This weeks Champions League preview

It seemed like it took a lifetime, but last week Champions League football returned after a roughly two month absence. Last week, we were treated to some good games. Sevilla were outscored by Borussia Dortmund who won 3-2 on the night and Barcelona were humbled by PSG 4-1. 

In the other set of matches Portuguese champions Porto comfortably beat Juventus 2-1. Although the scoreline may seem flattering to the Italians, make no mistake about Juve were well beaten. In the last game of the round of 16 fixtures saw six-time winners Liverpool comfortably beat Manchester United conquerors 2-0 in Hungary, the adopted home of the German side due to Covid19 travel restrictions. 

As for this week’s round of matches, tonight’s matches see defending champions Bayern Munich travel to last year’s Serie A surprise package Lazio. This tie on the face of it, seems to have a safe Bayern progression written all over it, but The Bavarians have been far from convincing this term and even more since they returned from the Club World Cup. 

Having said that however, I expect the German giants to progress in this one 4-2 on aggregate. Ciro Immobile, will be a handful for the Rome side, but it’s the Lewandowski factor that will be the key for Bayern Munich.

 In the other game this evening, high flying Atletico who lead LaLiga by three points with a game in hand, host Chelsea.

Los Colchaneros who were in the same group as Bayern, have transformed into a brilliant attacking side.

Players like Louis Suarez, Joao Felix and Marcos Llorente of all people have been crucial for the the Spanish side.

Chelsea who recently appointed new manager Thomas Tuchel, have marginally improved since the German took over.

With talent such as Havertz and Ziyech at their disposal, The Blues will be no pushovers, but I can’t see past Atletico Madrid. My prediction for an aggregate score line or Atletico 3-1 Chelsea.

In tomorrow’s matches sees Manchester City come up against Borussia Monchengladbach. The Blues who have badly under achieved in this tournament, have been defensively brilliant this year with Stones and Diaz being key.

This tie seems City’s to lose, my prediction Man City 3-0 Borussia M. I am sure Marcus Thurman and co will be looking to do better than that over two legs.

The final game of the Champions League week sees Real Madrid and Atalanta go head to head.

Real as we know are the most successful team in the history of the tournament with 13 Champions League titles.

Atalanta on the other hand are relative new comers of the tournament and were dumped out last year in agonising fashion in the quarter-finals against PSG.

This year, the Italian side have been a shadow of that side who became everyone’s second team.

Papu Gomez, the captain of that side has left for Sevilla. Atalanta do still have Louis Demirel, Illicic and the bustling figure of Zupata too. They won’t be pushovers for sure.

Having said that, I still do fancy Real in this one. It won’t be an easy game, but this won’t be the nightmare game that Ajax was for Los Blancos. My prediction on aggregate Atalanta 1-4 Real Madrid.

So they were my predictions, but what do you think? Let me know in the comments.

To help keep wonderful content coming through and help maintain project Bearded Captain , you can help fund me here;

https://www.paypal.me/AyyazMalik86

The end is nigh brothers!

Hello and good evening, it’s me your Bearded Captain, leader of all beards and flag bearer of all beards on digital media.I am that beard who tries to make people laugh and I am that beard who tries to make people smile. My brothers, I hope you’re well, looking after yourselves and more importantly your beard!

My brothers I want to talk about an important issue in the life of beard. As you are all aware, we are in a lockdown and in a lockdown, not only have the gyms, restaurants, bars and football stadiums to the fans have been closed, but the closing down of barbers has hit us beards hard!

I never think this would be the case, but a lot of us beards have grown the equivalent of afros, but it has been. This lockdown like the other lock down has been a challenge for all beards. Some beards have been better at it than other beards, the grooming of their bead. 

Brothers, I know some of you (me included) are working from home and the perceived need to maintain your beard is seen as not necessary. My Bearded beloved’s it is necessary as the beard is your pride and enjoy. These times of lockdown have been tough, but the end is nigh .. no more botched snipping of the beard (like a certain someone did, mentioning no names). 

Well brothers, the end is nigh! On April 12th, the barbershops will be reopening in the U.K. Form an orderly queue as The Bearded Captain exercises his right for being at the front of the line as I am The Bearded Leader. 

To help keep wonderful content coming through and help maintain project Bearded Captain , you can help fund me here;

https://www.paypal.me/AyyazMalik86

The hangover

This season has been an unprecedented season for so many different reasons. As previously discussed in my blog post, which can be found here; https://ayyazmalik.com/2021/01/09/a-season-like-no-other/. This season has been an unusual one to put it mildly. In the English Premier League, there has been some normality that’s returned as Manchester City seem odds on to win their third title in four seasons.

Across Europe, Real Madrid/Barcelona neither of them are leading Laliga, it’s Atletico Madrid who seem to be running away it, but a surprise 2-0 home loss to Levante, means that the gap has closed at the top to just three points, but Diego Simeone’s side do have a game in hand.

In Germany although usual league leaders Bayern Munich are still top, ever since they returned for a successful and triumphant Club World Cup, The Bavarians have conceded 31 goals already this term, one less than they did in the entire 2019-2020 season. Their 2-1 defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt means that the Bundesliga is more competitive this year.

With the example of Bayern, the Champions League winners have been far from flawless. In France last year’s Champions League beaten finalists PSG, have been suffering from indifferent from and they too aren’t have thing their own way in Ligue 1 as they trail league leaders Lille by four points. This is the same that could be said about Italian champions Juventus.

Juve, who have had a strangle hold on the Scudetto for a past best part of a decade, trail league leaders Inter by a massive 11 points, it must be noted that The Old lady have two games in hand over The Nerazzurri in Serie A. Regardless of this fact, even Juventus haven’t had things their own way.

This bug, shall we call it has travelled to Scotland too. Celtic who were looking to complete the ’10 in a row’, have been thwarted by a resurgent Rangers who are just seven points away from a first trophy in the Steven Gerrard reign. Covid, has affected us all and here’s to thinking that May can’t come quick enough.

But there’s some good things to have come out football being the way that is due to Covid, it’s not as boring and predictable as what it has been across Europe. That is a good thing, here’s to hoping that next season will be something similar, but I am not holding my breath.

To help keep wonderful content coming through and help maintain project Bearded Captain , you can help fund me here;

https://www.paypal.me/AyyazMalik86

My review of The Fat Pizza

Hello and good evening, it’s me your Bearded Captain, leader of all beards and flag bearer of all beards on digital media.I am that beard who tries to make people laugh and I am that beard who tries to make people smile. My brothers, I hope you’re well, looking after yourselves and more importantly your beard!

My Bearded Beloved’s I want to talk about an important issue in the life of beard. Brothers, as you know I fancy myself as a bit of a burger connoisseur. Here though, I want to talk about The Fat Pizza. Brothers, I love my pizza, but not like I love my burgers. Today was the first day I tried The fat Pizza. This pizza shop has shops across the country, so expectations were high.

Just like with a burger, I expect what I am eating to be fresh, kind to the teeth as I don’t plan a tug war with the crust and my teeth & easy on the taste buds.

For some it’s just pizza, but for me I expect that I can taste the toppings of the pizza and warm soft base as well a nice crunchy crust too, but not too crunchy which you find on non fresh pizza.

What makes a pizza is the deep pan base in my humble opinion and the way the sauce is applied.The fat pizza, mastered this perfectly! For my personal pizza choice on the day I opted for chicken and beef, being the meat lover that I am.

Was I disappointed? Absolutely not! I can’t forget the soft melting cheesy that forms like a string too, which they got right down to the T . That brothers … is magnifique pizza! The texture of pizza, the sauce, the taste of base and the crunch of crust – brothers this is “The fat pizza” in the slang term too!

On that note, Brothers These chaps are masters of the pizza, they’re worth a visit. But don’t just take my word for it. They have branches nationwide. It’s over and out from The Bearded Captain.

To help keep wonderful content coming through and help maintain project Bearded Captain , you can help fund me here;

https://www.paypal.me/AyyazMalik86

How they’re not laughing now

He has been as something as a cult hero. Nicolas Bendtner, or Lord Bendtner, Emile Heskey and Jess Lingard the ‘youngster’ has also been in flack. With the first two players, they’re known by the football world and football twitter as subject of mockery. Meme’s would be dedicated to these two and also sarcastically putting them in the same bracket as the two greatest players of this generation (Ronaldo and Messi). Heskey has never claimed to be a world beater, but our Nicholas? Well …. To say he was full of himself that’s an understatement. 

He is the Chuck Norris of football, well that’s if you ask him. The actual Chuck Norris of the beautiful game is Zlatan and no dares to challenge him on that or anything else really, Zlatan has backed his words with actions and in this current season has taken his game to new heights. That’s enough about Ibra, we will maybe talk about him another time. I want to talk about the youngster that is Lingard, he is like Heskey and Bendtner, where their reputations have got the better of them. Lingard, the Warrington born midfielder has been living off past glories. 

Under David Moyes when the Scott had his Ill fated spell in the Old Trafford hotseat, Jesse Lingard was involved in the squad for pre season that season.  In the 2014-2015 season, Lingard made his Manchester United debut under Louis Van Gaal. That goal he scored in the FA Cup final, yeah the one where he did the Ryan Giggs celebration, that one. Someone should have told our Jesse, that no one rocks that celebration like Mr Giggs can. Even when Mourinhp came to town, if Jose’s past reputation is anything go by, the end would have been nigh for the Warrington Messi. 

To his credit Jesse and his flute impression making self, excelled in an advanced role as almost a number 10. Diego Lingard? Jesse Maradonna? Those comparisons which also included Lingardinho turned to be premature as Jesse Lingard’s decline started. Off-field issues some which were very unfortunate lead to this footballing cult hero almost turn into a cult villain. The FA Cup game against Derby County became the tip of the iceberg for some fans as aggressive chants welcomed the former England midfielder upon his arrival at Pride Park. 

With no goals or assists, it’s fair to say he wasn’t make many if any fantasy football teams. A public verbal unleashing of fury by the normally apparently charming Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was a reality check for the 28-year old Lingard. The goal dorugh ended on the last day of the season with a tap in goal against Leicester, which would help The Red Devils secure Champions League football for this season. That goal would have been a new day a new dawn? Sadly not as this season Jess Lingard was on the periphery. 

Talks of loan move to Nice, would have been nice, but that didn’t materialise. Sheffield United were apparently looking to make their move, but West Ham made the decisive move. With two goals on debut and three goals in four games, Jesse Lingard is maybe the Undertaker of football? (rising from the footballing dead). Only time will tell, those who didn’t put Jess in their fantasy football team, it not too late!

O how they laughed, because just maybe this youngster as he referred to, is coming on age.

To help keep wonderful content coming through and help maintain project Bearded Captain , you can help fund me here;

https://www.paypal.me/AyyazMalik86

Liverpool vs Everton; the phobia of 20?

To say that Liverpool have had a tough season this year is some under statement. After accumulating over 190 points in the last two seasons, this season has been somewhat of a fall from grace for Jurgen Klopp’s side. Last year, the title was all but sealed before the lockdown, this year? The Reds are fighting for Champions League qualification.

After romping to their 19th title last season, the Anfield side were seen by many as favourites for this year’s Premier League. At the start of the season, what turned out to be an unpredictable season until Man City made an oath that they won’t lose a game. The fall from grace all started when Jordan Pickford forgot what sport he was competing in.

Jordan darling, it’s football. Former Sunderland goalkeeper in a challenge, that was more of a resemblance to a Connor McGregor move, put an end to star defender Virgil Van Dijk’s season. Initially, Jurgen and co, looked to have had the issue under control until 2021 began.

This year has been a disaster for the Merseysiders and that’s putting it mildly. Six defeats in this calendar year already was more than 2019 and 2020 put together. Many have written Liverpool off, this team is past it, this team is this, this team is that. Calm down guys!

Yes, this has been disappointing, but there have been many injuries. It was only last season that Premier League leader Manchester City had an equally disappointing title defence. Bad seasons happen, they have had some rotten luck this year with injuries whereas last year they were fine.

The defence hasn’t been the sole reason for this season panning out the way it has. The constant changing of centre backs doesn’t help, but playing you’re two most important players in midfield in defence has made them severely depleted. After the January window Kabak has been the player partnered with The Red’s captain Jordan Henderson, but they’ve been severely depleted with Henderson at the back.

Liverpool’s midfield is a well oiled machine and without Jordan Henderson, well it’s just getting rust on it. The game against Everton this evening summed up this seasons struggle in a nutshell. Is their a fear of getting to that 20th title? I don’t think so, but they obviously don’t like a number with 20 in it as they have lost for the first time in 21 years to Liverpool.

The Toffees’ last win against their rivals at Anfield was a 1-0 win in 1999. Don’t worry Reds fans, your team will be back, but the Liverpool board do back him, he’s earned it.

To help keep wonderful content coming through and help maintain project Bearded Captain , you can help fund me here;

https://www.paypal.me/AyyazMalik86

PSL review; the poor man’s IPL?

No matter what will happen, they will always be in the shadow of their older brother.
In families, they usually say the smaller one gets spoilt alongside the older child and the middle child is like a ghost in the family household.

Now in this scenario, they’re not exactly the ghost, but the Pakistan Super League has been in the Indian Premier League’s shadow.
As both India and Pakistan are neighbours, of course, the attention will be on one another as the world looks to see both staging their equivalent of a T20 domestic cricket masterpiece.

This tag, all be it unfair has been on the organiser’s necks, that they will not be good as the IPL.
The same could be said of the BBL and any other t20 league around the world. It’s a fact that India, were the trailblazers in the T20 format.

The Indian’s some 11/12 years ago created a T20 league which helped build a new audience to a sport that many thought needed a new spark to it.

Slow, boring and an old man’s game has been some of the accusation’s thrown at the real beautiful game.
Bouncers at 90mph, a straight drive through the covers, then football players fall down with a little bit of a tickle.
Arguably somewhat behind their Indian counterparts, Pakistan have closed the gap and keep closing the gap on the rest of the T20 world cricket family.

Gradually, getting better each year. This years tournament, the sixth, started today as defending champions Karachi Kings faced 2019 winners Quetta Gladiators.

There were plenty of star players on show in this game. Former captain Sarfraz Ahmed who’s captain of the Gladiators, the very talented Azam Khan, Chris Gayle, Ben Cutting and Pakistani paceman Naseem Shah, just to name a few.
Champions Karachi were packed with talent too with the likes of Imad Wasim, Babar Azam, Colin Ingram and Mohammed Nabi.

As impressive as this list of talent is, there is more talent that is on show in this years PSL.
In terms of English players Alex Hales (Islamabad United) Cameron Banton (Quetta Gladiators), Joe Clarke (Karachi Kings) and Phil Salt also Islamabad United, shows that the talent card had improved upon other years.

As for today’s match itself in a game that many thought would be tight turned into a one-sided affair. Quetta were bowled out for just 121. In reply, Karachi Kings knock off this target with six overs to spare.

This tournament has already produced a great game. Poor man’s IPL? The organises will be out to prove that theory wrong.
Here’s to hoping for some more brilliant cricket tomorrow.

To help keep wonderful content coming through and help maintain project Bearded Captain , you can help fund me here;

https://www.paypal.me/AyyazMalik86

James Anderson, the man who can do it on a ‘cold night in Stoke’

In cricketing terms, he should have retired a while ago, he’s arguably outstayed his welcome, but England fast bowler James Anderson is like fine wine, as they say, he gets better with age.

There are not many other sportsmen that this could be said about, giving this some thought and I would say Juventus forward Christiano Ronaldo is the only man who you can say this about. Jimmy is the other.

Born in Burnley, Jimmy Anderson has turned from a spiky-haired youngster who would have issues with injuries and his action, to a world-beater with the ball. Our Jimmy is no mug with the bat either.

Starring in an Ashes test with folk legend Monty Panesar in a stubborn last-wicket stand to thwart old enemy Australia and save the game on that occasion. An 81 against India, his highest in first-class cricket left the cricketing fraternity pondering on the thought of England having a new all-rounder in the making.

As the Burnley Brian Lara got older, and more greys appeared on the head, what else came abundantly clear was Jimmy was getting smarter with the way he bowled. In his heyday, he could run in at close to 90 mph more consistently. These days towards the mid-eighties is the norm.

Anderson has now almost turned wizard-like with ball. When Ronaldo takes a free-kick in football, no one else can make the football talk like he does. In cricket, the same can almost be said of James Anderson.

Reverse-swing and making the old ball talk was only a skill that many thought Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis could do, but Anderson has mastered the reverse-swing art too. It must be a Lancashire bowler thing.

As impressive as that is for the now 38-year old Lancastrian, the challenge is if he can do it on a dry spinning pitch? The football equivalent of doing it on a cold night in Stoke. With 600 wickets to his name (the most by any fast bowler in world cricket), one would come to a resounding conclusion, yes he can!

In fact, in the ongoing series with India, James Anderson now holds more records. In the previous test series against Sri Lanka, the 38-year old became the oldest man to take a five-wicket haul and has the distinct record of being the man who has taken the most wickets in test cricket after reaching 30.

For a player who changed and remodelled his action, only to go back to it in the process, this is some achievement. James Anderson, you are a legend of the English game, no the world game.

There won’t be a fast bowler who can quite do it in all conditions as you have. World cricket salutes you, it won’t be long till her Majesty will be calling for a Royal Visit. Sir James Michael Anderson arise!

To help keep wonderful content coming through and help maintain project Bearded Captain , you can help fund me here;

https://www.paypal.me/AyyazMalik86

Dixy Wythenshawe vs Dixy Chorlton

Hello and greetings my Bearded Soldiers, it’s me your Bearded Captain, leader of all beards, flag bearer of all beards on digital broadcasting media. I am that beard who tries to make people laugh and I am that beard who tries to make people smile. Brothers, I hope you’re well, looking after yourselves and your beard!

I want to talk about an important issue in the life of beards and that is their stance on Dixy Chicken. Dixy, which as I am sure you know os held in high esteem by The Captain, what you also should know is that Dixy Chorlton is the flag bearer of all Dixy shops. The Longsight branch isn’t bad but they don’t do it week in and week out.

The same can be said of the Burnage site too. As mentioned Dixy’s is in Stretford, Whalley Range and now Wythenshawe. It’s the Wythenshawe branch I want to talk about. As you would have read from my previous post where I reviewed Dixy Chicken Wythenshawe, you would be aware of the love I gave it.

If you missed it, give it a read here;

https://ayyazmalik.com/2020/12/30/dixy-chicken-wythenshawe-review/

Ok, so let’s compare the two. Mega mix ve Mega Mix, there’s not a lot in it, but what makes the burger what it is, is the bread and the tenderness of the chicken. With that criterion in mind, the winner for this section is? Dixy Chorlton! Now, there’s no shame in this as the Chorlton boys have been doing their thing for sometime.

Next on the comparison list is the Mini Burger. Just like the Mega Mix, what makes this burger good is the taste of the chicken and the quality of the bun. What I mean is that the bread shouldn’t be too done it’s tasting like toast. This did happen on one occasion in Wythenshawe and never in Chorlton.

No exaggeration I have been going to Dixy South Manchester for 7 years now, I am almost certain it’s longer. In this time, they have never come close to dropping their standards where Wythenshawe did. For the record I have tasted both, when both were relatively new opened.

So, there you have it, all be it fine margins, but Dixy Chorlton is the best Dixy in Manchester. In terms of food shops in their sector, Kansas does give Dixy a good run for it’s money. You may have wiped the floor with all the other Dixy’s that came after you, but in Kansas and even Roosters Altrincham who have spicy chicken burger to die for.

On that note, it’s over and out from your Bearded Captain!

To help keep wonderful content coming through and help maintain project Bearded Captain , you can help fund me here;

https://www.paypal.me/AyyazMalik86

When you know it’s winter (satire)

Hello and good evening my Bearded Soldiers, it’s me your Bearded Captain, leader of all beards and flag bearer of all beards on digital and digital broadcasting media. I am that beard who tries to make people laugh and I am that beard who tries to make people smile.

My Bearded Beloved’s I pray you’re well, looking after yourselves and your beards. Brothers, I want to talk about an important issue. My Soldiers, I spoke about when you know it’s summer in my previous blog post, in this blog post I want to share with you some signs when it’s winter.

Stating the obvious, it’s when your heating in your house in on full blast almost constantly. Yeah, that’s an obvious, but what about when you have to put those three quarter shorts to the bottom of the clothes pile and the-shirts too. The long Johns that weren’t mentioned in the summer, they’re on the tips of everyone’s lips.

With the case of the long Johns, you can say the only John that get’s mentioned in summer is our Pappa John, the pizza place. Are you coffee or a tea lover? Well, you will know it’s winter better than most, because you will crave that warm beverage even more. In the summer and when it’s hot you will not really feel the need to have coffee that many times in the day, if not at all.

Keeping it consumption based, what you feel with teas and coffee in the summer, you will tend to feel the same in winter too. When it’s cold all you want is hot food and when it’s summer you don’t.

I am not sure if this next example is just me, but you will know when winter is here when you wear a t-shirt you will feel a cold sensation not like freezing freezing cold but a cold you will only realise was there when you put your jumper on. In the summer, you will struggle to sleep due to hot and humid weather.

You will toss, turn and wrestle with the duvet, not being able to sleep with it off your body, but not being able to sleep with it on. In the winter? No such worries, initially there will be a period where your feet and part of your body will be like snow block almost, but when you sleep you sleep like a baby.

In the summer, where people are happy glowing and beaming, people are the opposite in winter maybe because it’s freezing and sunsets in the mid afternoon! I remember this with me. I went to work in darkness and came back home … in darkness! That’s enough to break a man.

Do you remember we mentioned about the ice cream man? Well the only ice cream man you get in winter is a male shrieking in a high voice (yeah that’s a dad joke). In the summer and with the weather being hot, you just want to sit in the shower days on end to cool down, in the winter?

Once you shake off the reluctance to go into to the shower due to it being freezing …. you don’t want to get out as you’re under a nice warm shower. I guess nothing changes there then. Last but not least in my opinion, when you know it’s winter time is when you see more men with beards, which is obviously to keep their face warm.

On that note, it’s over and out from The Bearded Captain.

To help keep wonderful content coming through and help maintain project Bearded Captain , you can help fund me here;

https://www.paypal.me/AyyazMalik86