Kevin Doyle on the Champions League and Scottish Premiership
It’s a busy weekend of football with the remaining Champions League quarter-finals and the latest round of games in the new Scottish Premiership season.
Ahead of the big fixtures, we’ve sought the views of our football ambassador, Kevin Doyle…
Barcelona v Bayern Munich
I am very excited about this game. Two European heavyweights Barcelona and Bayern Munich meeting in Lisbon. It’s easy to make a case for both sides who are genuine quality.
I don’t think the 5/2 Barca odds to win are a fair reflection on this team and are generous considering they have the maestro himself, Lionel Messi in their ranks.
I don’t think Bayern have done any favours with Lothar Matthäus coming out and proclaiming Robert Lewandowski as the world’s best player during the week. I know he has 53 goals to his name this season and is prolific but if anything, I think this will only light the fire for Lionel Messi and he will use it as motivation on the pitch this evening.
Both teams had good wins in the last round, Chelsea were well beaten over the two legs by Bayern, and Barcelona dispatched Napoli with relative ease so both will be bringing some confidence and firepower to the game.
I can’t see both teams adapting their style of play. These are two top teams who like to play attacking football and that is what we want to see at this stage of the competition.
When you have individual players like Messi who for me is the best player in the world, that could be the difference tonight.
I must say for me as fan, I am really enjoying this new format but for money reasons, I can’t see them sticking with it in the future. But it has made the games very exciting and edge of your seat viewing. I am going for a 2-1 Barcelona win within 90 mins with both Messi and Suarez to score.
Manchester City v Lyon
Although City will go in to this game as firm favourites, I think it will be a tight match for the first 50 as Lyon play compact and although they boast no stand-out stars, they have some quality players like Memphis Depay who has bagged six goals in Europe this season.
You also have the added pressure that City haven’t progressed to a semi-final of this competition since 2016 so nerves will be frayed. That’s what the owners expect after investing so much money in their team and manager. I can only imagine how desperate Guardiola is to win this with City.
This is was what he was hired to do. A lot of these European games are being decided right at the death so I see it being a tight contest up to the 90. For Lyon, the pressure is off and they have had a fairly successful season to get this far.
They both have enough quality to get a goal or two but it’s hard to look past the recent form of City with their free-flowing attack threat.
With Kevin De Bruyne and probably the return to the starting line-up of Bernardo Silva, they have players all over the pitch who can unlock a defence. Any of the midfield and front trio could be the difference tomorrow night.
I see a 2-0 win for Man City but a hard fought first half and the game only being put to bed in last 20 mins. I see Jesus adding to this tally of six in Europe. He is a good player and has looked sharp in recent weeks.
With the SPFL season back in to full flow, how important is to have a strong start to the season?
I think it is really important not to overreact to the start, good or bad. It’s being able to believe in what you have done in pre-season, believe in the new signings you have made that they will work out over the course of the season.
I think overreacting in the first few games is a big problem in today’s game. Players need to trust in the blueprint set out by management.
The worst thing that can happen is throwing out all the good work you have done over a pre-season all because of one or two early results going against you.
There is so much pressure on managers today and if you lose the first three games, there is every chance you will get sacked.
From a long-term point of view, I think it is more important to believe in the work you have done in pre-season and hope it comes good over the course of the campaign.
Just looking from my own experience; in the season we won the Championship at Reading, we lost the first game at home to Plymouth and there was talk about our manager being under serious pressure as we had a bad end to the previous season.
Plymouth went on and got relegated and we won the league with a record points tally and we still hold the record for the most points in the Championship.
The first game of the season is not a barometer. With the SPFL having started back up, Rangers have obviously got off to a flyer winning all three games and Celtic slipped to a draw with Kilmarnock in round two.
I would be worried for Celtic doing 10 in row, the pressure of it and all the talk surrounding this team, it’s just not going to be easy and Rangers are going to be strong all season.
The side story of players testing positive and accusations that some broke the covid protocol means it is not the ideal start the club would have wanted as they chase down the historic 10 in a row.
MY 1-2-FREE PREDICTION
Hibernian v Motherwell: 2-1 Hibernian
Man City v Lyon: 2-0 Man City
Livingston v Rangers: 0-3 Rangers
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