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Getty Frenkie de Jong celebrates his goal

Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong combined to deliver a superb goal for Barcelona in Wednesday’s Spanish Super Cup semi-final against Real Sociedad in Cordoba.

The Catalan giants were without captain Lionel Messi due to injury but still took the lead in the match just before half-time.

Griezmann continued his rich vein of form with a great cross for De Jong to send a brilliant header past goalkeeper Alex Remiro.

Frenkie de Jong's form lately ????

He puts Barcelona ahead with a wild header!

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 13, 2021

Barcelona captured just how difficult a chance it was for the Dutchman to convert.

???? @DeJongFrenkie21 #SuperCopaBarça

— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_cat) January 13, 2021

De Jong’s goal ensured Barca had the lead at the break after a hard-fought opening 45 minutes between the two La Liga rivals.

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Frenkie’s Flying for Barcelona

De Jong’s goal is his third of the season and the second time he’s scored against Real Sociedad in 2020-21. The Dutchman grabbed the winner when the two sides met at the Camp Nou in December in La Liga.

The midfielder now has three goals and two assists in his last nine matches after being asked to play in a more advanced role for Barcelona. De Jong spoke about his new role ahead of the game at a pre-match press conference.

I think we are doing well I feel good too. We have been improving as a team in recent games. I hope tomorrow we do well also. I think we are more fluid in our play and we are gaining more confidence.

I feel good right now personally and I think we are improving as a team compared to the beginning of the season. We’ve won the first games of the new year. I think we are doing well. I am playing a bit more different in these last games. I play later, more attacking and I feel more comfortable.

The tactical tweak appears to be paying dividends and he is starting to thrive under Ronald Koeman. The goal also seemed to go down well with Messi who was watching the game from the stands.

Messi's reaction to De Jong's goal ????

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 13, 2021

De Jong appears to be finally finding the sort of form that saw him shine for former club Ajax before he sealed his move to the Camp Nou in the summer of 2019.

Another Assist For Griezmann

It’s also worth noting that the goal came from another Griezmann assist. The Frenchman now has five for the season and moves level with Jordi Alba on most assists for the Catalan giants in 2020-21.

3 – Frenkie de Jong ???????? has scored three goals in 24 appearances for @FCBarcelona under Ronald Koeman ???????? in al competitions, one more than he netted with Ernesto Valverde (1 goal in 26 apps) and Quique Setién (1 in 16) combined. Free.

— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 13, 2021

Indeed Griezmann now has three assists and two goals in his last three outings for Barcelona and appears to be back in form after a run of eight games without a goal. The Frenchman’s return to form comes at a good time with Messi currently sidelined.

READ NEXT: Dembele ‘Amazes’ Barcelona Team-Mates in Training: Report

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Betting trends to know entering NFL Divisional Round

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Last week, I started my annual NFL playoff series on recent trends in the wild-card round. I revealed a number of road, underdog and Under-the-total systems that had been very successful recently. A key part of that pattern continued last weekend, when visiting teams won four of the six games. So, like the league itself, I will move on to the divisional round this week.

The six winners last weekend join No. 1 seeds Green Bay and Kansas City in looking to take a big step toward the Super Bowl. The top seeds bring superior talent into their games, including arguably the two best quarterbacks in the business, and seemingly, each is capable of making it to Tampa next month for the Super Bowl.

Last year, three of the four home teams advanced out of the divisional round. Home sweeps are rare, and if this season is like other recent ones, not all the top teams will move on, though it’s a good bet that at least three will. In fact, looking back at the last nine playoff seasons, the hosts swept this round twice — in 2016 and 2019. They split in 2017. In the other six years, they went 3-1 for a cumulative record of 28-8, or 78 percent, in that span. If the pattern holds, expect one host to be eliminated this weekend. On paper, that team would figure to be Buffalo, which is the smallest favorite of the four host teams.

Patrick MahomesGetty Images

Recent years have produced some wild action in this round. Last year’s most exciting game was Kansas City’s rally from a 24-0 deficit to beat Houston, 51-31, and the Chiefs went on to win the Super Bowl. Surely, you remember Jacksonville’s 45-42 win at Pittsburgh in 2018 or the Minnesota Miracle that same season. But rather than looking back at specific games, we will instead look back at some general trends in the hope of finding nuggets from which we can profit in this year’s contests.

One trend to get us started: The divisional playoffs have produced a lot of points recently, with 26 of the 40 games (65 percent) over the past 10 years having surpassed the posted total.

Here are some others:

  • The outright winner owns a 26-9-1 ATS mark in the past 36 divisional playoff games. The two most recent win/no-cover games involved New Orleans, which has been on both ends of those results in the last two years. Last week’s wild-card report showed that outright winners were on a much stronger 44-5-1 ATS run, and they went 5-1 last weekend.
  • Since the road teams last held an edge, going 3-1 in 2009, home teams are on a convincing run of 33-11 SU and 23-20-1 ATS. Hosts are 12-7-1 ATS in the last five years, emphasizing the importance not only of home-field advantage, but also of the extra week of rest and health that comes with securing a bye in the wild-card round. Of course, for 2021, only the two No. 1 seeds enjoyed the luxury of having resting last weekend.
  • Point spreads have proved to be a strong giveaway as to which team should win divisional playoff games. Home favorites of 5.5 points or fewer (or underdogs) are just 13-9 SU and 9-13 ATS since 2006, while those laying six points or more are 26-11 SU and 17-19-1 ATS in that span. That’s a difference of a little over 11 percent outright.
  • Double-digit home favorites in the divisional round are on a 6-1 SU and ATS surge. Tennessee’s upset of Baltimore last year is the only conflicting result in that group. The Chiefs are currently the only team to match this trend this weekend.
  • Road teams have proven worthy bets in the divisional round when underdogs in the +3.5 to +9.5 range, going 21-13-1 ATS in the last 35 tries (11-24 SU). However, both teams lost in this scenario a year ago. The Rams are the only underdogs that figure to qualify this time around.
  • In intradivisional games in this playoff round, road teams are on a 3-1 SU and ATS surge. Tampa Bay will try to build on that trend when it takes on New Orleans for the third time this season.
  • Here are the divisional-round records since 2002 for the teams playing this weekend: Rams 1-0 SU and ATS; Packers 5-5 SU and 6-4 ATS; Ravens 3-6 SU and 4-5 ATS; Bills first appearance since 1995; Browns first appearance since 1994; Chiefs: 2-3 SU and ATS; Buccaneers 1-0 SU and ATS; Saints 3-3 SU and ATS.
  • On Saturdays, home teams have gone 19-3 SU and 16-6 ATS over the last 11 seasons. Over the total is also 15-7 in those games. On Sundays, road teams have performed much better, going 14-16 SU and 21-8-1 ATS since 2006. However, they were 0-2 SU and ATS in 2020.
  •  AFC home teams are 16-7 SU and 12-10-1 ATS in the last 23, while NFC hosts are 22-8 SU and 14-16 ATS since 2006 in this playoff round but are riding a six-game SU winning streak.
  •  In terms of wild-card teams’ potential success in the divisional round, 11 of the last 12 wild cards to cover the spread in divisional games played well defensively in the previous game, allowing 20 or fewer points. The Rams and Ravens are hoping to continue that trend in 2021.
Filed under nfl ,  nfl playoffs ,  Sports Picks ,  1/16/21

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