Winners and Losers from the weekend: Bayern crowned, as Dillian Whyte’s title fight hopes are floored
Our round-up of the highs and lows from the weekend in sport.
A belated end to the European football season saw two deserved winners, as Sevilla extended their Europa League winning record and Bayern’s dominant form carried them to Champions League success.
In boxing, the 40-year old Alexander Povetkin stunned Dillian Whyte to dent the latter’s title-fight credentials, while Dustin Johnson’s 30 under-par score at the Northern Trust earned him the world No 1 spot in the US PGA Tour.
Bayern’s stats this season are ridiculous by any measure, whether it’s their 11-game Champions League winning streak (they’re the first side in history to achieve that) or Robert Lewandowski’s goal tally (55 in all competitions).
But it’s the human story that became the centre-piece of their Champions League final victory. Kingsley Coman came through the ranks at PSG but found himself released on a free transfer in 2014, with the mega-rich club failing to find a place in their team for the talented winger.
An underwhelming spell at Juventus led to a loan and eventual transfer to Bayern, although injuries have meant that Ivan Perisic has often been preferred on the flanks this season.
But German coach Hansi Flick’s interview on the eve of the Champions League final cited Coman’s extra motivation as a reason to start him against PSG and in hindsight it looks like a masterstroke from the head coach.
Coman’s header proved to be the winning goal in a tense affair where both teams had their chances. But a combination of poor finishing from PSG’s strikers and Manuel Neuer being back to his imperious best, means the trophy will head to Munich, while the expensively assembled PSG squad were left to rue their missed opportunities. At least one Parisian will be celebrating though.
Bayern are 5/2 favourites to win the 20/21 Champions League.
It’s a similar story for the Europa League winners Sevilla. We could focus on their phenomenal record in the competition (they’ve now won it six times), or how they won against the odds in their run to the final, with both Man Utd and Inter favourites to beat them.
Or, we could look at it through the lens of Julen Lopetegui’s story. The Sevilla head coach was famously fired from his role as Spain manager just two days before the start of the 2018 World Cup for negotiating with Real Madrid behind the Spanish Football Federation’s back. A disappointing tournament for Spain was largely blamed on the chaos caused in the wake of that decision, with Lopetegui taking his share of the blame.
As a result, there was little sympathy when he departed the Bernabeu just over four months after joining, his reign effectively ending due to a 5-1 humiliation at the hands of rivals Barcelona.
Two years on and an emotional Lopetegui has earned his redemption with Sevilla. A fourth-placed finish in La Liga means Champions League football was already guaranteed for the Andalucian side, while Europa League success means his legacy will no longer be one of humiliation.
An astonishing 30 under-par score in the Northern Trust means Dustin Johnson goes into this week’s BMW Championship as the world No. 1.
After winning by 11 shots, Johnson has now made it his aim to stay atop the world rankings for as long as possible, having last held the position in May 2019. With 92 weeks in total as world No. 1, Johnson is fifth on the all-time list, but there’s one area he’ll be looking to improve – he has just one Major championship to his name.
He’ll have to wait until the US Open in September for another shot at a Major after a joint-second finish at the PGA Championship, but he’s certainly the one to watch in the BMW Championships this weekend, and is favourite to win at 15/2.
After years of underwhelming Champions League exits, there must have been a feeling at the French club that finally their time had come. The attacking duo of Mbappe and Neymar were among the most feared in the competition, while the Thiago Silva-led defence conceded just four goals throughout.
But in the final they were marginally outclassed by their German opposition, failing to make their chances count. First Angel Di Maria leant back when presented with a golden first-half opportunity, while Kylian Mbappe similarly fluffed his lines by firing straight at Manuel Neuer from just yards away. That their final opportunity of the game fell to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will probably amuse Stoke fans, with his bizarre attempt to connect with a clever Neymar flick leaving co-commentator Steve McManaman baffled.
With the likes of Thiago Silva set to leave, will PSG have what it takes to mount another challenge on the Champions League?
Paris Saint-Germain are joint-third favourites to win next season’s Champions League at 7/1.
The Brixton-based heavyweight boxer has had to be patient as the WBC mandatory challenger, watching on from the sidelines as money-making fights between bigger names kept him out of the picture – despite being the number one challenger for more than 1,000 days.
Whyte did everything that could be asked of him in the meantime beating the likes of Joseph Parker, Dereck Chisora and Oscar Rivas. That is, until he met 40-year-old Russian Alexander Povetkin on Saturday.
Whyte seemed to be in control of the bout, knocking the Russian to the canvas twice in the fourth round, before a stunning uppercut in the fifth scored a KO for the Russian, who had looked outclassed prior to that.
A rematch clause will be exercised and Whyte and Povetkin will go again, but a fight against Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua looks further away than ever for the Brit.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication