What I’ve learnt from supporting Wellington Phoenix in the A-League

What I’ve learnt from supporting Wellington Phoenix in the A-League

As a huge football fan myself, I’m really mad at football. Aside from supporting Arsenal, I happen to follow other clubs like Barcelona and Dortmund. Call me an “addict” if you like. And I don’t care.

Recently, I started to follow Wellington Phoenix, like what Dan, Zach and Oliver does. While I’m still new to the A-League, here are a few things that I’ve observed as a Nix fan outside New Zealand.


“Wellington is wonderful.”

I’m talking about the atmosphere at the Westpac Stadium during matchdays and the “Yellow Fever” fanbase. To be honest, the Nix has one of the most loyal fanbases in the A-League and this deserves a round of applause.

For me, what makes Wellington Phoenix stand out as a football club isn’t just the fact that they’re the “only professional football club in New Zealand”, as their Twitter profile mentioned. It’s their fan culture.

The sense of community of the Nix fans is strong. Even though the club is the creation of 11 years ago, but they’re really supportive of their club. Real supporters who support the team through thick and thin in their hearts.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t live in Wellington, this was why I was envy of the FootyFans crew members living in NZ, who had a chance to watch the “Distance Derby” against Perth Glory live.


The “tradition” of the supporters taking off their kits when they’re winning (like Zac mentioned) amazed me.

You don’t get to see this in Hong Kong, the place where I live. Most teams here do have a supporter’s club (and their official songs), but most of them don’t have their distinctive cultures.

(You know that it’s a problem when a German third-tier side can have a better matchday experience than our so-called “Premier League”. A huge one. Just saying. No one cares, anyway.)

While it can be the by-product of the social environment in Hong Kong, to put it simply, both the clubs and the supporters fail to devote effort and time in creating a supportive environment to attract new fans.

Not even Kitchee, the reigning champions and biggest club in the “Hong Kong Premier League”, who are dubbed as the “Barça of Hong Kong” for their cooperation with FC Barcelona in the past (like 2007).

Most people in Hong Kong are too focused on football overseas (like the English Premier League) and what my experience with Wellington Phoenix reminds me is that the local football culture in Hong Kong isn’t good enough.

We did have some magical moments in the past, but it’s hard to replicate them without the support of the people of the city. How difficult is it? Well, almost impossible as there’s no local brand of football! And you get the idea.


Being a Wellington Phoenix supporter isn’t easy. They’re far from being the best team in the A-League. But honestly, as Jock Stein once said, “football is nothing without fans”.

Wait for me, Wellington and the Westpac Stadium. You’re really wonderful.

#ComeOnYouNix!

Top 5 reasons why we, as football fans, should follow the Bundesliga

Top 5 reasons why we, as football fans, should follow the Bundesliga

What is the first thing which comes to your mind when it comes to Germany? Oktoberfest? Angela Merkel? Or Die Mannschaft‘s disappointing performance in the World Cup this year?

For me, it reminds me of how underrated the Bundesliga is. For football fans who truly see the sport as an art, it’s not something they should miss every week. Why? Let’s check it out!


Reason 1: It’s not just Bayern and Dortmund.

Despite teams like Bayern Munich and Borussia have a higher chance of winning the league (and playing in Europe), there are a number of underrated clubs in the Bundesliga.

For example, Eintracht Frankfurt, who are on fire in the Europa League this season under Adi Hütter. Also, Hertha Berlin, Möchengladbach, Hoffenheim, Leverkusen and Nürenberg are also some of the sides worth following.

Not to mention the 2. Bundesliga, where Hamburger SV, FC Cologne and Union Berlin are competing. You can watch that too if you’re interested and let’s see who’ll be promoted to the first division in May next season!

You may ask, “how about Leipzig?” Well, I personally don’t have hard feelings about them, but I’m not a fan of them either. Just saying. But the truth is, the Bundesliga can be fun to watch even if you’re a fan of the mid-table clubs.


Reason 2: Match highlights almost guaranteed.

It can be frustrating to know that clubs charge people for watching the matchday clips (especially if you’re outside Europe). Worry not! There are, indeed, highlights from Germany in English from YouTube, just like this one.

Sadly, it’s not available everywhere (like New Zealand, as Zac told me before). But when in doubt, YouTube is your friend. Try Fox Sport or the official Bundesliga channel for those moments, especially during the derby days.


Reason 3: Bloopers? They get you covered too! 

This is a scene which happens once in a blue moon in Germany and was caught on camera:

If it didn’t amuse you, then this may:

How about this one, if I didn’t impress you by the first two?

Well, even if the clips didn’t make you smile, you should get what I mean. Bundesliga isn’t just a football league, it reflects a part, if not all, of the culture in Germany. And it, somehow, reminds us that Germans can be humorous too.


Reason 4: You get to know the underrated stars.

Aside from Alfred Finnbogason, the Icelandic striker who’s playing for FC Augsburg in the “featured image”, there are some names that I would like to mention in this section.

Players like Jonathan Tah, Kevin Volland, Sébastien Haller and Luka Jović are the talents to keep an eye on.

Not to mention that a number of Germans stars like Mesut Özil, Leroy Sané, Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger played in the Bundesliga too!

You’ll miss out the chance to spot the future celebrities in football if you don’t follow Bundesliga. Simple as that.


Reason 5: It’s more than just a game, after all!

It’s quite interesting to know that some of the words in the football vocabularies in German has its own meanings.

The word for “penalty kick” in German is “Elfmeter”, meaning “a kick from eleven metres” whereas in the word “gegenpressing”, “gegen” means “against” while the word “pressing” is self-explanatory to English speakers.

For me, the Bundesliga isn’t just a thing for entertainment. As a Dortmund lover who’s learning German, football can be a useful tool to aid me in learning the language, especially in both my listening and reading skills.


You may hate Bayern Munich for dominating the league and bullying the small teams. You may despise RB Leipzig for being the “Manchester City in Germany”. You may laugh at VfB Stuttgart for their poor performance.

There can be many reasons to dislike the Bundesliga. Yet, the thing is, being competitive is in the Germans’ DNA. This is what makes Bundesliga an interesting league to watch and makes it more than a game of 90 minutes.

Premier League – Round 17 predictions

Premier League – Round 17 predictions

Oh my god! It’s been a few days since the last matchday and here we are again! I’m doing the predictions this round because Dan’s experiencing yet another technical difficulty. Zac is going to fill in his place.

So here it is, our predictions of the Round 17 of the 2018/19 Premier League season! By the way, Oliver is taking the lead with 94 points and I’m second with 92 with Dan hits rock bottom like Fulham (72).


Manchester City vs Everton 

“Well, it’s an away game for Everton. They just drew with Watford and their next opponent is Manchester City. If Everton wins this, it’ll be, possibly, one of the biggest upsets this season. I really wish they can make history at the Etihad. 3-1 City” (Alf)

Everton has been OK this season under Marco Silva, but Man City are Man City. Easy beans. 2-0 City” (Zac)

“I’d be surprised if City don’t respond to their loss against Chelsea with a win against an Everton side lacking consistency. Everton should have no problem nipping one goal, but it’s a clear City win. 3-1 City” (Oliver)

Crystal Palace vs Leicester City 

“Goddamit, Schlupp! Your goal crushed my hope to leapfrog Oliver in the leaderboard! Last time out, it was 5-0 for the home side. This time, no more thrashing but with Zaha’s suspension, Leicester can dream of winning. 1-0 Leicester” (Alf)

Both these teams are very average, but Leicester are the slightly better team. Expect a snore fest. 1-0 Leicester” (Zac)

“Both sides are coming off losses, and while Leicester City would surely win this match on a neutral ground, Palace’s home advantage should get them to hold out for a draw. 1-1 draw” (Oliver)

Wolves vs Bournemouth 

“Winner winner Magpie dinner! The Wolves are back again! On the other hand, Bournemouth lost against Liverpool. A draw is feasible but I believe that Wolves will remind themselves that they’ve beaten Chelsea before. 2-1 Wolves” (Alf)

“In-form Wolves come up against a Bournemouth side that just got destroyed by Liverpool 4-0. But both are decent teams and I think will play each other off the park here. 1-1 draw” (Zac)

“Wolves have won their last two matches and have started looking like a much better side. Bournemouth went down hard to Liverpool, which was expected, but not by a 4-0 scoreline. Wolves should have no trouble taking the three points. 2-0 Wolves”

Huddersfield vs Newcastle United

“One of the trickiest fixtures to predict this week. Newcastle will be able to stay up if they win this one. However, at the bottom three, David Wagner will be hoping that he won’t get the sack as the Christmas present from the club. 2-1 Newcastle” (Alf)

Two bad teams, playing bad football, in what will be a bad match. If you want a good match, this ain’t it. 0-0 draw” (Zac)

“Newcastle lost their last match thanks to a 94th-minute winner and they’ll have that fight on them now. Huddersfield are on a three-game losing run, and it’s about to become four. 2-1 Newcastle” (Oliver)

Tottenham vs Burnley 

“Pochettino will remind himself that Burnley is no Barcelona. It’s not going to be easy for Burnley supporters to endure the 90 minutes at Wembley. I’ll expect at least 2 goals above but sometimes, it’s better to be conservative. 1-0 Tottenham” (Alf)

Tottenham have just come off an amazing performance against Barcelona to save their Champions League campaign, whereas Burnley just beat Brighton 1-0. Says it all really. 3-0 Tottenham” (Zac)

“Spurs are winning it and they’re winning it big. Burnley are all the way down in 17th and they’ve really not been good at all this season. That defensive stability they had last season is gone, and it’s showing. 3-0 Tottenham” (Oliver)

Watford vs Cardiff City 

“Digne saved Everton from losing by that free-kick. Cardiff caused an upset for Hasenhüttl and his men. Callum Paterson will remain a threat for Watford but the hosts will show that they have a better defence than Cardiff. 2-0 Watford” (Alf)

Watford have been impressive this season but are coming off a 6 game winless streak. They are facing a much improved Cardiff team who, after beating Southampton last week, could nick a draw here. 1-1 draw” (Zac)

“Cardiff are on a roll, aren’t they? They’ve gone from the relegation zone to fourteenth pretty damn quickly. Watford on the other hand are dropping like a stone. And I still don’t like them. 3-1 Cardiff” (Oliver)

Fulham vs West Ham 

“West Ham are on fire and in the last game against Palace, they scored 3 goals but conceded once. Fulham conceded 4 goals against Manchester United but scored once. This is partly why I don’t expect a clean sheet for either side. 1-1 draw” (Alf)

Although Fulham have looked slightly better under Ranieri they are facing a resurgent West Ham with three wins on the bounce, so will come away disappointed. 2-0 West Ham” (Zac)

“I don’t need to know Fulham’s opponent to know the Cottagers will concede at least two. It’s just how they are. I’d pick West Ham to add another in a fairly convincing win. 3-0 West Jam” (Oliver)

Southampton vs Arsenal

“Against an injury-struck Arsenal side, Hasenhüttl will be hoping that his men will get the points for his first home game. With Sokratis and Mustafi serving the suspension in this game, the unbeaten run may end at St Mary’s. 1-0 Southampton” (Alf)

Since when have Arsenal been good? This season that’s when. They will easily roll over a Southampton team under new management, and good management at that, although I think it will take a while for Ralph Hasenhüttl’s brand of football to take full effect. 3-0 Arsenal” (Zac)

“Southampton aren’t in a good way at the moment. Arsenal haven’t lost in what feels like forever and I’d pick them to win away from home, albeit perhaps less convincingly than one might expect. 2-0 Arsenal” (Oliver)

Brighton vs Chelsea 

“A good season so far for Chelsea fans as their team ended Manchester City’s unbeaten run. Brighton, on the other hand, lost to a Burnley side fighting for the survival in Premier League. It’s going to be a goal fest from the visitors. 2-1 Chelsea” (Alf)

Pretty easy one for Chelsea this one really. The loss of Alvaro Morata will hurt them but they will still pull through quite easily. 2-0 Chelsea” (Zac) 

“Here’s my upset. Chelsea have just beaten City, sure. And Brighton just went down to Burnley. But neither team is exactly… consistent, and I can see the Seagulls taking a shock win. 2-1 Brighton” (Oliver)

Liverpool vs Manchester United

“Manchester United did draw against Arsenal but against a strong Liverpool side at Anfield, they’ll definitely struggle. Not a big problem for Klopp but for Mourinho, who knows the importance of this game. It’s more than a rivalry. 2-1 Liverpool” (Alf)

With defence meeting attack in this one, the main matchup of the weekend, it will be a boring game full of Liverpool throwing attack after attack at the United backline, grabbing a late winner in a dull affair. 1-0 Liverpool” (Zac)

“Would such a hyped game ever be dull? Is there any possible scenario in which we could walk away from this match without being entertained? Yes, definitely. 0-0 draw” (Oliver)

Why fan pages of football clubs on Instagram are overrated

Why fan pages of football clubs on Instagram are overrated

I follow a lot of football clubs as a lover of “the beautiful game”. And as a social media addict, I also happen to use Instagram to take a look at the latest football news and chat with my fellow football fans.

However, if you follow my personal account, you’ll know that I follow no fan pages of my favourite clubs with one exception – a BVB fan page which provides English translations for their posts (I do so to help me to learn German).

Unlike one of my friends, who is a Barcelona fan and follows the fan accounts of all kinds, I’ll never pay attention to the fan pages like what I used to do. Or I’d say, I have a critical view towards them.

The cause of this mindset? The fan pages can be biased and the news they share to us can be wrong. 


I’ll use Barcelona as an example for your easier understanding. We know that Barcelona is one of the most decorated clubs in the world and have a long-standing rivalry with Real Madrid. For those who follow football, this shouldn’t be hard to explain, right?

I’m not going to generalise the whole situation on Instagram and not going to lie, a few fan pages did really a good job of being neutral in the middle of the friction. But at the same time, I have observed that a number of them are one-sided. It doesn’t matter if they’re Culés or Madridistas, bragging right is what they’re fighting for.

What some of the Culés do is that they troll Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid (with a “once in a blue moon” chance, Juventus) all day long. Even if Real are playing well, they always happen to get a reason to do it. In return, some Madridistas do the reverse to Messi and Barcelona, calling them “Uefalona” (which isn’t true nowadays).

The lack of respect towards their eternal rivals disgusts me.

I’m not saying that they should love their enemies as they love their own club, like what the Bible said (with reference to Matthew 5:44). I also respect their right to speak out on Instagram. However, when I see this kind of stuff, I tend to ignore them or laugh them off. Occasionally, I’ll leave them a “like”. Then I continue to read the other posts.

As football fans, we’re entitled to our own beliefs. In this case, you don’t have to be impartial or neutral. Yet, it’ll be better if we read more from different kinds of sources to know about the whole picture of the sport.

To be fair, somehow Mourinho is right about the “respect” issue in football. In reality, it is hard for supporters of one club not to be subjective towards their eternal rivals. Despite that, football should forever be a playing field with elements of fair-play, whether it’s on or off the pitch.

Only if we know it the footballing community can be a better place. Just like what we wrote on Instagram:


Speaking of which, as you’ve noticed, we do have our own Instagram account. So why don’t you drop by, take a look at our contents and give them a “like”? A “follow” will be much appreciated!

I swear that this isn’t a post to advertise our presence on Instagram, but oh well…

Why I started to watch the women’s team of Arsenal play

Why I started to watch the women’s team of Arsenal play

We all love watching men’s football and without a doubt, most of our posts are about 20 men running and fighting for the possession of the ball.

However, in recent days, women’s football started to grab my attention and eventually, I became a fan of the women’s team of Arsenal, just like what I did to their men’s counterpart.

Of course, I’m not supporting Arsenal just because of Vivianne Miedema (and her smile), my favourite player of the squad. The reasons why I’m a fan of the female Gunners? Here you go!

  1. The connection with the men’s team. I love Arsenal as a club. Despite women’s football doesn’t get much attention compared to the men’s counterpart, the Gooners family is quite supportive of their young ladies.
  2. The history. As the most-decorated club in English women’s football, they also won the Women’s Champions League in 2006/07 as the first English club to do so. Ironically, the men’s team failed to do the same – sad!
  3. The quality of the squad. Of course, Arsenal Women aren’t just about Vivianne Miedema, but also other good international players like Jordan Nobbs, Daniëlle van de Donk, Sari van Veenendaal and Lia Wältl.
  4. The fighting mentality. The female Gunners aren’t just models off the pitch. They’re warriors when they don their jerseys, doesn’t matter which colour it is. Just like the boys these days who’ll do everything for the points.
  5. The style of the football they deliver. Joe Montemurro does a great job in managing the team, who reminded me of Emery of the men’s team – ruthless in making changes and a proven motivator in the dressing room.

If you really want to watch regular women’s football, the FA Women’s Super League (FAWSL) can be a good start.

Yet, Arsenal aren’t the only side with a decent team. Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool are also eager to become the table toppers despite the fact that luck wasn’t on their side. And this is what makes the FAWSL interesting.

In fact, women’s football is underrated these days. A number of international clubs like Bayern Munich, Juventus and most recently, Manchester United have their own women’s team, nonetheless, they’re in the shadows of their men’s counterpart.

Football should be a sport for everyone, regardless of their gender. Let’s promote women’s football and have them gain the recognition it deserves! Come on you Gunners!

The North London Derby – An old affair of a new fashion

The North London Derby – An old affair of a new fashion

Arsène Wenger may not have noticed that at Wembley, he played the last North London derby with his beloved Arsenal this February. And the score wasn’t in his favour as Harry Kane scored the winning goal.

Now, in place of Wenger, an energetic, young Spaniard called Unai Emery will be standing on the touchline of the Emirates to gesture to his players and scream at them like a kid when they don’t play well.

Admit it, Arsenal are still the same old club but with a brand-new look. On the other hand, there isn’t much change in the squad (and stadium) for Tottenham. Not to mention that Pochettino is still here.

This is why the North London derby is a rejuvenated duel between both Spanish speaking coaches and their men. Whoever wins doesn’t matter because when they meet each other again, it’ll be a more tense affair than ever.

It’s the dress rehearsal for the Carabao Cup semi-final for both sides.

If the Gunners win the match, not only they can declare that “London is red” but also, laugh at their fierce rivals of “not being able to in a cup final”. On the other hand, Tottenham will want to make history at Holloway. Not just a derby for both sides.

You’re in the right place for our analysis of the match of the century, with the details of the match itself, records last year and most importantly, score predictions by our team.


Details of the match

Teams: Arsenal FC vs Tottenham Hotspur FC

Kick-off time: 2 December 2018, 1730 BST

Ground: Emirates Stadium, London, UK

Kits: Home (red and white by Puma) vs Home (white and blue by Nike)

Referee: Mike Dean

Injury list: Koscielny, Lacazette, Lichtsteiner, Mavropanos, Monreal, Welbeck (Arsenal), Janssen, M. Dembélé (Tottenham)


Form of both clubs

Arsenal (DDDWW)

  1. 1-1 home draw against Liverpool in the Premier League (Lacazette; Milner)
  2. 0-0 home draw against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League
  3. 1-1 home draw against Wolves in the Premier League (Mkhitaryan; Cavaleiro)
  4. 2-1 away win against Bournemouth in the Premier League (King; Lerma OG, Aubameyang)
  5. 3-0 away win against Vorskla in the Europa League (Smith-Rowe, Ramsey PEN, J. Willock)

Tottenham (WWWWW)

  1. 3-2 away win against Wovles in the Premier League (Neves PEN, Jiménez PEN; Lamela, Moura, Kane)
  2. 2-1 home win against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions Legue (Kane x2; de Jong)
  3. 1-0 away win against Crystal Palace in the Premier League (Foyth)
  4. 3-1 home win against Chelsea in the Premier League (Alli, Kane, Son; Giroud)
  5. 1-0 home win against Inter Milan in the Champions League (Eriksen)

Score predictions and analysis: 

  1. “Despite Arsenal have the home advantage, it’s Tottenham they’re playing and the Gunners haven’t been playing well against the Top 6 sides this season. It’ll be of no surprise for me if it ends in a draw or a win for the travelling party. Plus, Leno won’t keep a clean sheet. Let’s not talk about the referee, who’s a supporter of the visitors. 2-1 Tottenham” (Alf)
  2. “This is going to be a hell of a match. Both sides are coming off a win, with Spurs three points and two places higher. Arsenal have begun to falter, but I still see this being an entertaining, and high-scoring, draw. 2-2 draw” (Oliver)
  3. “I just can’t choose. Both teams are looking very fine right now, and I can only see them both getting frustrated when the points are shared. 1-1 draw” (Dan)

As always, “no score should be treated as certain before the final whistle is blown”. Also, here’s a friendly reminder for all of you: gamble wisely if you really want to place bets on football matches, or you’ll be in deep regret later.

Three reasons why Real Madrid won’t win the Champions League this year

Three reasons why Real Madrid won’t win the Champions League this year

2018 hasn’t been a great year for Madridistas. After selling Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus this summer, Real Madrid are now 6th in La Liga and as the defending champions, qualified for the round 16 of the Champions League.

Despite being experienced, I believe that Real Madrid winning the UCL at their arch-rivals’ stadium next year. Here are the reasons why – in the first year of “post-Cristiano era” – Madrid will struggle in their favourite competition.


Reason 1 – The defence is inconsistent.  

I’ve seen a lot of Barcelona-related fan accounts on Instagram who mocks and trolls Thibaut Courtois for his performance. It doesn’t matter if he’s with his club or country, 5 is the number the Culés always talk about when it comes to the Belgian keeper.

While I have sympathy towards Courtois as a rival fan, it shows that Real Madrid are no longer the strong team they used to be. It’s not just goalkeeping but also, the vulnerable backline. You know that it’s a big problem when they can’t beat Eibar away.

Introducing new, younger defenders from the academy can be a good option. They certainly can recall Archaf Hakimi from Dortmund as a reward of his stellar performance with the Germans. But Pérez and the Board members may have other ideas in their heads.

By the way, Navas should be given more chances to play in goal. Courtois may not like the feeling of sitting on the bench but “preferred keepers” shouldn’t be a thing in Real Madrid as rotations have to be made in their busy schedules, be it Copa del Rey, La Liga and the Champions League. Just saying.


Reason 2 – The fighting mentality is gone.

One of the reasons why I have huge respect for Real Madrid is that I really admire their spirit. Juanito, who was a legend playing for the club before his death, once said a famous quote regarding his club:

“Noventa minuti en el Bernabéu son molto longos.” 

It means “90 minutes at the Bernabéu is a long time” in Spanish. In these days, however, it seems that Estadio Santiago Bernabéu is becoming the playground of the big and middle clubs, with the home side occasionally lose to the visitors and drop points.

Aside from the form at the Bernabéu, it’ll be better for the Madridistas to forget their conditions when they’re playing an away fixture. The lack of will to fight back after conceding goals is what stops Real Madrid from winning games.

Of course, you may argue that it’s all about luck because you can’t score every time when you shoot. But the truth is, it’s what the current Madrid squad lack. And Solari should remind the players about the “ethos of Juanito”.

All the time when they train and play.

This is essential to Real Madrid’s defence of their title, especially when they’re in the knockout stages of the UCL, where it’ll be a long journey to the final. After all, winning the Champions League isn’t just about the physical form but about mental endurance.


Reason 3 – The decision on their biggest star.

With Bale, Benzema, Asensio and Mariano misfiring these days, it is rumoured that they’ll be splashing clash for a proven attacker like Eden Hazard, Harry Kane and Neymar, who played for their eternal enemy Barcelona before transferring to PSG.

The adverse effects of the departure of the Portugal captain are now being displayed on the scoreboards of the stadiums the Spaniards play at. It’s not just the Bernabéu but Camp Nou, Luzhniki Stadium and most recently, the Ipurúa.

Yes, Real Madrid weren’t just Cristiano Ronaldo. But the truth is, he made everything easier for the team and was more than just a goalscorer. He also gave assists and was a leader in the dressing room who cheered everyone up when they were down.

Real Madrid shouldn’t have sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus. They may not miss their former leading man and the glory days with him. Alas, the damage is already done. Now they’ll have to do their best to keep moving forward and play as a team.


I wish that Los Blancos can prove me wrong and claim their 14th Champions League title in Madrid next year to make history.

Yet, realistically, it won’t be easy for the title holders to get ahold of the Ol’ Big Ears for the fourth consecutive time with the shabby defence, inconsistent form and ineffective attacking options.

Let’s see how far they’ll go this season. They may be able to be in the semis if they’re fortunate but chances are they’ll go out in the quarter-finals, if not a humiliation in the Round 16 (like the “pre-Cristiano era” of Madrid).

Yay or Ney? Barcelona should strive to become more than just MSN

Yay or Ney? Barcelona should strive to become more than just MSN

As a Barcelona fan who heard the recent rumours about Neymar’s possible return to La Liga, let me make this very clear: I don’t want Neymar to be back. It’s not about his attitude but a product of the realistic situation.

I’ll never deny that MSN, or the Messi-Suárez-Neymar trio amassed goals before the deal of the Brazilian to PSG materialised. I also recognise Neymar is the third-best player in the world, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi.

Here’s the problem, though. A big one. If Barcelona decides to agree on a deal for Neymar, then it’s very likely that two young players will be affected. Ousmane Dembélé and Malcom Oliveria.


Without a doubt, Dembélé is a player with the pace to tear up the opposition defence. He also gives assists to his fellow teammates. Sadly, he doesn’t defend but the best thing ever?

He’s just 21, a month and eleven days younger than me.

However, there are transfer talks concerning the French player, stating that he has a problem with his attitude and isn’t happy under Ernesto Valverde.

While Arsenal can be one of the future destinations in his journey, I believe that he should stay. The reason? Neymar needs a backup and I see Dembélé as Barcelona’s “plan B”.

I get it, Neymar is a quality player who deserves to be in the starting lineup, but there’s no guarantee that he doesn’t get injured. Also, Valverde may want to rotate the squad for the Copa del Rey and give the youngsters playing time.

In this case, I’ll be more than happy if Dembélé stays.

Of course, no one wants to become a benchwarmer at Camp Nou if they have the quality to contribute as a regular. Yet, it’ll be foolish for Barcelona to sell Dembélé in the middle of Neymar’s deal.

The Barcelona board should remember themselves that “failing to plan is planning to fail”, as Benjamin Franklin said. Thus, provided that Neymar is back and Dembélé stays, the impact would be inflicted on the poor newbie.


And yes, I’m talking about Malcom Oliveria.

Malcom joined Barcelona this summer after a controversial move from Bordeaux, with the contract being snatched from Roma’s hands (something I, as a football fan, despise).

The miserable fact is that he’s not getting a lot of playing time. This is why it is also rumoured that he’s looking for a new club in the Janurary transfer window, having fed up with Valverde.

His performance was okay and scored the vital goal against Inter Milan in the Champions League, but it is yet to be seen if he can make an impact to the Barcelona first team.

In my opinion, loaning the Brazilian out would be the better option than selling – as you’ll never know what will happen to those “benchwarmers” when they’re playing for a new club.

Just look at Alcácer. If he can do it, why can’t Malcom do the same?

Yet, this is where it gets complicated. Considering Malcom, Dembélé and Malcom as a trio of attack. It’ll be best if they can play together, but if only two of them can stay, who should pack his luggage and find a new club?


Neymar’s possible return to Barcelona complicates matters to the team as it will relegate either Dembélé and Malcom to the bench. The worse case? Pushing one of them out of the club, which may result in a bad decision.

With the ample funds inside their bank account, I believe that Barça should sort out their priorities.

Signing a nice defender, whether from the other teams or have him promoted from La Masia, is always the better thing to do than getting Neymar back.

Neymar is an excellent player but the good old days will never be back. Deal with it, Culés. We’ll need to move on from the past. Just leave MSN behind in the history books at Camp Nou. We’re “more than a club”, aren’t we?

For Barça, losing Messi isn’t a problem because there’s a bigger one happening now…

For Barça, losing Messi isn’t a problem because there’s a bigger one happening now…

Without a doubt, the recent 4-3 win at Camp Nou will be a memorable night for Real Betis to savour for years. The home defeat, for Barcelona, will certainly give a lot for the team to think about during the international break.

Not to mention that Atlético Madrid will be their opponents after the players return from their international duties. If they can’t beat Real Betis, chances are Barcelona will be dropping points against their title rivals at Wanda Metropolitano.

So let’s be honest, Barcelona, despite being the first in La Liga, will need to do something in order to become greater in Europe.

There’s one thing that Barcelona supporters will all agree on: losing Leo Messi as their star player to retirement from football is a big deal for the Catalan club – unless they can sign a decent replacement for the Argentine.

However, as a Culé myself, I have an unpopular opinion on this. I believe that there is a huge assignment that Ernesto Valverde must finish before it’s too late to mend the damage caused. That is, fixing the defence of the squad.


If you know Barcelona well, you’ll know that the guy inside the featured image is Carles Puyol. Having played as a defender in his career, he’s the former captain of Barcelona before passing the armband to Andrés Iniesta.

In the meantime, Valverde loves to stick to his trustworthy four-man defence: Sergi Roberto (or Nélson Semedo), Gerard Piqué (or Thomas Vermaelen), Clément Lenglet (or Samuel Umtiti) and Jordi Alba.

The thing is, while Piqué is clearly the most experienced player in the back half, he himself is regressing.

At 31, Piqué is ageing and started to make mistakes which cost the squad the precious points. I could still remember how awful he was when his wrong pass gifted Leganès the winning goal.

The rest are, certainly, better but it’s still horrifying to contemplate.

Meanwhile, where are the La Masia defenders who only got chances in the Copa del Rey? Why aren’t the best performers given a chance to play in La Liga?

Also, Valverde tends to ask his players (defenders included) to push forward to create chances to score.

While it’s nice to feed the ball to the forwards (somehow accustomed to Messi’s needs), the midfield and defence become vulnerable at the back.

Without a doubt, when the opposition decided to launch a counter-attack, say, after a failed corner attempt, chances are the whole Barcelona defence will be caught off-guard and they’ll be able to find the back of the net.


Now you may ask, “what does it do with Puyol?”

I’d say, Barcelona must be in search for a leader who’ll be doing the stuff Puyol did in the past. The current XI tends to lose concentration when they take the lead, so there should be someone who’ll tell his teammates not to be too confident in winning.

This is also the reason Barcelona were eliminated from the Champions League last season.

The squad did win 4-1 at Camp Nou, but we know that the travelling squad lost 3-0 away with Manolas netting the decisive goal to knock the Catalan club out, owing to the away goal rule by the UEFA.

I’m not sure if it’ll help to turn the tide for Barcelona to advance to the semi-final but I certainly believe that if Puyol was in the team, they wouldn’t have lost badly and got beaten by the Italians.


“Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles” – Sir Alex Ferguson

It is one of my favourite quotes in football. Trophies may not matter but the performance of the team does. Unfortunately, Piqué may be the only current player who can do the job. Perhaps a new name in the dressing room needed at Camp Nou?

Be it a foreign player or a homegrown talent, Barcelona should be conscious about the development of the whole future lineup instead of just focusing on replacing Messi. If Bartomeu’s men in the transfer section don’t look into this issue, it’s going to be costly.

And I’m pretty glad that Barcelona lost to Betis. Why? It forces Valverde to rotate his squad to replace the suspended Rakitić so that either Denis Suárez or Carles Aleñá can get a berth in the starting eleven, even for just a few games.

Colours doesn’t matter, bragging rights does – An in-depth look to Manchester derby

Colours doesn’t matter, bragging rights does – An in-depth look to Manchester derby

I still could vividly remember last season, Manchester City needed just a win in the Manchester derby to clinch their title. The Cityzens could have the chance to celebrate in front of United supporters. However, Chris Smalling’s 69th-minute winner delayed the title celebrations of the home side for a bit.

Fast forward to November 2018. Manchester City are 2nd of the Premier League table while United are 7th. While City are on an unbeaten run like table-toppers Liverpool, United lost three matches against Brighton, Tottenham and West Ham with the fans chanting “Mourinho Out” outside Old Trafford.

Red versus blue. Mourinho versus Guardiola. Manchester United versus Manchester City. It is no longer just a matter of points and glory. It’s all about the bragging right of the winner of the Premier League fixture.

You’re in the right place for our analysis of the match of the century, with the details of the match itself, records last year and most importantly, score predictions by our team.


Details of the match

Teams: Manchester City vs Manchester United

Kick-off time: 11 November 2018, 1730 BST

Ground: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, UK

Kits: Home (blue by Nike) vs Home (red and black by Adidas)

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Manchester)

Injury list: De Bruyne, Bravo, Mangala (Manchester City); Dalot (Manchester United)


Form of both clubs

Manchester City:

  1. 3-0 away win against Shakthar Donetsk in the Champions League (D. Silva, B. Silva, Laporte)
  2. 1-0 away win against Tottenham in Premier League (Mahrez)
  3. 2-0 home win against Fulham in the Carabao Cup (Díaz x2)
  4. 6-1 home win against Southampton in the Premier League (Hoedt OG, Agüero, D. Silva, Sterling x2, Sané; Ings PEN)
  5. 6-0 home win against Shakthar Donetsk in the Champions League (D. Silva, G. Jesus x3, Sterling, Mahrez)

Manchester United:

  1. 2-2 away draw against Chelsea in the Premier League (Rüdiger, Barkley; Martial x2)
  2. 1-0 home loss against Juventus in the Champions League (Dybala)
  3. 2-1 home win against Everton in the Premier League (Pogba, Martial; Sigurðsson PEN)
  4. 2-1 away win against Bournemouth (Wilson; Martial, Rashford)
  5. 2-1 away win against Juventus in the Champions League (C. Ronaldo; Mata, Sandro OG)

Score predictions and analysis: 

  1. “Manchester City just can’t stop scoring. However, Manchester United displayed an awesome mentality to fight back. While it’ll be a possible call for a draw (or a high-scoring game), Manchester should be red if they United can keep it up. 2-1 United.” (Alfred)
  2. “Both sides have the potential to score goals, we know that. City are top of the division, in good form and with 33 goals in 11 games – it’s hard to see them losing. United haven’t been great this season and I don’t see them preventing another derby loss. City to win it, but not by much. 3-2 City” (Oliver)
  3. “City are on a roll with six goals in two games. Nothing, not even a rejuvenated United side is gonna stop them. 2-0 City” (Dan)

As always, “no score should be treated as certain before the final whistle is blown”. Also, here’s a friendly reminder for all of you: gamble wisely if you really want to place bets on football matches, or you’ll be in deep regret later.