Downs hold aces in derby

League title chasers have everything to play for following 5-0 thumping of rivals

Tonight’s Tshwane Derby Reloaded follows on Mamelodi Sundowns’ 5-0 Absa Premiership thrashing of Pretoria neighbours SuperSport United at Loftus Versfeld on Thursday.

Here are five reasons why Sundowns will most likely beat SuperSport again when the teams clash for a second time in seven days – this time at the Lucas Moripe Stadium:

  • Sundowns’ record against SuperSport is awe-inspiring.

Going back the last 14 games‚ stretching back to September 2012‚ SuperSport have won just once against Downs.

Worse‚ though‚ is that they have conceded 26 goals, with just seven scored – in losing nine of those 14 matches‚ with three draws.

  • Sundowns have the psychological edge after the 5-0 win.

Their frontline was rampant and must have shaken Matsatsantsa – even though goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse kept the score from moving even higher.

  • Downs’ recent dominance over Stuart Baxter.

When Baxter was with Kaizer Chiefs his record against Sundowns read quite well. But since his move to SuperSport‚ Baxter has lost four out of five games‚ with one win – on penalties in the Telkom Knockout quarterfinals in November.

  • Khama Billiat – the Zimbabwean bounced back from an initially quiet return from injury as the architect of the 5-0 rout.

Billiat’s runs‚ killer passes and finishing – scoring two goals – tormented SuperSport.

  • Sundowns have a title to defend. They have caught up to perhaps their strongest title challengers‚ Bidvest Wits‚ and now lag by just three points.

Sundowns followed their freeflowing style against SuperSport with a tough 1-0 away win over Free State Stars on Sunday.

SuperSport’s title hopes have, frankly, waned too far – and Downs still have it all to play for.

But there are also five reasons why SuperSport can bounce back and stop Sundowns:

  • The quality of the squad and technical team.

Surely it must be unlikely that a squad and technical team with such calibre can capitulate twice within a week, even to African champions Sundowns.

If Baxter can change things around in his back four‚ Downs might find themselves frustrated – like in their Telkom Knockout defeat.

Similar tactics on the back of a thrashing might be expected‚ and could trouble the Brazilians.

  • Sundowns could be battered, by now.

Pitso Mosimane said on Sunday playing every three days was leaving his stars bruised.

None more so than Billiat, Percy Tau and Themba Zwane‚ who were roughly targeted by Stars.

Tau and Thapelo Morena also had to go off with tight hamstrings against SuperSport.

  • Sundowns’ record at the Lucas Moripe Stadium this season.

This stadium was once Downs’ stronghold.

Since the Brazilians moved late last year to Loftus Versfeld – where they beat SuperSport last week – their forays back to Lucas Moripe Stadium have been far less successful.

In their last four matches in Atteridgeville, Downs have won just once.

They drew against Bloemfontein Celtic in the league and lost against Golden Arrows in the Nedbank Cup in their last two games there. ý It is not easy to do it again.

Winning twice in a row against the same team in the space of a few days has been proved not to be an easy undertaking.

Baxter is a coach capable of brainstorming a plan for specific matches and opposition‚ and he will have learnt a lot from the first game.

  • It all seems too easy for Downs. The record‚ their dominance stretching back years‚ last week’s thumping result‚ and with SuperSport wanting to bounce back and stay in the title race, all add up to a dangerous recipe for a possible slip-up while being over confident to beat SuperSport again .

Teams in such a situation can talk all they want about keeping their feet on the ground and not letting complacency creep in.

However, mentally, it often takes quite some effort to not allow that to creep in somehow.

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