia
Will Modric be celebrating Sunday evening? Photo By: AFP

Nerves

No player in either team has played or been involved in a World Cup final. Modric, Rakitic and Mandzukic and Griezmann have played in Champions League finals while others have played in Champions League knockout games. Those games are filled with pressure but this game is the biggest game in each of these players lives. A mistake or lapse in concentration could decide what promises to be a close game.

Good luck to both teams and lets hope for a classic World Cup final. It promises to be a cracker.

 

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Manic Monday Talking Points: Federer, Williams and unpredictable women’s draw

The second Monday of Wimbledon is arguably the best day in the tennis calendar as every player left in the draw plays their last 16 match. Here I discuss the key talking points from a hectic day of action.

All too easy for Federer

Roger Federer eased into the quarter finals at SW19 as he won in straight sets against Adrian Mannarino. He has now won 32 consecutive sets at the All England Club and he is in excellent form. He will face a tougher test against big serving Kevin Anderson but the South African will need to play the game of his life if he is to have any chance. Federer is undoubtedly the favourite heading into the quarter finals.

Roger Federer
Can anyone stop Federer retaining his Wimbledon title? Sourced Via: Sky Sports

A Piece of History for Nishikori

Kei Nishikori overcame the stubborn challenge of Ernests Gulbis to make the Wimbledon quarter finals for the first time. In doing so he has become the second Japanese player and the first male one to reach the quarter finals of all four Grand Slams after Kimiko Date did it in the women’s game. He is only the second Japanese man to reach the Wimbledon quarter finals. An excellent achievement and he may not be finished yet.

Kei Nishikori take two
Can Nishikori create further history. Photo By: Getty

Williams peaking perfectly

Serena Williams entered Wimbledon with little competitive tennis after the birth of her daughter. She has been impressive in her last two wins and with the fall of the seeds in the women’s draw, she has every chance of winning her eighth Wimbledon crown. What a story that would be?

Serena Williams
Serena Williams celebrates victory. Will she be celebrating an eighth title on Sunday?

Fall of the seeds is no great surprise

The top 10 women’s seeds have all been defeated in the women’s section of the draw. With Serena Williams being ranked at 25 for the Championships, few of the high ranking players enjoy playing on grass or have had success on the surface. The grass is quicker than any surface and does not allow players like Halep the time they have on clay. It also highlights the unpredictability of women’s tennis.

 

 

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5 Men who can win the Men’s Singles title at Wimbledon

Roger Federer

The King of Grass is looking to retain his Wimbledon crown that he won so emphatically in 2017. He has won this title a record eight times and will be the man to beat when the tournament commences on Monday, July 2nd. He is seeded 1 at Wimbledon and looks to be placed on the easier side of the draw. Despite losing the final at Halle last week, it will take a special performance to beat Federer at his favourite tournament.

Roger Federer
Can anyone stop Federer retaining his Wimbledon title? Sourced Via: Sky Sports

Marin Cilic

The big serving Croat is well built for the grass and reached the final last year. He suffered from blisters and was easily beaten by Federer. He enters the tournament having won the Aegon Championships at the Queens tennis club last weekend. He reached the final of the Australian Open and the quarter finals at Roland Garros. He is in the same side of the draw as Federer but he will not fear facing the defending champion. Winning that match could be the key to winning Wimbledon.

Novak Djokovic

The champion of 2011 and 2014 returns to Wimbledon with hope. He lost the final of the Aegon Championships where despite having match point, he lost to Marin Cilic. His run to the final is encouraging news but will he be able to last two weeks and beat the big guys? He has shown before that he has the game to win but question marks still remain. If he i physically right then he can be the king of SW19 once more.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic won his second of hi Wimbledon titles in 2014. Can he win his third this year? Photo By: PA

Rafael Nadal

Nadal did not play in a grass court tournament and instead chose to play exhibition matches against Lucas Pouille and Matthew Ebden. He beat Ebden but lost to Pouille. There are question marks hanging over his fitness and he has exited Wimbledon early for the past few years. He lost to an inspired Gilles Muller last year but from the period 2006-2011 he reched the Wimbledon final every year with the exception of 2009 when he did not play. He has the potential but can he banish the recent losses at SW19.

Rafael Nadal
Can Nadal bring his clay court form to the grass? Photo By: Getty

Juan Martin Del Potro

Del Potro is a real fans’ favourite in Southwest London and reached the semi-final in 2013 where he lost an epic match to Novak Djokovic. He has not had as much success in recent years but he has enjoyed a decent season so far, reaching the semi-final at Roland Garros. He suffered a one-sided defeat to Novak Djokovic at Queens last week and has a history of injuries. He is placed on the tougher side of the draw but he is a dark horse.

Juan Martin Del Potro
Can Juan Martin Del Potro be the dark horse this year? Photo By: Getty

Nick Kyrgios

The talented Aussie has a game perfectly built for grass. He beat Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014 and he reached the semi-final of the Aegon Championships last week. His temperament is questionable to say the least but if he performs to his potential then he will be a match for anyone. His biggest opponent is himself.

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Boxing Greats who fought past their prime

Boxing is a cut throat sport but sometimes boxers continue to fight even though they are well past their prime. This can lead to great fighters accumulating more losses than they deserve.  Here I pick fighters who have too many losses on their record due to not knowing when to call it quits.

Roy Jones Jr (65-9) 

Some people argue that Roy Jones Jr is the greatest boxer of all time. His dazzling footwork and lightning quick hands saw him rocket to top of the Pound For Pound list. He is a six time world champion in four weight classes, having won titles in middleweight, super-middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions.

Roy Jones Jr

Roy Jones Jr. was one of the all time great fighters. Photo By: Getty Images.

James “Lights Out” Toney (77-10-3)

Toney was one of the great middleweights and was a world champion in three weight divisions. He was lineal middleweight champion from 1991 to 1993, while he won super middleweight and cruiserweight world titles. He was twice voted Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year. His defense was excellent and he never lost by stoppage. He fought well past his prime as he became a slow heavy fighter and lost 6 of his last 15 fights.

Shane Mosley (49-10-1)

Mosley is a former four time world champion in three weight classes having won the IBF Lightweight title, the WBA (Super) and WBC and Ring Magazine light middleweight title. He was 38-0 before losing to Vernon Forrest. He was not the same fighter after that loss as he slumped to 39-4. He lost to Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquaio and Canelo Alvarez as his career winded down. Mosley retired multiple times and he decided to step away from the ring in August 2017. He fought on well past his prime and one hopes that he stays away for his own wellbeing.

Shane Mosley
Shane Mosley lands a jab on Floyd Mayweather. Photo By: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Evander Holyfield

Evander Holyfield fought from 1984 to 2011 as he became a legend in the sport of boxing. He is the only person in history to be the unified cruiserweight and heavyweight world champion. He is also the only four time heavyweight champion of the world and he is famous for his trilogy with Riddick Bowe and beating Mike Tyson twice. Holyfield fought until the age of 49 as he was unable to gain a fight with either of the Klitschko brothers. He was a wonderful champion who lost to fighters near the end of his career who he would have beaten years earlier.

Muhammad Ali (56-5)

Simply regarded as “The Greatest,” Ali was heavyweight champion of the world three times in a career that saw him fight in some of the greatest boxing fights in history. He fought in brutal slugfests that undoubtedly contributed to him acquiring Parkinson’s Disease. He lost three of his last four fights as he came out of retirement to fight Larry Holmes where he absorbed a great deal of punishment before losing to Trevor Berbick in his final fight. Ali’s speech had become slurred but he insisted on returning to the ring. He was a true champion and is the most famous boxer in history.

Trevor Berbick (left) lands a jab against Muhammad Ali (right) in Ali’s last fight. Photo by: John Iacono/Getty Images.

Thanks for reading this blog post. I may do a part 2 on this in the future. I hope you enjoyed this blog.

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World Cup Taking Points as Spain, Portugal, Uruguay and Russia Progress

The World Cup saw top class goals, plenty of drama and plenty of talking points. Here I pick the main talking points from yesterday’s action.

VAR

VAR played a large role in last night’s action as Spain were awarded a last minute Iago Aspas goal despite it being initially ruled out for offside. Iran were awarded a late penalty in their 1-1 draw after a VAR review. This penalty seemed to be harsh as the Portugese defender could do little to avoid the handball. Cristiano Ronaldo was yellow carded after a VAR review when Iran were demanding a red. VAR has caused more drama and it did not enjoy the best of evenings.

Portugal v Iran VAR
Referee Enrique Caceres awarded two penalties using VAR. Photo By: Getty

Penalty Record

This World Cup has seen a new penalty record created. In 2002, 18 penalties were awarded but that record has been broken as Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded the 19th penalty in Russia. Iran were awarded penalty number 20 as VAR has made a profound impact on the number of penalties awarded. One suspects there will be more penalties and more talking points as we approach the knockout stages.

Ronaldo penalty miss v Iran
Ronaldo was awarded the 19th penalty at this World Cup – surpassing the total of 18 in 2002. Photo By: Getty

Spain need to improve

Spain drew 2-2 with Morocco as they have not been beaten since losing to Italy at Eur 2016. La Rojas looked suspect in defence as Sergio Ramos and Andres Iniesta got mixed up to gift Morocco their opening goal. Gerard Pique was fortunate to not be sent off for a two footed tackle while David De Gea was forced to make one on one saves. Spain’s defending from Morocco’s second goal left a lot to be desired while they struggled to create clear chances in attack. Plenty of work for Fernando Hierro to do.

Uruguay can go deep

Uruguay enjoyed an easy 3-0 win against Russia as they comfortably sealed top spot in Group A. La Celeste have a rock solid defence and an experienced goalkeeper while Lucas Torreira anchors their midfield. The strike partnership of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani is a formidable one as both got on the scoresheet yesterday. If they can overcome Portugal then they have every chance of reaching their first World Cup final since 1950.

Cavani celebrates
Cavani celebrates his first goal at this World Cup. Photo via Sky Sports

Reality Check for Russia

Russia had enjoyed an excellent start to their World Cup campaign with wins against Saudi Arabia and Egypt before they were easily dismissed by Uruguay. The Russian public have gotten behind the team but they simply did not have the quality to match Uruguay. They missed the few chances they had while they were punished for sloppy defending. They will need to improve to challenge Spain but there is still hope for them after Spain’s performance yesterday.

Golovin
Bend it like Golovin. Photo By: Getty

Egypt have been woeful

Egypt finished pointless in Group A as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia yesterday. Mo Salah put the Pharoes ahead but their second half performance was poor as the Saudis took control. Egypt had no other threats in attack besides Salah as the Liverpool man was closely watched. He scored both of Egypt’s goals in this World Cup but his teammates have done little win in a campaign they will want to forget.

Anything can happen at this World Cup

Last night’s action showed that this World Cup is the most unpredictable in recent memory. Iran were inches from topping the group and knocking Ronaldo and co. out while Spain struggled in a game they were expected to win. Russia are the lowest ranked side in the competition but they qualified with a game to spare. None of the favourites have raised their game and that is why this World Cup promises much more drama.

World Cup Trophy
Who will get their hands on the Jules Rimet trophy? It’s anyone’s guess at this juncture. Photo By: Getty

 

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Roland Garros Men’s Semi Final Preview: Will Cecchinato cause another upset and can anyone stop Rafa?

After nearly two weeks of wonderful tennis at Roland Garros, we have now reached the semi-final stage of the men’s tournament. We have seen shocks, five setters and plenty of thrilling action. Now four men remain in the hunt for the Musketeers’ Cup. Here I preview what promises to be a cracking day of action.

Marco Cecchinato v Dominic Thiem

Experience

There is no doubt that Thiem has more experience, having reached last year’s Roland Garros semi-final. Thiem suffered a straight sets defeat to Nadal last year but he has more experience than the Italian. If the Austrian starts strong then it will be a big challenge for Cecchinato to turn it around. Experience could be crucial to the outcome.

Marin Cecchinato
Marco Cecchinato . Photo by: Getty

Numbers favour Thiem

Thiem has not lost a clay court match to a player ranked as low as Cecchinato (72) since 2016. He is also in a rich vein of form as he is currently on a nine game winning streak. Meanwhile Cecchinato is the lowest ranked player to reach the semis at roland Garros this millenium. Andrei Medvedev reached the semis in France ranked 100 in 1999. A huge task awaits Cecchinato but one that he must relish.

Dominic Thiem
Eyes on the prize. Thiem aims to reach his first Grand Slam Final. Photo By: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal v Juan Martin Del Potro

The Weather

The weather conditions will be crucial to Del Potro’s chances of causing an upset. It’s no secret that warm conditions aid Nadal’s topspin game on clay and Schwartmann enjoyed success against Rafa when conditions were damp and overcast. While Del Potro has a different game to Schwartzmann, he will hope that conditions are overcast as it can limit the damage Nadal’s forehand can do to his weaker backhand.

Rafael Nadal
Nadal celebrates after beating Schwartzmann in his quarter final. Will he be celebrating after his game with Del Potro? Sunny weather would certainly help. Photo By: Getty

Del Potro’s smart decision

When Del Potro lost to America’s John Isner in Miami in March, the Argentine stated he was unsure whether he would play on clay this season. He played in Madrid before traveling to Rome, where he sustained a leg injury against David Goffin. This left question marks surrounding his participation. He has surprised many by being able to play, let alone reaching the semi-final stage. He is hoping that his journey will take him to a first final on the red clay of Paris.

Juan Martin Del Potro
Del Potro looks to the heave after beating Marin Cilic. Will the skies favour him against Nadal. Photo By: Getty

 

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Talking Points as Leinster do the double while Scarlets get the Blues

Leinster 40 – 32 Scarlets

Leinster secured the Pro 14 title after they defeated the Scarlets in the Aviva Stadium. Here I menton the key points from this final game of the season.

Leinster complete a perfect season

Leinster have become the first side to complete the Champions Cup/Pro 14 double and they did so in impressive fashion. They ground out the win against Racing before they demolished Scarlets. They used 55 players throughout the season which showcases their impressive squad depth, while they have played free flowing rugby. This could be the start of a truly great Leinster side.

Leinster Pro 14 Champions
Champions. Photo by: Billy Stockland/INPHO

Nacewa doesn’t get his fairytale

Isa Nacewa limped off after 19 minutes of the final as it was the complete opposite to his European departure where he hit 6 points to guide Leinster to the title. Although he limped off, he knows that he has left Leinster in a better place and he has completed the double in his final season. He has been a great servant to Leinster and Irish rugby.

Isa Nacewa
Isa Nacewa celebrates Chmpions Cup glory. Photo by: Getty.

Larmour lights up the final

Jordan Larmour scored the try of the game when he kicked ahead and completed a sensational one handed pick-up before diving over. He noticed that there was no one home for Scarlets and his kick was spot on before he sped past the Scarlets players. Joe Schmidt will have enjoyed the try and it served further notice of Larmour’s undeniable potential.

Scarlets face a nightmare in Leinster

Scarlets suffered another defeat to Leinster in a knock-out game as they fell to a comprehensive defeat. The eight point losing margin flattered the Welsh side who were second best for long periods. Leinster suffocated last year’s champions as they went through the phases before Sexton pinged them back in their own half. Scarlets are a dangerous attacking side but they simply could not get their hands on the ball.

Jordan Larmour
Jordan Larmour celebrates with Garry Ringrose after he scored his sensational try. Photo by: independent.ie

Sexton the master

Johnny Sexton enjoyed another brilliant game as he guided them to more silverware. He received late hits but they motivated him. His kicking was on point as was his running game. His decision to go for the try when 3 points were on at the end of the half was excellent as he played James Lowe in. He has won all 19 games that he has played with Leinster this season and he is the glue that holds the team together.

Johnny Sexton Leinster
Johnny Sexton has added to the Pro 14 title to the Champions Cup trophy. Photo by: Getty Images
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Talking Points as Real Madrid make history while its pain for Karius, Klopp and co.

Real Madrid won their third Champions league final in a row as Zinedine Zidane’s side made history while it was heartbreak for Karius, Salah and everyone involved in Liverpool. Here I discuss the talking points from the memorable night in Kiev.

Klopp’s failure to address goalkeeping position come backs to bite him

Jurgen Klopp has been loyal to his players but his loyalty to Loris Karius came back to bite him. Neither Simon Mignolet or Karius have impressed and both are prone to committing errors. Liverpool decided not to move for Jordan Pickford last summer and one wonders whether he would have committed the same errors that Karius did. Klopp now knows that he needs a new goalkeeper but unfortunately for him he learnt the hard way.

Loris Karius v Real Madrid
Karius feels the pain. Photo by: AP/Darko Vojinovic.

Ramos shows the good, the bad and the ugly

Sergio Ramos was central to Real Madrid’s victory as he captained Real Madrid to their third Champions League title in a row. He tussled with Mo Salah which lead to the Liverpool star suffering a dislocated shoulder. He was then caught giving Karius an elbow to the face in hte 47th minute. He lead the defence and made a number of vital interventions as he lead from the front. Many people won’t be pleased with his antics but there is no denying that he is crucial to the Madrid team.

Sergio Ramos v Liverpool
Sergio Ramos and Mo Salah tangle. Photo by: ATP/Efrem Lutasky

Bale showcases his worth

Gareth Bale proved the difference as he scored one of the great Champions League before his rasping shot slipped through Karius’ grip. He was on the pitch two minutes and five seconds when he struck his awe inspiring bicycle kick. In his post fight interview, he was clearly frustrated with his lack of starting time and this has lead to fresh rumours of a move away from Spain. He will not be short of interest if he decides his future is away from the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final
Is this the greatest goal in a Champions League final?

Real’s bench is what Liverpool must strive for

Liverpool have enjoyed a fantastic Campions League campaign but they suffered from a lack of squad depth. The injury to Mo Salah would hurt any team but they did not have a Gareth Bale or Marco Asensio to replace him. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s powerful runs from midfield were missed while Adam Lallana and Emre Can were not fully fit. SOme new additions to Liverpool’s squad can help them challenge for domestic and European glory.

Zidane must go down as one of the great managers in this competition

Zinedine Zidane has become the first manager to win the Champions League/European Cup in three consecutive seasons while he is only the third manager, alongside Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancellotti to win 3 European titles. Although he has an expensive squad, he has helped Real to develop a strong squad with competition for places.

He has been unafraid to drop Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro during their run to the final. Whether he wins more Europen tites with Madrid, he must be considered among the great European managers.

Znedine Zidane as Real Madrid manager
All smiles for Zidane as he celebrates further glory. Photo via: Sky Sports