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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La Liga: Best 11 Players of Week 11

Finally Real Sociedad dropped points, this is what all the other chasing teams will be thinking of the best in form side in the league. Sociedad could only draw at home to Villarreal which opened up the league.

Real Madrid lost their 3rd game of the season to go seven points behind the leaders and Barcelona played perhaps their best game so far by crushing Osasuna 4-0. All eyes should be on Atletico Madrid in 2nd place who kept yet another clean sheet at the weekend, are 1 point behind Sociedad and have 2 games in hand.

Let’s take a look at the players who made the biggest impact at the weekend.

Goalkeeper: Marc ter Stegen- Barcelona 7pts

A few goalkeepers reached 7 points for their clean sheets but Marc ter Stegen probably played one of his best games in goal for Barcelona this season. True Barcelona cruised to a 4-0 win over Osasuna, but surprisngly the away side had many chances in front of goal and it would have been a personal achievement for ter Stegen looking at how this season has started for the club to help keep a clean sheet.

Defender: Jordi Alba- Barcelona 5pts

Jordi Alba was solid in defence and remains one of Barcelona’s most important defenders. He helped keep a clean sheet and Alba now has 16 points for the season and is the highest ranked defender in fantasy points in the team.

Defender: Gimenez- Atletico Madrid 5pts

What can be said about Atletico Madrid who have conceded just 2 goals all season so far? Very strong at the back and Gimenez  has only started four games but kept 3 clean sheets and he had a very good match.

Defender: Sergino Dest- Barcelona 5pts

Sergino Dest isn’t always a regular for Barcelona but he has been brought in at the weekend and played with great confidence as Barcelona overcame Osasuna 4-0 and he helped keep a clean sheet. Dest was minus points these 5 points mean he has +2 now.

Defender: Kieran Trippier- Atletico Madrid 5pts

Kieran Trippier is proving himself to be one of the best defenders in La Liga this season. In Spain he is top of the fantasy rankings with 37 points. His side Atletico Madrid are in 2nd place now as they got a very important win beating Valencia away from home 1-0.

Midfielder: Philippe Coutinho- Barcelona 6pts

Philippe Coutinho has already looked better in these first two months of the season than his debut one for Barcelona. Coutinho is getting forward more and helped Barcelona seal their 4-0 win over Osasuna by scoring the third goal.

Midfielder: Jose Campana-Levante 4pts

Jose Campana’s penalty was enough for Levante to earn a point over Real Valladolid. Campana earned 4 points in the process and that was the midfielder’s first goal of the season.

Midfielder: Casemiro- Real Madrid 3pts

Real Madrid lost at home at the weekend to Alaves in a shock result but Casemiro did pull a goal back to earn some points as they went down 2-1. Casemiro didn’t earn more as he was also booked in the early stages of the game.

Midfielder: Thomas Lemar- Atletico Madrid 2pts

Such was an overall poor performance from midfielders this past weekend that Thomas Lemar’s 2 points for Atletico earned in midfield after they beat Valencia 1-0 was enough for the former Monaco player to make the team of the weekend.

Striker: Antoine Griezmann- Barcelona 6pts

Antoine Griezmann has had a few good weeks at Barcelona and the French international will be hoping that his fortunes can turn around at the club. Not only did Greizmann get on the score sheet but he also assisted in another goal. That is the players third goal so far this season.

Striker: Joselu- Alaves 4pts

Joselu had a memorable game for Alaves as he grabbed the winner to defeat Real Madrid away from home. He now has 8 points for the season and is valued at 6.5m. That was the strikers 2nd goal of the campaign and he will be hoping that the goal could be a catalyst for more to come.

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Fired up by Diego Simeone: Atletico Madrid the club that won’t go away

The 2010s were amongst the most successful years in Atletico Madrid’s history. A league title success was seen as an exceptional achievement given how strong both Barcelona and Real Madrid were at the time. But Atletico also won the Europa League 3 times and were runners up in the Champions League twice. It has been quite a ride for the club.

So after such an incredible decade and with coach Diego Simeone starting his 10th season in charge of the La Liga team you would have been forgiven for thinking that Atletico were not up to spec.

But Atletico are not a team that have good moments and wield that thorn into the sides of Barcelona and Real Madrid temporarily. No Atletico are here to stay. They sell Antoine Griezmann no problem they bring in Joao Felix. Diego Godin veteran swashbuckler moves on, no problem in comes the underrated Kieran Trippier from the Premier League. They move stadium, no problem, they won’t suffer the Arsenal syndrome anytime soon. Atletico do what they do best and that is continue to compete and move on.

This season the club has taken advantage of Barcelona’s many off the field problems that almost saw Lionel Messi leave the club. In fact in being 2nd and Barcelona being out of the top 10 the clubs have changed places from the beginning of  last season. Atletico know the real threat is from their city neighbours Real Madrid but they will also be respecting how Real Sociedad have started the season.

With Atletico though they look the real deal this season to go on and win the title. You want goals, well Atletico have 18 of them and only Real Sociedad in 1st position have scored more with 21.

One of the revelations in terms of attack for the club has been Joao Felix. True we knew that last season when the club signed him he was something special but Felix didn’t get a good run of games and would need time to adjust to his new surroundings. It wasn’t the mind blowing debut season that many expected. This season could be it though. Felix has already scored 5 goals and assisted twice and there will be plenty more to come from him.

But a lot of credit also needs to go to Luis Suarez, the surprise signing in the summer who was let go by Barcelona. While it may be easy to laugh at Barcelona’s decision Suarez had lost something in the past 18 months. It felt like he was a few yards slower, but the truth is he needed change, now he is thriving under a coach that has been part of the set up for 10 years and Atletico are seeing the results. Suarez has scored 5 goals also like Felix.

But let’s talk about what is happening in defence. It is rare that an English player goes abroad and does really well but Trippier is carving out a name for himself and the fans love him. The former Tottenham player has been part of a mean defence that has conceded only 2 goals so far this season from 8 games played. One at home and one away and that is simply remarkable.

Trippier has the most clean sheets in the team with six. Another player who has impressed at the back is Mario Hermoso. His value is just 5m and he has helped keep five clean sheets.Of course it also helps when you have one of Europe’s best goalkeepers and in Jan Oblak Atletico sure do have that. Oblak has 42 points already and has six clean sheets.

Presently six of the top 10 players in La Liga in the fantasy rankings play for Atletico Madrid. They are all inspired and fired up by the pure energy, passion and intelligence of Simeone, who this year celebrated his 50th birthday- how fitting then if the club can indeed go on to win La Liga for the 2nd time in seven years.

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3 players who could, and should, leave Barcelona in January

It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that the next transfer window could be one of the most important in FC Barcelona’s history.

It may coincide with new presidential elections, which in itself could cause huge issues given that there may be a change of manager with the new incumbent given hardly any time to secure new faces.

That said, the Catalans may not have the money to bring in any new signings. Continue reading

Braithwaite’s Barcelona dream turning into a nightmare

There’s been an awful lot going on at the Camp Nou just lately, with the Lionel Messi situation and the vote of no confidence for president, Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board hogging the headlines.

Everywhere you turn there’s something else for Barca’s long-suffering supporters to get hot under the collar about.

However, there’s one player that’s kept his own counsel. Continue reading

Winners and losers from Barcelona’s pre-season

The preparation is over and it’s time for things to get serious.

After everything that’s been said and done since the 8-2 hammering against Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League, Barcelona have the chance to put it all behind them.

If they’re able to hit the ground running against Villarreal on Saturday, and Ronald Koeman can get everyone playing as they can, the Catalans won’t be too far off the pace for long. Continue reading

Is the new La Liga season Diego Simeone’s last stand with Atletico Madrid?

What Diego Simeone has achieved at Atletico Madrid has been nothing short of brilliant. The team usually in the shadow of their neighbours Real Madrid experienced their most successful decade in the 2010s under Simeone which included a La Liga title, domestic cups, the Europa League and 2 Champions League finals.

However time waits for no man, and especially in football that rings true. One wonders if even Simeone is now on borrowed time at the club? Much of this comes down to last season when Atletico were tipped to do very well. But they ended the season without any silverware and it was the way they performed during the season that simply had a word in neon headlights- underwhelming.

Atletico finished 3rd last season but that could have been 4th as they finished on the same points as Sevilla. Whilst 3rd isn’t bad considering the league has Real Madrid and Barcelona in it, this was seen as not a vintage season for Spanish football. Atletico finished 17 points behind Real Madrid and even 12 points behind Barcelona who had a forgettable season by their standards.

Atletico only scored 51 goals, 35 less than Barcelona and Sevilla and even Villarreal who finished in 5th place scored more. In short not only were Atletico not getting the right results they were also quite boring to watch. Perhaps losing Antoine Griezmann who finally switched to Barcelona was the last straw? However over 120m euros was spent on Joao Felix as his replacement.

At the beginning of the season Felix looked exciting and sharp, and every time he was on the ball the crowd got excited. That dissipated quickly enough though and at the end of the season Felix was much like his club, underwhelming. Scoring just 6 goals and assisted in just one, was very poor for a player that had cost so much. True Felix was hit by injuries too but still played more than half the season. Felix has time on his side, but perhaps Simeone doesn’t?

Of course Simeone has been incredibly loyal to the club, and it would feel odd if they sacked him for having another mediocre season, but maybe Simeone will see that it is time to go. Let’s not forget that Simeone’s contract with the club doesn’t expire until the summer of 2022, but we all know that in football contracts count for very little if the time is right for a coach to move on.

This season will be very interesting where the fans will be expecting Felix to have a much better season. Alvaro Morata is back with the club after they purchased the striker for 56m euros.

Maybe after spending 9 years at the club the time is right soon to move on. However at the other end he has been superb, last season was a blip, and perhaps Atletico will be firing on all cylinders for the forthcoming season. It will certainly be engrossing to have Morata back on the scene, as the club really need goals.

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Barcelona Mark 2- what to expect from Messi and the new signings this season

A terrible season without silverware followed a nasty August for Barcelona when the best player to ever play for them told the club he was leaving. Lionel Messi was THIS close to joining Manchester City, but he will stay with the club at least for one more season.

The change of heart is not, at this time, because of the love of the club but more to do with the fact that he doesn’t want to be dragged through the courts and possibly miss up to half a season as he career free falls into someone’s laptop. Instead he has made the U-turn, and Barcelona will breathe a sigh of relief. So of course will new coach Ronald Koeman who may well have been resigned to losing the Argentine a few weeks ago.

Many have said that the era of Barcelona is over, underlined even with Messi in the side when they were destroyed 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Ivan Rakitic has rejoined Sevilla and Luis Suarez looks set to join either Juventus or PSG, either way Koeman has made it known that Suarez is not part of his plans. So it is all change at Barcelona, even with Messi staying, there is a new standing point for the player, who has mostly kept quiet, but his feelings are known now and he is demanding the best from the players on the pitch and the board on their leather seats.

Barcelona have been active in the transfer market and with Messi staying for now this is a boost to the club who have brought in some interesting players. The eye-catching transfer is Miralem Pjanic who comes from Juventus for 60m euros. Barca actually sold Arthur to Juventus for 72m euros, so that is almost like a swap deal.

Koeman has really identified the problem in Barcelona to be of the midfield and along with Pjanic has brought in Francisco Trincao from Braga for 31m euros. Pedri from Las Palmas who will probably see a lot of the bench is in the team for around 5m euros and Matheus Fernandes cost the club 7m euros from Palmeiras.

Also it is widely expected that another midfielder will be brought in that is Memphis Depay from Lyon. Depay had a good last season and has started well in Ligue 1 this season also. He has been tipped to join Barcelona for some time and it is understood that Lyon will not stop the player.

So for Barcelona at this moment it is all about fixing the midfield, maybe accusations of their demise have been exaggerated but then maybe they haven’t. Barcelona have been unlucky in recruitment in recent years, they have certainly splashed the cash only to see the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Phillipe Coutinho and Antonio Griezmann all come up empty. Can their luck change, Messi for one will be hoping so.

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Messi could stay at Barcelona, but is he the problem?

The transfer saga of Lionel Messi may just likely end up as a war of words and nothing else. Messi’s father held talks with the Barcelona board yesterday evening and there were some mixed reports. But some sources confirmed that Messi’s father is optimistic that Messi will make a U-turn and actually stay with the club.

In truth there are only 2 teams that look likely being the right fit for Messi, one is Barcelona and the other is Premier League side Manchester City, mostly because of the Pep Guardiola factor. However there is no guarantee that Guardiola will be at City for the next years ahead, he is entering his 5th season with the club which is a record for him, and this will be likely his final season in Manchester.

Also if you want to know the latest mutterings it makes sense to follow the bookmakers instincts. Last week City were the favourites to sign Messi and could be backed at 1.91 (10/11) to get their main. They are now the 2nd favourites and out to 3.00 (2/1). They have been replaced by Barcelona who are now big odds on at 1.30 (1/3) to keep Messi. That could tell us everything we need to know.

If Messi stays many people especially the fans of Barcelona will breathe a sigh of relief, he is so ingrained into the city, they know they will lose him one day, but no real Barcelona fan wants to lose him like this.

However here’s a thought, is Messi the actual problem at Barcelona? By problem that is not fully blaming him for everything, that would be churlish, and he has been the main reason why Barcelona have been one of the best teams in world football over the past decade. But has Messi simply grown to be such a star that he is stifling other players from growing.

Take out Messi right now from the team and Barcelona do not have higher level world stars in the team. They have very good players, players that on their day look the best in the world, but could it not be argued that the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Phillpe Coutinho could grow into their roles more if Messi was not there?

Messi is indispensable of course, but at the same time with no Messi in the team Barcelona would find another way of playing. And despite how brilliant he has been for the club, over the past few seasons it has become noticeable that he has stopped chasing back once he has lost possession of the ball. A hunger has left him, although that could be his personal protest of how the club are being run.

A team without Messi would be interesting and at the same time personally for Messi to be playing in a different league would benefit him surely. The fire seems to have left him, imagine having that reignited. And at 33 his best years are fading fast, that is the nature of the game, he perhaps has 2 very good seasons left in him at the very top. Would it not make sense to leave now?

Change is needed at Barcelona if Messi is to see any more silverware if he decides to stay. The club have spent close to £1 billion in the past 5 years. Big clubs spend big, but that money was being spent to win Champions Leagues, it did bring one for the club in that time but a club the size of Barcelona demand more, much more. That is how high the bar is at the club.

It will be very interesting in some ways if Messi does stay with Ronald Koeman in charge, at least if Messi stays with the league kicking off soon it will give the club a purpose in the early stages of the new season.

La Liga kicks off on September 12th, although Barcelona have been granted extra rest after their participating in last months Champions League. The club will play on the 12th but this will be a friendly match. Their first game of the season will take place on September 27th at home to Villarreal.

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Griezmann’s dream Barca move has turned into a nightmare

Poor old Antoine Griezmann. What on the face of it was a dream move to Barcelona, has turned into a nightmare.

Against his old club, Atletico Madrid, earlier this week, the €120m man didn’t even get on the pitch until injury time.

That followed a cursory five minutes extra during the previous game against Celta Vigo, a period in which he was at fault for Celta’s late equaliser. Continue reading