European Fantasy League: Team of the season

Let’s hope that the football season isn’t over and the recent Coronavirus can be conquered enough for us to re start the seasons in their respective counties. However if that isn’t possible there has been talks that this season could be null and voided. That still feels unthinkable, but there is that chance. If so, if the leagues were to end today, which 11 players gracing European football would make the final cut in the team of the season for 2019/20?

Based on European Fantasy League’s point system let’s take a look at the winners, who have performed the best up to now.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Marco Bizot- AZ Alkmaar (103pts)

Marco Bizot is having a great season and has the most points for a goalkeeper in the major European leagues. He has been able to keep an incredible 17 clean sheets for his club. He is valued at just 8m and surely is one of the outstanding bargains of the season.

Defender: Owen Wijndal- AZ Alkmaar (85pts)

Like AZ Alkmaar’s goalkeeper Wijndal has done very well this season. He has scored just one goal this season but that isn’t his job and we shouldn’t forget that he has also assisted in another 6 goals. He has been part of a team that has kept 17 clean sheets.

Defender: Trent-Alexander Arnold- Liverpool (84pts)

Based on his EFL points Trent-Alexander Arnold is far and away the best defender in the Premier League this season. He has made an outstanding 12 assists and been involved in the same number of clean sheets for his side who have easily been the best club side in England this season.

Defender: Virgil van Dijk- Liverpool (73pts)

Continuing with Liverpool players van Dijk is one of the best defenders in the game in world football today. He has scored 4 goals which is impressive for a defender and been like a rock at the back.

Defender: Andrew Robertson- Liverpool (73pts)

It’s incredible to think that 3 of the four best defenders in Europe play for one club in Liverpool. Robertson has been part of a defence that has help keep 12 clean sheets and Liverpool have conceded 20 goals this season when he has been in the side. He seems to improve by every passing season.

Midfielder: Mohamed Salah- Liverpool (99pts)

Of course Salah can play as an attacker too, but likes to drop back. Despite having some spells of non scoring he still has 16 goals and also has assisted a further six times too. He is a world class player and usually rises to the occasion time and again.

Midfielder: Oussama Idrissi- AZ Alkmaar (89pts)

Maybe not many people have heard of Idrssi but he continues to have a very good season in the Netherlands. He has racked up 89 points and been involved in 16 goals, scoring 13 of them. His value is just 7.5m and looks to be a real bargain.

Midfielder: Dusan Tadic- Ajax (87pts)

Tadic has not only scored 11 goals for Ajax but has also assisted in another 14 in what has been a stunning season so far for the talented player. His value is just 8m.

Midfielder: Sadio Mane-Liverpool (86pts)

Sadio Mane has been excellent now for 2 seasons and has mostly been the big difference for Liverpool in their attacking threat. He has been involved in 21 of the clubs league goals this season, a stunning stat and a very dangerous player.

Striker: Ciro Immobile -Lazio (118pts)

A star of Serie A, and one of the very good strikers of the past few years. But this one Immobile has really gone up another level. Lazio has a chance to win their first league in 20 years and most of that is down to his goals. He has 27 so far and has also assisted in another 7.

Striker: Lionel Messi- Barcelona (103pts)

A best of team wouldn’t feel complete without Lionel Messi. Barcelona and Messi have had their troubles this season but at the end of the day Barcelona are still top of the league and in the Champions League. Messi is also top scorer in La Liga and has 19 goals and an amazing 12 times he has set up for others.

Overall top 3 players:

1- Ciro Immobile- Lazio

2. Lionel Messi- Barcelona

3. Marco Bizot- AZ Alkmaar

 

Five greatest football clubs of the past decade starting 2010

As football understandably lays low for a while let’s take a look at the most successful club sides in Europe’s top leagues over the past decade.

There are different ways of doing so, points gained for example in a league, trophies won, games won, etc. This list will look at the trophies won for the most successful teams starting from 2009/10 season until the 2018/19 season, to determine which team has been the most successful.

You may have a few contenders but may also be surprised by some teams on the list, so is the club you think is the best the number 1 on this list?

Points system: Champions League = 12pts, League title = 10pts, Europa League = 8pts, Cups= 5pts, all other cups =2pts

5th: Juventus 112 pts

After being forcefully relegated in 2006, Juventus have made up for that during the past decade in Serie A winning 8 league titles in what could be described as a total domination. They have added some domestic cups too but they have failed to win the big prize in the shape of the Champions League since 1996. They will be hedging their bets that Ronaldo can finally deliver that missing piece of silverware. Still they are far and away the most successful team in Italy. Even though Inter Milan were the only Italian team to win the Champions League in the 2010s, Inter only finished our ranking with 30 points!

4th: Real Madrid 116 pts

Real Madrid were amazing in the 2010s which included winning an incredible 4 Champions League and winning 3 of those in a row. That had not been achieved since Bayern Munich in the 70s! So it was odd that Madrid sit only in 4th place and only four points above Juventus. The reason is that for all of their European glory they haven’t actuallly won many domestic trophies in the 2010s. True they still scooped up two league titles, but for their standards you take out what they achieved in Europe and you almost get the feeling of could have done better.

3rd: PSG 121 pts

Despite PSG having no wins in Europe they have dominated Ligue 1 in France winning every title since 2012 except one where Monaco surprised them. They have won countless domestic cups after they were bought in the earlier part of the decade and have dominated the league ever since. They also have an abundance of very good players who are genuinely eyeing winning this years Champions League.

2nd: Bayern Munich 140 pts

Bayern did reach 2 Champions League finals and after losing on penalties, at home to Chelsea they made up for it the year after. They have dominated the league title in Germany winning every year except one and scooped up a few domestic cups also. For a club their size they would like to add more European trophies of course but Bayern still come out as the 2nd most successful club in European football of the past decade despite this.

1st: Barcelona 150 pts

Barcelona may have played second fiddle to their rivals Real Madrid in Europe in the 2010s. But they still won 2 Champions Leagues. They also have won 7 La Liga titles which is impressive given how they have had to fend off not just Real but also Atletico Madrid who enjoyed one of their most successful decades in the history of the club. Barca fronted by Lionel Messi one of the greats of the game have been the best team in Europe trophy wise finishing with over double the points of the most successful English team which goes to Manchester City.

Notable mentions: Manchester City 71 pts, Chelsea 68, Manchester United 51, Atletico Madrid 42, Inter Milan 30.

 

 

 

From Mbappe to Aguero the top 10 best strikers in the world right now

As we have a pause in the league we have complied the top 10 best strikers in the world at this time. With leagues hopefully set to resume in a few weeks time and with about 10 games left to play not so much should change in our assessments of who has been the best strikers in world football at this time.

We have complied links to some of these players and when the leagues do start back up you may want to add some of them into your team. You will be surprised as some are still affordable and on a good budget.

To note the list is made up of strikers goals to games ratios and not how many goals they have scored so far, as that would be unfair as some players have not played the same amount of games.

10. Wissam Ben Yedder- Monaco 18 goals

Monaco have struggled over the past few seasons selling too many good players and taking the cash. So it surprised everyone when they splashed out 40 million euros on Ben Yedder and bought him from Sevilla. Maybe it was a surprise that Sevilla let him go. Ben Yedder is a classic centre forward who scores goals. He has 18 so far and has made all the difference to Monaco, who are now chasing a European finish.

9. Jamie Vardy- Leicester  19 goals

When Jamie Vardy finally leaves Leicester they will build a statue of him. He has stuck with the club through the glory and desperate times. This season though has been superb and the club have surprised everyone climbing to 3rd place and keeping it. They are on course to qualify for the Champions League and Vardy’s 19 goals have surely helped them. He is currently the top goalscorer in the Premier League.

8. Sergio Aguero- Manchester City 16 goals

Aguero gets older but does so like a fine wine and scores goals. What he does so well is get the important ones too. It hasn’t been a great campaign for City who are 25 points behind Liverpool, but Aguero has battled on. Some say this could be his last season with the club, he will leave as a club legend, no doubt.

7. Timo Werner- RB Leipzig 21 goals

Timo Werner has scored 21 goals in just 25 games as his club continue to surprise, doing well in the Bundesliga and making the later stages of the Champions League. He looks to be the next big German striker who is going to score plenty of goals in the major competitions as is only 24. A goal scoring machine.

6. Lionel Messi- Barcelona 19 goals

Messi ‘only’ has 19 goals so far for Barcelona this season, but he is still easily the top goalscorer in the league, and his games to goals ratio is still one of the best in Europe. Even at 33 he is showing no signs of letting up and his goals have meant that Barcelona are in 1st position at this moment over their eternal rivals Real Madrid and going for yet another league win.

5. Neymar- PSG 13 goals

True Neymar only has 13 goals this season but then again because of two injury lay offs he has only played 15 games. That’s when it hits you how consistent the player is. Since coming back into the team in December PSG have looked like world beaters, so not only does he score goals but he clearly influences his team mates. Still one of the worlds best.

4. Kylian Mbappe -PSG 18 goals

Mbappe has scored 18 goals from just 20 games and continues to be one of the very best strikers in the world. He is still so young and has plenty ahead of him. He has been so consistent for PSG and is genuinely one of the deadliest strikers on his day in world football.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo- Juventus 21 goals

Last season Ronaldo scored 21 goals from 31 league games. This season he has the same amount of goals from just 22 games. Ronaldo did not go to Italy to just see out his playing days and has been more than terrific at Juventus. Perhaps his time there will be defined if he can bring European glory to the club, but as a goalscorer he cannot be judged. Everywhere he goes the goals follow.

2. Ciro Immobile- Lazio 27 goals

Ciro Immobile has had an incredible season, so has his club Lazio who are looking for their first league title in 20 years. They might get it and if they do then a lot of it could well be done to Immobile’s goals. It is clear that he will get on the 30 goal marker which is quite rare in Italian football and has simply been a superb striker this season.

1. Robert Lewandowski- Bayern Munich 25 goals

One of the most intelligent strikers in world football. This season Lewandowski has scored 2 more goals than he has played (23). Bayern Munich look on course to win the league in Germany and are amongst the favourites to win the Champions League. He scores plenty of goals, and scores beautiful ones too. Keep your eye off him for a second and suffer the consequences. A stunning striker.

 

 

 

After postponement of Euro 2020 & Copa America: Realistic options for European football

It was like the secret that every football fan knew in advance, that Euro 2020 and the Copa America would not be taking place this summer. It was announced and confirmed by UEFA on Tuesday morning and was obviously the right and correct decision.

With the two major tournaments being delayed a year until the summer of 2021 it frees up the summer for domestic seasons to continue. The hope of course is that the seasons will be able to continue. In the Premier League for example the FA have penciled in a return date of the first week of April. But that decision was made  a week ago.

The problem is that domestic sport returning that early seems like a far stretch with the world in chaos and uncertainly over the Coronavirus, which isn’t supposed to hit its peak according to scientists until the summer, possibly in June. Once it does then things are supposed to start returning to normal.

So the worry is can domestic seasons be finished this season? Of course that will be up to every different association and it wouldn’t be a surprise if, for example. Serie A is declared null and void this season, with Italy being hit the worst out of European countries. Spain has also taken a hit. It is less so in England, where the country continues to take a very different stance than its European counterparts by trying to continue to live day to day whilst other countries are on total lock down.

So when does the delay become a problem? Well there was 2 months of the season to finish and with no major tournaments now in the summer that means domestic football could, in theory, continue. The new season could also be delayed maximum to mid September and there would need to be at least a five week gap between the end of the season and the new one.

That would mean that this season would need to end by at least the beginning of August and start at the beginning of June. Of course football could be kicking off sometime in April and if that happens, then all is well with the world again, that is the hope. The biggest fear is that the virus drags on or even gets worse before it gets better. One would hope though that with almost a 3 month safety net all domestic leagues could continue again this summer.

These are very uncertain times, something that no new generation or the one before it has faced before, so nobody really knows what will happen, but for once UEFA has tried to help the situation and so has Conmebal to try and make the right decisions.

 

 

Hope for Tottenham? Six of the best Champions League second-leg comebacks

Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain (6-5 on aggregate), 2017

A 4-0 thrashing of Barcelona in the first instalment of PSG’s round of 16 clash in 2016/17 felt like a coming-of-age result for the Ligue 1 side in Europe, yet they somehow contrived to throw it all away by going down 6-1 in an extraordinary return match at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona still needed three goals to progress heading into the 88th minute of the second leg, but a double from man-of-the-match Neymar and Sergi Roberto’s dramatic decider completed one of the most extraordinary turnarounds in football history.

Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 Milan (5-4 on aggregate), 2004

Milan entered the 2003/04 campaign with hopes of becoming the first team to win back-to-back Champions Leagues since Arrigo Sacchi led the Rossoneri to two in a row in 1989 and 1990. They got their quarter-final meeting with Deportivo La Coruna off to a perfect start with a 4-1 win at San Siro, with all four goals (two from Kaka and one each for Andriy Shevchenko and Andrea Pirlo) coming in the space of eight minutes.

Milan’s lead was wiped out by the midway point of the second leg, however, as first-half efforts from Walter Pandiana, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque gave Deportivo the away-goals advantage. Carlo Ancelotti’s men therefore needed to score to edge back ahead on aggregate, but it was Fran Gonzalez who grabbed the decisive fourth of the night to send the Spaniards through.

Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 on aggregate), 2018

Barcelona fans could have been forgiven for booking time off work to attend the Champions League semi-finals after their 4-1 triumph over Roma in the first leg of the 2017/18 quarter-finals. That scoreline did not tell the full story of a game in which the Serie A side created plenty of opportunities, but a three-goal lead heading into the second leg appeared to be enough for Ernesto Valverde’s charges.

Edin Dzeko gave Roma hope with a sixth-minute strike in the Italian capital, before Daniele de Rossi made Barcelona nervous by converting from the penalty spot just before the hour mark. It was left to Kostas Manolas to make himself the hero, the Greek defender heading home in the 82nd minute to send the Stadio Olimpico into raptures.

Chelsea 4-1 Napoli (5-4 on aggregate), 2012

A 3-1 loss to Napoli in the first leg of their last-16 tie was not quite the final straw for Andre Villas-Boas as Chelsea manager, but the Portuguese was sacked less than two weeks later. Roberto Di Matteo was installed as caretaker boss with the hope of securing a top-four finish in the Premier League, with most fans realistic about the club’s slim chances of further progress in Europe.

Yet Chelsea produced a brilliant performance in the second leg to advance to the quarter-finals. A 3-1 scoreline after 90 minutes sent the game to extra time, in which Branislav Ivanovic scored the all-important ninth goal of the tie to complete a magnificent comeback. Improbably, Chelsea then went on to defeat Benfica, Barcelona and Bayern Munich to win their first ever European Cup.

Monaco 3-1 Real Madrid (5-5 on aggregate), 2004

European champions in 1998, 2000 and 2002, Real Madrid were favourites to lift the trophy again in 2004 as the competition reached the quarter-final stage. That feeling was only strengthened when los Blancos beat Monaco 4-2 in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, although subsequent events meant that Fernando Morientes’ late effort to reduce the deficit to two goals was hugely significant.

On loan at Monaco from Madrid, Morientes also scored in the second leg, with Ludovic Giuly’s brace completing a 3-1 win and sending the principality club through to the last four against the odds.

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (4-3 on aggregate), 2019

Just last season, Liverpool showed that nothing can be taken for granted in the Champions League. And while Tottenham are just 1-0 down to RB Leipzig midway through their last-16 tie, Liverpool had three goals to make up in this semi-final clash.

They did it in spectacular fashion, Divock Origi and Gini Wijnaldum both notching braces to leave Lionel Messi and co. stunned. It was a phenomenal feat, and one which set the Reds on the path to their sixth European crown.

 

PSG win 7 goal thriller as Rennes move closer to Marseille

If there is one thing that seems to be certain with PSG it is entertainment and following their 4-4 draw at Amiens last weekend the club scored another 4 goals, except they won this time beating Bordeaux 4-3.

No one really expected such a fight from Bordeaux who showed a lot of character in not just coming to Paris in order to defend. PSG had gone a goal down but veteran striker Edinson Cavani soon equalised. The star of the team this past weekend though was Marquinhos who can sometimes be seen as the forgotten man, but he scored two goals and Kylian Mbappe got the winner in a fantastic energised game.

But there would still be a negative to take from the match as Neymar received two yellow cards and was sent off in the very final moments of the game and now he will miss the trip to Dijon. However PSG have pulled clear at the top by 13 points, and that was helped as Marseille lost 3-1 at home to Nantes. It was the clubs first defeat in over 15 games and it wasn’t a good performance which was capped off by Alvaro scoring an own goal.

Marseille losing meant that Rennes took full advantage and their 2-1 home win over Nimes took them to within 8 points of 2nd place. M’Baye Niang scored both of Rennes’ goals as his good form continues. Rennes needed to win because Lille also picked up 3 points in 4th place with their victory over Toulouse. Toulouse who are rock bottom were never given a chance and this was a match where Lille ran out comfortable 3-0 winners. Loic Remy scored a brace and the club have won 4 from their last five games, as they chase down 3rd position.

Monaco’s winning run came to an end but at least they didn’t lose and instead they drew 1-1 away to Dijon. Lyon won their first game in almost a month by beating Metz away 2-0 and that was seen as a very good result for the club as Metz had picked up in form lately even in the bottom half of the table. But the club are still behind Strasbourg who were involved a dour 0-0 draw against Amiens- the same Amiens who had put four goals past PSG, but that is football.

Reims have lost just one match in their past five and they got a decent 1-1 draw away to Saint Etienne and are in 8th place. They were losing 1-0 and heading for defeat until they were rewarded a penalty in the final minute which Boulaye Dia scored for the away side.

Reims European hopes are still alive even though they are drawing too many games and the reason for that is how close the league still is with only 12 games left to play. The club are in 8th and yet are only seven points behind 3rd place, so there really is all to play for.

Prove you have what it takes to challenge the best French Fantasy Football managers here www.fantasyligue1.com 

 

Ligue 1: Fantasy Player Picks for Week 26

There are just 13 games to go until the end of the season and whilst PSG are cruising to another league title, Champions League and Europa League places are indeed up for grabs. Relegation will be contested too. We take a look below to see which players could well perform the best at the weekend.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Edouard Mendy- Rennes

Rennes have conceded 7 goals in their last 10 games and that is the 2nd best record in Ligue 1. Mendy has been at the heart of this and Rennes will try and bounce back to winning ways and will be the favourites at home to Nimes at the weekend.

Defender: Damien Da Silva- Rennes

Da Silva has been strong at the back for Rennes and we are backing them to do well at home to Nimes. Da Silva has already been able to keep 8 clean sheets this season and is valued at just 5m which looks like a bargain.

Defender: Hamari Traore-Rennes

Another Rennes player but Traore has really built up a good chemistry with Da Silva and the two of them have been the difference in keeping 8 clean sheets this season for their club.

Defender: Alvaro- Marseille

Marseille did concede in their last game v Lille in a 2-1 win but Alvaro has been an important player and the club have a great defensive record of late. They are also returning back home to face Nantes and Alvaro has not only kept 8 clean sheets he can be brought in to your team for just 4.5m.

Defender: Jose Fonte- Lille

Everyone knows the quality of Lille, who rarely lose at home, and even though they did last weekend it was to 2nd placed Marseille. But they will be at home again this time to bottom club Toulouse and will be the big odds on favourites to win. Fonte has kept 8 clean sheets and has 22 points so far, he is valued at 7.5m and looks to be a great addition at least for this weekend.

Midfielder: Tiemoue Bakayoko- Monaco

Bakayoko has been brilliant in midfield as Monaco have found form and won their last 3 games and they play Dijon away where he could put in another good game. He has helped keep 5 clean sheets.

Midfielder: Steven N’Zonzi-Rennes

Steven N’Zonzi is coming back from injury so has next to no points, but he will have a point to prove to keep his midfielder’s position as Rennes return back home to play Nimes.

Midfielder: Dmitri Lienard- Strasbourg

Lienard has been good at scoring and creating goals for his position and has also helped keep 6 clean sheets. He can be a dangerous and gifted player and his club will be at home to Amiens where they will start as the favourites to win, could be a shrewd call to bring the player in.

Midfielder: Bouna Sarr- Marseille

Bouna Sarr has been impressive lately and Marseille will be at home to Nantes. Sarr can play in a more attacking midfield role, so there is hope that he will have plenty of opportunities.

Striker: Victor Osimhen- Lille

We have picked Osimhen on a few occasions and the reason is that the player is in great form for Lille. But at the weekend he will face off against Toulouse the poorest team in Ligue 1 so far. He will have great chances to add to his goals.

Striker: Ludovic Ajorque- Strasbourg

Strasbourg have got some form and will be expected to beat and score a few against Amiens at the weekend. Ajorque already has 8 goals and has assisted in a further four and would cost just 4m.

Prove you have what it takes to challenge the best French Fantasy Football managers here www.fantasyligue1.com 

 

 

 

 

Ligue 1: Player of the Week: Gael Kakuta

There were quite a few players who finished with 7 points earned in Ligue 1 at the weekend. But after thought the player of the week has gone to Gael Kakuta.

Kakuta was involved in one of the best games of the season in Ligue 1 as his team Amiens who are struggling with relegation drew 4-4 against the champions PSG in an emotional rollercoaster ride, that every fan would want to relive again and again.

For Amiens it was a valuable point earned although they could still go down but at times it looked like they would get all three points as they raced into a 3-0 lead.

Whilst Kakuta didn’t score any goals, he was a real handful the whole game and was seen in attack, in midfield and helping out in defence as PSG came back into the game in the second half. But what Kakuta really did was provide his service. That started as early as the 5th minute when he set up Sehrou Guirassy to put Amiens in the lead, and the stadium went wild.

With Amiens 2-0 up, Kakuta also assisted in the 3rd goal, passing to Fousseni Diabate just at the pivotal time and that put Amiens 3-0 up and seemingly that was the game over. As we all know PSG pulled back and then went 4-3 up, before Guirassy became the hero in the final minute and made it 4-4, so in the end this draw would have felt like a win in some respects for the club.

As for Kakuta he has 22 points in the fantasy Ligue 1 rankings so far and is the 2nd best Amiens player of the season. He is just 6 points behind Guirassy. Kakuta is valued at 7m and is a regular started for the club playing 20 games so far from the first whistle.

The midfielder has scored 2 goals and has assisted in a further 5 goals, making his contribution to Amiens goals this season stand at 7. With the club scoring 29 goals in total that means Kakuta has contributed to almost 25% of their goals, which is a good return just for one player.  He has helped the club also keep 4 clean sheets but has also been booked 4 times this season although he hasn’t been sent off yet.

Amiens still look likely to go down and the truth is Kakuta is just too good for Ligue 2 football and if the club are relegated one could suspect that Amiens would be forced to sell him.This weekend they will play 7th placed Strasbourg away.

Prove you have what it takes to challenge the best French Fantasy Football managers here www.fantasyligue1.com 

Unheralded Sergi Roberto continues to prove his worth for Barcelona

Sergi

Due to his incredible adaptability to operate in so many different positions, such as a central midfielder, winger or fullback, and his undoubted all-round quality, Sergi Roberto continues to prove his worth to Barcelona.

And under Quique Setien’s tenure, he’s shown what a vital asset he is to the tactically sophisticated technician’s plans, with him giving his manager much flexibility as to how best deploy him and his team in general.

Operating at right back, a role he’s now extremely familiar with, for Barca’s crunch clash with Getafe, Roberto once again put in shift littered with upside, in a match where he notably scored his first league goal since 2017.

Despite Barcelona dominating possession for large chunks, third placed Getafe still posed a major threat offensively with their transitions, physicality and nous upfront. So Roberto had to be on his game to handle this threat, which he was, dealing with whatever came his was quite comfortably indeed.

Facing off against talented Barca loanee, Marc Cucurella, Roberto certainly won the battle, for he defended with conviction and awareness to keep his adversary quiet. Good in 1v1s, tracking runs attentively, strong in aerial duels and timing his challenges cleanly, the 28-year-old hardly put a foot wrong, thus ensuring Cucurella struggled to have his usual impact.

When not directly marking Cucurella, Roberto remained positionally secure, as he’d recognise when to tuck infield to ensure compactness, step out, drop back, shift across or support his defenders.

The fact he chimed in with eight ball recoveries, three interceptions, two clearances and won two aerial duels punctuated his strong output.

Meanwhile, on the offensive side of things, Roberto was customarily assured in possession, stroking around the ball tidily to connect, construct and break the lines when the opportunity arose. Two footed and boasting fine vision, the Spaniard’s ability to remain unfazed by pressure to combine with his teammates to get away from danger or to find the free man was a big plus against Getafe’s fierce pressure.

Image 1 - Superb incisive pass to play in a teammate

Superb incisive pass to play in a teammate

Without question, however, his most striking contribution came from his wonderful forward bursts. Curling and timing his runs superbly so he could remain onside while exploiting the blindside of his marker, he added valuable width and depth to Barca’s attacks. Credit must go to the likes of Frenkie De Jong and Antoine Griezmann especially, for they drew their trackers narrow to generate openings for Roberto to explore.

Image 2 - Brilliantly timed blindside run in behind

Brilliantly timed blindside run in behind

Image 3 - Sublimely timed run in behind to take advantage of the space

Sublimely timed run in behind to take advantage of the space

Image 4 - Wonderful depth run as he catches Getafe off guard

Wonderful depth run as he catches Getafe off guard

Image 5 - Cucurella getting drawn inside which frees up Roberto to receive

Cucurella getting drawn inside which frees up Roberto to receive

Image 6 - Providing a great outlet for the switch

Providing a great outlet for the switch

Indeed, his goal offered a glowing testament to his aptitude here, with him angling his out-to-in blindside run smoothly to evade his marker before finishing with aplomb on his left foot.

Image 7 - Fantastic blindside run to get free before finishing

Fantastic blindside run to get free before finishing

Some other ways he unbalanced Jose Bordalas’ men came courtesy of his slick underlapping runs and rotations with Griezmann, which posed dilemmas for Getafe on who should mark who. His high and wide positioning also saw him available for quick switches of play, where he often found himself in a 2v1 overload with Antoine Griezmann or a 3v2 superiority to get at the away team.

Image 8 - Helping form a 2v1 out wide with Griezmann

Helping form a 2v1 out wide with Griezmann

Image 9 - Forming the free man as Barca form a 3v2

Forming the free man as Barca form a 3v2

When looking at his offensive numbers, and they were solid too, as he completed 41 of 46 attempted passes, five of six attempted passes into the box and final third, two shot assists, two dribbles and two touches inside the box.

After yet another accomplished display by the regularly unheralded Barca utility, this will do wonders for the heavily derided figure’s confidence, who regularly comes in for rather harsh criticism.

With such a massive period ahead that includes the Clasico against Real Madrid, their Champions League tie with Napoli and a tough contest with Real Sociedad, you can guarantee Setien will value his presence no matter where he decides to deploy him.

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PSG held in 4-4 thriller as Monaco make a move into the top 5

There was no doubt about it that the game of the weekend in Ligue 1 was between  PSG and Amiens. It was simply an incredible match that ended in a scoreline that nobody would have predicted: 4-4.

Of course PSG did rest some players namely Kylian Mbappe as Thomas Tuchel’s side have their crucial Champions League match to play against Borussia Dortmund in midweek. But even taking that into account it was an incredible start from Amiens who are in 19th place. The club went 3-0 up within 40 minutes and the home fans simply could not believe what they were witnessing. This was the same Amiens who had won just 3 games at home this season and scored just 13 before the game, now they had 3 in one match.

Serhou Guirassy opened the scoring after just five minutes to make Amiens intent very clear. Perhaps they had sniffed blood and realised that one eye for PSG would be on their Champions League game and that this was the perfect time to face the current French champions. Gael Kakuta made it 2-0 shortly afterwards and then Fousseni Diabate sent the stadium out of control with the third goal. How many teams come back from this situation and it seemed like the home fans were celebrating a rare victory over the mighty PSG who had lost just 3 games all season.

But this is still PSG, and even though some stars were rested they have an almighty talented team. Ander Herrera scored just before half time to make it 3-1 and there was a little self doubt at that point that had crept in.

In the 2nd half PSG dominated the game and Tanguy Kouassi broke home fans hearts with 2 goals in five minutes and now Amiens were hanging on from a cliff that they thought they had just conquered. With 16 minutes to go Mauro Icardi put PSG in the lead to make it 4-3 and PSG looked to have made one of the great comebacks and earn yet another three points. But there would be some joy for the home crowd when in the very final minute the man who had opened the scoring finished it and Guirassy scored his 2nd to send the stadium wild and the final score ended an incredible 4-4.

Amiens are 19th and 6 points from safety and it looks like the best the club can hope for would be the play-offs. But then again if they can put in consistent performances like they did at the weekend could they make one of the very special comebacks in Ligue 1 history themselves?

It was a very good weekend for 2nd placed Marseille who beat Lille 2-1 away from home, a very hard ground to go to. Not only did PSG drop points which means that Marseille have shortened the gap to 10 points but Rennes also lost which means they have an 11 point safety net and the club are almost guaranteed 2nd spot now which means automatic qualification for next seasons Champions League, job, almost achieved one would suspect.

Rennes lost at Reims 1-0 and the club have now gone their last 3 matches without a win, but they somehow stay in 3rd place with 41 points. With Lille losing too it means that Monaco have shortened the gap and they made  a big splash into 5th place after beating Montpellier 1-0. It was the club’s 3rd win in a row and Islam Slimani scored again. The pressure now looks off coach Robert Moreno and the club have climbed onto 38 points and are just three points from 3rd place. It has been quite a season for the club so far but it could end up on a positive note.

Strasbourg’s good form continued as they drew 1-1 away to Lyon to keep 7th place and Reims are back into the top 8 with a 1-0 win over Rennes. A penalty by El Toure settled the game.

European spots are still up for grabs in Ligue 1 and it is interesting to see how close the league has been this year. Marseille also will not give up on a league title even if it does seem unlikely, but if PSG keep progressing in the Champions League whose to say that they will lose some focus in the league? You never quite know in football.

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