Four matches to watch this week

Lobi Stars football team

Lobi Stars v Kano Pillars @Aper Aku Stadium @4pm on April 22

Lobi started with a draw on the first day of the new league season but since that 1-1 result, they have won the consequent seven matches, scoring 11 goals and conceding just three. In Pillars, they will face the league’s hottest striker in Junior Lokosa, who has already scored 14 goals in the league. The 24-year-old striker has said his focus is on scoring the goals that will crown Pillars champions of the Nigeria Professional Football League after three barren years. Lobi have a five-point gap at the top of the table and a win over the four-time champions would give them some breathing room. The Godwin Uwua-tutored side may field Anthony Okpotu, who has returned to the club after trials in Denmark.

Current Form: Lobi Stars [W-D-W-L-W]; Kano Pillars [D-W-L-D-L]

Head to head

04/06/17 NPF Kano Pillars 2 – 1 Lobi Stars

18/01/17 NPF Lobi Stars 1 – 0 Kano Pillars

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10/07/16 NPF Kano Pillars 3 – 0 Lobi Stars

13/03/16 NPF Lobi Stars 2 – 2 Kano Pillars

02/08/15 NPF Kano Pillars 2 – 1 Lobi Stars

Prediction: Lobi 2-1 Pillars

Manchester United v Tottenham @Wembley Stadium @5:15pm on April 21

Trophy-less Mauricio Pochettino faces a serial winner in Jose Mourinho on Saturday as Manchester United visit Tottenham at Wembley in the first FA Cup semifinal. Spurs were much better than United at Wembley in their last meeting but with a trophy on the line, expect Mourinho to come up with a match-winning strategy. At his pre-match press conference, Mourinho alluded that Spurs hold no advantage with Wembley, where they have been playing their home matches. “I think when you go to these big moments with these big decisions, semi-finals, finals, I don’t think it’s an advantage while Pochettino believes Mourinho does not anything to prove again as a manager. At his pre-match conference, the Argentine manager said, “Of course Mourinho is a great manager who will know what he needs to do and I think it’s an exciting semi-final because both teams are going to play to try to get to the final.”

We are expecting fireworks in this one.

Current Form: Man. Utd [W-L-W-W-W]; Tottenham [D-L-W-W-W]

Head to head

31/01/18 PRL Tottenham 2 – 0 Man. Utd

28/10/17 PRL Man. Utd 1 – 0 Tottenham

14/05/17 PRL Tottenham 2 – 1 Man. Utd

11/12/16 PRL Man. Utd 1 – 0 Tottenham

10/04/16 PRL Tottenham 3 – 0 Man. Utd

Prediction: Man Utd 2-3 Tottenham

Juventus v Napoli @ Allianz Stadium @7:45pm on April 22

New life was breathed into Napoli’s Scudetto chase on Wednesday when a certain gangly Nigerian, Simeon Nwankwo scored Crotone’s Equaliser against Juventus while Napoli came from being 2-1 down at home to Udinese to win 4-2. If Maurizio Sarri could replay one match, it would be the first installment against Juventus last December, which his team lost 1-0. Sarri and his players have the chance to cut that gap to one point on Sunday but it will take a lot, a fact acknowledged by Sarri. “Our team always tries to take the initiative and play our football, regardless of venue, opponent or situation. That is our philosophy,” Sarri told Mediaset Premium.

“Clearly, it’s difficult to go to Turin and try to get the victory, as in terms of strength in depth, I think Juventus are the most complete team in Europe. We’ll give it our best shot.”

Meanwhile, Juve manager, Massimiliano Allegri said, “We must look to win the match because it would be a big step forward. It will be a great game – hard fought with lots of skill on display but we must get off to a good start.” This one is very hard to predict but I will settle for a score draw and status quo maintained.

Current Form: Juventus [D-W-W-W-L]; Napoli [W-D-W-D-W]

Head to head

01/12/17 SEA Napoli 0 – 1 Juventus

05/04/17 COI Napoli 3 – 2 Juventus

02/04/17 SEA Napoli 1 – 1 Juventus

28/02/17 COI Juventus 3 – 1 Napoli

29/10/16 SEA Juventus 2 – 1 Napoli

Prediction: Juventus 2-2 Napoli

Barcelona v Sevilla @Wanda Metropolitano @8:30pm on April 21

Sevilla will draw optimism from their last match against the Catalans, where they led 2-0 after 85 minutes but allowed Barcelona come back and gain a 2-2 result. Barcelona fans are still pained at the manner they were kicked out of the UEFA Champions League though the manager, Ernesto Valverde said, “”To win the Copa del Rey would be a good way to put the Champions League slip-up behind us.” They drew 2-2 with Celta Vigo in their last – a good warning before facing Sevilla. Nolito, one of the more experienced players at Seville believes they can beat Barcelona to win the Cope del Rey title. “We are one match away from a trophy, from winning the Copa del Rey and this has the double benefit,” a route back into Europe because they are currently seventh on the La Liga table.

“Of course this will be a difficult match but we believe we have a plan to win the match and these are moments as footballers that you must always cherish.

Current Form: Barcelona [D-W-L-W-W]; Sevilla [D-D-D-L-L]

Head to head

31/03/18 LAL Sevilla 2 – 2 Barcelona

04/11/17 LAL Barcelona 2 – 1 Sevilla

05/04/17 LAL Barcelona 3 – 0 Sevilla

06/11/16 LAL Sevilla 1 – 2 Barcelona

17/08/16 SUC Barcelona 3 – 0 Sevilla

Prediction: Barcelona 3-1 Sevilla

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