WEEKEND TAKEAWAY: Barcelona and Real Madrid’s Rare Inconsistency Ensures the Most Interesting Start to La Liga Ever

There’s something about Ousmane Dembele that everyone must have noticed by now; he craves the limelight.

Dembele has had the most difficult past few weeks, the height of the negativity being his lateness to the team meeting at Camp Nou just before Barca’s defeat to Real Betis before the last international break of the year. At the time he needed support, seeing as his place at the Catalan side was being threatened by his own doing, not even his national team manager could write a recommendation letter. How has a 22-year old messed up his career up so much?

Up until 89:14 when he received a pass from Leo Messi, who was having an unusually quiet night at this game, Dembele still had these questions hanging over his head. By the time the ball curved around Jan Oblak and beats the on-rushing defender to hit the net at 89:17, Dembele had just rescued Ernesto Valverde and Barcelona from the jaws of defeat.

For the umpteenth time this season, Dembele has pulled one from his hat to save his team, and particularly in the big games. Unlike it usually happens, his price tag may just have caught up with him. Having cost Barca so much, the expectations are set so high, perhaps only Messi will accept to be judged or measured by such standards.

That said, the biggest news of the weekend from Spain isn’t the 1-1 draw at Wanda Metropolitano. With 13 matches played, neither Barcelona, Atletico Madrid top the standings, not even Real Madrid. Instead, it is Sevilla who go into December top of the log; and it could easily have been Alaves.

By the way, Real Madrid lost 3-0 to Eibar at Ipurna on Saturday; it seems every coach loses the plot once they settle in.

Lewis Hamilton signs off incredible 2018 season

Again, everyone in F1 must have gotten used to the sight of Lewis Hamilton on the podium by now. The Brit made it to the podium in 16 of the 21 races this year with an even more incredible haul of 11 wins – two of these coming after he already won the championship in Mexico two race days ago.

Lewis Hamilton lets everyone know that he is not slowing down just yet, and with the numerous changes that will be taking place next year and the exclusion of Fernando Alonso, Hamilton and Mercedes will still be the team to beat.

Croatia denies France an 11th Davis Cup win

France had defeated Croatia to win the Men’s FIFA World Cup a little over five months ago in Russia, with sports-mad President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic watching. Now, she tastes victory over the same opponent, just in a different sport.

Although the Croats knew they stood little chance then, this time they were well aware of their superiority. And having raced to a 2-0 lead, France needed to repeat a feat last pulled off by Australia over the USA in 1939, and you know there’s a reason such long-standing records aren’t broken by sheer desire; this time it wasn’t.

Croatia wins for the first time since 2005; a historic win that caps the end of this present format, a win that denies French Captain Yannick Noah a fairytale end to his career.

Chelsea loses false invincibility, time to regroup

It was only a matter of time before Chelsea lost; it’s the world’s worst kept secret, once they faced a side that was willing to match them man-to-man and press Jorginho, the visible flaws in their game all season will be exposed.

We are talking about Chelsea, who could have lost at Stamford Bridge to Arsenal on Matchday Two, snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat against Manchester United, and had been exposed few times by other teams who threatened to take the ball to them.

On Friday, I wrote about the need for Spurs to win this clash, seeing how much trouble they have had getting the better of other top-six opponents this season, as well as losing grounds in the UEFA Champions League, a win in front of their home fans is the least they can deliver.

And if you ever face Dele Alli, Harry Kane and So Heung-Min on a day the trio are really in the mood, well, not too many defense can come up with a ‘plan’ to stop them. Certainly not Chelsea.

It’s Okay for Sarri to adopt the free-flowing passing game his Napoli side executed to a fault last season, but what’s with the experiment of playing Ngolo Kante further forward when it doesn’t bring out the best in him? The presence of Jorginho at the base of the midfield will surely help Sarri achieve his ultimate aim; however, its high time Sarri reverted to the tried and tested format.

Kante is perhaps the best in his position in the Premier League, better than Jorginho whom he has had to vacate the position for, and it will continue to cost Chelsea.

South America has no new champion yet

Hooliganism has no place in modern sports. There’s a reason the whole world frowns at this despicable act, there is no bright side to it except deaths, destructions, irreparable damages and a constant headache to federation chiefs, administrators, fans, media and the most important group; the actors we all go to see every time.

This year’s Copa Libatodores was always going to be a headache, once two of South America’s fiercest rivals booked a place in the Final of the most prestigious club tournament on the continent; it was always going to be war like never before. Beyond the crown, there will be bragging rights.

CONMEBOL, the South American governing football body has done everything to have this final take place without a scene, including adhering to Argentinean rules that forbids away fans from attending games, but what is the Superclasico without a scene? Except, this one is too much to handle.

A two-legged final, facing its third postponement in as many weeks, the first due to a waterlogged pitch but this one is different. The game, which was originally rescheduled for Sunday has been postponed because Boca Juniors team bus was attacked by River Pate fans, causing injuries to the players.

CONMEBOL needs a champion soon as the FIFA Club World Cup is slated for December 12-18, so this game could well be played next weekend and hopefully without another scene.