Even though Real Madrid have made an unstable start to the new campaign, Zinidine Zidane’s managerial decisions have still been worthy of praise.
The French tactician is rotating his players in the early stages so that towards the second half of the season (the business/crucial end), everyone will be in form and capable of putting practice into play, regardless of whether they are coming off the bench or not.
Zidane’s policy worked out well last season even though that success came at the expense of a talented striker like Alvaro Morata being limited to fewer minutes on the pitch than he deserved.
Most fans of Los Blancos may not realize the purpose now, but they certainly will not be complaining when Madrid’s bench stars and second string players are all in hot form and ready to make a difference by January or February.
When one of the team’s attacking pieces falters, the bench will be ready to step up and deliver the same output, if not more to the point of contention for a starting place.
That is how the Madrid faithful should view the picture with Zidane. No one should be delighted by the early season obstacles but it is better to let things assimilate early on instead of witnessing the players find their best form when the club is out of every competition towards the very end of the campaign.
Also, the rotations reduce the risk of the insanely high amount of muscle injuries that the team suffered last season, carrying on from the Carlo Ancelotti era.
Of course, Zidane will hope his side did not use up all of their strength in the Super Cup fixtures, only to slowly lose ground in the other competitions while rival clubs regain their form.
It must also be said that around this time last season, Madrid were sustaining quite a lot of injuries until December, which resulted in the second string team being handed far more game time than usual.
Again, it is frustrating for any manager in pursuit of the title to see his team lose valuable points very early in the campaign, especially in a league where the top teams scarcely drop points.
However, Zidane’s method of managing the team’s stamina will prove to be beneficial as the season grows, unless Madrid somehow dig their hole so deep with more draws and defeats which they may never recover from.
“He was unstoppable”, “What a guy”: Some Newcastle fans praise this star after 3-1 win vs Southampton + Match Report
Premier League Match Report: Newcastle United 3-1 Southampton
Newcastle United claimed all three points and climbed up to 12th in the Premier League standings with an emphatic 3-1 victory over Southampton at St. James’ Park on Saturday, as Ayoze Perez scored his first ever hat-trick for the Magpies.
Perez once again proved why he has been the best signing of the Mike Ashley era at Tyneside with another superb display in front of goal, becoming the first Newcastle player to score a hat-trick since Geroginio Wijnaldum in 2015. The Spaniard hit the double figure mark in the Premier League for the first time, his personal best since his move to the north-east of England back in 2014.
High on confidence after that 1-0 victory over Leicester City last week, Newcastle started the game on a positive note and stamped their authority over the visitors. Southampton were rampant in the 3-1 victory over Wolves last week but the Saints had absolutely no answer to Newcastle’s dominance in the first half.
Hasenhuttl’s side were clearly the second-best in all areas of the pitch in the first forty-five minutes as Newcastle continued to throw caution to the winds. Perez opened the scoring with a clinical finish from a tight angle in the 27th minute before Salomon Rondon set him up for the second goal.
Rondon whipped in just the perfect cross from the left to find the run of Perez, who got in front of Ryan Bertrand to make it 2-0. It could have been worse for Southampton had the referee sent James Ward-Prowse off for a foul on Miguel Almiron, as the Englishman apparently made an attempt to stop a dangerous-looking Newcastle counter-attack.
2-0 down and away from home, Southampton needed something extraordinary to get themselves back into the game and Hasenhuttl brought on the likes of Mario Lemina and Stuart Armstrong to turn things around. The Saints, indeed, came out in the second half with a point to prove and put more pressure on the home side with some relentless attacking play.
Ki-sung Yueng’s long-range effort cannoned back off the post early in the second half but it was the visitors who reaped just rewards for their sustained pressure. Nathan Redmond passed it on to Mario Lemina, who found the net with the neat bottom-corner finish to pull one back for Saints.
Isaac Hayden, who had a wonderful first half, drew a brilliant save from Angus Gunn with a perfectly struck volley from outside the box. However, Southampton had a wonderful chance to draw level soon after and the Saints would have been right back in the game had Maya Yoshida managed to keep his effort on target.
Southampton continued to pile on the pressure but they just snapped at their chances and weren’t clinical enough on the day, while Newcastle deserve all the credit for holding their own at the back. Rondon had his header cleared off the line by Ward-Prowse but it was Perez who capped off a well-deserved win with his third goal in the 86th minute.
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Rafael Benitez showed plenty of enthusiasm in his technical area and guided his team to their 11th victory of the season. No wonder the fans at Tyneside were signing their manager’s praises.
Twitter Reactions from Newcastle fans
What a guy @AyozePG congrats on your first hat trick for us thoroughly deserved. ⚫️⚪️⚫️⚪️⚫️ join a list of greats achieving that at SJP. Wor @alanshearer will be as buzzing as the rest of us #toontoonblackandwhitearmy #NEWSOU
— Sara Colclough (@SaraColclough) April 20, 2019
#NEWSOU The universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call him Rafa the gaffer
— Henry wellington (@NomenChanX) April 20, 2019
“Lively game”, “Leicester deserve something”: Some Leicester fans react to nervy 2-2 draw vs West Ham + Match Report
Match Report: West Ham 2-2 Leicester City
Brendan Rodgers’ side missed the chance to leapfrog Watford into the Europa League qualification spot while West Ham stayed 11th and did their chances of securing the 7th spot no good at all.
Both the teams had quite a few chances to open the scoring in the first half, with the best of them falling to Jamie Vardy early in the game. Marcus Albrighton put in a perfect delivery from the flanks but the striker just wasn’t able to get a good enough effort away on goal.
On the other side, Michail Antonio failed to convert off Marko Arnautovic’s cross from the right, as Ricardo Pereira came in with a crucial tackle just at the right time.
It was Antonio, though, who broke the deadlock and put the home side on the front foot in the 37th minute, timing his jump to perfection and beating Ben Chilwell to head it home off Mark Noble’s pinpoint cross from the left-hand side of the pitch.
Leicester went into the break 1-0 down after a mediocre first half performance and the Foxes needed to pull their socks up to get themselves back into the game in the second half.
The visitors showed more urgency early in the second half and it was Jamie Vardy who drew level for Rodgers’ side, getting ahead of his marker Fabian Balbuena and beating Fabianski with a devastating finish off Chilwell’s delivery.
Both the teams pushed for a winner and it looked as if West Ham had found one when substitute Lucas Perez put the hosts 2-1 up in the 82nd minute with a simple tap-in, after fellow substitute Pedro Obiang’s shot cannoned back off the post.
With time running out for Leicester, Rodgers pulled out his trump card in a bid to overturn the deficit and brought on the likes of Kelechi Iheanacho and Harvey Barnes. Lucas Perez had a goal ruled out for offside after being played onside by Ricardo for the second goal, though replays showed that the Spaniard might have been level with Harry Maguire down the far side.
Leicester looked set for their third defeat under Rodgers but Barnes had other ideas. Youri Tielemans, who has been ever so influential for the Foxes since his arrival in January, strengthened his claims for a permanent move with a delightful through ball to set up a golden chance for the substitute.
And Barnes didn’t disappoint, drawing the visitors level in injury-time with a clinical finish. Phil Foden scored his first ever Premier League goal in Man City’s 1-0 victory over Spurs earlier on the day and Barnes joined the list as well.
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The draw will certainly boost Leicester’s spirits ahead of a tough test at home against Arsenal on Monday night.
Twitter Reactions from Leicester Fans
2-2!! One touch football from #LCFC, Harvey Barnes played in brilliantly by Tielemans, superb finish into the far corner one on one, Leicester deserve something from the game pic.twitter.com/XFXQFaeMyT
— Sam Tonks (@samjtonks7) April 20, 2019
FT. #WHUFC 2-2 #LCFC. It’s a game of catch up today. We certainly didn’t look anywhere near good enough either, so it’s a lucky point in my opinion.
Additions are needed to this squad, we don’t have options on the bench to change a match. Nonetheless, character shown! pic.twitter.com/PdwNFiY6jp
— Leicester City FC (@FIRST4LCFC) April 20, 2019
7 – Since Brendan Rodgers’ first game in charge on March 3rd, Jamie Vardy has scored seven Premier League goals – more than any other player in that time. Revitalised. #WHULEI
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2019
1-1/ A superb poachers finish at the near post by Jamie Vardy, good cross from Chilwell, deserved for second-half pressure, might waken West Ham up, lively game now #WHULEI pic.twitter.com/kYrqv0yoHx— Sam Tonks (@samjtonks7) April 20, 2019
“Keep this up until the end of the season”, “Stunning Rangers”: Some Rangers fans react in glee after 3-1 win vs Hearts + Player Ratings
Hearts vs Rangers Ratings: Rangers Player Ratings + Twitter Reaction
The Scottish Premiership fixture between Hearts and Rangers on Saturday ended with Steven Gerard’s men comfortably sealing a 3-1 victory thanks to goals from Jermaine Defoe, Ryan Jack and Nikola Katie. Despite having a large chunk of possession from the start, Hearts did give them a fair fight along the way.
A brilliant performance for Rangers was topped off by 2 assists for Daniel Candeias who was exceptional on the night. The win takes Rangers with 3 points of Celtic in 1st place but considering that the Hoops still have a game in hand, the Gers’ would do well to not get overly optimistic.
Here are the Rangers Player Ratings:
Allan McGregor 7
The veteran goalkeeper had a decent outing on the night and did well to keep Hearts down to just one goal.
James Tavernier 6
The talented full-back struggled to get into the game in an attacking sense and didn’t show up on the night.
Nikola Katic 7
Scored Rangers’ 3rd goal on the night and had a fairly solid display in the heart of their defence.
Conor Goldson 7
Another efficient performance from the Gers’ defensive leader as he led them to another crucial victory.
Jon Flanagan 7
The former Liverpool full-back has been in fine form in recent weeks and has stood out as one of their better players.
Ryan Jack 8
Dominated the game from the centre of the pitch and did exceptionally well to take his first-half goal as well.
Glen Kamara 8
The Finland international midfielder has a fine game in midfield as he moved the ball around with a lot of confidence.
Steven Davis 6
The Southampton loanee tried to make his presence felt in the first half but struggled to make a real impact.
Scott Arfield 6
Didn’t take the opportunities he got and his performance wasn’t nearly up to its usual high standards.
Jermain Defoe 8
The veteran English striker did superbly well to take his goal and showed his quality right from the opening whistle.
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Daniel Candeias 8
The Portuguese winger showed good touch throughout the game and did well to notch up two assists on the night.
Here’s how some thrilled Rangers fans reacted to this victory:
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