Barcelona and Real Madrid kick-off their fantasy season

There were three Monday night games across our relevant European leagues following on from our weekend review, with both Madrid clubs getting their respective seasons kicked off in La Liga, while it was an early rematch from last season’s Premier League title chase as eventual champions Man City hosted runners-up Liverpool at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Starting first with a look towards two of the top three in La Liga last time around, effective bronze medal winners Real Madrid welcomed Cordoba to the Bernabeu in the latter’s first match in the Spanish top-flight since managing promotion last season, and indeed their first game in the competition in 42 years – they were relegated in 1972 and did not make a return until this year. Cordoba’s hopes of springing a surprise in this long-awaited fixture lasted half an hour before Karim Benzema headed the hosts into the lead, but the guests held hope until right at the end, when Cristiano Ronaldo struck a great shot from distance to settle the score at 2-0.

The game means that Ronaldo gets off to a solid start with 20 fantasy points, though any managers with him in their squads will want to see this figure rising significantly over the course of the season – €23.50m is a lot to pay for a fantasy player you know! Benzema meanwhile settles on 15, with a booking taking away some of the gloss on an otherwise decent evening. Real Madrid keeper Iker Cassilas sits top of the Galactico’s list at the time of writing with 40 points, while his defenders Álvaro Arbeloa, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Daniel Carvajal and Marcelo sit just behind him on 30. Cordoba’s lack of goals, however, means that not a single one of their players has yet got himself off the mark, with goalkeeper Juan Carlos and defender Daniel Pinillos sitting bottom of the squad on -10.

In the other La Liga fixture, champions Atletico Madrid didn’t manage quite as good a result as they made the short trip across the city to Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas, home of Rayo Vallecano. The Madrid pair battled to a goalless draw, and so goalkeepers, defenders and midfielders are all off the mark with between five to 40 fantasy points each thanks to clean sheets on both sides. No player on either side ends up in negative figures either, as while Rayo pair Abdoulaye Ba and Raúl Baena, along with Mario Suárez and Juan F Torres of Atletico were booked, the clean sheet effectively cancels out those points deductions.

In the Premier League, the game between Man City and Liverpool had plenty of hype and spice heading into kick-off, with the two sides rekindling their rivalry from last season where both contested for the championship right up until the end. Hosts City did triumph for their second Premier League title, while Liverpool hearts were broken in what was their closest chase for supremacy in some years. An added aspect of interest was the presence of former Blues striker Mario Balotelli, who completed his transfer to Liverpool from AC Milan ahead of the game. It was his former employers, however, that would triumph on the night, with a brace from Stevan Jovetic and a second goal in two sub appearances from Sergio Aguero that put the Reds to the sword, with a late Pablo Zabaleta own goal proving little more than scant consolation and sending the visitors home on the back of a 3-1 defeat.

Aguero now sits top of City’s fantasy points winners on 40 from two appearances – both as a substitute – while fellow striker Jovetic sits just behind, again on 40 but from more minutes on the pitch. Joe Hart rounds off the list of top three City names, and he also has 40 – it would have been more had Zabaleta’s own goal not occurred, as he would have additional clean sheet points as well.

For Liverpool, England trio Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson are the only players to have any points to speak of following the second round of games, with 30, 20 and 10 respectively. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has endured a bit of a tough start though – he has -20 points from his first two games, with four goals conceded and no clean sheets up to this point.

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