Fantasy Football News

Aston Villa try to fend off Man Utd’s interest in Grealish

Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester United all season, with the record champions of England expected to make an offer this summer.

The 24-year-old has been with the West Midlands club since he was six years old and played both an influential role in their promotion back to the Premier League in 2019 and then scored the goal against West Ham United that kept Aston Villa’s top flight status on the final day of the season last month.

Their 1-1 draw away to West Ham United meant Bournemouth were relegated by one point, whilst Villa had collected eight points from their final four games to pull off a great escape.

Grealish has the talent to boss games in the middle of the park and also be a goalscoring threat when deployed down the left wing, as Dean Smith did on several occasions this past season.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would likely see the leader as a central midfielder to partner up with Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes next season, should they be successful in making a move for him this summer.

Grealish scored eight goals on top of his six assists in 36 Premier League appearances this past season, whilst also winning the most free kicks in the division, breaking up the opposition’s possession and adding an energy to Dean Smith’s midfield that proved to be just enough to keep his side up.

There’s no doubt playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world and in next season’s Champions League would be a great attraction for the midfielder.

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Ronaldo wanted PSG move

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Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo was unhappy in Italy and wanted a move to Paris Saint-Germain prior to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 35-year-old is only in his second season in Turin following his €100 million move from Real Madrid but reports today have come out saying that the Portuguese superstar wanted a move to PSG this summer.

Ronaldo’s global brand alone would have been a huge attraction for the French champions, and partnering him with the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in attack would have immediately put Thomas Tuchel’s side among the favourites to win the Champions League.

PSG could still accomplish that this season even without the five-time winner, as they are set to face Atalanta in the single-legged quarter-finals next week.

Despite their riches and domestic dominance over the past eight years, the Parisians are still to progress past the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite club cup competition this millennium. In fact, the only time they have accomplished this in their history was in 1994-95, when they were beaten 3-0 on aggregate by AC Milan in the semi-finals. Their sole European trophy to date came the following season when they beat Rapid Vienna in the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored 31 goals in 33 Serie A appearances this past season, 12 of those coming from the penalty spot, as he helped Juventus win their ninth consecutive Scudetto. Maurizio Sarri’s side too remain in the Champions League, but they are looking to overturn a 0-1 deficit against Lyon in their Round of 16 second leg on Friday. However, Ronaldo has not tasted Coppa Italia success, with Juventus having previously won the domestic cup for each of the four seasons prior to his arrival.

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Why Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane are England’s best strikers in a generation

Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy has finished the Premier League season as top goalscorer notching 23 goals. This is the first time that Vardy has earned the reward despite constantly banging in goals for the Foxes for a good few seasons now. Not even when Leicester won the league in 2016 was he able to finish on top of the pile. The man who stopped him was Harry Kane for Tottenham who claimed 25 goals that season.

Vardy’s success story is still extraordinary given that a decade ago he was playing non league football and rose through the ranks to not only play for Leicester but win the league with them, score plenty of goals and play in the Champions League- Hollywood would be hard pressed to have come up with that success story.

Vardy is 33 and still has a good few seasons left in him. He is a goal scoring machine that there is little doubt and he has scored 61 goals in the league for Leicester in his last 106 games. He just has an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time and can read the game so well. It’s true that some fans and pundits will never see him as world class because despite winning the league he isn’t playing for one of the top 4 clubs, but yet again he has proven his worth to Leicester this season. There is little doubt that when Vardy decides to leave the club, he will go as a legend.

This season Harry Kane blew hot and cold but the cold spells were mostly due to him picking up injuries. Still Kane who is England’s number 1 striker for the international team presently was able to score 18 goals he also assisted in a further 2, and all of this was achieved by playing 29 games, that’s an impressive return by all accounts.

Kane simply didn’t have enough games under him to be top scorer this season, but it is something that he has achieved on 2 previous occasions in 2016 and 2017 where he netted a combined 54 goals.

In Vardy winning the top goalscorer award this season he became the first Englishman to do so since Kane. And here is a fact, the only Englishmen to finish top of the goalscoring charts in the past 19 years are Vardy and Kane. Not even Wayne Rooney was able to achieve that. Still in his hey day he had to complete with world class players such as Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Still it is something to be celebrated especially for Vardy, who sometimes takes unfair criticism. It’s not another official piece of silverware for his club, but it is another personal badge of honour for the player.

Did you have either Kane or Vardy in your fantasy team this season? If not you might want to consider them in a months time when the Premier League kicks off the 2020/21 season. The official date is September 12th and you can check out the stats and all you need to know at the link below.

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Barcelona still have reasons to be cheerful

When things go wrong, and badly wrong at that, it’s hard to find any positives to take from a situation.

In Barcelona’s case, things just went from bad to worse from the beginning of the current season.

The start of the 2019/20 campaign was Barca’s worst in a quarter of a century, and yet, before Ernesto Valverde was sacked, the Catalan club were still sitting pretty at the top of the La Liga table. Continue reading

Ligue 1 to allow 5 substitutes in 2020-21

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Clubs in France’s Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 will be allowed to make up to five substitutes per match for the 2020-21 campaign, the French League (LFP) confirmed on Friday.

 

This follows a string of top European leagues to have already made the announcement, after successes in the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and German Bundesliga among others following the restarts of their divisions this summer.

The additional substitution allowance was due to fixture congestion, with most teams playing two games each week to get their domestic campaigns finished and in order for the Champions League and Europa League’s to resume later this month.

However, teams will only be allowed to make these changes during three occasions during play, as well as at the half-time interval. Teams from France’s top two divisions will also be allowed to name up to nine substitutes in their matchday squads, compared to seven previously.

France cancelled their 2019-20 season indefinitely and awarded runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain the title on a points per game basis. The new season is set to start on Saturday 22 August, the day before the Champions League final, which PSG themselves could be involved in.

PSG are set to face Atalanta in the quarter-finals of the competition over in Lisbon Portugal on Wednesday 12 August.

 

How does this effect fantasy football?

This news, although no different from the other top European leagues, will likely make a huge difference in the 2020-21 fantasy football season.

Managers across the top divisions were able to rest their star players early in the second half after gaining a big lead, and essentially rest half of their outfield players with 20 or so minutes remaining at times.

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La Liga- Team of the 2019/20 season revealed

Real Madrid won the league, Barcelona imploded by their standards and finished 2nd and the usual top 4 qualified for the Champions League. The season also kissed goodbye to Mallorca and Leganes and Espanyol finished bottom, so there will be no traditional derby between them and Barcelona next season.

But which players really came through and shined in La Liga? Which of these players did you have in your team? Did you find you had some bargains or was it the players that you would have expected to bag the points at the beginning of the season?

The format we are using is the traditional 4-4-2 as we look at the best team in La Liga for season 2019/20.

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois- Real Madrid 117pts

Courtois finished with 10 more points than any other goalkeeper in the league and was only part of 2 keepers that earned over 100 points. Whilst Madrid didn’t score many goals by their standards this season they did defend well and Courtois was sharp in goal keeping an impressive 18 clean sheets.

Defender: Sergio Ramos- Real Madrid 109pts

Let’s face it Sergio Ramos is the defender of the decade in Spain and it is no surprise to see the Real Madrid veteran ranked as the best defender in La Liga this season. Not only did he help keep 17 clean sheets he also scored 10 goals, incredible for a defender. In a rare instance for him he also managed not to get sent off this season in the league.

Defender: Raphael Varane- Real Madrid 83pts

Varane had another solid season in the back four of Real Madrid keeping 16 clean sheets and scoring 2 goals and assisting in another one. He was mostly a constant in the side playing 31 league games and has formed the perfect bedrock with his teammates.

Defender: Daniel Carvajal- Real Madrid 79pts

Yet another Real Madrid defender and the reason they dominate the team of the year is because Madrid conceded the least goals this season. Carvajal only scored once this season but then again he assisted in a further 5 goals just adding to his reputation.

Defender: Diego Carlos- Sevilla 64pts

Sevilla qualified for the Champions League and defender Diego Carlos had an outstanding and consistent season. He scored a couple of goals but in his real job as defender he helped keep 15 clean sheets which is more than impressive.

Midfielder: Santiago Carzola- Villarreal 79pts

Not many would have thought that the best midfielder in La Liga in the rankings would end up being Santiago Carzola but the player has returned to his former club in style. Racking up 79 points his value was just 5.5m and he went on to score 11 goals and assist in another 9 in an outstanding season for him.

Midfielder: Raul Garcia- Athletic Bilbao 75pts

What a season Raul Garcia had as defender for Bilbao, scoring an incredible 15 goals with his club only finishing in 11th place. He almost netted 40% of his clubs goals. His one weakness this season was his bookings where he picked up 11 of them.

Midfielder: Roberto Torres- Osasuna 65pts

Osasuna may have only finished the season in 10th place but their standout player was midfielder Roberto Torres who scored 7 goals and assisted in another 8 in a memorable season for the player who would only have set you back 5m at the beginning of the season.

Midfielder: Toni Kroos- Real Madrid 56pts

Only one Real Madrid made the midfield selection and that was German international Toni Kroos. He was involved in 8 goals in the league and helped shore up the midfield too and protect the back four and when he played he helped in keeping 18 clean sheets.

Striker: Lionel Messi- Barcelona 134pts

Messi is still doing the business even if Barcelona had a season to forget. He was far and away the best player in Spain racking up 134 points. His scoring was down just 24 this season but that’s from just 32 games and on top of that he assisted in an incredible 18 other goals. Still one of the greats in world football.

Striker: Karim Benzema- Real Madrid 100pts

Much further down the pecking order, Messi would be partnered with Karim Benzema who had yet another consistent season with Real Madrid. Benzema assisted in 8 goals but also scored 21 making him the 2nd best striker in Spain this season.

All in all this is a team that is dominated by Real Madrid players, the eventual champions this season and 6 of their players are featured. It is interesting how just 1 player from Barcelona made the cut, a lot of change is clearly needed at the club ahead of the new season. And as for Atletico Madrid? They have an abundance of very good players, but not one of them was able to consistently stand out this season.

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Is Aubameyang bigger than Arsenal as the Gunners beat Chelsea in FA Cup final?

All of a sudden Arsenal seem back. After a poor season which saw Unai Emery sacked before Christmas and former player Mikel Arteta brought into the dug out it seemed like Arsenal would be waiting a long time for any type of silverware. However they have ended the season by winning the FA Cup against the odds.

Arsenal came from a goal down to beat Chelsea 2-1 to lift their 14th FA Cup which is a record. Indeed Arsenal have won 4 cups in the last decade and their name is becoming part of the cup itself- just go ahead and put red and white ribbons on permanently why don’t you?

A burning desire and their name to be scripted onto the cup seemed to come when they upset Manchester City at the semi-final stage. Arteta had changed up the system and even David Luiz was playing with confidence. This was the first glimpse that under Arteta Arsenal could end up being a force to be reckoned with.

In the final it was going to be incredibly difficult given that the last time Arsenal had faced Chelsea in a cup final was in the 2019 Europa League showpiece where Chelsea simply outplayed the Gunners as the game went on and ended up running out 4-1 winners. Sure Eden Hazard who is now at Real Madrid orchestrated the win but still that game surely had to be playing on some of the minds of the players?

Maybe then it was to no surprise that Chelsea took a 5th minute lead through Christian Pulisic who has been outstanding this season for the Blues. With 56 points earned this season the American international was the 3rd best player for Frank Lampard’s team.

Chelsea started brightly but couldn’t find a 2nd and there was just that feeling creeping in that they were not putting this game to bed. With under 30 minutes played Arsenal were awarded a stone wall penalty and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who else? stepped up to take and convert it and the game was back on.

Whilst the 2nd half had it’s lull periods Arsenal were looking more and more of a threat, how much difference from their second half performance in the Europa League. Chelsea hoped for extra time but the Gunners could sense blood and Aubameyang got his brace and the match winner with just 3 minutes left to play.

True Chelsea will feel that Mateo Kovacic’s sending off was harsh, though he was already on a yellow card. It’s unfortunate though that VAR perhaps isn’t used in the big decisions like this, because on this occasion the referee looked to have got it wrong. It’s also worth pointing out that Kovacic has racked up 8 yellow cards this season from just 14 starts in the league.

This cup win feels like a turning point for Arsenal though because finishing 8th in the league represents their worst season in a generation. Arteta has said the win was his most important of his career, now he will be hoping that his statement won’t hold true in a decades time.

The last word has to go to Aubameyang. He has scored 22 league goals this season and assisted in a further 3, meaning that he has contributed to almost 50% of Arsenal’s league goals. He has been phenomenal, the one truly world class player in the side that can change a defeat into a draw and a draw into a win.

Aubameyang stands above as the lead man in this Gunners side and the club will be hoping that he will sign a new contract and stay with the club. They most likely have little chance of that happening if Barcelona or Real Madrid come knocking but given how teams have had to step back somewhat following the pandemic maybe that call won’t happen and maybe Aubameyang will realise that at Arsenal he is the king of the hill, at another club that might not to be the case.

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Serie A Best Fantasy XI – Round 38

Juan Musso: he ended his season with one of his finest performances, as he frustrated all Sassuolo attempts with great saves, in particular on a pair of bombs by Domenico Berardi and Hamed Traore, which he pulled out of the top shelf.

Danilo D’Ambrosio: another successful outing for Inter’s jack-of-all-trades, who broke the deadlock right away against Atalanta, in more typical fashion this time, as he bagged a header on a corner kick taking advantage of a defensive mishap. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 38

Standings implications: Inter saved best for last as they sunk Atalanta, securing the second place and closing one point shy of Juventus, which did not bother showing up against Roma. Lazio stayed in fourth as they were bested by Napoli. In the relegation zone, Lecce went down in typical chaotic fashion versus Parma, while Genoa’s win over Verona was never in doubt and so the Salentini are the final team to move back to Serie B.

In the meaningless portion of the schedule, Milan kept it going against Cagliari, Udinese picked up a quality win over Sassuolo, Bologna shared the spoils Torino, Sampdoria with Brescia.

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Is Atletico Madrid still the best place for Thomas Partey?

He has been the subject of much transfer speculation of late and it’s not hard to see why Thomas Partey might have his suitors. While Atletico Madrid have endured a difficult 2019/20 campaign, only making a late surge to a third place finish in La Liga to save their season, the Ghanian midfielder has impressed.

Indeed, Thomas has become a key figure at the Wanda Metropolitano, outshining the likes of Koke and Saul Niguez in the Atletico Madrid midfield. Now, the 27-year-old is facing a career crossroads, with a number of Premier League clubs reportedly keen to sign him over the summer transfer window.

The £45 million release clause in Thomas’ current contract is a big reason why he has become so attractive to potential suitors, but even without that price tag it’s likely there would have been interest in the player this summer. The 27-year-old is the ultimate modern midfield anchor, providing great energy and drive through the centre of the pitch.

Thomas is tenacious and strong in the tackle, but is exceptional with the ball at his feet, both as a dribbler and a passer. He would be the perfect addition for a team like Arsenal, and indeed the North London club are widely believed to be leading the pursuit of the Atletico Madrid midfielder. Mikel Arteta has reportedly made the signing of Thomas this summer a priority as he looks to overhaul his squad at the Emirates Stadium.

There is, however, also talk that Thomas could sign a new contract with Atletico Madrid. Latest reports claim the Ghanaian is still in discussions with the Spanish capital club over a new deal that would eliminate the £45 million release that is currently making him so attractive to Arsenal and other Premier League clubs looking for a relative bargain.

At the Wanda Metropolitano, Diego Simeone plays to Thomas’ strengths. He uses the Ghanian to channel attacking moves through the centre of the pitch. There’s no guarantee that Arteta would have as much faith in Thomas, although the Spaniard appears to be a fan. Thomas could become a giant at Atletico Madrid, with the second half of the 2019/20 season suggesting they are heading in the right direction again. Thomas could still be a significant part of this as they move into a new era.

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