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The Good, The Bad & The Broken World Cup Dreams  

This week on The Good, The Bad, The Ugly we touch on Boca Juniors winning the Primera División in Argentina, Dortmund’s teenagers getting on the scoresheet, Liverpool losing away at Forest and a controversial red card in Villarreal.  

First, we’ll start with Miguel Almirón who is having the time of his life over at Newcastle. But before that, let’s have a look at some of the biggest bets you landed this weekend if you used our betting tips.  


THE GOOD 

Almiron Sends Newcastle into the Top 4 

The Paraguayan attacker is probably a lock for the Premier League Player of the Month after his 5th goal in October proved to be the winner as Newcastle left Spurs with all 3pts. Callum Wilson had opened the scoring for the Magpies in the 31st min before Almiron doubled the visitors 5 mins before half-time after driving at Clement Lenglet and slotting past Hugo Lloris. Harry Kane pulled one back for Spurs early in the second half, but Newcastle held on to their slim lead to secure their 4th win in 5 league games to move into the top four. The latest viral stat on social media, to the glee of Newcastle supporters who still haven’t forgiven the Manchester City winger: Almiron’s 5 league goals in October is 1 more than Jack Grealish has had in the Premier League since he joined Manchester City back in 2021.  

 

 


Jude Bellingham & Gio Reyna Score For Dortmund  

Dortmund got back to winning ways in the Bundesliga as they recorded a convincing 5-0 win over Stuttgart. Bellingham opened the scoring 2 mins after kick-off to set the tone for the match; his first league goal of the season. Jude Bellingham has already scored 4 goals in 4 Champions League games this season as well as 2 goals in 2 DFB Pokal games but had not scored in the Bundesliga. He grabbed another in the second half as he continued to show why he’s arguably the best young player in his position.  

Gio Reyna also had a great outing for Dortmund. The 19-year-old had been plagued with injuries over the past 15-months and finally got on the scoresheet for the first time in 421 days – a huge boost for United States ahead of the World Cup.  

 

 


Alex Iwobi & Victor Osimhen Shine 

The Super Eagles won’t be at the World Cup in Qatar but it’s always good to see Nigerian players flourishing in the big leagues. Iwobi continued his brilliant form with his two assists in Everton’s 3-0 win over Crystal Palace to take his tally to 6 assists this season (5 in the Premier League). The Nigerian attacker has looked like a man reborn under Frank Lampard and finally looks worthy of being called Jay Jay Okocha’s nephew.  

Over in Italy, Victor Osimhen bullied former Manchester United defender, Chris Smalling off the ball before firing past a static Rui Patrício in Napoli’s 1-0 win over AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico. It was Osimhen’s 3rd goal in 3 games since his return from a 1-month muscle injury and Napoli remain unbeaten in all competitions as they continue to top the Serie A as well as their Champions League group.  

 

 


Alexandre Lacazette Leads Lyon to Victory  

The former Arsenal striker was the star of the show as Lyon snapped a 6-game winless streak to leave Montpellier with 3pts. Lyon aren’t having the best season and they sit in 8th position in Ligue 1 – a terrible position which had led to the firing of Peter Bosz and the hiring of Laurent Blanc. Lacazette set up Houssem Aouar for the opener before Elye Wahi’s acrobatic finish in the 70th min pulled Montpellier level. He then showed his experience as his composed but fierce near-post shot in the 90th min proved too hot to stop and gave the visitors all 3pts.  

While Lyon may be struggling this season, Lacazette has been enjoying life back in France as he now has 7 Goals (and 3 assists) in just 12 games – one more than he managed in 36 games last season.  


Henrikh Mkhitaryan Scores Late Winner in 7-Goal Thriller   

The floodgates were opened when Fiorentina hosted Inter this weekend, as expected. Inter’s last 9 league games away from home heading into the weekend had produced 3 or more goals with both teams scoring in each of these 9 games and that record was extended to 10 as Inter secured a 4-3 win.  

The game, as evident by the scoreline, was action packed and saw 2 penalties, a Lautaro Martinez brace & a stunner by Jonathan Ikone for the home side. With Inter leading 3-2 in the 90th min, Luka Jovic thought he had done enough to secure a point for Fiorentina as his half-volley left Onana helpless.  

However, Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s simple tap-in in the 95th min – his first goal since he moved to Inter – broke La Viola hearts as they remained 14th in Serie A. 

 

 


Boca Juniors Crowned Champions of Argentina 

Boca Juniors were crowned champions of the Argentine Primera División for the 35th time in club history on a dramatic final day. Boca Juniors were 2-1 up ahead of Independiente with 10 mins to go and looked set to secure the title over Racing Club who were 2nd on the table and just 1 point behind them.  

Independiente’s Vallejo made things interesting when he grabbed an 81st minute equaliser which meant Racing Club – who were 1-0 up against Boca Juniors’ bitter rivals River Plate – were champions as things stood.  

Many expected River Plate to “do Racing Club a favour” by allowing them to win (hereby preventing Boca Juniors from lifting the trophy) but Miguel Borja had other ideas as he drew things level with an equaliser to make it 1-1 with 9 mins left. Then came the interesting part. Racing Club had a 90th minute penalty that could have given them the win and the title, but center-back Jonathan Galván missed from the spot to leave things at 1-1. Miguel Borja grabbed his 2nd of the game in the 95th min to break whatever was left of Racing Club’s hearts and win the game for River Plate (2-1) and, in turn, secure the league title for their rivals, Boca Juniors.  


THE BAD 

Liverpool Suffer Defeat at Nottingham Forest 

Liverpool were back to their losing ways as they fell to bottom of table Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon, no thanks to their former player Taiwo Awoniyi’s second half strike.  

Liverpool have now lost 3 times in just 11 Premier League games, 1 more than they suffered in 38 games last season. Fabinho looked like a shell of himself in the loss while star player, Mo Salah completed just 4 passes all game and misplaced possession 9 times which summed up Liverpool’s day.  

With the ever-growing quality of the Premier League, it’s now a possibility that Liverpool’s only hope of making it to the Champions League next year might be to win it this season as they drop to 8th position on the Premier League table. 

 

 


Union Berlin Lose to Bochum 

It was first against last in the Bundesliga this weekend and things didn’t go as expected with Union Berlin suffering a shocking defeat at Bochum on Sunday.  

Bochum had taken a first half lead through Hofmann’s header from a corner before doubling their advantage through a perfectly executed counter-attack in the 70th min that left the league leaders stunned.  

Miloš Pantović missed a penalty for Union Berlin in the 77th minute that would have given the visitors the momentum needed to push for an equaliser and even though he made up for it with a goal in the 95th minute, it was too little too late. The result meant Bochum moved one spot from the bottom into 17th while Union Berlin’s lead at the top was cut just 1 point after Bayern Munich won 2-0 away at Hoffenheim.  


A Villareal Sending Off 

 

Down 1-0, Álex Baena grabbed an equaliser from a corner kick for Villarreal to make the game 1-1. Álex Baena, who was already on a yellow card, pulled up his shirt to reveal a tribute to Villarreal vice president Jose Manuel Llaneza who had passed away during the week at the age of 74. Referee De Burgos Bengoetxea showed Baena a second yellow, sending him off, which understandably angered the Villareal players, fans and coaches. Pau Torres was shown a yellow card for his protest while Manu Morlanes, who was on the bench, was shown a straight red card. Luckily for Villareal, Nicolas Jackson scored the winner in the 94th minute in what many felt was justice 


Athletic Bilbao Humbled by Barcelona 

Bilbao remained 6th in La Liga following a 4-0 loss to Barcelona at the Spotify Camp Nou. Ousmane Dembélé was the Man of the Match with the French winger scoring the opener before grabbing 3 assists as he set up Sergi Roberto, Robert Lewandowski and Ferran Torres.  

Bilbao have now gone 4 games without a win and have dropped out of both Champions League & Europa League positions. Barcelona, meanwhile, head into their must-win game with Bayern Munich full of confidence. Xavi and his men know anything short of a victory on Wednesday would see them drop to the Europa League for the second season in a row and this win over a talented Bilbao side should be a confidence-booster.  

 

 


The Ugly: The Broken World Cup Dreams 

Raphaël Varane was inconsolable as he left the pitch in Man Utd’s 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. The French defender has battled injuries since his move to the Premier League but finally looked to be back to his best. He also formed one of the best center-back partnerships around with Manchester United new boy, Lisandro Martinez. Around the hour mark, Varane tried to tackle Aubameyang but missed and pulled his hamstring. Though many reports suggest the injury was not as bad as initially feared and he could miss only 4 weeks, it does still present a big problem for Manchester United but an even bigger one for France.  

Heading into the World Cup in Qatar, the spine of the French team will have a very different look than it did when they won it in Russia 4-years ago. Samuel Umtiti, who played in the final, hasn’t featured for Les Blues since 2019, the same as midfielder Blaise Matuidi who, of course,  is retired from the National team. Raphaël Varane & Paul Pogba are currently injured and could come into the tournament half-fit while N’Golo Kante has been ruled out. Presnel Kimpembe has missed the last 8 games for PSG through a hamstring injury and could also head to Qatar half-fit as well.  

Didier Deschamps has a lot of talented players at his disposal including young Arsenal center-back, William Saliba and Real Madrid duo Eduardo Camavinga and Aurélien Tchouaméni but the loss of his proven veteran winners is a huge worry. Two of the last World Cup winners, Spain & Germany, have been knocked out in the Group Stage of the tournament right after winning it. Infamously superstitious French football fans are already worried about a similar thing happening to the Les Blues.  

 

 

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