Talking points,

Sweeter for the underdogs

As the Detroit Lions took another step towards history with a first championship game for 32 years and Fulham aim to upset the Liverpool juggernaut for a place at Wembley. I discuss this week’s biggest talking points in the world of sport. 

1. Long-suffering Lions on the verge
Eminem and the rest of Detroit’s loyal hordes that flock through the turnstiles to Ford field week after week, have done so in recent years more in hope than expectation.

After all, it wasn’t long ago that they endured a 0-16 season and they have been the butt of plenty of jokes. Now, they stand on the precipice of history. A first championship game in 32 years awaits where they face the 49ers for a shot at the Superbowl.

This is only their second appearance at this stage and things can only get better — last time out in 1992 Washington routed them 41-10. They have never made it there before and it will certainly be an uphill struggle in San Francisco, but this gritty Lions side will be out to prove that miracles do happen.

Detroit Lions to win Superbowl 58 @ 15/2

2. Fulham braced for semi-final storm
Storm Jocelyn is coming, but there is something bigger blowing in on the banks of the river Thames.

This is massive. In fact, it’s the biggest since a certain Italian side pitched up in West London thirteen years ago, it’s arguably bigger than the play-off final. It is an incontrovertible fact that football teams exist to win trophies and Fulham have never won one.

So, it’s Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool that stand between them and a trip to Wembley and it is with the narrowest of first leg leads that they travel to Craven Cottage. Despite being heavy favourites to progress, the Reds are without a win at this venue since May 2019 — albeit Fulham were in the Championship for a season. Fulham certainly haven’t given Liverpool an easy time of it and with a wild wind rattling around under the lights, the stage is perfectly set for an upset.

 Fulham to beat Liverpool @ 29/10

3. L’homme Presse goes for gold
After sixteen flights at Lingfield, he just wouldn’t be passed. Despite the game efforts of a match-fit Protektorat, despite the thirteen month lay-off and despite showing a little ring-rust in the early exchanges, L’Homme Presse showed no weakness and consequently found himself cut from 14/1 to 9/1 for the Festival’s three mile showpiece.

While the rest of the Gold Cup market have had plenty of mud slung their way, Venetia Williams’ charge, in his absence, has remained unsullied. He still has something to find to get past the imposing figure of Galopin De Champs, but Sunday’s gritty display certainly did his hopes no harm and his trainer may have been coy on whether the run will eke any further improvement, but you have to think that after 391 days off he will only benefit from the weekend’s exertions.

L’Homme Presse to win the Gold Cup @ 9/1

4. Rees-Zammit crosses the Atlantic
After a try-scoring performance for Racing 92 it was with an air of melancholy that Christian Wade reflected on his failed bid for NFL glory.

The 31-year-old spent three years in the Buffalo Bill’s practice squad, even scoring a 65-yard touchdown in a pre-season game, but never made a regular season appearance.

“It is going to get real, real fast,” Wade told S4C. “I know how lonely it is going to get so I wish him the best of luck.” Hardly a ringing endorsement from a man who recorded the fastest ever speed in rugby – hitting 25.1mph — but still didn’t have enough to forge a successful career Stateside.

Louis Rees-Zammit has his own record as the third-fastest player clocking 24.2mph and his athletic ability is unquestionable, but whether that will be sufficient to stamp his NFL lottery ticket is anyone’s guess.

So, Welsh rugby’s star boy is gone and there is no doubt that it’s a dark day for the sport when arguably its finest young prospect is tempted by pastures new. By all accounts it took just 24 hours to make his mind up.

Will it be something he lives to regret? Does Christian Wade regret it? Who knows. But it will be a fascinating to see how he fares.

Lola Katz Roberts is a Content Executive at Fitzdares.

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