Fantasy Football News

Why Neymar returning to Barcelona is a no-go

Not long now until the transfer merry-go-round spins in earnest.

In fact, the rumours are already in full swing and there’s still the best part of three months until the window opens again!

As clubs across Europe go looking for bargains, there are one or two that need to make a statement signing to send shivers down their opponent’s spines. Continue reading

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.

 

 

Could Liverpool really be denied the Premier League title over Coronavirus?

These are strange times we are living in, it almost feels like a science fiction movie, streets are emptying as are shops, and all of a sudden there is panic in places as the coronavirus hits. All of this has led to football being suspended in many countries including England and that could hit league leaders Liverpool hard.

In a season where no other club was going to catch them, Liverpool could be denied winning their first league title since 1990 by the virus instead. For now the league is taking a 2 week break but there are mutterings that it will need to take at least a 5 week break, and there are 10 games still to be played.

Karren Brady vice chairman of West Ham has come out and said that this season should be null and void, but is that a realistic option? On one hand she could have a point if the season can’t be finished and the cut off deadline would have to be sometime in July. On the other hand one has to wonder if she simply has her own club at heart who are just above the relegation zone. Whilst a null and void league would be a huge blow to Liverpool, it would also affect the teams in the Championship who have worked so hard to try and gain promotion, then again an act of God that no one could have predicted has intervened.

How realistic is it that after being by far the best team in the league and having an incredible 25 point lead that it could mean nothing? The good news for Liverpool is that UEFA are set to postpone the European championships until 2021, so that does free up the summer. With clubs mostly being able to play 2 games a week, there would then be plenty of time to finish the season, but of course that all depends on how long restrictions will apply for.

There have been suggestions in some countries that the peak of the virus could extend until June, and if the seasons resume say in the middle of June, that could be fine for the leagues to restart. Instead of having pointless pre- season tournaments we can get the league sorted out.

Anyone declaring a league season to be null and void really needs to check themselves because it feels like the people saying it are doing so through self interest. Would Brady be declaring such a statement if West Ham were top of the league?

It would surely be an odd moment in football if the league was voided and a huge twist and such a painful sucker punch for Liverpool. Let’s hope though that football and general life can get back on track as soon as possible.

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Is Sergio Busquets’ time up at Barcelona?

As Barcelona wind down another LaLiga season, question marks will again be asked over certain players.

Players who, despite their seniority in the team, haven’t performed at the required level for the club, and for a consistent period, not just a game or two here and there.

Whilst it’s an unpalatable thought, sooner or later, the regeneration of the squad takes precedence over keeping the big names happy. Continue reading

What is Real Madrid’s long term plan for Karim Benzema?

With 14 goals in La Liga this season, Karim Benzema had been enjoying a successful campaign before the global coronavirus crisis brought everything to a halt. Now, there is no suggestion of when the La Liga season will resume and every other division in Europe is in the same situation. These are unprecedented times for the sport.

And so with no matches to preview or react to it’s time to consider some big picture questions. Real Madrid find themselves in the midst of a transition. Zinedine Zidane’s side might be fighting near the top of La Liga for only their third title in 11 years, but this is a squad that is still stuck between the Old Guard and the new generation.

One question Real Madrid must find an answer to over the next few seasons concerns the future of Benzema. At 32 years old, the Frenchman is coming into the twilight of his career, but he is seemingly only getting better with age. So should Los Blancos look to replace Benzema sooner rather than later or stick with him for the long term?

A number of big name strikers have been linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu in recent years. Most persistently, Robert Lewandowski has been speculated to be on Real Madrid’s radar with the Polish centre forward widely believed to be keen on making the switch to the Spanish capital at one point.

For all his undeniable brilliance, though, Lewandowski is only one year younger than Benzema at 31. He wouldn’t be a long term successor to the Frenchman. Real Madrid would surely face the same dilemma with Lewandowski as they do now with Benzema. Instead, they need someone who will carry their attack for years to come.

Erling Haaland fits the bill. The Norwegian has hit the ground running at Borussia Dortmund and at just 19 years old is set to spend the next decade at the elite level of the sport. Harry Kane has also been previously mentioned as a future ‘Galactico’ and with the England international reportedly considering his future at Tottenham Hotspur the pieces might be falling into place for him to join Real Madrid.

Of course, Los Blancos spent big on the signing of Luka Jovic last summer. He was meant to be the long term successor to Benzema, but has so far struggled to grow accustomed to his new surroundings. Finding a successor to Benzema won’t be easy, but Real Madrid must start devising a plan of action.

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

3 players Barcelona could buy this summer

Regardless of whether Barcelona end the season with silverware or not, it’s clear to everyone that they need an injection of new blood into the first team.

For the most part of 2019/20, the Blaugrana have looked laboured and off of the pace, and have relied on their showings at Camp Nou to gloss over their evident shortcomings.

Shortcomings that have been brutally exposed away from home. Continue reading

Unexpected La Liga hiatus could benefit Real Madrid’s injured contingent

These are unprecedented times with European football set for a hiatus of undetermined length, with news of the suspension of the 2019/20 La Liga season coming on Friday. There is no suggestion as to when the Spanish title race will resume as the sport grapples with how to handle this situation.

The break for Real Madrid comes after a damaging defeat to Real Betis, a loss which saw Zinedine Zidane’s side once again concede their advantage over Barcelona at the top of the table. The Clasico win over the Catalan outfit looked to have given Real Madrid the momentum, but they lost that in losing at the Benito Villamarin.

There could be a silver lining to this unexpected hiatus for Real Madrid, though, especially for the players who are currently on the sidelines through injury. Eden Hazard in particular is surely relishing the opportunity that a few extra weeks of recovery will give him to get back on a football pitch before the end of the season.

Hazard underwent surgery in Dallas last week and is expected to be missing from action for quite some time. This latest injury blow was predicted to all but finish the Belgian’s season, but time is now on his side. Real Madrid haven’t seen the best of Hazard so far. He could still make an impression before this campaign is out.

Thibaut Courtois and Marcelo have also picked up knocks of late, with the duo expected to miss the games against Eibar and Manchester City had they gone ahead as planned. Courtois is a key first team figure and has finally proven himself as the ‘Galactico’ goalkeeper he was signed to be this season. Marcelo has also demonstrated his worth recently, shining in the Clasico victory over Barcelona.

Then there’s Marco Asensio. The Spanish international has missed the entirety of the season so far, suffering a serious injury just weeks before the start of the 2019/20 campaign. Asensio is now back in training though and so if the season is now to be extended into the summer, as has been mooted, then the 24-year-old will stand a better chance of returning to the pitch before the honours are handed out.

There’s no knowing how this La Liga season will end, or whether it will end at all, but there is still a scenario in which Real Madrid could benefit. The break, even in the face of grave societal challenges, might rejuvenate a number of players at the Santiago Bernabeu.

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

Balotelli Hits out at league: “They Waited for Juventus to Go First.”

Mario Balotelli has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind and most recently, lambasted the league’s indecision regarding the ongoing outbreak of the Coronavirus. Since the outbreak, Supermario was very vocal and wanted the league to suspend the games with immediate effect. Serie A, however, allowed for the Derby d’Italia to be played before eventually suspending the games until April 3; a decision Balotelli rejected wholeheartedly.

In typical fashion, the enigmatic striker took to Instagram live to blast the league claiming they favored Juventus. “They had to wait until Juventus went back on top before stopping the league,” said Balotelli. “In all honesty, I hope Serie A doesn’t start up again until there are no more cases. I got so angry at the start when I urged everyone to stop and people insulted me for it. Maybe now they’ve finally realised the situation,” stated Supermario. 

Before the Derby d’Italia, Juventus found themselves two points behind Lazio in second-place with a game in hand. With their win, Maurizio Sarri’s men leapfrogged Lazio, pulling themselves temporarily in first with twelve games to play. However, one head-to-head clash between the two sides remains before the season comes to a close.

One option that FIGC President Gabriele Gravina put forward to decide key positions if the games couldn’t be played was to go off the current table to discern a winner. In this case, Juventus would be crowned champions with Lazio, Inter, and Atalanta rounding off the remaining Champions League spots.

Otherwise, the other two options would be to assign no winner and void the season or make Italy’s top four compete in playoffs. Simply put, any of the three options have their respective short-comings, leaving someone dissatisfied. In any case, a decision will need to be made sooner rather than later.

Shortly after Balotelli’s controversial comments, Brescia distanced themselves from their striker’s claims, stating his comments do not reflect the club’s position in any way. In an official press release, they said:

“Brescia officially distances themselves from Mario Balotelli and his hypothesis about the league’s potential favoritism. Specifically, on his Instagram live later disseminated on Youtube, Balotelli alluded to the league favoring Juventus for the title. Brescia would like to underline that this opinion is strictly personal and does not in any way reflect the club’s views.” 

In any case, clarity will be provided shortly as a number of factors remain. For one, what will happen to Euro 2020? If the tournament is postponed, there may be a chance that the remaining Serie A fixtures could be played.

As Italy looks to curtail the outbreak of the Coronavirus, let’s make one thing clear – at a time like this, football is secondary. In this sense, Balotelli is not wrong. Whether they void the season or not, it simply doesn’t matter at this delicate time. With the number of reported cases rising every day within Italy, what’s important is curbing the outbreak and then depending on where we are, figure out the rest of the season.

Join the most popular Serie A Fantasy game here: www.fantasyseriea.com now!

 

 

Five More Serie A Players Test Positive for Coronavirus

After the league was temporarily suspended last week, it was reported that Juventus defender Daniele Rugani was the first Serie A player to contract the coronavirus. Shortly thereafter, Sampdoria’s Manolo Gabbiadini announced he tested positive for the disease himself, indicating the suspension of the season was the correct call. Following these reports, all Champions League games were postponed in addition to the suspension of all major sports leagues, including the NBA, the NHL, and the MLB.

Today, reports came out that a further four Sampdoria players got the Coronavirus in addition to Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic. Morten Thorsby, Albin Ekdal, Omar Colley and Antonino La Gumina were the league’s next round of confirmed cases. Moreover, Sampdoria’s team doctor Amedeo Baldari also contracted the virus, bringing the league’s total to eight for the time being.

Sampdoria midfielder Albin Ekdal took to Twitter to address the latest news:

“Listen to the authorities and do everything in your power to help reduce the spread of this virus. It will help us protect the sick and the elderly. Lastly I would like to say thank you to all healthcare professionals who are doing a heroic job right now.”

Given the recent spike in cases, Italy’s Minister of Sport Vincenzo Spadafora recently spoke out against the league’s indecision. In a recent interview with Rai Uno, Spadafora said: “Football is a world in itself: there was a time when the Lega Serie A didn’t want to take responsibility as it should have done,” said Spadafora. “We did it as a government to protect interests. Now there is no longer any controversy because some of the players have the virus. We would have preferred to have stopped the league sooner, but better late than never.”

With the league suspended until April 3, it has left many wondering if the season will finish at all and if so, what the result will be. Currently, Juventus are one point ahead of Lazio in first, however, the bianconeri still have a game to play against Simone Inzaghi’s men. If the games cannot be played, playoffs are being touted as a real option. However, it is still unclear how that would play out.

Where it might get trickier is in the relegation zone. Judging by the standings, SPAL and Brescia are as good as relegated on 18 and 16 points respectively. While either side could hit miraculous form over the last twelve match-days to save themselves, it was looking increasingly unlikely.

The third and final relegation spot, however, is a different story. Lecce and Genoa are currently tied on points, with the Grifoni holding the tie-breaker for the time being. Beyond Genoa and Lecce, Claudio Ranieri’s Sampdoria are just one point ahead in the relegation race. Torino aren’t exactly out of the woods either on 28 points and could feature in a relegation playoff if one comes about.

With much uncertainty surrounding the league and more cases being reported by the day within the league, Serie A will need to take action shortly. After all, April 3 is fast approaching.

Join the most popular Serie A Fantasy game here: www.fantasyseriea.com now!

Doku Catching The Eye Of Liverpool And Other European Giants

This summer is likely to be dominated by the European Championships. Thus explaining the buzz from betting sites who have already started to prepare odds and offers for Euro 2020. Still, we already see transfer rumours begin to surface. One of the latest surrounds Jeremy Doku, a player who could well be in demand in the coming months.

Doku, 17, is enjoying what is very much his breakthrough season at Anderlecht, the club which produced the likes of Youri Tielemans and Romelu Lukaku. He’s made twenty-three appearances in the Jupiler Pro League in the 19/20 campaign, starting on fourteen occasions. With three goals and four assists to his name, he’s proving himself a capable performer at Belgium’s highest level already at such a young age.

The winger, who can play on the right or the left, put in a sensational performance last time out for Anderlecht in their 7-0 home victory against Zulte Waregem. Doku was directly involved in three out of the four goals Frank Vercauteren’s side scored, bagging two himself and providing one assist. If his last eleven Jupiler Pro League games are anything to go by, Doku appears to have established himself as a first-team regular, which will only allow him to showcase his ability to the likes of Liverpool and other European teams.

Liverpool are long term admirers of the Belgian U21 international, but they may have to stay patient due to Doku’s current contractual situation with Anderlecht. Doku penned a new deal with the club on February 21st, which sees him tied down now until the summer of 2022. However, there is also a suggestion that when Doku turns 18 on May 27th, a new long-term deal will be signed to secure his future with the Belgian outfit.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who is renowned for developing and trusting youth players, knows consistently evolving his squad will be the key to long term success. Takumi Minamino and Sepp van den Berg, who are 24 and 17 respectively, have joined the club in the 19.20 campaign, and the German has also shown he is keen to allow the younger players at the club to progress along the way.

Doku could be the perfect addition to the current Liverpool squad long term, primarily as the Borgerhout born winger is used to playing in a similar setup to the one Klopp employs with his teams. And, while Doku may remain at Anderlecht for several more seasons, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. His development will receive a boost, just as we saw with Youri Tielemans, who made a move at the right time and continues to impress with Leicester City.

So, for now, Liverpool and other European sides will have to be patient, and so will Doku. But, he’s undoubtedly one to watch for the future and a player who will make a move to one of the bigger clubs in Europe’s top leagues in the next couple of years.