WEEKEND TAKEAWAY: Real Madrid Set New World Record

Real Madrid’s club world cup win set yet another record, the first team to win three consecutive club world cup titles.

Al Ain started brightly and looked like they could cause the champions home trouble, perhaps an upset like Internacional did to Barca in 2006; Alexandre Pato’s goal making the difference.

Courtois was rounded few times early on. At one point, it took a Sergio Ramos goal-line clearance to prevent what would have served as a great advertising goal in the competition, another time, Real Madrid was saved by the VAR.

Al Ain couldn’t stop creating chance after chance, but it took a 4-1 defeat to teach the Arabian Champions that in games like this, against a side as successful as this, you take your chances.

The wine earned Santiago Solari his first trophy as Real Madrid manager 54 days after his appointment. If this doesn’t place him top of this list, he’ll be close by, surely.

Meanwhile, Captain Sergio Ramos took part in his 25th career final for club and country. With Real Madrid, it is his 20th.

The centre-back has won all four Champions League finals he has participated in, as well as all four Club World Cup finals, three out of four UEFA Super Cups, three out of six Supercopa de Espana ties and two out of three Copa del Rey finals.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revives Manchester United

It’s still early days but the signs are good; whetting the appetite well enough or what might follow.

 Manchester United were 5-1 winners at Cardiff City on Saturday. It’s true south of unscripted homecoming for manager, ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was back at Cardiff for the first time since his unsuccessful spell at the Welsh team in 2014 as well as his return to a club where he made a name for himself, Manchester United.

His return sparked the sort of revival the club needed. The players showed they can play football when try are not stifled. The performance will humble Jose Mourinho who was sacked after last weekend’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.

Jose had made a habit of portraying the players he spent a premium amount on as average. Well, there’s only so much a team can absorb.

The fixtures favour Manchester United before the visit to Spurs in mid-January, it’s enough time for Solskjaer to know his team.

Barca end the year top of LaLiga

It’s been an interesting start to LaLiga this season defined by bravery, inconsistency, poor form and outright shocking performances.

Although the leaders have changed a few times, Barca have spent the most weekend at the summit of the League table. Of the 17 games played so far, the Catalan side have been top 13 time, Sevilla twice and Real Madrid just once.

Although this is the worst points tally a league leader has amassed since the start of the 2006/07, Barca will be please that their inconsistency hasn’t left them out of contention.  

Dillian Whyte earns World Title shot

Dillian Whyte’s 11th roun knock out of Dereck Chisora at the 02 Arena has put him in stead for a world title bout.

Whyte is ranked number one on both the WBC and WBO heavyweight category of belts held by Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua respectively which means that, sooner rather than later, he will be announced as mandatory challenger to either champion for their prized assets.

Although Whyte called Joshua out, and initially both fighters showed some respect owing to their long-standing relationship representing Great Britain and managed by the same promoter, Eddie Hearn, Whyte was unequivocal about his ambitions to fight Anthony Joshua next.

Dillian wants it, the crowd wants it although not as much as they want Anthony Joshua to fight Deontay Wilder but Joshua got the approval he wanted from the crowd.

If it is not Deontay Wilder on April 13 then it will be Dillian Whyte. Either way, heavyweight boxing in 2019 will serve some big bouts.

Chelsea, Man City lose Liverpool gain

Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the table and then got an early Christmas present when their nearest challengers both lost at home hours after Liverpool had won 2-0 at the Molineux.

A clean sheet against Nuno Santos’s Wolves that has scored against every other team in the top six.

The defeat to both teams is a huge boost for Liverpool ahead of the boxing day fixture.

Initially unbeaten in their opening 15 games, Manchester City have lost twice in three games and was forced to penalties by Leicester City in the League Cup quarter-final as well in the week too. Pep Guardiola’s perfect machines seem to be tiring.

Who can stop Mario Mandzukic or Juve?

Their perfect start to the season may have been halted a while ago, but it’s been eight weeks since Juventus last got any other result other than a win.

This time, it’s Mario Mandzukic’s powerful header that made the difference and the “octopus-esque” brilliance of Robin Olsen kept the scoreline reasonable in a one-sided affair on Friday night.

Mario Mandzukic is having such an outstanding season already when you consider the fact that he has scored more goal after 17 games this season (8) than he did in 2016/17 (7) and in 2017/18 (5).

The more pertinent part of this is that Mandzukic scored twice against Napoli and once against Inter, Lazio, AC Milan and now Roma.

On this list, only Roma isn’t currently in the top five. If you stretch it back a little, Mandzukic scored in the World Cup quarter-final, semis and in the final too. If you need a big game player, there he goes.