La Liga: Best 11 Players of Week 20

We’ve officially passed the half way stage of the Spanish football season for 2020/21 and Atletico Madrid look like the favourites to win the league title. Diego Simeone’s side are 7 points in front of 2nd placed Real Madrid and have a game in hand over them, surely it is there’s to lose now?

Barcelona have found good form and won their last 4 games in a row and have climbed to 3rd place as a result. Down at the bottom it could be the Segunda Division awaiting Huesca. They drew at the weekend but are bottom of the league and six points from safety.

Let’s take a look at the best 11 players in a 4-4-2 formation that made the team of the week in La Liga.

Goalkeeper: Bono- Sevilla 7pts

Bono is the 5th best keeper in La Liga this season with the fantasy points and he earned another seven at the weekend to take his total too 35. It was his sixth clean sheet in this campaign and Bono made some very good saves as Sevilla beat Cadiz 3-0.

Defender: Samuel Umtiti- Barcelona 5pts

It has not been a vintage season for Samuel Umtiti so far but he put in a solid display at the back for Barcelona as they impressively kept a clean sheet away from home when they beat Elche 2-0. Umtiti’s value is 6m.

Defender: Estupinan- Villarreal 5pts

Estupinan has helped to keep four clean sheets for Villarreal and at the weekend the club drew 0-0 away to Huesca. It wasn’t a great result for the yellow submarines but a point away from home is always valuable and the player really stood out among the other defenders for his side.

Defender: Jordi Alba- Barcelona 5pts

Jordi Alba has had a slow start to the campaign but is now picking up points and he put in some great tackles and had wonderful vision just to keep Elche quiet. Even if Barcelona were the favourites to win the game which they did 2-0 he still had a job to do to help and keep a clean sheet and that was Alba’s 8th clean sheet of the season.

Defender: Sergi Gomez- Sevilla 5pts

Sergi Gomez has only started 5 games this season and only has 5 points overall as a result. But Gomez did well when he had the time on the ball as Sevilla were able to overcome Cadiz 3-0 and keep their 4th place in the league standings.

Midfielder: Frenkie de Jong- Barcelona 8pts

Frenkie de Jong had one of those games that Barcelona really needed from him. The Dutch player opened the scoring against Elche and then closed out a narrow game by assisting in the 2nd goal as Barcelona ran out 4-0 winners, de Jong has scored 3 goals and assisted in three this season.

Midfielder: Joaquin Sanchez- Real Betis 6pts

Joaquin Sanchez helped  Real Betis claim a 2-2 draw against Real Sociedad and he did it in style. Real Betis were losing 2-0 and Sanchez came on with just over ten minutes remaining of the game and assisted in a goal to pull the score back. He then scored at the end to claim the draw which for Betis felt like a win, an incredible game for Sanchez.

Midfielder: Eden Hazard- Real Madrid 6pts

Eden Hazard has had long spells of injury at Real Madrid so it was great for him that he did enough to make the team of the week. The Belgian assisted in the clubs 2nd goal and then scored the 3rd one as Real Madrid ran out 4-1 winners over Alaves.

Midfielder: Marcos Llorente- Atletico Madrid 4pts

Marcos Llorente has been one of Atletico’s best players this season and he earned another 4 points at the weekend as the league leaders overcame Valencia beating them 3-1.Llorent was a presence throughout and helped in a goal towards the end for a comfortable win for Simeone’s team.

Striker: Youssef En-Nesyri- Sevilla 14pts

Youssef En-Nesyri has been one of the biggest improvements this season in the league and he earned a huge 14 points at the weekend for Sevilla. It was an amazing game for the forward who scored a fantastic hat-trick and even had a 4th goal ruled out by VAR. The forward now has 12 goals this season.

Striker: Luis Suarez- Atletico Madrid 12pts

Luis Suarez has found a new lease of life at Atletico Madrid and continues to do what he does best and score goals. Suarez helped the club beat Valencia in their latest game as he scored his 12th goal of the season and overall he has been involved in 14 goals.

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Madrid pain could be Barcelona’s gain

In the space of a few days, the narrative at Barcelona has switched a little.

From being a lost cause with nothing to play for, all of a sudden the route to Copa del Rey glory has opened up for them.

Atletico Madrid, streaking away with La Liga at present, were already out, having lost to third tier Cornella, coincidentally Barcelona’s Round of 32 opponents. Continue reading

Barca miss a perfect opportunity against Athletic

The Spanish Super Cup final isn’t the most glamorous affair if truth be told, and trying to jazz it up with a ‘Final Four’ style tournament doesn’t really alter the fact that it remains akin to the Charity Shield in England.

It is nice for clubs to say they’ve won a trophy, but in the grand scheme of things, they’d ideally want to win the Copa del Rey or of course La Liga.

This year, however, the winning of it meant something entirely different to Barcelona. Continue reading

Best La Liga Players so far 2020/21

La Liga took a break this past week and they will play instead in midweek, so this gives us a chance to reflect on the players that have been lightning up the league season.

Two players will be picked from each position and we will look at how they have contributed so far be it with clean sheets, assists or goals. Based on their fantasy points they will make this elite list and you can check to see if any of your players make the best La Liga players of this season so far.

Goalkeeper

1. Jan Oblak- Atletico Madrid 75pts

Jan Oblak has been far and away the best goal keeper in Spain and is probably the best in Europe right now. Oblak is 29 points ahead of Remiro and his team are 1st in La Liga. Oblak has kept 11 clean sheets from 16 starts and his value is 11m.

2. Remiro- Real Sociedad 45pts

Real Sociedad started the season in fantastic form and Remiro was key to this. He has earned 45 points so far and has kept 8 clean sheets the same as Thibaut Courtois for Real Madrid.

Defender

1. Kieran Trippier- Atletico Madrid 59pts

An Englishman is currently the best defender in Spain and Kieran Trippier deserves more good press than perhaps he is getting in his home country. Trippier has been able to adapt and fit right into this Atletico Madrid team. He hasn’t scored yet this season in the league but that isn’t his job, he has assisted in 5 goals though and has helped to keep 10 clean sheets.

2. Mario Hermoso- Atletico Madrid 52pts

Mario Hermoso along with Trippier has been outstanding in defence for Atletico. It is incredible to think that after 16 games the club has only conceded 6 goals especially when some teams can concede that in one game. Hermoso has scored 1 goal, assisted in 1 and like Trippier he has helped to keep 10 clean sheets.

Midfielder

1. Marcos Llorente- Atletico Madrid 50pts

Yet another Atletico Madrid player makes it to the best players of the season so far, that is 4 out of the 8 players chosen playing for one club. Llorente has been incredible in midfield and contributed in 9 goals this season, 6 goals and 3 assists. He isn’t afraid to back track too and has been as solid as a rock.

2. Portu- Real Sociedad 42pts

At least for the first 3 months of the season you would be hard pressed to find a better and more inform midfielder than Portu. Every week his name seemed to pop up with a goal or an assist and it was no wonder that Sociedad were early pacesetters. Portu has scored 5 goals so far and assisted in another three and his current value is 8.5m.

Striker

1. Iago Aspas- Celta Vigo 45pts

The strikers are dominated by two 33 year olds. One is expected to be here the other less so. Iago Aspas has scored 9 goals for Celta Vigo and assisted in another six. Now here’s the amazing fact Celta Vigo have scored 22 goals in the league and Aspas has been involved in 15 of them, that works out at 70% of the goals coming from Aspas, not a bad return. His value is 8.5m.

2. Lionel Messi- Barcelona 43pts

A list of best players in Spain wouldn’t feel complete without Lionel Messi and he would be making lists like this every year for the past 13 years at least. By his standards it has been a quiet start and at times Barcelona have struggled with form. Still Messi has earned 43 points and scored 11 goals and assisted in another 2.

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Barcelona building a bright future

Barcelona head into Sunday’s Spanish Super Cup final on the crest of a wave.

It wasn’t that long ago that we were speculating just how long Ronald Koeman had left in the managerial hot-seat, but the Dutchman has turned things around remarkably.

The Catalans are now unbeaten in nine matches in all competitions and are playing with the confidence which deserted them at the start of the season.

So much so, that you’d have to make them slight favourites on Sunday. Continue reading

Granada hoping for European qualification for next season

When we think of La Liga we tend to dive in and look for Barcelona, Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid, and those clubs have warranted why we do that. The big 3 will be dominating for some time one suspects. But this season there have been some surprise packages from Real Sociedad to Villarreal. Another club that has caught the eye is Granada.

Granada are currently in 7th position and have 27 points and they are only 3 points away from a European finish which would be incredibly beneficial for the club. Last season Granada finished seventh and this is quite remarkable because in the previous season they were playing their football in the Segunda Division. A lot has changed for the club in such a short time.

A lot of Granada’s good fortune comes down to current coach Diego Martinez who joined the club in 2018 when they were in Spain’s second tier and he has not only guided the club back to La Liga but also last season they qualified for the Europa League.

Martinez has plenty of good experience too coaching Sevilla’s B teams during the 2010s and helping out as an assistant to Sevilla during their successful spell in the Europa League during the 2010s, and he is only 40 years old.

Martinez has come in with fresh ideas and has been hailed as a possible future great coach, right now he is doing wonders for Granada who when promoted may have been content with finishing in midtable and just surviving but for the second season in a row they remain a force to be reckoned with.

This season Granada have qualified from their Europa League group and next month they will play their 2 legged round of 32 match against Italians Napoli.

Domestically the goals have been shared around and Jorge Molina and veteran Roberto Soldado have scored the most with 3 goals each. The player with the most points in the fantasy rankings is striker Darwin Machis and Molina who have 12 points each. Machis is valued at 5.5m and while he has been struggling with goals scoring just twice so far he has assisted in a further three goals.

Perhaps this season the club could aim a little higher too with more consistency given that they are only 5 points short of a Champions League place and that really would be historic for the club.

Granada are a team who have proven that a good work ethic can have a team expected to be fighting in the middle of the table actually pushing for Europe and deserving to be there too.

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Barca v Real Sociedad: 3 things to watch in the Super Cup

No sooner has the new year begun, than the first piece of silverware of the season is up for grabs in Spain.

The Spanish Super Cup is normally played at the start of each season in a two-legged home and away format.

As with so many other domestic tournaments Europe-wide, however, the various governing bodies have seen the opportunity to make some filthy lucre by taking the tournament out of their country of origin. Continue reading

La Liga: Best 11 Players of Week 18

La Liga is starting to look like it will be Atletico Madrid’s to lose. Diego Simeone’s team are a point ahead over Real Madrid but have 3 games in hand over them. Real Madrid could only draw 0-0 against Osasuna in their latest game.

Barcelona are moving up the table and are now in 3rd place with 34 points. They have won 3 games in a row and Lionel Messi scored two goals at the weekend and looks back on form after a slow start to the campaign.

Early pacesetters Real Sociedad have slipped down to 5th place and they have won just once in their last five games. Let’s take a look to see which players earned the most fantasy points this past week in La Liga.

Goalkeeper: Juame- Valencia 7pts

It’s not been an easy season for Valencia but Juame in goal has been solid at times and at the weekend he kept a clean sheet, his third of the season, as Valencia beat Valladolid 1-0.

Defender: David Garcia- Osasuna 5pts

Osasuna faced one of their most difficult games of the season as they played Real Madrid and they came away with a 0-0 result. David Garcia was solid at the back and the player picked up 5 points and now has a total of 15 overall.

Defender: Raul Albiol- Villarreal 5pts

Raul Albiol was brilliant in defence and with all of his experience commanded his defenders well enough. Villarreal beat Celta Vigo 4-0 and Albiol would cost you 7m to add to your team.

Defender: Jose Gaya- Valencia 7pts

Jose Gaya not only kept a clean sheet at the weekend as Valencia beat Valladolid 1-0 but he also assisted in the only goal of the game to earn 7pts. It hasn’t been an easy season for the player who was on minus points but he now has 5 overall.

Defender: Oier Mate- Osasuna 5pts

Many expected Osasuna to lose to Real Madrid who are going for the title but the team held firm and the defenders had to be 100% focused and concentrated and got a point from the game as it ended 0-0. Oier Mate has now helped to keep 5 clean sheets this season for the club.

Midfielder: Daniel Parejo- Villarreal 8pts

Daniel Parejo had a memorable game as he assisted in the opening goal for Villarreal as they beat Celta Vigo away from home 4-0. Then he scored the 3rd goal. That was only his 2nd goal of the season and he has a total of 16 points, earning half of that in this game alone.

Midfielder: Carlos Soler- Valencia 5pts

Carlos Soler scored the only goal of the game as Valencia beat Valladolid 1-0. Soler’s value is 6m and he has contributed in 10 of Valencia’s goals so far, with six of them being his goals.

Midfielder: Moises Gomez- Villarreal 6pts

Moises Gomez scored his first goal of the season as Villarreal beat Celta Vigo 4-0. This win has helped the club up to 4th place, and their objective will be Champions League qualification for next season.

Midfielder: Alex- Cadiz 4pts

Alex earned 4 points and he opened the scoring for Cadiz as they beat Alaves 3-1. Alex now has 15 points and is the highest midfield points earner in the fantasy rankings for the club. That was his 1st goal of the season.

Striker: Antoine Griezmann- Barcelona 10pts

Barcelona are in form and Antoine Griezmann had a starring role to play as Barca beat Granada 4-0 away from home. The Frenchman scored the first goal, then set up Lionel Messi for the second before scoring the final goal. He now has scored 5 goals so far.

Striker: Youssef En-Nesyri- Sevilla 14pts

Sevilla are one of the best in form sides in La Liga and they beat Real Sociedad 3-2 in a very entertaining game. Youssef En-Nesyri scored a hat-trick to get all the goals for the home side. He has scored 8 goals so far and his value is worth 6.5m.

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Ilaix Moriba named in Barca squad

For the first time in his fledgling career, 17-year-old Ilaix Moriba has been named in the Barcelona first-team squad.

It’s a hugely significant moment for the youngster and also for the club.

As Barcelona look to recover from the disastrous Josep Maria Bartomeu era, the team and squad is taking on a much more youthful look.

Pedri, Konrad, Ansu Fati, Sergino Dest, Trincao, Riqui Puig et al… and now Ilaix. Continue reading

Crossing the Divide: Players who have switched between Barcelona & Real Madrid

The rivalries between certain football clubs have become engrained in popular culture in both modern society and years gone by and when it comes to the biggest clubs in the world, things are sure to get heated. Such rivalries can be exacerbated when certain players make the move from one club to the other – Sol Campbell to Arsenal and Carlos Tevez to Manchester City spring to mind. Of course, these transfers aren’t exclusive to English clubs and have extended across the continent into some of the most famous clubs in footballing history, Barcelona and Real Madrid. 

The first-ever player to swap Catalonia for Madrid was Alfonso Albeniz who made the move back at the turn of the last century In 1902. Albeniz had an interesting career, winning trophies at hometown club Barcelona before signing for Los Blancos before they had even become Real Madrid. His ties to the then Madrid FC ran deeper than just playing for them, as Albeniz would later become a Director of the football club, as well as the Spanish Ambassador to the League of Nations. Interestingly, the ‘Real’ prefix was afforded to the Spanish giants by King Alfonso XIII at the start of the 1920s.

In total over 30 players have made the move from Barca to Real including some of the biggest names over the last three decades. Portuguese star Luis Figo infamously made the move in 2000 and Ronaldo played for both with a spell at Iner Milan in-between, although the pair of them had different careers at both clubs. Ronaldo joined the Catalan side following a successful spell at PSV and also a world record fee of nearly $20 million. Over the course of the 1996/97 season, he’d average approximately a goal a game with 47 goals in 49 games. However, his spell at Real Madrid would be where he would assert himself as one of the most capable forwards of all time.

The signing of Ronaldo by Los Blancos came during the time of the Galacticos era of superstars signed by the club each summer, with the Brazilian joining the ranks of Roberto Carlos, David Beckham and the aforementioned Luis Figo. Figo would make roughly the same amount of appearances for both Barcelona and Real Madrid. It was the arrival of the Portuguese flying winger for a then world record fee of €62 million that kickstarted Florentino Perez’ Galacticos spending spree that allowed others such as Ronaldo to make the move. Figo’s move was deemed controversial by the Barcelona faithful, despite the fact that Madrid merely met his high buyout clause.

There have been examples in the modern game of players who have been tipped to make the move from one side to the other such as explosive attacking midfielder Isco who has been regularly portrayed as a figure Barcelona could sign to improve their side. They are really struggling to keep pace with Real and Atletico Madrid this season and the La Liga betting backs this up as they are 8/1 to win the league, so more signings are definitely needed to bolster their team.

Making the move between rival clubs is often one of the most divisive things that a player can do and it’s undoubtedly interesting to read into which players have made the move and their reasons for doing it. Combined with this, the reception from the fans regarding certain players proves that the atmosphere between clubs is more toxic than first thought and that players have to think before they do anything in the modern game.