Copa del Rey win is great for Barca and Messi

What a way to win a cup final! FC Barcelona were imperious against Athletic Club in what could’ve been a very tricky assignment for them, but turned out to be anything but.

The Catalans dominated every facet of the final against the Basque team, just as they had done against he same opponents in the Copa del Rey finals of 2009, 2012 and 2015.

No wonder Athletic’s manager, Marcelino, had said before the game he wished they could play a final against Barca without Messi present. Continue reading

Brilliant Barca beaten by route one Real

It was a Clasico that lived up to its top billing in a torrential rainstorm that can only be described as biblical.

The Alfredo di Stefano stadium was the venue for a Real Madrid v Barcelona match for the first time ever and the hosts would go on to triumph against their eternal rivals for the second time this season.

As is normally the case with these matches, it didn’t pass without incident.

Referee, Gil Manzano, a late substitute for Mateu Lahoz who was injured in midweek, needs to look long and hard at some of the decisions made, particularly in the first half. Continue reading

3 things to look for in El Clasico

Barca head to the Alfredo do Stefanie stadium on Saturday for one of the most important El Clasico games in years.

Let’s be clear. El Clasico is always important, but a win in this one could really hand the advantage to the Catalans in the race for the league title.

Zinedine Zidane’s side, despite missing key players including Sergio Ramos, will still represent a formidable test for the Blaugranes, who haven’t beaten Los Blancos since March 2019.  Continue reading

Dembele the saviour for Barcelona

Monday night’s game at the Camp Nou could go down as being one of Barca’s most important of the season.

Valladolid had arrived with 12 players out injured and they were, for all intents and purposes, cannon fodder. No one gave them a hope of getting anything.

However, as Cadiz and Eibar had shown earlier this season, if Barca take their foot off of the pedal they are vulnerable, and the visitors can count themselves unlucky to lose. Continue reading

La Liga: Best 11 Players of Week 29

Week 29 looks like it was a turning point in La Liga was a huge blow to Atletico Madrid’s chances of winning the title. Atletico lost 1-0 away to Sevilla and have seen their huge lead cut down. Real Madrid are only 3 points behind and if Barcelona win their game in hand they will only be 1 point behind. Is the writing on the wall for Atletico? It looks increasingly likely.

Barcelona didn’t play at the weekend but they remain the best in form side in La Liga and have earned an incredible 28 points from a possible 30.

Let’s take a look below at the players who impressed the most as La Liga returned this past weekend.

Goalkeeper: Bono- Sevilla 7pts

Bono has been here so many times and is clearly one of the best goalkeeper’s in Spain this season. This was his 13th clean sheet of the season and what it was as Sevilla marched to Champions League qualification as they beat league leaders Atletico Madrid 1-0.

Defender: Ferland Mendy- Real Madrid 5pts

Ferland Mendy has been of Real Madrid’s best defenders this season and he earned another 5 points at the weekend to take his tally to 53. He has helped to keep 11 clean sheets so far.

Defender: Nacho- Real Madrid 5pts

Nacho has 30 points now as Real Madrid beat Eibar 2-0 at home to keep yet another clean sheet and possibly close in on the league title. Nacho made some great judgments on the ball and had a solid game.

Defender: Pedro Lopez- Huesca 5pts

Pedro Lopez showed a lot of maturity at the back for Huesca as they pulled off a terrific result to beat Levante away from home by 2-0. He’s hardly played any games this season and that is why he only has 9 points overall. His value is worth 5m.

Defender: Alberto Moreno- Villarreal 5pts

Alberto Moreno was part of a Villarreal defence that kept a clean sheet as they went to Granada and won 3-0. Moreno now has a total of 5 points given that this was indeed his first game for the club this season.

Midfielder: Marco Asensio- Real Madrid 6pts

Marco Asensio had an interesting game for Real Madrid as they beat Eibar 2-0. He scored the opening goal but it was ruled out by VAR but then a couple of minutes later he made amends for that and scored a proper opening goal.

Midfielder: Casemiro- Real Madrid 4pts

Casemiro has had a solid and professional season with Real and he assisted in the clubs first goal as they beat Eibar 2-0. Casemiro now has two assists for the season and has a total of 40 points so far.

Midfielder: Jesus Navas- Sevilla 4pts

Jesus Navas helped out at the back at times as Sevilla beat Atletico Madrid 1-0. Navas also assisted in the only goal of the game, to round up a very good performance from the midfielder. Currently he is the clubs 4th best midfielder so far.

Midfielder: David Ferreiro- Huesca 4pts

David Ferreiro assisted in Huesca’s goal as they beat Levante 2-0 at the weekend to earn a good 4 points. He has 3 assists now and is ranked at number 1 Huesca midfielder with a total of 23 points.

Striker: Gerard Moreno- Villarreal 14pts

It was a special weekend for Gerard Moreno who doesn’t always get the credit that he deserves. Villarreal beat Granada 3-0 and he scored all the goals to get a hat-trick. Moreno now has 19 goals this season and is 2nd in the top goalscorers.

Striker: Iago Aspas- Celta Vigo 8pts

Iago Aspas had a terrific game as he scored and assisted in the other 2 goals as Celta Vigo beat Alaves 3-1. Aspas has had a good solid season and has appeared in the team of the weeks a few times now. He has 10 goals and has also assisted in a further 10.

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Is Haaland a realistic purchase for Barca?

News that Erling Haaland’s agent, Mino Raiola, and father, Alf-Inge Haaland, have been talking to Barcelona about a possible deal will have anyone of a blaugrana persuasion rubbing their hands together.

It’s also worth pointing out at this stage that the pair then took a plane straight to Madrid and are expected to talk with Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United on Good Friday in what is a whistle-stop tour of the world’s biggest football clubs.

Make no mistake, Erling Haaland is the game’s hottest property. Continue reading

La Liga Game Week 28: What to expect from the top teams

The La Liga Santander title race is heating up at just the right moment, with Atletico Madrid dropping points, Barcelona picking up steam, and Real Madrid hanging on. Los Blancos are six points behind leaders Atletico Madrid but head into game week 28 with a boost after the return of Sergio Ramos and the fine form of Karim Benzema. The odds for this week’s games will be stacked. This week is a higjly anticipated week for sports in general, including horse-bettors.com, where some of the world’s finest in horse racing as the Cheltenham Festival, one of the most prestigious in the world, currently races on.

Atletico Madrid are lucky to still have a cushion at the top of the table because Simeone’s men have only two wins in their last five games, and their loss to Chelsea in the Champions League confirms their poor form. The Rojiblancos will look to bounce back this weekend when they face Alaves who sit in eighteenth place and are battling relegation.

Alaves are on a poor run of their own, with four defeats and a draw in their last five matches. Their position in the table means they have a chance to fend off relegation, meaning they might be a problem for Atletico if Simeone’s men do not play at their best. Barcelona have the best form of the top three, and seem reinvigorated after the voting of Joan LaPorta back as president of the club.

Lionel Messi seems to have particularly benefitted from the move as the Argentine has found his scoring touch once again. Now out of the Champions League, the Blaugrana have all their energy to invest in the pursuit of Atleti and the La Liga crown. That pursuit continues in game week 28 when they face Real Sociedad on Sunday. Playing away to Sociedad has always been difficult for Barca, but an in form Messi will no doubt be a welcome sight.

Four wins in the last four games have Koeman’s men four points behind Atleti. One huge factor may be the El Clasico which is set to play next month. The winner of that game may well be the last real threat to Atletico and the Blaugrana will be keen on reestablishing their dominance over Madrid with a win. Real Madrid are six points adrift but just two behind Barcelona, meaning any slip up from the Catalans will see their rivals overtake or draw level with them, with the Derby fast approaching.

Madrid needed late-game heroics from striker Karim Benzema to get all three points but given their solid form and the boost of Ramos’ return, Los Blancos should be able to handle the task of handling a pesky midtable team in Celta Vigo. This is always a tricky game for Zidane’s men, but with the title at stake, there should be a burning desire to get on the front foot from the kick off. Real have looked solid in recent weeks, and have most of their key players back in the lineup again. Still in the chase for Champions League glory, Zizou’s men may have more to do than the other two teams ahead of them but that is part of the usual expectations at Madrid, one the team is very capable of handling.

Koeman must get credit for Barca revival

Once the international break is over and done with, Barcelona will resume their assault on the La Liga title, and whilst they remain four points behind leaders, Atletico Madrid, they’re certainly the form team of those towards the summit of the Spanish top-flight.

Valladolid are next up at the Camp Nou, and whilst no opponents can be taken for granted, three points will certainly be expected from Lionel Messi and Co.

Then comes the big one. El Clasico. Continue reading

Is Messi more in than out at Barcelona?

Just seven months ago Lionel Messi was a burofax away from leaving Barcelona.

That one piece of paper was the Argentinian’s ticket out of the club he’d served man and boy, but whose love for it had waned after one too many lies from club president, Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Though Manchester City were suspected as being as a potential destination, no formal offer was ever made, and that remains the case to the present day. Continue reading

La Liga: Best 11 Players of Week 28

The top 3 clubs all won so nothing has changed in that respect, however it is clear as daylight that Barcelona are getting better by each passing week and they destroyed Real Sociedad 6-1 at the weekend. The gap to 1st place remains at 4 points.

Karim Benzema is in great form and scored another brace as Real Madrid remain 3rd and they won their 18th game of the season as they beat Celta Vigo. Sevilla drew but it doesn’t matter given that Real Sociedad have lost 2 games in a row and Sevilla now has a 10 point safety net and should claim the final Champions League place.

Let’s take a look below at the players in La Liga who made the team of the week.

Goalkeeper: Jan Oblak- Atletico Madrid 7pts

Jan Oblak now has 14 clean sheets for the season as Atletico got past Alaves 1-0. Oblak had to made 3 good saves in the game and it was on a nervous knife edge for most of the 90 minutes.

Defender: Serginho Dest- Barcelona 8pts

Serginho Dest did help to concede 1 goal as Barcelona beat Real Sociedad 6-1. However Dest had a great confident game as he scored 2 goals. This was a rare occasion for the player and those were his first two goals of the season.

Defender: Kieran Trippier- Atletico Madrid 7pts

Trippier helped to keep a clean sheet as Atletico stayed 4 points clear at the top of La Liga with a 1-0 win over Alaves. Trippier also assited in the winning goal setting up Luis Suarez, to round up a great contribution for the Englishman.

Defender: Aissa Mandi- Real Betis 7pts

Aissa Mandi helped to keep his 8th clean sheet of the season as Real Betis beat Levante 2-0. Mandi who has had one of his best seasons as a player also assisted in the clubs first goal. His value is 6.5m.

Defender: David Garcia- Osasuna 5pts

Not for the first time David Garcia of Osasuna has made the team of the week. Garcia was solid in defence as helped to keep a 9th clean sheet for his club as they drew 0-0 with Huesca. The player now has 30 points overall

Midfielder: Nabil Fekir- Real Betis 6pts

It has been hot and cold with Nabil Fekir’s career ever since he joined Real Betis but it was certainly hot at the weekend as he scored a goal and helped Real Betis to beat Levante with that game ending 2-0. It was Fekir’s third goal of the season and he now has 32 points overall.

Midfielder: Marco Asensio- Real Madrid 4pts

Marco Asensio only played for 20 minutes as he came on as a 2nd half substitution but the midfielder did score Real’s 3rd goal of the game right at the end as they eased to a 3-1 victory over Celta Vigo. That was the player’s third goal of the season.

Midfielder: Alex- Cadiz 4pts

Alex makes the team of the week again and he earned another 4 points as Cadiz lost 2-1 away to Villarreal. It was a disappointing result for his club but Alex did manage to score a goal and he has 4 so far, he also has a total of 31 points.

Midfielder: Pere Milla- Elche 3pts

Pere Milla scored the opening goal for Elche although in the end they could only draw 1-1 with Granada. However it was Milla’s 2nd goal of the season and perhaps will give the 28 year old more confidence going forward as the campaign goes on.

Striker: Karim Benzema- Real Madrid 10pts

There were hardly any midfielders that stood out this week in Spain, but there were strikers- and it was the old brilliant guard. Karim Benzema scored another brace, he has been in brilliant form lately as Real Madrid beat Celta Vigo 3-1 away from home. Benzema now has 17 goals so far and is having another solid season with Real.

Striker: Lionel Messi- Barcelona 10pts

Lionel Messi has been back to his brilliant best in the league especially in the past month. Messi scored another 2 goals at the weekend as Barca destroyed Real Sociedad 6-1 away from home to put the pressure on league leaders Atletico Madrid and they are now only 4 points behind them. Messi is the leading scorer in La Liga this season and has 23 goals so far.

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