Fantasy Football News

Maurizio Sarri was right to substitute Ronaldo and the Portuguese legend must understand that

The big clash in Serie A at the weekend was against Juventus and AC Milan, which in truth meant a lot more 15 years ago and it was a game that Juventus would narrowly win 1-0. But the result was not the talking point, indeed it was all over a substitution.

In world football there are two players who, if they get subbed, can make headlines. One is Lionel Messi and the other is Cristiano Ronaldo and at the weekend for the second consecutive game in a row, the Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri substituted CR7 a.k.a Cristiano Ronaldo.

When it happened in the 55th minute the game was 0-0 and Ronaldo was none too pleased. He trundled off in what appeared to be a huge mood and then reportedly make the bizarre decision to leave the stadium before the end of the game. If this is true he has completely undermined Sarri. Sarri himself tried to play the incident down, saying in a nutshell that it was normal for Ronaldo to be upset and that he would be worried taking off a player that didn’t show emotion. It was nothing more than a textbook response, and Sarri should be boiling inside at Ronaldo’s actions.

On the face of it there has been a falling out and Sarri has no fears about making the decision that most coaches would fear in bringing off Ronaldo. But there is more than meets the eye and it seems that the Portuguese player has been suffering with a niggling knee problem the past few weeks.

It was also reported that before his substitution he had looked at his knee, hobbled a little and looked at the bench. However if true why would he be so angry at coming off? There is a competitiveness but there is also a danger of taking that too far and picking up a much worse injury in the long run.

Ronaldo is a total professional most of the time and nearing 35 next year is still scoring the goals and performing in games. However he got it wrong this time and Sarri was simply trying to protect his player. Maybe he was listening to recent comments too where Ronaldo admitted that he would only want to play in the very important games and Champions League ones.

The game ended with a Pablo Dybala goal, and to rub the salt into Ronaldo’s wounds, Dybala was the player who replaced Ronaldo.

Let’s hope Juventus and Sarri has the courage to fine Ronaldo for his actions, could you imagine a younger player doing the same and getting away with it?

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The best 11 performing players in the Premier League 2019/20 so far

The 2019/20 Premier League season is 3 months so what better time after a quarter a third of the season gone that we look at the top performing players for each position based on European Fantasy football points. This is a great way to get your fantasy team back on track and to figure out who is performing and who isn’t. This is a team dominated by Manchester City and Leicester players with a few surprises in between.

Goalkeeper: Kasper Schmeichel

Dad Peter would be very proud of his sons start to the Premier League campaign with Leicester. Schmeichel is heads and tails above other goalkeepers and has 33 points already. He has kept 5 clean sheets which is the equal best so far.

Defender: Ben Chilwell

We stay with Leicester, and the best defender with the most points is Ben Chilwell. He has 33 and has had a solid start to the season, assisting in 3 goals, scoring himself and keeping five clean sheets. He earned another valuable 5 points at the weekend too as Leicester beat Arsenal 2-0.

Defender: Edna Stevens

Not many people would have put Edna Stevens down to be one of the best performing defenders this season. But Stevens has got off to a brilliant start with his club Sheffield United.  He has been part of a back four that has kept five clean sheets plus he has assisted in a goal.

Defender: Jonathan Evans

Maybe Evans isn’t talked about much, but the Leicester defender is having a very good season. He has 23 points so far and picked up another 4 at the weekend. He has set up one goal and helped keep 5 clean sheets. If you are looking to do some online football betting and have an interest in researching more then you should check out LSM which can offer you a suitable tool to engage in football betting.

Defender: Andrew Robertson

Liverpool’s Andrew Roberson has been one of the best defenders in the league in the past 18 months and he is proving that again as Liverpool are in 1st place. He has only kept 2 clean sheets, but has set up 4 goals and scored one already.

Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne

Manchester City’s deadly attacking midfielder has accumulated the most points in his position and has 38 so far. From 10 starts he has scored 3 goals and assisted in another 8 for a great record after such a short period of time.

Midfielder: Raheem Sterling

Staying with Manchester City is attacking midfielder Raheem Sterling who has bagged 7 goals so far and assisted in one goal. He currently has 36 points and is just two behind his teammate.

Midfielder: Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane is simply ever consistent and a thorn in many peoples sides. The Liverpool winger has already scored 7 goals and has two assists. He has 35 points and it would only take one good week to see him fly into 1st position.

Midfielder: Bernardo Silva

So 3 of the four best midfielders are from one club Manchester City which says a lot about the champions quality. Silva has started 8 games but has scored 5 times already, assisted in a further two goals and when he has played City have kept five clean sheets, that’s pretty good going from the Spaniard.

Forward: Jamie Vardy

The Leicester forward has been wonderfully consistent since being with the Foxes, but this season the 32 year old is on course to have his best of his career, at least stats wise. Vardy has racked up 49 points in fantasy football, easily the best in the league and has scored 11 times and assisted in two further goals. He is pure gold right now for the club

Forward: Tammy Abraham

The Chelsea forward has been a revelation this season under Frank Lampard and has started the season like a world class forward. He has 44 points and has scored 10 goals and assisted in two others. He is already the surprise player of the new Premier League season.

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Moise Kean has not shown his professionalism with Everton

When Everton announced the arrival of Moise Kean this summer from Juventus a few eyebrows were raised. This was the Moise Kean who when given a chance with Juventus excelled, scored goals and looked frighteningly brilliant in attack. Surely Everton had landed a massive bargain and all of this for a teenager that Juve wanted less than £30m for. But therein lies the catch.

First you had to wonder why other clubs didn’t come in for Kean? Then you’d have to wonder why if he was that brilliant Juventus were willing to sell him for such a low fee in today’s money? After all Kylian Mbappe cost PSG £200m and whilst one isn’t comparing the two there is a still a difference of £170m give or take between the two players valuations.

Kean has in a nutshell had a nightmare start with the club where from 11 games played he has failed to score. In truth most of those games have started from the bench but when he has had game time he has had just 1 shot on target in what equates to 288 minutes. This isn’t the Kean that lit up Serie A last season that’s for sure.

No one is denying that Kean is a quality player, you don’t get to come through Juventus’ ranks otherwise and you certainly don’t get first team football where you can call your teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. At the same time we can let slip that Kean hasn’t scored goals for the club, it would in time happen one suspects. But the real issue here has been with the players attitude.

Recently the Everton manager, Marco Silva, who is under pressure to keep his job dropped Kean entirely for the game against Southampton. It has only now come out that he didn’t select Kean as punishment for turning up late to a team meeting. And if reports are to be believed it isn’t the first time Kean has done this. Now we can talk about a 19 year old having culture shock, Turin to Liverpool can give you that, just ask Ian Rush who did the opposite in the 80s only to come hurrying back soon after.

But this is an excuse. How many people are forced to leave their country after a problem or a job related one, and must just get on with it? In Kean’s case the moment he arrived at Everton he would have been greeted with respect and time and a huge salary. The least he could do is act with some professionalism. So yes he has started slow but how about getting into training that much earlier, getting on time to team meetings and trying his best to show Silva what qualities he has? In short how about showing some passion, grit and determination? Is that too much to ask for a 19 year old? If so the club need to sell Kean on and try and learn from this experience.

To hammer it home it’s not all about the lack of goals and contributions he has made, not at this time and it would be unfair to criticise him on this after just 3 months. But the least he could do was act with some pride, he has a job that local footballers who will never make it would die for, it’s a no brainer to start showing his qualities or scamper back to Italy.

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Is Kylian Mbappe destined to end up at Real Madrid?

There’s a picture that surfaced a few years ago. It shows a young Kylian Mbappe, no older than 12, sitting on his bed surrounded by posters on the walls. On those posters is Cristiano Ronaldo, the player the French kid idolised. Indeed, it’s believed that Mbappe has always held an affinity for Real Madrid, the club Ronaldo played his best football for.

Now, the French forward is considered one of the best players in the world and has Real Madrid chasing him. Mbappe’s contract at Paris Saint-Germain expires in 2022, but there is already a race being contested regarding his next move. PSG are desperate to sign their prize asset to a new deal, but Mbappe and his representatives have so far rejected all approaches.

This has encouraged Real Madrid who view the young forward as their ideal signing. They wanted Mbappe in the summer of 2018 when he made the move to the Parc des Princes from Monaco. They have kept up their interest and now there are reports that the Spanish giants could make a staggering £340 million over for the player next summer. This illustrates how badly they want him.

So is Mbappe destined to end up at the Santiago Bernabeu? With Real Madrid in the midst of a transition between a generation defined by the exerts of Ronaldo and the new crop of youngsters fronted by the likes of Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior, Mbappe would be the perfect addition to lead them into a new age.

Real Madrid is a club that revels in fast and furious football. While they have attempted to change their ways in recent years, favouring more technically-skilled players like Isco, the Santiago Bernabeu still like to see a player bombing forward at pace more than anything else. Mbappe, of course, would satisfy those preferences.

Such is the expectation that Mbappe will make the move to the Spanish capital sooner or later there are already reports that PSG have started searching for his replacement, with Antoine Griezmann seen as a top target due to his failure to settle in at Barcelona following his summer move from Atletico Madrid.

Indeed, the pieces seem to be falling into place for Mbappe and Real Madrid. Seen as world football’s next true superstar, if he’s not already at that sort of level, Real Madrid wouldn’t just be buying a player, but something to define an entire generation at the club. His price could come to reflect that.

How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.

Can Everton rise to the challenge after Gomes’ horrific injury?

For a club that couldn’t buy a win and seeing one of your regular players in Andre Gomes receive an horrific injury was just the icing on a cake that no one wants to eat. It’s fair to say that it’s been a tough opening campaign for Everton football club, but could the injury to Gomes which will almost definitely see the player miss the rest of the season actually give Everton an extra gear?

The players will be feeling distraught about what has happened to Gomes, and when he injured his ankle in what was a freak accident against Tottenham, we saw a different character to this Everton side, one of determination not arguably seen since Roberto Martinez’s first season in charge of the club. The club suddenly forced themselves into the game and 1-0 down they searched for and got the equaliser through a thumping Cenk Tosun header.

This past weekend was another huge game for Everton away to Southampton. On paper one could have made Everton the favourites given that Southampton had come into the game conceding 14 goals in their last 3 competitive matches, but with Everton you just never know. They took the lead early on but as the game continued Southampton got back into it and then Danny Ings ex-Liverpool player equalised and that seemed to be it for the Toffees. In normal circumstances their confidence would have evaporated but something different happened at the weekend and a team who are supposed to be low on confidence took the game by the neck and scored again through Richarlison to win 2-1.

The victory was only Everton’s 4th of the season and 2nd in 10 matches and lifted the club to 15th place with 14 points, 6 points from the bottom three. Manager Marco Silva has been under pressure to keep his job but it does seem that every time his P45 is being prepared his side manage to get a win. He will be hoping that Gomes can be some sort of lasting influence on the club- do it for Gomes not only in the league but in the Carabao Cup where Everton have reached the quarter finals.

Everton’s next game is against Norwich who have been very poor and the club will be favourites to win that game at home and win they must because December will be their hardest month of the season. As Christmas comes Everton will have to play the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, and could well end up with 0 points.

Can Silva turn on the magic once more or is his job back on the line?

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Ligue 1 Round Up: PSG roar on as Lyon’s bus is attacked in Marseille

The 13th week in Ligue 1 saw champions PSG reinstate their 8 point advantage at the top of the standings.

PSG were impressive away to Brest who had not lost at home this season and they came out 2-1 winners at a tough ground. Angel Di Maria opened the scoring and the impressive Mauro Icardi grabbed the winner. Icardi has been one of the most important signings made up PSG coach Thomas Tuchel as the club have repeatedly had injuries to their famed front three. This game was no different as both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were missing, but it was another 3 points for the club in the end.

Marseille have roared into 2nd place mostly because other clubs keep dropping points but they have won 3 of their last four games. At the weekend the club played a grudge match against Lyon, and these two famous rivals served up a treat which Marseille won 2-1. That stopped Lyon’s revival under new coach Rudi Garcia. Although Lyon’s team bus was attacked before the game and the club would have been shaken by that. One is reminded of when the same thing happened to Manchester City’s bus when they took on Liverpool in the Champions League.

Whilst the result leaves Lyon in 14th place with 16 points they are just six points behind 2nd placed Marseille, and there is a lot still to play for in the league.

Angers could have remained 2nd but slipped up to Reims and could only draw 0-0. They also ended the game with 10 men and the club have only won 1 game from their past five. One of the best form teams at the moment is Saint Etienne who have picked up 13 points from their last available 15. The club gained their 6th victory of the season when they beat Nantes 3-2 away from home. As for Nantes who were 2nd just a few weeks ago they are going through their worst form of the season and have now dropped to 9th place after losing 4 games in a row.

The bottom of the league remains tight. Nimes are last with 11 points and yet one win would take them into safety, but those wins will have to start coming soon. The club lost to Strasbourg 4-1. The worst form side of the league Toulouse are in 19th after losing 3-0 at Montpellier and Dijon remain in 18th after a close 1-0 defeat at the hands of Monaco.

Ligue 1 football resumes from the weekend of 22nd November where PSG will be at home against 5th place Lille. Marseille will take on Toulouse and be favourites to win that game. Can PSG’s 8 point lead be caught up? Probably not but that is the question on every French football fans’ mind. Only time will tell.

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Lionel Messi: Barcelona’s solution or their problem?

For the best part of 15 years now, Lionel Messi has wowed fans of FC Barcelona.

Even as a young 17-year-old, the Argentinian had the ability to get supporters off of their seats with consummate ease.

As soon as he’d made his debut in the first team, there was never any doubt that he would go on to become a world star, but that’s been almost as much of a curse as it’s been a blessing. Continue reading

Udinese sticking with Gotti as head coach

Udinese will move forward with Luca Gotti as their coach, the team’s sporting director Pierpaolo Marino announced on Monday night. Gotti was Igor Tudor’s lead assistant and was promoted after the firing of the coach ten days ago, filling in while the officials were looking for a suitable replacement. He collected four points in the first two matches, beating Genoa and tying with SPAL, and that was enough for the management to confirm him. Tudor, instead, after a mixed start, got the axe after two dismal losses to Atalanta and Roma, where they surrendered a combined 11 goals, and he also reportedly was starting to butt heads with some players.  Continue reading

Serie A’s Best Players Of The Season So Far

If you had to pick an adjective to describe the current Serie A season, “balanced” would probably be towards the top of the list when you consider Inter are only a point behind Juventus, we have six teams within five points of the Champions League zone while all three newly promoted teams have been far from pushovers. 

The balance we are experiencing is confirmed by the fact that it’s very difficult to come up with a definitive answer as to who has been the best individual player in the first third of the season. Cristiano Ronaldo is off to a slow start, Napoli’s best players have been impacted (and are responsible) from the chaotic start, while Inter have multiple candidates.

Let’s go through the stand out players, starting with those who are head and shoulders above their teammates so far which makes them even more valuable:

 

Ciro Immobile- while his teammate Luis Alberto has been outstanding this season, Lazio’s main striker is probably the safest best for Serie A player of the season so far. After coming off a disappointing 2018/19 campaign at least for his lofty standards in the Italian league, Immobile now already has fourteen goals making him a virtual lock for his fourth season with 20 or more which would tie him with the player he most reminds me of- the great Toto’ Di Natale. In addition to his fourteen goals, Immobile has also 5 assists.  

 

Alex Meret- the fact that keeper has been clearly Napoli’s best player so far this season truly sums up their struggles. The former Udinese player has been very busy since Koulibaly has been a shell of his former self since playing in the Africa Cup, Manolas has battled injuries and a once mighty midfield is leaking as much as a former member of the Trump administration. On the bright side, Meret has made the most of his opportunities and has been flat out brilliant- but Napoli better hope his opportunities to shine start dropping dramatically after the international break.

 

Gaetano Castrovilli- after previous experiences at Bari and Cremonese, the midfielder born in 97 finally made his debut in Serie A. Fiorentina actually intended to loan him out again, but he impressed Montella during the summer retreat and has now a strong hold on a starting role. Castrovilli has two goals to go with his three assists and is now part of Roberto Mancini’s quad on the Azzurri, he surpasses his more famous teammates because he’s been more consistent than Chiesa and Ribery’s three game suspension have really hurt Fiorentina. 

 

Domenico Berardi- after a series of somewhat disappointing seasons, everyone stopped calling him the Italian Robben. But while he has slowed down a bit after a gangbuster start to the 2019/20 campaign, Berardi already has two assists to go with seven goal and this is with Sassuolo having played one less match (against bottom of the table Brescia) this season because of president Squinzi’s death. It’s hard to believe because he’s been in our lives for so long, but Berardi is still only 25, maybe he’s finally ready to make a permanent leap.

 

Joao Pedro- at first, I thought Cagliari were this season’s version of Torino- a team that is very hard to play against and one that won’t beat itself. But in recent weeks, the Sardinian club look more like what Atalanta was like in the 2018/19 campaign. To Maran’s credit, Cagliari are now tied for third place with a plus eleven goal differential (the same as Juventus) after selling their best player Niccolo’ Barella to Inter and with their outstanding keeper Cragno and top goal scorer from last season, Pavoletti, both missing all the games so far with injuries.

While it would be easy to pick Radja Nainggolan to represent Cagliari because of name recognition and his recent performances, Joao Pedro has been more consistent and has more than adequately replaced Pavoletti by scoring 6 goals. After being linked to Atalanta last summer, Joao Pedro recently signed a well deserved extenstion.

 

Chris Smalling- after a great summer and start to the Serie A season, Edin Dzeko has slowed down partly because of fatigue and as a result of all the injuries to Fonseca’ midfield. On the other hand, Smalling has been steadily improving and now even looks like an upgrade to Kostas Manolas- the British defender also gets bonus points for doing all this while being a vegan in the Carbonara capital of the world.

Smalling has been an attentive defender and has even exceeded expectations with his ball distribution, which is very important for center backs in Fonseca’s system which typically builds from the back. Roma are already working on acquiring Smalling on a permanent basis after paying Manchester United 3 million for a one season loan. 

 

Individual dark horses- don’t let the fact that most of his goals came off penalties taint your opinion, Andrea Belotti has continued the momentum from second half of 2018/19 campaign into the new season and now looks entrenched as Mancini’s number 9 on the Azzurri. Dejan Kulusevski has been the best player under 20 in Serie A and is already being linked to Inter (he’s owned by Atalanta but currently on loan at Parma) while Luis Muriel still has amongst the highest goals per minute played average in all of Europe.

What’s missing from this list so far? Aside from a member of Milan’s squad, we have yet to single out anyone on the top two teams in the standings, but they are represented by collectives for different reasons:

 

Stefano Sensi, Stefan De Vrij and Lautaro Martinez- had the former Sassuolo midfielder stayed healthy through out the season, he might be at the top of the list for the entire league, but he has only 6 starts. De Vrij has more than made up for Skriniar struggling a bit in a three man defense and Godin having to get acclimated to a new league, while Lautaro Martinez has made a huge impact even when he didn’t score (think of the penalty he earned against Bologna). Lukaku and Barella are also worthy honorable mentions but they did also come in for massive transfer fees. 

Leonardo Bonucci, Miralem Pjanic, Juan Cuadrado and Gonzalo Higuain- while for Inter you can pick from so many options because the team has made a significant improvement from last season, at Juventus this list has more to do with Ronaldo’s less than stellar start, Ramsey and Douglas Costa missing significant time and Chiellini being hurt. 

Bonucci has been considerably better defensively although his long passing isn’t as important for Sarri’s system, Cuadrado has more than adequately replaced Joao Cancelo’s offensive output while also not being a complete liability defensively and Higuain is in the John Travolta in Pulp Fiction phase of his career. 

Sarri did say that his Juventus would never look like his old Napoli so while Pjanic isn’t playing exactly the Jorginho role, he has been outstanding while handling a much larger volume of passes