ELF: Red-hot Wrocław Panthers travel to Berlin to take on an underperforming Thunder squad

Today, the red-hot, undefeated Wrocław Panthers will travel over to Berlin to take on the Thunder as the European League of Football rolls through Week 3.

Despite Thunder’s depth of talent, they have underperformed so far, something the Panthers will surely be looking to take advantage of.

Coming into the 2023 season, the Panthers were pretty low on nearly every power ranking. Their change to an unknown quarterback just weeks before the season raised a few eyebrows, and it was assumed they would pretty much pick up where they left off last year. This has been categorically wrong. Quarterback Matthew Vitale has been operating as one of the better quarterbacks in the league and has competently picked apart the Hamburg Sea Devils as well as the Leipzig Kings across the first two weeks.

A large part of Vitale’s success has been credited to wideout Tony Tate who has proved to be a mismatch in every one-on-one matchup he’s faced. He’s currently third in the league with 243 receiving yards and tied for first with five touchdowns. In addition to this, they have been killing the turnover ratios, leading the league with +5.

On the other side of the field sits a Thunder squad who are playing well but are still underperforming. On paper, they are one of the best teams in the league, and their Week 1 thrashing of the Fehérvár Enthroners seemed to prove that. However, in Week 2 they seemed outmanned and outschemed against the reigning champs, the Vienna Vikings, for much of the game. Their depth of talent allowed a scoring frenzy in the fourth quarter that ended the game with a three-point differential. But still, where were they for the first three quarters?

It’s still early in the year, but quarterback Donovan Isom needs to get rolling soon. He has one of the best receiving rooms in the league and a quality defense to back it up but ranks near the bottom of the league in stats – it is worth noting that these stats have been slightly skewed by the outstanding performance of his defense in the Enthroners’ game.

The Thunder have an extremely manageable schedule this year and have a good chance to make the playoffs. The Panthers may not have the same depth as the Thunder but appear to be a better unit. If the Thunder want to be a real competitor this season, their passing game will need to start popping. If it doesn’t, the Panthers may just get their third blowout win on the trott.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.