Who could lift the NFL’s Vince Lombardi at next year’s Super Bowl?

Doug Pederson and Nick Foles’ side have gone from the hunters to the hunted after their success last year in the Super Bowl. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2018

Who could lift the NFL’s Vince Lombardi at next year’s Super Bowl?

LONDON: The biggest American sporting show kicks off on Thursday, and this year’s NFL season has a lot to live up to after 2017’s remarkable turn of events. Reigning Super Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles start us off on Thursday against the Atlanta Falcons, and all this week Arab News has previewed the teams most likely to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy next February…

New England Patriots — Everyone’s favorites before almost every season, 2018 will be the same. One of the best rosters in the history of sport for a decade, the Patriots will be a force to be reckoned with once again. Bill Bellichik and Tom Brady might not have much left in the tank, but they will want to cement their positions as the best ever with yet another Super Bowl ring.

Philadelphia Eagles — You can never count out defending champions from holding on to their title in any sport, and the Eagles are no different. C, but this settled side could well become the first NFC team to win back-to-back titles in 25 years.

Los Angeles Rams — A lot might change from opening day to the “Big One”, one team has been on a lot of people’s lips — the Los Angeles Rams. As defending NFC West Division champs, coming off an 11–5 record, they have added quality to their roster in the offseason. They will certainly go close.

Pittsburgh Steelers — Perennial favorites to win the ultimate prize, Pennsylvania’s other team have lived in the shadows of the upstart Eagles for a few years now. But last year, the Steelers went 13-3 for the season, and even though it ended in disappointment, the underlying factors that contributed to them winning so many games are still very much in place. Dark horses.

Minnesota Vikings — While they were demolished by eventual champions Philadelphia, the Vikings showed themselves to be worthy challengers for the big prize. And thanks to the incredible work by their general manager and the rest of the franchises’ front office, the Vikings are perfectly primed to chase a first ever Vince Lombardi trophy once again in 2018.

New Orleans Saints — Most people’s “second team” after their fairytale win in 2009 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Saints will always be a threat with Sean Payton in charge and Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees shepherding the offense. The head says whether they make it all the way will depend on how tight their defense stays throughout the year, but the heart says this storied franchise can go all the way.

Green Bay Packers — Always a force to be reckoned with, the Packers can put their horrific 2017 season behind them. The Wisconsin outfit were boosted in pre-season with the news that legendary quarterback Aaron Rodgers signed a contract extension, which will reportedly make him the highest-paid player in NFL history. Keeping him fit will be key to their chances.

Atlanta Falcons — They were desperately unlucky not to win a maiden Super Bowl championship in 2016, when they missed out to the New England Patriots. Keeping a roster fit is key to making a run at the “Big Game”, and the Falcons have done that well in recent years. If they manage it again this year and Matt Ryan fires on all cylinders, they have an outside chance.

Jacksonville Jaguars — It seems bizarre to be even saying the Jags have a shot at the Super Bowl, considering where they were just a few years ago. But after almost going all the way last year, the Jags’ defense will be the key again. If they can remove the errors on big plays in crunch games, this “possible relocation” team could go out on the biggest of bangs.

Kane stunner earns Spurs victory over Juventus

Updated 21 July 2019

Kane stunner earns Spurs victory over Juventus

  • Juventus struggle to adapt to their new manager’s ‘Sarri-ball’ tactic of playing out from the back with short, quick passes

SINGAPORE: Harry Kane scored a stunning 93rd minute winner from the halfway line as Tottenham Hotspur edged Juventus 3-2 in an entertaining pre-season friendly in Singapore on Sunday.

The England captain latched onto Lucas Moura's short pass and launched a first-time shot high over a scrambling substitute Wojciech Szczesny in the Juventus goal as Spurs rallied past new manager Maurizio Sarri's Italian champions in front of a delighted National Stadium crowd.

“It’s probably one of the best goals of my career. I noticed the keeper was often off of his line and thought if I get a chance to shoot I will, and it just went in,” Kane said in a post-match interview.

A youthful Spurs dominated the first half as Juventus struggled to adapt to their new manager’s “Sarri-ball” tactic of playing out from the back with short, quick passes. Instead of moving the ball forward, Juventus often found themselves defending desperately after being caught in possession as Spurs pressed high up the pitch with the Premier League side going on to take a deserved lead on the half-hour mark.

Son Heung-min started the move by holding up play and feeding Troy Parrott for a clear run at Gianluigi Buffon in the Juventus goal, with the 17-year-old forward's low strike parried by the keeper straight into the path of an unmarked Erik Lamela for a routine tap-in.

Juventus had more success after the break when they increased their tempo and went more direct, and halftime substitute Gonzalo Higuain levelled the score in the 56th minute with a drilled strike after exchanging passes with Federico Bernardeschi.

Buoyed by the equalizer, Juventus were soon ahead when Ronaldo arrived late to drive home Mattia De Sciglio's cutback four minutes later, leaving to rapturous applause by an adoring crowd when he was substituted immediately after scoring.

Spurs were level five minutes later, however, when Champions League semifinal hero Lucas fired home record-signing Tanguy Ndombele's low cross, the French midfielder finding the Brazilian with his first touch after coming on as a substitute.

Kane and Higuain both squandered good chances to score winning goals in the final 10 minutes before the England striker prevented the contest going to a penalty shootout with the most brilliant of strikes.

Meantime, Tottenham forward  Moura insists he does not  hold a grudge against boss Mauricio Pochettino despite being dropped for the Champions League final.

“I need to respect the decision of the coach and respect my teammates, so no problem with this,” said Lucas who was left on the bench for the final in spite of scoring a dramatic hat rick in Spurs' stunning semifinal comeback at Ajax.

Pochettino preferred to use  Kane in attack against Liverpool in Madrid despite a lengthy absence following injury.

Brazil international Lucas eventually came on in the 66th minute, but was unable to prevent Tottenham slipping to a 2-0 defeat.

“Of course it was difficult because every player wants to play. But it was even more to lose the game,” Lucas was quoted as saying by several British media outlets.

“For sure he (Pochettino) has a good reason for this (decision) and I am sure that it was difficult for him as well to choose a player. He needs to choose only 11.”

“I respect, I am a professional. No problem for this. Now I look forward to the next season.”