Stubborn Allegri Costs Juventus Again

Juventus Training Session

With the league just about wrapped up, Juventus travelled to Madrid with massive expectations on their shoulders. Crash out of the Champions League, and their season is effectively over. Despite the magnitude of the clash, the bianconeri looked a broken side at the Wanda Metropolitano and allowed Atletico Madrid to dominate from start to finish. Armed with Cristiano Ronaldo, this season was supposed to be different for the Italian giants and yet, Juventus arguably put in their worst European performance in six years.

While many of their stars frankly didn’t show up, Massimiliano Allegri will have to shoulder much of the blame for Juve’s most recent European embarrassment. With the score tied at zero, and still all to play for, Diego Simeone acted proactively bringing on Thomas Lemar, Alvaro Morata, and Angel Correa, essentially giving his side the extra push they needed to claim the victory.

Allegri, by contrast, acted timidly both with his starting lineup and in-game substitutions, keeping Joao Cancelo on the bench in favour of Mattia De Sciglio and only introduced Federico Bernardeschi by the time it was too late. Meanwhile, the former Milan tactician had Dybala operating from the right, as if he was a natural winger. Naturally, what transpired throughout the ninety minutes was an unmitigated disaster, culminating in a heavy defeat, which if we’re being honest, could have been much, much worse for Allegri. He’ll will be thanking VAR and Diego Costa.

Continue reading

Bayern result shows Liverpool focus is on the Premier League

Liverpool Manchester United Bayern Munich Premier League Champions League

It’s been a while since Liverpool had to choose between the Premier League and the Champions League. With the top four the best they could hope for in recent years, the latter took precedence.

For a club with as rich a history in Europe as the Reds, it made sense. A run to the Europa League final in 2016 provided cherished memories for fans that had been starved of anything special for several years.

The run to the Champions League final last season did the same. Thrilling wins over the likes of Manchester City and Roma are still talked about. They were exciting occasions that sit among Liverpool’s best nights in Europe.  Continue reading

Predicted lineups for this weekend’s EPL fixtures

Premier League predicted lineups

It’s time to look ahead to this weekend’s Premier League action as we predict the starting lineups for each EPL game.

Cardiff City v Watford

Cardiff XI: Etheridge, Peltier, Manga, Bamba, Bennett, Paterson, Gunnarsson, Arter, Murphy, Cordova-Reid, Niasse

Watford XI: Foster, Janmaat, Mariappa, Cathcart, Masina, Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra, Sema, Deeney, Deulofeu

Questionable: Ashley Darel Jazz Richards (Cardiff)

Out: Sean Morrison (Cardiff); Holebas, Kiko Femenia (Watford)

Barcelona will have a Luis Suarez-sized problem in the near future

With every birthday observed by Lionel Messi, an existential crisis creeps nearer for Barcelona. What will the Catalan club do when their greatest ever player, possibly the greatest ever player in the history of the sport, finally calls it a day? It’s a future that nobody at Camp Nou wants to comprehend, but with Messi now into his 30s the horizon is approaching.

This is something that is frequently discussed among the Catalan press, and in the stands of Camp Nou. When Philippe Coutinho arrived from Liverpool last season, maybe believed it was a sign that Barcelona were already preparing for a time when Messi’s forces might fade. Others saw Coutinho as an Andres Iniesta replacement, though.

suarez

However, Barcelona will soon have another key figure to replace and there has been very little chat about that. Luis Suarez is now 32 years old and there have been signs of decline in his game of late. The Uruguayan has just one goal in his last eight appearances and has yet to score in the Champions League this season.

Of course, there will be those who argue that this is typical of Suarez. He is a streaky player and thrives on momentum. He will, at some point, regain his form before the end of the season and help Barcelona to yet another Liga title and maybe even their first Champions League title in four years. That argument is perfectly feasible.

But this is about more than just form. A yard of pace has disappeared from Suarez’s game. His touch has deserted him in recent months and injuries are becoming more frequent. What’s more, the 32-year-old is taking longer and longer to regain match sharpness whenever he returns from an injury. There have been times when he has even looked slightly overweight.

Barcelona must come up with a succession plan now. They seemingly had one when Antoine Griezmann was a target. The Frenchman would have been the perfect replacement for Suarez in the long term. However, Barca dropped their interest in Griezmann and haven’t been strongly linked with another striker of his type since. Replacing Messi might well prove impossible. Suarez, however, can be compensated for. On the basis of recent activity, though, Barca don’t have a plan for when their Uruguayan striker either fades or retires.

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

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 25

sanabria

Robin Olsen: Roma do not have the most airtight defense this year, but they will square off against Frosinone in this round, which have failed to score in four straights home fixtures. Olsen is coming off a superlative performance against Bologna.

Nicola Murru: Sampdoria are slumping, but in this weekend they will face Cagliari, which will be offensively challenged with few of their attackers on the sidelines and also have failed to hit the net in three straight road games. Murru has the most upside out of the Blucerchiati defenders, but the other regulars Bartosz Bereszynski and Joachim Andersen would be fine choices too. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 25

fiorentinainter

Milan-Empoli: the Rossoneri are coming off a humungous win over Atalanta, the second in a row after they had disposed of Cagliari and they have not lost since in 2019, maintaining a slim advantage over Roma in the Champions League race. The Azzurri snapped an eight-game famine on Sunday, where they had picked up only two points and lost seven times. The Devil will not have Suso due to a suspension, which opens up minutes for either Samu Castillejo or Fabio Borini. Needless to say, Krzysztof Piatek continues to be amazing and his clutchness is remarkable because he does not get as many feeds as other top Serie A strikers. Hakan Calhanoglu finally bagged one last week and they will rely more on their playmaking with Suso on the stands. Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – UCL Round of 16 – First Leg

atleticojuventus

Juventus could not rise to the occasion against Atletico Madrid, got pushed around and pinned back by the opponents in the second half and now find themselves in a nearly insurmountable hole ahead of the second leg. Here are the best performers from a rough night at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

Wojciech Szczesny: two solid saves by the goalkeeper, one on a strike from distance by Thomas and the other on Antoine Griezmann’s wicked free kick from the edge of the box, and a superb one of the Griezmann/Mattia De Sciglio’s lob in the second half, where he just managed to tip the ball on the crossbar. Continue reading

Why Ryan Fraser is ready made for Mauricio Pochettino’s project at Tottenham Hotspur

skysports-ryan-fraser-bournemouth_4433182

Ryan Fraser in recent months has been linked with the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, an individual who is having one of his best seasons as a Bournemouth player and is in his fourth campaign within the Premier League.

When a player from a mid-table side is in fine form and is playing a crucial role towards his team finishing in the top half of the table, they instantly become wanted by the top clubs in England. Players such as Jamie Vardy, Ruben Neves and Wilfried Zaha have unsurprisingly entered this category thanks to the contributions and performances they’ve produced for their respective clubs.

Focusing back onto Fraser himself, it’s time to look at his rise within the Premier League over the last year or so, and how he has caught the attention of Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham Hotspur.

With no further ado…

He fits well into Pochettino’s and Spurs’ project

Pochettino has made a name for himself when it comes to developing young talented players and taking them to the next level since arriving to England in January 2013. From his early days at Southampton up until his current days at Tottenham, he has helped a number of English youngsters to make improvements and tweaks to their style of play, with the well-known ones being Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier, Kyle and James Ward-Prowse.

On top of that, the former Espanyol and Southampton coach is yet to make many signings of the age of 30 and over, which clearly shows the players he brings in are those are who suited to his long term plans and are willing to stay around for at least three to five years. With Fraser turning 25 in a few days time, he has the ideal skillset to go on to being someone who can control and dictate the side’s attack, especially given he has created the most chances (17) in the league so far this season.

Pochettino craves for intelligent midfielders

Looking at Tottenham’s current midfield, it’s none other than Christian Eriksen who is pulling the strings for the side, a player who is very tidy on the ball and can produce something out of nothing. Meanwhile, Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko have actually come into their own in the last couple of months, but are yet to show they have the ability or the spark to guide the team forward, to produce a moment of brilliance from midfield and importantly for when their key men are not on the pitch.

But if Spurs were to go all out for Fraser, they will be going for an individual who is stepping up on his numbers in the final third of the pitch and is proving to be a valuable asset when it comes to delivering set-pieces. Currently on five goals and nine assists in 26 league games, if the Scotland international was to confidently hit double figures in both departments before the season finishes, he would potentially be making a serious name to become one off Tottenham’s main transfer targets for the summer window.

Allows Eriksen to player higher up the pitch

It is more or less fair to say that, Eriksen is one of the side’s most crucial players and is seen as one of the best playmakers within the league and the whole of Europe. Although he is playing in a deep role at this moment of time, alongside either Winks or Eric Dier in the middle of the pitch, the possible arrival of a central midfielder would allow him to play high up the pitch once again, where he can feed the perfect passes into Harry Kane, Heung Min-Son and Fernando Llorente like a piece of cake.

If Ryan Fraser just happens to be that midfield signing in the summer, he could play a useful role as a box-to-box midfielder as well as in Eriksen’s position for whenever the Danish playmaker is in need of a rest or is unable to start the match. The Aberdeen-born star has proven himself as a versatile play over the last couple of months, where has played in all the tactical roles within midfield and also the key areas out on the flanks, which could be important to Pochettino as he continues to utilise a small squad.

Spalletti backs Inter to do professional job against Rapid Vienna

spalletti

Luciano Spalletti held his traditional pre-match press conference ahead of Inter’s crucial UEFA Europa League match against Rapid Vienna tomorrow night. While the Tuscan tactician was full of praise for the Austrians, he believes his players have what it takes to reach the last 16. Here is what he said to the journalists who gathered at the Suning Training Centre: Continue reading

Fantasy La Liga picks for the coming weekend

Antoine Griezmann

As we gear up for another action-packed weekend in La Liga, I take you through my suggestions for the top fantasy football picks in Spanish football.

In the defensive third this weekend, it’s difficult to look past Athletic Bilbao players as the team from the Basque Country have kept two clean sheets in a row and three in their last four league games, including a 0-0 draw at home to the mighty Barcelona.

Not only that, but Bilbao are at home to Eibar who have only won one away game all season while only scoring nine goals on their travels in La Liga.

Goalkeeper – Iago Herrerin (Athletic Bilbao) – 5.0 million

In goals, I’ve opted for Bilbao’s Iago Herrerin as it’s very possible another clean sheet is on the cards for his side. Herrerin is currently valued at 5.0 million and has a total of 40 points so far.