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Gibraltar National League: The Christmas run-in

With nearly two-thirds of the first round of fixtures already taking place, and only 24 matches left before the National League splits in two at Christmas, we look at where each of the 12 teams are, and their chances of reaching the top 6 by Christmas and the end of the first round.

Photo © C Correa Photography

1st Place – Lincoln Red Imps – 18 points – 4 games left

100% they will be in the Championship Group. Lincoln’s opening-day loss to Europa has been forgotten about by the side, who have won their next six in a row. The only major challenge left before Christmas will be against St Joseph’s – three points would be important as well as set a market to the rest of the league.

2nd Place – St Joseph’s FC – 17 points – 4 games left

Like Lincoln, Saints will be in the top six. The late draw vs Lynx wasn’t ideal, but St Joseph’s have been good this season and are threatening to make the title-race a three-team affair. As long as they keep the front two of Juanfri and Boro fit and firing, Saints are a match for anyone – a result vs Lincoln before the New Year would be a massive statement of intention.

3rd Place – Europa FC – 16 points – 5 games left

Again, Europa are one of the teams definitely going to the Championship Group. Bar a dramatic draw vs St Joseph’s, Europa have rarely looked troubled all season and if they see through the game vs Lynx with no hiccups, they are likely to be top come the split. January will be interesting for Europa – do they stick with the squad that has served them so well so far, or add one or two players in the window who may potentially be the difference between a title and no title?

4th Place – Bruno’s Magpies – 15 points – 3 games left

Magpies should really be safe now. A little wobble with three defeats in a row raised some doubts over the side, but the back-to-back wins vs Europa Point and Boca means they should get over the line at Christmas. They have hard fixtures vs Lincoln and St Joseph’s to come, but by the time they face Manchester in their last game, we’d be surprised if their top six spot wasn’t mathematically secured. The challenge will be whether they invest even further on new players in January, especially with new manager Alfonso Cortijo undoubtedly wanting some of his own players in.

5th Place – Lynx FC – 14 points – 4 games left

Lynx have a fairly nice run-in in which to accumulate points before the Championship Group, which they seem certain to get into. If they can ensure 7 to 9 points against Manchester, College and Glacis, then Albert Parody’s side will be in a healthy position post-Christmas – the draw vs St Joseph’s showed they can make life difficult for the top three as well and teams won’t necessarily want to play them.

6th Place – Mons Calpe SC – 11 points – 3 games left

Having points on the board is traditionally better than games in hand, as the cliché goes, but it looks like going to the wire for Mons Calpe. Two of their last three games are against St Joseph’s and Europa, making the match vs Manchester 62 a must-win. Even then, 14 points isn’t guaranteed to be enough. They were stubborn vs Lincoln though, and there is every chance of nicking a result against one of the current top 3, but if they don’t, it will be a nervy end to the year for Leo Vela’s side.

7th Place – Manchester 62 – 7 points – 5 games left

Looking purely at the table, you’d say Manchester have the best chance of jumping into the top six from the bottom six sides. However, only one of their last five games is versus a team below them, which make new manager David Wilson’s task that bit tougher. The big two games will be against Mons Calpe and Europa Point – especially the game against Mons – if they can beat the team above them on the 30th November, and follow it with a win vs Europa Point, then they may have a chance of top six, depending on other results.

8th Place – FC Boca Gibraltar – 6 points – 4 games left

Boca aren’t in a bad position table wise, but the fixtures are not too kind to them, given they face Europa and Lincoln in their next two matches. After that though, they’ll need to beat Glacis in order to set up a tantalising final round game vs Lions. Talk of off-the-field issues at the club will need to be shaken off as soon as possible if the club wants to take that sixth spot and work from there in 2020.

9th Place – Lions Gibraltar – 6 points – 4 games left

Whisper it quietly, but Lions could have a chance of sneaking into the top six while no one is watching them. The win against Manchester was vital, not just because it was their first of the season, but because it kept their Championship Group hopes alive. Three of their remaining four games are against fellow bottom six sides, including matches vs Glacis and College, while their final game against Boca could be a winner-takes-all fixture depending on how Mons finish. Albert Ferri has made his team more resolute defensively; if they can improve on their poor scoring form so far, then we may see last season’s 9th place team end in 6th.

10th Place – Europa Point FC – 5 points – 3 games left

Despite only being a point behind Lions and Boca, and only two off Manchester, the lack of games left for Europa Point means that a top six finish in truth seems unlikely. To achieve this, the side would have to beat Manchester and College, while most likely also getting a surprise result against St Joseph’s too. Even then, they would still be relying on other team’s results going in their favour – it isn’t looking promising for Allen Bula’s side.

11th Place – Glacis United FC – 3 points – 5 games left

Glacis have slowly built themselves back up after a heavily disrupted start to the season, and while qualifying for the Championship Group does seem beyond them, they could still have an influence on who does make the top 6. Games against Boca and especially Lions will be tight affairs and if Glacis can take points off those teams, the likes of Manchester and Mons Calpe would be the most likely beneficiaries.

12th Place – College 1975 FC – 0 points – 4 games left

Although mathematically still possible, it is safe to say College are not qualifying for the top 6. Without so much as a point yet this season, they have been up against it from the first gameweek, and realistically these last four games should be used to try and improve where possible ahead of going into the Challenge Group, where hopefully they won’t be on the end of results such as the 12-0 and 9-1 they have suffered in recent weeks.

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Breakspear: “The focus is to finish in the top half of the table come Christmas when the league splits”

Ahead of their game this weekend against Mons Calpe, we caught up with Brunos Magpies defender Shea Breakspear to get his thoughts on the season so far, potential chances in the league and cup, and his aspirations to get into the national team

Photo © Vanessa Correa

The 27-year old centre-back has started three of Magpies five games this season, with his side 5th in the table after a mixed bag of results so far, including the departure of former manager David Wilson – how does the defender rate his team’s season so far? “It’s been a strange start to the season – we haven’t been playing at our best but nevertheless we still picked up nine points in our first three games. I think if you would have offered us nine points out of five games at the start of the season, we would’ve taken it, considering we had to play Europa.”

Magpies recently announced the appointment of new manager Alfonso Cortijo, with the former St Joseph’s and Glacis Head Coach taking the reigns of the Second Division champions – what’s the initial impression of the new manager for Breakspear? “The new manager has been really good – he has only taken three sessions so far so we’re all still trying to adapt to his methods and style of play, but so far it’s been really good and given everyone a fresh start.”

With Magpies fifth, and the top six expected to make up the “top tier” when the league splits in Christmas, what should the newly-promoted sides aspirations be in the league, as well as the Gibtelecom Rock Cup where they reached the Quarter Finals last season: “For now the focus is to finish in the top half of the table come Christmas when the league splits. From there, who knows what we can achieve, but with the squad we have think we can challenge in every single game and hopefully get a very good run in the cup.”

The changes in eligibility rules to represent the national team made the English-born 27-year old, who has spent most of his years in Gib, eligible to represent Gibraltar. What would it mean to him to get the call-up? “It would be an absolute honour and dream come true. I have lived here for most of my life and this is my home. I just need to focus on having a good season with Magpies and perform every week, and who knows what could happen.”

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Gibraltar National League 2019 preview

The newly reconstructed Gibraltar National League season is upon us, kicking off today when Lynx take on Mons Calpe at 20:30, so read below our preview, where we attempt to predict the outcome of the league.

Who will win the title? Lincoln Red Imps are looking to retain their crown again, but will face stiff competition from Europa once more, while St Joseph’s, Mons Calpe and newboys Brunos Magpies have all spent heavily to reinforce their squads and try to close the gap.

Who will finish in the top eight? The new inclusion of the “Championship Group” sees the league split and the top seven seperated and battle it out between themselves for the league. The winner particpates in the UEFA Champions League, while the two runners-up move to the UEFA Europa League (depending the outcome of the Gibtelecom Rock Cup).

Your easy choices would be Lincoln Red Imps, Europa, St Joseph’s and Mons Calpe. Gibraltar Phoenix & Gibraltar United’s withdrawal leaves more empty spots to join the aforementioned four teams. We would expect Brunos Magpies to take advantage of this, while joining them would be Lynx and Lions.

The Challenge Group? Manchester 62 should be favourites and will provide tough competition with Lynx & Lions in the Championship Group. Leo announced a host of good signings earlier on in the season and led by Dani Amaya, could be favourites to win the group. College 1975 have been very quiet throughout the summer and if the signing of ex-St Joseph’s & Lions striker Jose Luis Romero is anything to go by, they could be real underdogs to even sneak into the Championship Group.

Europa Point have had a strong finish to their preseason, their only problem would be finding enough HGP’s – they will be hoping they can pick up some from Phoenix & Gib Utd. Boca have been relatively quiet this summer, apart from the announcement of their new head coach Christian Ressa, it’s been a ‘hush hush’ transfer window so it’ll be interesting to see the team they put out on Tuesday night.

Glacis will be hoping their financial troubles behind them and try to reach the heights they did back in 2016, but with players still reportedly stating they are missing wages from the second half of last season looks like it’ll be another long season for them.

Last but not least FC Olympique, a team which looks to be struggling to get a full squad together. However, with their game against Gibraltar United expected to be cancelled, it could actually be a blessing in disguise to give the club more time to bring in much needed players and compete at this level.

Gibraltar National League prediction:

  1. Europa FC
  2. Lincoln Red Imps
  3. St Joseph’s
  4. Brunos Magpies
  5. Mons Calpe
  6. Lynx
  7. Lions
  8. Manchester 62
  9. College 1975
  10. Leo FC
  11. Europa Point
  12. Glacis United
  13. FC Boca Juniors
  14. FC Olympique
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Gibtelecom Rock Cup Quarter Final: Predictions

The Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter-finals kicks off tomorrow and here are our predictions.

Gibraltar United vs FC Olympique (Tuesday 12th March – 18:15)

After losing to St Joseph’s last weekend, Gib Utd’s only possible chance of getting into Europe would be winning this year’s Rock Cup. Olympique were unlucky in the final of the Second Division Cup, losing 2-1 to Magpies but with match fitness playing a major factor in their defeat then you’d expect the same to happen again.

Prediction: Gibraltar United win.

St Joseph’s vs Mons Calpe (Tuesday 12th March – 20:30)

A tasty fixture indeed, Saints flying while Mons’ victory over Boca would be a good confidence booster after a poor run of results. Mons have won three of their last five meeting against Saints but with Boro & Juanfri scoring 36 goals between them, you just feel that they’ll play a big part tomorrow night.

Prediction: St Joseph’s win.

Gibraltar Phoenix vs Lions Gibraltar (Wednesday 13th March – 18:15)

Like Gibraltar United, Phoenix’s defeat to Lincoln last weekend leaves them with winning the Rock Cup as their only chance of qualifying into Europe. You would expect Labra and co to sweep aside Lions and progress.

Prediction: Gibraltar Phoenix win.

Brunos Magpies vs Europa (Wednesday 13th March – 20:30)

In an interview with FG, Matheus Assumpcao spoke about how he wished to test himself against Europa and two days later, Magpies’ star-man got his wish. After going unbeaten in the Second Division and winning the Second Division Cup, Europa will be their biggest task this season. We’d be expecting a professional display from the holders as they can’t afford to switch off against Assumpcao, Wyatt and Cuesta.

Prediction: Europa win.

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Finnlay Wyatt’s winner seals Second Division Cup triumph

Finnlay Wyatt and Ross Gray scored in the second half to win the Second Division Cup as Brunos Magpies came from behind to beat Olympique 2-1.

Magpies had a major let-off early on as Angel Rojo Laguna found himself through on goal and instead of squaring the ball to his team-mate, took the shot on and missed.

Olympique kept pushing and broke the deadlock with 13 minutes played as Alejandro ‘Carenote’ Gonzalez Espinosa intercepted a poor back-pass, ran on goal and slotted the ball past Ryan MacArthur – his 14th goal of the tournament.

Carlos Gonzalez Espinosa was called into action just before the half time whistle, to keep out Brunos Magpies’ attacker Alexander Dimitriu’s effort on goal – Olympique went into the break leading 1-0.

After getting off to a slow second half, Magpies equalised on the 70th minute and it was their captain Ross Gray getting on the end of a cross to score.

With about 85 minutes gone, Magpies took the lead as Finnlay Wyatt fired in at the second attempt from inside the box. After withstanding the final few minutes, Magpies saw out the game 2-1 and were crowned Champions of the Second Division Cup.

Photo: Joel Orme.

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Assumpcao: “We have to be ready to play anyone”

Brazilian-born attacker Matheus Assumpcao chats about his sides Gibtelecom Rock Cup victory, life at Magpies and much more.

Magpies progressed to the Gibtelecom Rock Cup quarter final last week by beating Boca 5-2. We asked Matheus how he felt the team played, ” It was a very important win on our first test against a Premier Division side this season. We were happy with the result, but, we were not pleased with the amount of chances we missed during the game. Overall it was a good performance from everyone, but, as a team we know that’s not our full potential. We are looking to work hard in the next few weeks to keep improving our game and reach the intensity that Davie wants us to play.”

Magpies and Olympique will be representing the Second Division in the Gibtelecom Rock Cup, we asked if there’s any team he would like to play against – “Honestly, as a team we can’t be choosing opponents at this stage of the competition. We will happily play against any of the teams that are left because if we want to go far in the Gibtelecom Rock Cup, we have to be ready to play anyone. Personally though, I believe that we can surprise anyone and knockout one of the big teams of the Premier and show everyone that we are ready to compete at the top. Maybe test ourselves against Europa FC at some point in the Cup, the First in the Second Division against one of the strongest teams in the Premier Division, why not?”

Assumpcao reflects on his time so far with Magpies, “It’s been really good. I’m thankful for Soccer Smart for connecting me with Magpies. I’m really enjoying myself and excited to see what my future holds in Gibraltar. We have a very good relationship between players, coaching staff, and our directors, what makes everything better. Our fans are also amazing, coming to basically every game and giving us an atmosphere that I don’t think many teams have here. Knowing you have people like that supporting you from the stands makes it easy to have energy to run 90 minutes for them!”

Magpies currently sit top of the Second Division, four points clear and a game in hand – we asked if he fancies his side to go all the win and win, “That’s the goal we set for the season, to win the league and the Second Division Cup. Davie is always pushing us to be better and never let us feel comfortable with the first place, so if we keep listening to him and doing things right, I believe we can go and win the league. Confidence comes from the positive results we are having so far, it’s natural, but if at any moment we think we are already Champions then teams like Manchester 62 and Olympique could come and take it away from us. 

Photo: Neil Wilson

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Gibtelecom Rock Cup Second Round: Predictions

The Gibtelecom Rock Cup second round kicks off tomorrow evening and here are our predictions.

St Joseph’s vs FC Hound Dogs (Wednesday 6th February – 8:30pm)

Saints come into the game on the back of a 8-0 thrashing of Glacis and would be expected to continue that goalscoring form against the side which sit bottom of the Second Division. Raul Procopio’s squad isn’t the biggest so we could see him putting out a strong squad.

Prediction: St Joseph’s win.

Mons Calpe vs College 1975 (Thursday 7th February – 6:15pm)

Just like the St Joseph’s game, this one will probably end up in a quite heavy scoreline. College got beat 5-1 by Manchester 62 in the Cup last weekend, while Mons Calpe will be looking for a confidence booster after their defeat to Gibraltar United. With a bigger squad, Blanco could use certain players from his Intermediate squad for some valuable minutes.

Prediction: Mons Calpe win.

Lincoln Red Imps vs Europa (Thursday 7th February – 8:30pm)

It was raining goals for Lincoln last weekend as they shipped eleven past Boca – Giovanni Rodriguez and Hector Figueroa have impressed since joining in January while ex-Europa forward Kike got himself a hat-trick on his debut. The holders will be hoping to try and get one over their rivals after losing 3-2 earlier on in the season but could see defeat as a blessing with more focus being put into winning the league.

Prediction: Lincoln win.

Manchester 62 vs Gibraltar United (Friday 8th February – 8:30pm)

It has been a difficult few months for Gibraltar United but last week’s win over Mons Calpe could be the turning point needed and they’d hope to continue it against Manchester. The Red Devils invested well in January and it showed in their Cup win against College with ex-Gib Utd striker Robert Montovio getting on the scoresheet but their number one keeper Christian Lopez saw red which will give them a problem going into the game.

Prediction: Gibraltar United win.

Lynx vs Gibraltar Phoenix (Saturday 9th February – 4pm)

This one could be a very interesting tie; two sides doing well at the moment with Phoenix slightly edging it with more goals scored. Lynx have proved to be a tough test to Lincoln and Europa in the last couple of weeks so their opponents should not take them lightly.

Prediction: Phoenix win on penalties.

Glacis United vs Lions (Saturday 9th February – 6:15pm)

Lions will be looking to exact revenge after their 3-1 loss in January, it was quite an even game until conceding an own goal just before half-time which ultimately changed the game. Glacis will be hoping to welcome Alan Parker and Nacho Fernandez back into the squad while Mariano Pereira and Courtney Lewis miss out through suspension.

Prediction: Lions win on penalties.

Europa Point vs FC Olympique (Saturday 9th February – 8:30pm)

Another interesting encounter -, both teams in good form and in with a good chance of progressing. Europa Point will be happy to welcome back their main man Cristian Nunez Chaves from suspension while their opponents come into the game off the back of a whopping 12-3 win over Leo in the 2nd Division Cup.

Prediction: Olympique win on penalties.

FC Boca Juniors vs Brunos Magpies (Sunday 10th February – 4pm)

Magpies did take a heavy hit to their squad in January but with a front three of Assumpcao, Wyatt & Cuesta – it doesn’t really matter what is behind you, they are that good. Yet to be properly tested in the Second Division, Dave Wilson’s men will be looking at the Rock Cup as a idea of where the club is going ahead of next season. It will be another difficult task for Boca and one which we don’t see them winning.

Prediction: Magpies win.

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Second Division 2018/19 Season Preview

Tomorrow sees the Second Division kick-off, with seven teams after Cannons folded and Angels were denied re-admission. With some strong teams taking part in the league, we take a look at each team and give our thoughts on where they’ll finish – who do we think will take the trophy Boca won last season?

Photo (C) William Gracia

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Gibtelecom Rock Cup Final rematch on opening matchday of the season

The opening matchday of fixtures in Gibraltar sees a repeat of last season’s Rock Cup final, while Manchester 62 begin life in the Second Division by taking on Hound Dogs.

Photo © William Gracia

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