It is time to put more appreciation and respect on Lionel Messi’s name

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The incredible debate of who is the best player in the world between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will continue to increase forever and ever, no matter which league both players are playing in. Though, the main focus will be on the last five to ten seasons, where both individuals went head-to-head with one another on a weekly basis as Barcelona and Real Madrid became spoilt with success.

In that period, one giant clashed with another giant as the passionate supporters of the beautiful game enjoyed a rivalry that is being regarded as the greatest rivalry in the history of football. In terms of the numbers and trophies won, Messi is superior as he has achieved 472 goals, 176 assists, 24 trophies won, five Ballon D’or awards and five Golden boots whilst Ronaldo has incredibly produced 450 goals, 119 assists, 16 trophies won, five Ballon D’or awards and three Golden boots.

Focusing more on the Barcelona man, he has won all the individuals awards that were up for grabs in the past and is now focused on winning as many trophies as possible with the team as well as to entertain the rest of the world with his style of play. Despite it being easier said than done, the high standards Messi has set is the same reason why many do not rave about him like they used to do.

During his early days as a footballer, the Rosario-born star had to take steroids in order to try and overcome Growth hormone deficiency, a medical condition he was diagnosed with at a young age. Many will feel that this improved the player or gave him a sort of advantage, but you can ask Messi himself and others who suffer from it, about how painful it is when steroids are your only solution.

On top of that, season by season, the pointless and unnecessary questions continued of why the Argentine international has never left the Camp Nou and La Liga, to go on to proving why he is the best player in the world by playing in the Premier League or in Serie A. However, why should he leave the club that had faith in him from a young age and also paid for all of his medical treatments?

Due to this kind and noble gesture, Messi has never had any serious thoughts of leaving the club as he wants to carry on repaying Football Club Barcelona for the life-changing decision they made to support him at the age of 13. Not only that, but the 25-time La Liga champions welcomed him with open hands and were willing to invest on him whilst being aware of his huge potential as a player.

Looking back at the last couple of years in Spain, the incredible rise and increase in appreciation for players such as Antoine Griezmann, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric has been well deserved. Though, it should not be given in the place of Messi, who has rightfully earned the reputation as the dictator of Spanish football and is yet to see a certain individual come and challenge for his throne.

Also, the Argentina and Barcelona star did not make it into the list for the Best FIFA award, which should make one consider that what else does he have to accomplish in order to make it into the three-man shortlist. On the other hand, this outcome does imply that the players that were successful only in the Champions League are mentioned as the worthy candidates to win this prize.

Atletico Madrid’s Filipe Luis recently made an honest statement regarding to the FIFA awards, “The FIFA Best Player award is for the best player in the world. In my opinion, the best player in the world is Messi. Today, last year, two years ago, and three years ago. When he’s not there, it loses credibility. It does not matter who wins the World Cup or the Champions League. He is the best.”

Each supporter and player have their own opinions at the end day, but many will have to question how Messi, who won the league title and the Copa Del Rey whilst producing 52 goals and 21 assists throughout the season, somehow was not included in the shortlist for the FIFA Best Player award.

Overall, the 32-year-old is the greatest player to play in La Liga of all time and he has the countless trophies and records he has personally broken to back this statement.  Without his impact and presence, Barcelona and Spanish football would not be popular as many people think it would be.

There are no assurances of when his time as a footballer will come to an end, so it is ideal for all football fans to enjoy his brilliance on the pitch before it is too late. If not, then one will have to deeply wonder if there will be another player in the future that comes half close to Lionel Messi.

Four well-known players who failed to impress at the World Cup

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As the World Cup has now come to an end, many football fans will be filled with pure joy or sadness as 32 countries went on to play in the most prestigious international competition there is to play for.

Many young talents received their ideal chance of shining on the grandest stage of them all in Russia, whilst a number of well-known players failed to show their skills and quality this summer.

With no further ado, we now look at the four individuals that had a poor World Cup at a personal level and did not replicate the performances they were producing at club level in recent years.

David De Gea – Spain

Manchester United’s David De Gea, who is seen as the best goalkeeper in England and the whole of Europe, had a poor World Cup at a personal level as he could not produce the crucial saves that he makes on a weekly basis at Old Trafford. However, his team-mates and most importantly the manager, kept faith in him and had had his back as he started in all of the side’s fixtures.

De Gea’s first error of the competition came in the opening fixture, where it allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to score his second goal of the match during an entertaining and thrilling draw between Portugal and Spain. Also, he was criticised and personally targeted following the side’s penalty shoot-out against Russia in the last-16, where he failed to save any of the four penalties he faced.

Javier Mascherano – Argentina

Not many were expecting Javier Mascherano to play a regular role for Jorge Sampaoli’s side throughout the competition due to his poor positional awareness as well as the decline he has experienced in recent years. Though, the 34-year-old surprisingly started in all four of Argentina’s games as he went on to construct some unconvincing displays whilst being a passenger in midfield.

After having such a below-par campaign compared to his old and usual standards, it’s not a surprise to see the former Barcelona and Liverpool player retiring from international football. Four years ago, Mascherano played an influential role in helping the side to reach the World Cup finals, but he could not do the same this time around as he looked past his best and totally confused on and off the ball.

Jerome Boateng – Germany

Germany were seen as one of the main favourites to win the competition, especially as they were the current champions of the world before the tournament had kicked off in Russia. Many football fans will state that the likes of Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller had let the side down, when in fact, it was Jerome Boateng and the rest of the defence that could not handle the pace of the opposition.

Against Sweden, Boateng let the team and himself down, when he made two unnecessary fouls which led to him being sent off at a time his side needed him the most. Although the team went on to beat Sweden, it was more down to some late brilliance and due to the help of the video assistant referee. Overall, the 2018 World Cup will be one campaign that the defender will want to forget.

Neymar – Brazil

It’s quite difficult to analyse Brazil’s time in the World Cup as they did not take it up a notch after the group stages, and it followed with them not having the composure and mentality to go on to beating Belgium in the quarter-finals of the competition. Tite’s men and the whole of Brazil had huge expectations in Neymar, who simply did not come up with the goods in the final third of the pitch.

On top of that, his antics of rolling around the pitch and diving from time to time summed up his average performances throughout the competition. The Paris Saint-Germain star was hyped up as the key man who would bring some excitement to the World Cup and help Brazil to take the trophy back home, however, that was not the outcome as he only scored twice from 26 attempted shots.

Gallant Croatia undone by France’s star quality

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Football is a game of clichés. Indeed, one of the oldest ones in the book suggests that intelligent coaching and tactical systems can only take a team so far; world class players are the real difference makers. And so it proved tonight as France secured a second FIFA World Cup trophy after defeating Croatia 4-2 in Moscow. For the best part of an hour, the Vatreni were definitely the superior side and were extremely unlucky to find themselves 2-1 down at half-time thanks to a dubious penalty in the opening 45 minutes. Continue reading

France are favourites but Croatia may be destined for glory

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Regardless of what happens in tomorrow’s FIFA World Cup final between France and Croatia, the Vatreni have already made history this summer. Indeed, they are the first team in the tournament’s history to reach the final after each of their three knockout matches went to extra time. Denmark, Russia and England have all taken Zlatko Dalić’s side beyond 90 minutes, which many fear could take its toll on them physically in the Luzhniki Stadium. Continue reading

Why Croatia must grasp glorious opportunity with both hands

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Fans of the Croatian national team have spent much of the last 20 years pining for a side to do them as proud as the ‘Class of 98’ did at the World Cup in France. Unfortunately for them, no group of players has ever come close to matching the third-place finish earned by Davor Šuker, Zvonimir Boban and their colleagues. Comparisons between Miroslav Blažević’s squad and the Vatreni’s current crop of stars are inevitable, especially now that they have reached the semi-finals where they will face England, another country which has struggled to live up to billing in recent years. Continue reading

Why Russia and Croatia both fancy their chances of reaching the semi-finals

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England will never get a better chance of reaching the World Cup final. That has been the rhetoric among fans and journalists for over a week now. While Gareth Southgate and his players are determined to remain humble, there is already a certain arrogance creeping into the mind-set of many people around the Three Lions camp. Amid the battle cries of ‘It’s Coming Home’, it seems to have been forgotten that none of Sweden, Russia or Croatia will simply roll over and give England a free pass to the final, where they would face one of Uruguay, France, Brazil or Belgium. Continue reading

Maradona apologises over England “robbery” rant

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Legendary Argentina striker Diego Maradona has apologised for claiming that England committed “monumental robbery” in their World Cup last-16 tie with Colombia on Tuesday evening. The former Napoli star was incensed that American referee Mark Geiger had apparently shown a bias towards England, punishing Colombia more often than the Three Lions. Speaking on a nightly World Cup show on Venezuela-based Telesur, Maradona had said: “Here’s a gentleman who decides, a referee who, if you Google him, shouldn’t be given a match of this magnitude… Geiger, an American, what a coincidence.”

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Best Tactical Performance of the Week – France

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On 30th June, France went up against Argentina in what was arguably the biggest of the last-16 round matches at this summer’s World Cup. It was the only fixture featuring two former world champions, and also two of the favourites to lift this year’s trophy as well. Fears of a tight-knit, cagey affair were soon displaced when Antoine Griezmann fired the French in front after just 13 minutes from the penalty spot. What ensued was one of the finest matches so far at the tournament, a real ding-dong battle from the first whistle to the last, from one end of the pitch to the other. It was truly a spectacle, and France would ultimately emerge triumphant on the right end of a 4-3 thriller. Lionel Messi was going home much earlier than you would think he’d imagined and France celebrated their progress.

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Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #22 – Round of 16 Review, Quarter-Finals Predicted

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Dave and Jamie return to round up what’s been going on in those seven long days since they last darkened the airwaves. The group stages have finished, the round of 16 is now also done and dusted and now we look ahead to the quarters, and beyond.

#It’sComingHome #DareToDream

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Juventus stars fail to leave a mark in Argentina’s confusing World Cup

Argentina v Chile: Championship - Copa America Centenario

After struggling in the group stage, Argentina’s Russian campaign unsurprisingly ended early in the knockout round against the explosive France. La Seleccion showed passion and fighting spirit, but was ultimately too discombobulated from the waist up and too lax in the back. Even if they scored three goals in the round of 16 match, they never looked in control.

They had two Juventus cornerstones in the roster: Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala. El Pipita started against Nigeria and was the first striker off the bench in the other two games of the first stage. Continue reading