The English league is the highest-paid and most watched soccer competition on the planet, and it attracts some of the greatest talents in the world. The local game is often describd as the most over-paid and under-performing competition imaginable, despite the 22 players out there who are willing to break a leg in the colours of their club. It’s the old story of not shooting the pianist because he’s playing as fast as he can.
But this season we are seeing a commonality in the world game, graphically illustrated by similarly tense final run-ups in England and South Africa.
At home, the massed voices of the phalanx of Kaizer Chiefs supporters have been proclaiming for weeks that their beloved side would be crowned league champions yet again.
The celebrations might yet become a reality, but Mamelodi Sundowns have slowly edged up on Amakhosi and annexed the lead that once seemed all but unassailable. And Bidvest Wits are not totally out of it as the shadows that evoke the Chiefs’ implosion in the run-up three seasons back begin to grow menacingly.
North of the equator, another battle for supremacy rages as Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City sharpen their swords for a final assault.
Popular sentiment would doubtless be with the
fabled Reds of Merseyside and their iconic captain Steven Gerrard, a one-club man who has served Liverpool faithfully since his debut in 1998.
The England captain has won virtually every honour the game has to offer, but he has yet to add a league title to his stellar collection.
Two great climaxes are in prospect – and a neck-and-neck finish is surely as it should be.